Getting the Picture

Adopting a holistic review process like that of UC Berkeley and UCLA would only better the University of California.

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Thursday's vote by the UC Board of Regents to urge University of California campuses to adopt a holistic review process for admissions is a welcome step toward a more open and diverse student body and richer and more valuable college experience.

In a holistic review process, applicants are assessed based upon consideration of their application as a whole. Each file is read by two people and given one score that takes into account high school grades, standardized testing, special circumstances that may account for performance problems and any other criteria determined by the campus.

This is in contrast to the traditional evaluation process, which assigns each criterion a score and then totals those scores to create a final application score. Often, these scores are calculated at least partially be computer systems.

The advantage that the holistic review system has over the traditional system is that it allows admissions officers to account for factors like personal tragedies or socio-economic disadvantages that cause traditional numerical assessments of students to not accurately represent the individual's potential.

It is important to note that by supporting holistic review we are not endorsing affirmative action. While we believe that it is important to consider how socioeconomic conditions could adversely affect applicant performance, we do not believe race should play any part in admissions.

We also reject the claim that shifting to holistic review could compromise the academic quality of the university. Holistic review has been used for admissions by UCLA since 2007 and UC Berkeley since 2002, and they are consistently ranked the two best campuses of the university.

We have endorsed holistic review before, most recently last April. Then, as now, we believe that while implementing it may cost slightly more for campuses to retrain admissions officials and spend more time considering applications, those costs are a small price to pay for what we consider to be a more equitable and fair system for all students.






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