Sunday, March 29

AP, IB credit no longer to be factored in enrollment priority at UCLA

Fall 2014 Data

30 percent of first-year students had sophomore standing
34 percent of second-year students had junior standing
39 percent of third-year students had senior standing

All undergraduate students can no longer use Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit to advance their enrollment priority, a UCLA official announced Monday.

Enrollment priority will be determined by the number of units a student has taken at UCLA or other colleges, rather than a student’s class standing, which is determined by all units the university recognizes including AP and IB courses.

Patricia Turner, dean and vice provost of undergraduate education, said in an email statement the university made the change because enrollment by class standing has unfairly disadvantaged students who attended high schools that did not offer many AP or IB curriculum classes.

Corey Hollis, director of academic advising, said that students who have a higher class standing compared to others took advantage of the previous enrollment system by signing up for extra classes they did not need to take. This would hurt students who needed these classes but had a low class standing, Hollis added.

Hollis also added that seniors had a harder time getting the classes they needed to graduate because they were competing with second- and third-year students who were in senior standing.

Hollis said that the decision is part of a larger university plan to increase equity on campus.

“It is difficult to allow (nonunderrepresented students) to continue to benefit from a system that is inherently unfair and discriminatory,” Hollis added.

According to statistics published by the College Board, about 48 percent of public school students qualified for the free or reduced-price lunch program, but only about 28 percent of them took one or more AP exams.

Several students believe the changes to the enrollment system discredit the efforts they made in high school to take more challenging coursework.

Sarah Bazargan, a second-year bioengineering student who took both AP and IB courses, said she thinks the university already does a poor job of recognizing these courses.

“With all the AP and IB classes I took, I only opted out of a math and English class,” Bazargan said. “With this new change, I think future students will be discouraged even more from taking college-level classes.”

Tanvi Mamtora, a second-year biology student, said she took both AP and IB courses to help increase her class standing.

“I worked tirelessly in high school so I could have a better advantage coming to UCLA,” Mamtora said. “Now knowing that (the university) has changed their policy, why did I even bother to take so many classes?”

Vishesh Anand, a third-year economics and global studies student, said he believes this will make it more fair to students who come from schools that do not offer college-level classes.

“Some students can’t enroll for the courses they should be taking because of competition from underclassmen who have a high class standing,” Anand said.

Marin Yamaguchi, a third-year economics student, said that the changes would help international students who did not have the opportunity to take accredited college-level classes.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to take AP or IB classes as an international student, so this will give me a better advantage to sign up for classes without worrying about not getting in,” Yamaguchi said.

Contributing reports by Allison Ong, Bruin reporter.

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  • Esther Hwang

    This change is very likely to negatively impact students’ choice to enroll in UCLA over other institutions. The institution of UCLA will be seen as one that selectively values certain academic efforts over others. Understanding that all students have tried their best given their high school situation to make it to UCLA and become a Bruin, it is undervaluing the sacrifices many students made to challenge themselves with AP and IB tests.

    I strongly agree with Sarah Bazargan in thinking that future student will be discouraged from taking more college-level classes. Moreover, current and future high school students who do take AP and IB exams will take this change into consideration and may be deterred from choosing UCLA. I sincerely hope that Patricia Turner and the faculty of UCLA’s Division of Undergraduate Education will reconsider this decision.

    For my fellow Bruins who have thoughts on this, I urge you to please take a few brief moments to comment as well.

    • Bronson Schoen

      I agree. Regardless of your stance on the actual issue, to implement this policy on students who have already enrolled under the previous policy is unfair. Who do we contact about this?

  • Monica Waggoner

    Given the huge disparities in availability of AP and IB courses at different high schools, this change needed to happen. If everyone had an equal chance to earn these credits, it’d be a different story, but schools which *just happen* to have higher proportions of low-income, Black, and/or Latino students tend to have fewer AP/IB classes offered each year, creating an inherent disadvantage for groups that are already severely academically marginalized.

    • Leanne Liu

      While I agree with your point, this change negatively affects many current students who spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours preparing for their AP tests in high school. UCLA’s attempt to level the playing field is discounting all the hard work their current students had done in order to ensure the best prospects of success in college that are now unaccounted for. Not only does it impact current undergraduates but it also discourages potential applicants who would not like their time and money to have gone to waste.

      Personally, as an out of state student, I’m spending over $56,000 a year to attend this prestigious university. Along with the upwards of $1000 I spent on AP course material in high school, this enactment infuriates me to the core.

      • Nexi Delgado

        As a UCLA alum I can understand your frustration, however the new policy
        drops your status for priority enrollment. From what I have read UCLA
        is not discounting AP credit. The benefits to low income students are over-stated. This reads as a plan that will allow everyone to graduate on time, meaning seniors and juniors should be getting priority to pick classes before freshman and sophomores.

        • Bronson Schoen

          I’ve seen the opposite. As AP credits still count towards graduation, you can be reasonably close to graduation while having a lower standing for enrollment, as your AP class count for credit but not standing.

  • Fiona

    This is so upsetting. I’m really stressing about this. As freshman, I feel like I have no chance now. Enrollment is already one of the most stressful things, on top of a very stressful transition and difficult schoolwork. This announcement, halfway through the quarter, actually distresses me. It’s not fair to do this. So many of us worked so hard, to get nothing. This isn’t equity. Capping AP credits was equitable. A lot of kids, myself included, worked outside our school’s curriculum, thinking it would make college easier to navigate. This decision completely negates my work in high school. It’s a slap in the face. Enrollment at UCLA is already so difficult. This makes it SO much worse.

    • Eugene Lee

      I agree. Freshman are already the last to go for enrollment. As a fellow freshman student, these new changes will only make it even harder to get the classes we need, especially if they’re impacted courses.

    • Kevin

      I hope you realize that certain high schools didn’t offer as many AP classes as other high schools. I’ve had friends struggle with getting the classes they needed because their school only offered 4 AP classes, and they had little credit going into UCLA. Other kids who took a lot of APs, (because their school offered them) got whatever class they wanted, which is unfair because they were already ahead in the first place, in terms of skipping certain classes. The rich got richer, in a sense. This is equity.

      • Shawn Lu

        Not really. I had 2 AP classes at my high school. I was forced to go to another school, out of my way, in an attempt to offset the advantage. AP does offer a lot of students the ability to go to another school to test.

      • Mark

        It was luck of the draw that others got a better pass. It is a 0-49.9 unit grouping. You can come in with 49.9 units or 0 units, but you still have the same chance of getting the last pass time available for a freshman.

        Nobody can change the past, but degrees are designed to be completed in four years. If you follow the plan laid out for your major, you graduate. You don’t need APs to do that. You don’t need APs to be accepted to UCLA.

        What is unfair is telling you after you’re at UCLA- “BTW: Your college credit doesn’t count towards class standing anymore, effective now.”

        • Kevin

          I understand that it’s luck of the draw if you’re in a certain unit grouping. But there are kids who come into freshman year with sophomore standing, and they get the classes they want with the professors they want, while those stuck in freshman standing have to wait. And they have to keep on waiting quarter after quarter since they are constantly one unit group behind their peers.

  • Samuel H

    The critical question we have to ask ourselves, if we don’t like this policy, is what better alternative is there?Clearly, there are competing interests involved here — the interests of low-income students from schools that didn’t offer an abundance of AP courses versus the interests of those who did go to schools with a lot of AP class offerings. How do we resolve this issue? UCLA’s taken action on this issue, even if it doesn’t seem ideal to many, so they should be commended for that. The reasoning behind their decision is solid as evidenced by empirical data about graduation rates for those who are poorer and personal observations that anyone can make regarding the enrollment process and how painful it can be at UCLA sometimes.

    I support UCLA’s decision, even if it is unfortunate, because I can’t think of a better solution right now. Full disclosure: I am one of those students who’d happen to benefit from this policy, but I think I’d support it regardless.

    It seems that the interests of the low-income students outweigh the interests of the others for a couple of reasons that make this new policy necessary:

    1. They’re less likely to graduate on time. Time spent in school costs money, and if one stays at UCLA for more than 6 quarters beginning as a transfer or 12 quarters beginning as a freshman, the blue and gold plan will no longer cover your tuition in full. Given that disadvantaged/low-income students were less likely to get the classes they needed because of their later registration times, this meant that they’d be more likely to take longer to finish school. This increases the costs, and increases the likelihood that they’d drop out. This isn’t good and needs to be avoided.

    2. As said in the article, they come from schools that offer fewer AP classes. UCLA, as a public university, can be said to have a political, and maybe moral obligation to accommodate these students whom they judge to be academically gifted enough to gain admission to their school by leveling the playing field when it comes to enrollment dates. I believe UCLA does have such an obligation.

    3. Student who took a lot of AP classes in school are harmed by this policy, most definitely. But there doesn’t seem to be a convincing case to be made that they’re more harmed by this new policy than low-income/disadvantaged students were under the old policy. Under this new policy, they will, at most, have spent a lot of money on AP exams and won’t get any enrollment priority for it. They still get the benefit of having knocked out subject requirements and generally becoming more prepared for the rigors of college-level work as a result of their experience in those classes. It seems to be an overstatement that AP classes lose all or most of their value now that this policy has been enacted, as many would have you believe, given these facts.

    4. As mentioned before in this comment, low-income/disadvantaged students are significantly harmed for various reasons by enrollment date policies that favor the completion of a lot of AP classes. This can’t be reasonably denied. Yes, other students will be harmed to some degree, but can they plausibly make the claim that they’ll be threatened with graduating late or possibly dropping out altogether under this new policy to the same degree that low-income/disadvantaged students were under the old policy? I strongly doubt it.

    5. This isn’t as related, but regarding the possibility that future students will be discouraged from going here thanks to this policy: so be it then. There are plenty of other universities in the world who’ll take them, and plenty of students who would dream to go here. Don’t know why the interests of current students who go here who are disadvantaged/low-income should be outweighed by those who are potential students still in high school/community college. I also don’t think UCLA will face a shortage of highly qualified applicants because of this policy, and if the policy can be reasonably defended as a fair one, then this is the price that UCLA must pay for equitable treatment of its student body during the enrollment process.

    I reiterate that this policy change isn’t perfect, but if no one can suggest any alternatives, this is what will have to be done in the name of fairness.

    Hopefully, no one dismisses my views for arbitrary reasons or engages in insults. Let;s keep things civil, guys.

    • Nexi Delgado

      Great points! Couldn’t agree more!

    • Tom

      To address #3. By knocking out subject requirements, students have earned the right to their elevated standing. These students should be placed on the same playing field as others who have taken the UCLA equivalent pre-req, not below them. If UCLA accepts an AP test to get you through a couple of math classes, then why are you not allowed to use those units to help you enroll in your next math courses?

      In this regard, AP classes have lost the vast majority of their value. The value of an AP course like Calc BC is to move you to the next level of math. But that purpose is undermined when you aren’t awarded the units that will grant you a pass time that allows you to enroll in the next course.

      • Samuel H

        You make good points, but how would you resolve the problem that low-income/disadvantaged students have in trying to get the classes they need? As long as this problem exists and no one can propose a better policy to meet their needs, the new policy regarding AP units and enrollment priority will have to stay.

        • Mark

          Counselors need to get involved. See the article quote from Hollis about students taking classes they don’t need. She said those students are a problem, but obviously not all AP, IB students do that. Reminds me of elementary school- somebody causes a problem, and the simple effortless solution is punish the masses and hold everyone in at lunchtime.
          This change does not make it easier for anyone to get classes. It punishes everyone with AP, IB units, although oddly, not those that used Uni-track to earn State college credits. (Uni-track college credit is earned by students in AP classes .)
          This change punishes students for taking the challenging, more time consuming AP, IB courses offered at their schools. Should they have been skipped because not all schools offered them?
          It is unfair to these students because the change is coming after they enrolled. This decision needs to be reversed by Gene Block.

  • Nexi Delgado

    I think people are mistaking UCLA’s decision to count AP and IB courses for priority enrollment vs crediting AP courses. No where have I read that UCLA will be discounting AP credits. It means 1st and 2nd year students who have taken AP courses will no longer get to choose courses at the same time or prior to 3rd and 4th year students. This sounds more like a graduation plan that will allow UCLA more student turn over each year.

    • Tom

      Some students who suffer greatly from this policy are those who took AP courses in math and science. If you are an engineer and took AP Calc BC and received a 4 or a 5 score on the exam, then you skip both Math 31A and 31B. You start in 32A and by the time you’re in 32B (your second quarter) you have to compete against sophomores to get into your next math class. This competition leads you to try to take alternatives such as 33A and 33B (where you compete against sophomore or juniors. Without the added AP/IB standing you don’t stand a chance against these upperclassmen with enrolling your engineering courses and the math courses which were already difficult to enroll in before they took away your standing.

      Now if you’ve also taken AP Physics C and scored well you test out of Physics 1A and are begin immediately in 1B. When you go to take 1C in your spring quarter you’re once again competing with 2nd years (and sometime 3rd years who put it off). Course scheduling becomes difficult. These math and science courses are the core of engineering and students can’t be expected to twiddle their thumbs and waste quarters because they came in as strong students from the beginning and aren’t given the tools to progress their education.

      Maybe the effects of these changes will not be as severe to North Campus students or will even the playing field for students to enroll in GEs. But the new policy actively hurts advanced underclass south campus students when the policy that was already in place wasn’t doing them any favors either.

  • Paul

    It’s unfair that students who attend high schools with an abundance of AP courses come into college with advantages in both enrollment priority and academic preparedness. I agree that this step is towards equity because everyone deserves to start on equal footing once you have been accepted into a school such as UCLA. Advantages from your upbringing is a huge factor in wealth inequality and I think education is a place where they have the opportunity to change that.

    • Mark

      Do you think it is fair for athletes to still have priority registration over all students?
      This registration change, is not a step towards equity. The pass system lumps students into groupings of about 50 units. That already pulls down some students while elevating others.
      A reason given for this change: “Corey Hollis, director of academic advising, said that students … took advantage of the previous enrollment system by signing up for extra classes they did not need to take. …hurt(ing) students who needed these classes but had a low class standing…” If this is the case, counselors need to be involved to find out which students did this. Why are AP units counted toward graduation but discounted for standing?
      This is a public institution, and the rules were changed after students accepted enrollment offers. That is unfair. Why would Chancellor Block okay this without any input from students?

      • Paul

        You’re right in the sense that there is still a lot of unfairness with the new policies. It hurts some and benefits others, however, the point of this new policy is to remove any unfair advantages that have been gained by the previous system. There are issues outside of just students signing up for extra classes. Acceptance into honor societies or eligibility for scholarships also depend on class standing based on units. I don’t believe that it is fair that a student who has taken a large number of AP courses unrelated to his/her degree requirements is able to take advantage of these opportunities over their peers. I agree that a more in depth investigation of who the culprits will have a better outcome in terms of fairness, but the capacity to enforce that is beyond the reasonable capability of the school. Policies such as this must be simple and clear in order to execute and enforce with ease. The more complex a policy is, the more avenues there are for exploitation and leverage.

        Again, true there are inconsistencies in terms of courses counting towards graduation and not standing but those are issues that can be addressed at later time once this issue has been resolved. Democratic decision making is the fairest process there is, however, it is unrealistic because you would have to gain input from not only the current students but also past students and even potential students.

        To reiterate, the motivation is to eliminate an unfair advantage while making the policy enforceable.

  • RB

    The problem is this: these units factor in to graduation, so people may want to graduate early or use these units to graduate on time, but not be able to get the specific classes they need this winter and spring to make that happen. I’m not sure how many people this will end up affecting…potentially none…but I worry that we won’t know if this will have any fallout unless/until it’s in place and to put students at risk who had a firm graduation plan for this year is foolish. I’m hopeful that there won’t be any problems, I just wish the university would have waited to put this in place until fall, when students would have more quarters to prepare for the change and ensure that the potential problems would be thought through and students could make sure to take smaller classes while they have access to it. In the end, no matter when the transition is it would be rough, but to do something like this in the middle of the academic year when their is nothing emergent about it seems rash.

  • JJ

    Who can we email our complaints to?

  • Valeria

    This is incredibly frustrating. I worked hard in high school, with the understanding that I would be rewarded in college. I will not be applying to UCLA any more, if they aren’t going to recognize the sacrifices myself and my parents made so that I could take these courses and take these exams. The school already caps AP credit, which I do not believe is fair, and now they are taking one of the other few perks to reward high school students. They have not made the system fair, they have simply switched the inequity to the other side.

    • Mikey

      Exactly how have they discounted the sacrifices and accomplishments you’ve made in high school through this policy? Having AP courses and passing them looks good on any college application and UCLA definitely won’t simply overlook the fact that you have made the effort to take those exams if you do apply to the university. Moreover, I’m sure that in taking those classes you have gained invaluable study skills that can transfer over in your future studies.

      You need to take a step back and look outside your bubble, and realize that not everyone is taking the same path as you to get a college education. Other people can work JUST as hard as you and may have sacrificed JUST as much as you have to get to where they are at, but, depending on their circumstances [i.e. their socioeconomic status, international student status, local educational system] they may have never been given the opportunity to take those advanced classes as you may have been given. Does that discount them as less worthy as you because their circumstances were different? No. They just got handed a bad deck of cards while you got a better one.

      For this policy, UCLA is just making sure their ALL their students get the same opportunities to get the classes they need to further enrich their education and graduate. Being stripped of this “perk” doesn’t curb your chances to be successful in any way, it just ensures that everyone will be able to gain access to success. I’m going to assume you’re still in high school, so I don’t expect you to understand the struggles of actually trying to get the classes you need in college, but I challenge you to practice opening your mind to understand different perspectives on issues you may not agree with. Trust me, that’ll go a long way in your college career. (And if you’re actually in college forgive me for assuming too much).


      • Shawn Lu

        Actually, because UCLA gives AP credit, those students tend to be forced to compete in classes that upperclassmen get. We are not denying that other students have worked just as hard; but the problem comes because AP students often end up with different classes with non-AP classes, which means if AP students don’t get those classes, they’re forced to simply wait. That’s a waste of time and opportunity.

      • Mark

        Same opportunity? Not having AP or IB courses does not disadvantage high school students in terms of earning a degree. Pre-requisites have to be met to take the higher level courses, and they need the units to compete with upper classmen for those courses. To say the AP, IB courses are no longer college level is unfair and arbitrary.

        The degrees are based on four years. If there are not enough classes for incoming freshmen to follow the major class schedules laid out in the catalog, maybe too many students are being enrolled.

        Those 50 unit pass groupings already disadvantaged those with more AP units. In fact, if students came in with 49.9 units, they had the same shot at getting a class as students with 0 units.

  • Randall Parker Mba

    Well, if you can afford it, just transfer to USC. You will get a better education, as well.