Reaching Out to Southland High School Counselors
By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
At a breakfast meeting in downtown Los Angeles April 14, Chancellor Berdahl and Undergraduate Admissions Director Bob Laird got a chance to respond to some of those burning queries from local advisors and school administrators.
"This has been a period of remarkable transition," Berdahl told the more than 40 people in attendance. "I came on the scene with [Proposition] 209. The adjustments we've had to make have been quite substantial."
Student response to the dismantling of affirmative action in admissions was of continuing concern to Gloria Taylor, a counselor at Dorsey High School in the Crenshaw District, historically one of the area's most affluent African American neighborhoods. Since the passage of 209 it's been harder to motivate her students to apply to the University, she said.
Many of the school's top students are applying instead to historic black colleges like Moorehouse, Howard and Spellman, she said, rather than dealing with potential rejection from UC campuses. The number of students opting for community colleges has also grown, Taylor said.
Art Maletz, an adviser at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet School in East L.A., worried whether the UC Regents' new plan to accept the top 4 percent from every high school would create a "brain drain" from his school, with students deciding to transfer to less competitive schools so they'll have a better crack at the top UC campuses.
Laird reassured counselors that the 4 percent plan will not displace students otherwise eligible for UC . Its biggest impact, he predicted, would be on students from rural areas.
He also noted that the just-completed undergraduate admissions cycle, in which 26 percent of those who applied were accepted, was "the most selective in 131 years of history of the campus.
"And that's not necessarily a good thing," he added. "It creates a lot of public policy issues if sons and daughters of California taxpayers are denied a place."
Berkeley officials pointed out some of the changes in the campus admissions process spurred by the end of affirmative action. These include the reading of each and every application, and development of a more sophisticated database on California schools in order to better understand, in Laird's words, "the context out of which our applicants come."