14 Factors Colleges Look for in Admissions

I recently read an interesting article by Peter Kuo about state bill SCA-5. He believes the bill will discriminate against Asians in college admissions. It’s called reverse discrimination by many. Because of this, he’s running for the state senate.

images-7His article hit home, because of my own kid. We thought every school would be clambering for him to come to their schools, but he received small letters — instead of big packages — by 8 out of 9 universities. I don’t know for sure, but it seems this phenomenon called reverse discrimination might have been at play for him, too.

My son and friend at high school graduation.

My son and friend at high school graduation.


He had a resume as a high school student that most adults would envy. Things like top 10 student in the county, Boys’ State, a talented swimmer and musician, a tutor in math and english, president of the Latin and JSA clubs, awarded honors for academics by John Hopkins. Add to that valedictorian and high SAT scores, and community service — who wouldn’t want him? Well, Stanford, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Cal, UCLA and USC to name a few.

imgres-1Because of his GPA, the UC’s had to take him. (It’s called Identification by UC as being ranked in the top 9 percent of your high school class at the end of your junior year Eligible in the Local Context or ELC). So, he ended up at UCSB. At first he didn’t like it, because he was sorely disappointed with the flood of rejections. But, after getting through his freshman year, he began to thrive and love his new home.

Personally, I think I would have chosen UCSB over all the other schools he applied to. There’s something to say for being surrounded by the gorgeous majesty of mother nature every single moment of your day!  Also, I’m not sure the “big name” schools are all they are cracked up to be. Here’s an interesting article on this subject.  Of course, it’s up for debate, and if he’d been accepted to Stanford, I’m sure we’d have loved it!

View of the breathtaking UCSB campus.

View of the breathtaking UCSB campus.

So, what do universities look for when reading applications? There are 14 key factors that the UC schools use. Each UC campus has a few extras they consider  Here’s one point that stood out for me that my son didn’t have in the list of 14:

  1. Academic accomplishments in light of your life experiences and special circumstances, including but not limited to: disabilities, low family income, first generation to attend college, need to work, disadvantaged social or educational environment, difficult personal and family situations or circumstances, refugee status or veteran status.

You can read about all 14 factors here

At Cal Berkeley they add another factor that my son didn’t have:

In addition to a broad range of intellectual interests and achievements, admission readers seek diversity in personal background and experience.”

On the UC websites  it specifically states: “Race, ethnicity, gender, and religion are excluded from the criteria.” But in the factors I’ve highlighted, I see a large loop-hole to do just that — diversity in personal background?

So what could my son have done differently to be accepted? Intern at a major university with a professor and be published in journals? Or begin the ‘comic con of the desert’ he talked about?

Or, he could have stuck with his 12 years of swimming. Swimming can and will open doors to higher education. I’ve written a lot about swimming and college admissions in my blog.

Swimming opens doors for college.

Swimming opens doors for college.

On the other hand, my son studied, loved learning, was hard working and followed his passions.

In the end, you have to learn to be happy where you are. Making it into a name brand school, or being denied admissions to the school of your dreams isn’t the end of the world. Your four years in college — where ever you may be — are only as good as you make them.

Do you have any experiences with rejections from colleges? Please comment. I’d love to hear about them.

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Are Tragedies on Campus the New Normal and Other Thoughts from a UCSB Mom

ucsbFriday night, I had tucked myself into bed when the phone rang. It was my son — a student at University of California, Santa Barbara. 

“Mom! There’s a drive-by shooter. A guy in a black BMW is randomly shooting people in IV! We can’t get home. Everything’s on lockdown.”

This was not a call I was expecting. Nor, one I wanted to receive.

Saturday afternoon, he called again. “I just went to the store. We’re on lockdown again and I can’t get home.” 

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Friday night the lockdown was because of the shootings and crashing of the BMW. Saturday, the police were removing male roommates from the killer’s apartment building.

l followed the story closely on the news. It’s almost all I could do for most of the weekend. I don’t understand why there was a leap to call this a hate crime and a war on women — and the fault of the NRA — when three victims were males who had been stabbed to death. I don’t understand why it happened, or how it could have been prevented. I believe the rush to judgement was an attempt to try to make sense or find a cause for this horrific tragedy. ucsblagoon

My heart and prayers go to all the families at UCSB. It’s been a tough year. I think the great academic accomplishments of the school are being overshadowed by tragedy. There’s too much trauma for students to digest. I wonder how these events will affect our kids in their future lives? Read about the academic accomplishments of UCSB in the LA Times here.

Just a few weeks ago, I got a call from my son during the Deltopia riots. I wrote it about Deltopia here.images-5

Then, weeks before that I saw on the TV about a UCSB Women’s Studies professor denying a pro-life teenager her right to free speech by assaulting her and cutting up her poster. I wrote about that here.imgres-8

Add that to the weekly emails about a meningitis outbreak, and it hasn’t been a stellar year for UCSB parents, students, or the faculty.

The frantic fear in my son’s voice is not what I envisioned hearing. I am sure this is not isolated at UCSB, but must becoming more common at universities across our country. Is this the new normal for our kids? They aren’t experiencing the carefree college years that we did. Where did that world go?ucsbeach
Photos from the top: UCSB campus overlooking the lagoon. A view from a dorm room at UCSB. Across the lagoon to the ocean. A Deltopia party picture. The confrontation between the Women’s Studies Professor and teen-age pro-life advocate. The view of the beach from UCSB campus.

Are the Rights to Party and Freedom of Speech at Odds at UC Santa Barbara?

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Fear and worry — my first two emotions when my son texted me Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.

He goes to University of California, Santa Barbara and was in the midst of Deltopia — a party turned riot. He said there were helicopters overhead, tear gas, and kids throwing bricks and liquor bottles.

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There’s been national news coverage of the event, and the campus paper also offers detailed coverage.

My third emotion was anger after I read an open letter from a student in defense of Deltopia.

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The student wrote the letter anonymously and said that students are “entitled to blow off steam” and “rage.” Really? ENTITLED? Am I forking over $120,000 plus in big bills for a “right to party?” Thank goodness it wasn’t my son that wrote that letter! I’d disown him. Plus, it’s poorly written. I expect more from my son.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about another national-attention grabbing UCSB story in “Is Freedom of Speech Dead on America’s Campuses?” A feminist studies professor, Mireille Miller-Young, destroyed the poster of a young pro-life advocate and accosted her. Miller-Young pleaded not-guilty to charges of theft from a person, battery and vandalism.

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There’s a petition at UCSB supporting Miller-Young and asking to censor anyone from handing out sensitive material on campus — because it may trigger uncomfortable feelings.

Here’s a quote from the petition:
“We also put pressure on administration and the Office of Student Life to reevaluate rules and regulations that allow outside community members to so heavily trigger and target students and faculty on this campus.”

Are you kidding me? The same students asking to remove freedom of speech from campus are now demanding their right to party!  Students don’t want to feel uncomfortable by a pro-life poster, but, it’s fine and dandy to drink and party at an event that ends with bricks and liquor bottles thrown at police? Has the world turned upside down at UCSB?

Fortunately, there are moments of sanity. I discovered a letter in the Daily Nexus from a student with concern about how their degree from UCSB can be harmed by the party school rep. Also, my son went to a town hall meeting with the administration and he offered a solution. He said administrators, professors and students are actively pursuing ideas to make UCSB a safe, sane place to pursue excellence in education.

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Do you find it odd that students demand the right to party? But don’t want free speech on campus? Let me know.