Is Raising The GPA Requirement For Guaranteed Admission Discriminatory?   Leave a comment

Yes, it is. Discriminatory against students who do not earn a high enough GPA.

Is it racially discriminatory?

No. Not unless you think minorities are incapable of high achievement at community college.

UCSD has approved a policy that would raise the GPA requirement for transfer students to qualify for guaranteed admission from 3.0 to 3.5. That does make it quite bit tougher to qualify for guaranteed admission, nobody’s disputing that. Because of a $500 million UC budget cut, UCSD can only afford to take fewer students, so they’ve decided to only guarantee admission to the highest achievers who apply to transfer from community colleges. Critics argue that this is an attack on diversity, as appears in the San Diego Union Tribune:

Jaime Salazar, Southwestern’s transfer center coordinator, said UCSD’s decision directly contradicts university policies calling for the removal of barriers for students from traditionally underrepresented groups.

There’s implications to that statement, Jamie Salazar. I understand and admire sticking up for all of your students and the importance of encouraging them to advance their education. But I’m not so sure about framing it as an attack on diversity. It’s a shame that fewer students will qualify for guaranteed admission, but there are budget realities. But raising a GPA requirement does not strike me as a racially discriminatory policy.

I don’t think it helps for an administrator to talk about how minority students don’t have as strong GPAs as whatever the majority is, has. That can have the effect of lowering expectations minorities have of themselves, in effect saying, UCSD will only take you if you have a 3.5 GPA and that means way fewer minorities will get in. Family circumstances and having to work to support oneself or even an entire family are realities that individuals from every racial background have to deal with, and grades don’t necessarily always indicate talent/intelligence. Admissions systems in the UC have always been flawed. But raising the GPA standard for guaranteed admission (not decisively precluding admission for lower achievers) is not racially discriminatory. Educational resources are scarce and UCSD is deciding to allocate them to those it deems most prepared to use them, regardless of race or background.

Nick Serrano, a Southwestern College student government officer had this to say about the policy:

“The change from a 3.0 to a 3.5 is huge,” said Serrano. “To a lot of our students this is discriminating because minority students do tend to have lower GPAs.”

Assess that for yourself. Personally, I don’t admire the mentality. A high-achieving university discriminating against lower achievers is not discrimination against minorities. For a leader to say minorities tend to have lower GPAs does not come off as an encouragement, or a call for a stronger focus on academics. What I’m hearing is that requiring all applicants to work harder is racially discriminatory. No. Telling minorities they are lower achievers and need special help is discriminatory.

There are many talented and hard-working transfer students at UCSD that I’ve encountered in my classes. There are also transfer students who seem less capable of keeping up with the expectations of the class. I’ve found myself annoyed with self-identified transfer students from many racial backgrounds including whites and Asians. It’s not about race, it’s about preparedness to succeed at UCSD, and every quarter I see examples of transfer students who are and examples of transfer students who are not. The ones who are not may not be doing themselves many favors by shooting above their current ability level, and bluntly, they do not do the class any favors by slowing down the pace, asking questions that should have been clear to anyone who read the required readings, and employing the excuse that they are transfer students (the number one way I can pick them out!). Plenty of four-year students are obnoxious too, that is certainly true, but that’s an admissions problem separate from the GPA requirement for transfer students.

Raising the GPA requirement for guaranteed transfer admissions does indeed reduce the number of opportunities available to study at UCSD. Budget realities make educational resources scarce, and UCSD has made the decision to pare down the number of transfer students it accepts by the race-neutral means of GPA. It makes me appreciate my privilege of studying at UCSD more and prompts me to offer encouragement to prospective students to work really hard. The reality is though, some people aren’t (in their current state) cut out for the academic standards of UCSD, and regardless of race, I agree that they should be the first ones who need to up their game before being guaranteed admission. Hopefully (though very unlikely in the near future) the budget situation gets relieved, more staff and resources can be obtained, and more students can get an education. That’s a long term process, and those of us lucky enough to have our UC education secured should be grateful for it. Under the budget crunch, it’s a good idea for all prospective students to work as hard as they can and not get distracted by charges of discrimination. It’s not a right for anyone to attend the UC and the competition’s tough.


Posted March 20, 2011 by Wada in Uncategorized

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