"Faculty, Rights Advocates Defend UC Berkeley Admissions Policies," Oct. 25: Regarding the ongoing controversy about admissions policies at UC Berkeley and UCLA (and, one suspects, throughout the University of California system), I need to be upfront and admit that I am one of those "disgruntled" parents whose child was not admitted to Berkeley or UCLA despite grades and SAT scores way beyond the average for incoming freshmen. It would appear that my son was not confronted with "life challenges" -- i.e., I am not a convicted felon -- and, therefore, the process of "comprehensive review" did not apply in our case.
Now it's time for University of California President Robert Dynes, UC admissions officers and the sociology and ethnic studies professors cited in your articles (all of whom claim that admissions procedures at UC are just fine and dandy) to admit something as well -- i.e., that "diversity" is their overriding concern, that they view higher education as a social experiment and that Proposition 209 is something to be circumvented. Who knows, I might agree with them.
As a high school counselor I have a hard time justifying to my students the admissions policies used by competitive universities. When your article quoted a study by former presidents of Princeton and Harvard showing "nearly identical graduation rates among students with SATs below 1,000 and those with scores above 1,300 at 28 selective colleges," I began to wonder why colleges use the SAT at all.
Can someone explain to me why parents have to pay $1,000 to $1,500 for SAT prep courses and students have to spend hours preparing for a test that means nothing and has no correlation to success in college?
University H.S., Irvine
I applaud UC Berkeley's comprehensive review approach to admissions, which is a colorblind system that looks at the whole person, not just standardized tests, to determine who will be part of our country's best educational experiences. The students featured in "Against the Odds Is How They Have Prevailed" (Oct. 24) show -- through their leadership, motivation, work ethic and personal achievement despite family poverty and other personal hardships -- that they deserve the opportunity to participate in the UC Berkeley experience.
I don't think we need to worry about eroding the quality of the UC system's top campus. These students merely add to its excellence.
Regarding the kids admitted to Berkeley with less-than-stellar SAT scores: SAT scores are just a "day in the life." One day. One test. They do not and should not be the measure of a person's aptitude. If you have enough money you can learn how to take these tests. How fair is that to the disenfranchised?
In addition, I can completely relate to the young lady with learning disabilities. I am dyslexic, and tests like that are just brutal. However, I was valedictorian of my high school class, graduated cum laude from one of the top colleges in the U.S. and am a successful professional. These tests are not the measure of a man or a woman. I say judge each applicant on individual merit, and do not depend on numbers.
Re "UC Chief Defends Admissions Rules, Cites Diversity as Goal," Oct. 24: UC's President Dynes apparently is unaware that we have a state college and community college system where students who have not achieved academic excellence, for whatever reason, may attend. Dynes is probably better suited to working at a liberal foundation, but maybe he is already there.
The interviewed UC Berkeley students attest to the fact that they can pass at the UC level, and I can attest to the fact that a school in the UC system is no more difficult to pass than one at the state or community college level. I attended several different colleges in and out of state. One community college was more difficult than UCLA. Community college students can transfer to the UC system, so why make exceptions to the admissions practices? The UC system should increase the numbers who can transfer to the UC system in their junior year and follow some published rules that everyone can endeavor to achieve.
P.S. None of my five grandchildren got into UCLA. One has graduated from the University of Indiana, one from Chico State, one is a senior at Chapman University, one is at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and one is at Santa Barbara Community College with a plan to transfer to UC Santa Barbara. My alumni dollars will not go to UCLA but to their schools.