Black students’ applications to University of California have skyrocketed, a development that comes after the system no longer considers SAT scores in admissions.
What’s more, Latino students’ applications to the UC system have also surged since the change.
The system received for fall 2021 admission the highest number of undergraduate applications in its history, “even in the midst of a global pandemic” — with an overall jump in applications from African American and Latino students, the system announced in a Jan. 28 news release.
“Campuses saw significant growth of freshman applications from African American students, with an increase of 1,505 applications or 21.8 percent, as well as Chicano/Latino students, with a jump of 5,250 or 12.2 percent,” the system reported.
Nowhere in the 458-word news release do system leaders mention the elimination of the SAT requirement as a factor in the application jump among students of color. Instead, they cite a wider belief that higher education is the pathway to a better future.
“Our record number of applications is a testament to the resilience of students and their families as well as their undeterred focus on higher education,” UC President Michael Drake said in the release.
A Jan. 28 article in the Los Angeles Times reports that at UCLA, the “campus saw a historic increase in Black applicants, rising 48% over last year, and significant gains across all other racial and ethnic groups: 33% for Latinos, 35% for whites, 22% for Asian Americans, 34% for Pacific Islanders and 16% for American Indians.”
Experts quoted in the Times article attributed the rise partly to COVID, that the “pandemic significantly limited opportunities to take the SAT” and also that “students had more time to complete college applications because they were ‘stuck at home all day.'”
Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, UCLA’s vice provost for enrollment management, was willing to concede, however, that the elimination of the SAT requirement “really motivated some students to pursue their dream of attending UCLA.”
No one, it appears, is willing to say on the record that the lack of a SAT requirement made it seem easier to get into the normally highly competitive UC system.
Critics have long bemoaned the standardized tests as discriminatory toward minorities and low-income students.
In 2019, some students of color along with several student advocacy groups pledged to sue the University of California if it did not drop its admission requirement of SAT and ACT test scores. They alleged the tests “illegally discriminate against applicants who can’t afford test prep classes and pose other unfair obstacles.”
In May 2020, the University of California did away with its standardized testing admissions requirement, announcing the system would develop a new test that does not include a writing component, and that if no new test is ready by fall 2025, officials will eliminate altogether its standardized testing requirement for California freshmen.
But in September 2020, a judge ruled the university system could no longer consider performance on standardized tests in admissions, citing disabled applications.