University of California Joins Other Colleges in Adjusting Admission Requirements Due to Coronavirus

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Photo By Jensen Salvatori

The UC Santa Cruz athletics and gym building In March 2019

Katie Newton, Staff Writer

Online AP tests. No spring ACT or SATs. Pass or fail classes. Distanced learning.

The class of 2021 is facing new challenges as they prepare for college applications next fall. The changes in response to the COVID-19, or the new coronavirus, have affected their high school education, but it also affects their chances at getting into college and many universities are taking action.

The University of California temporarily suspended the letter grade minimum for their A-G testing requirements in addition to the standardized test requirement. 

Students are still able to submit standardized test scores if they have them, but due to the cancellation of the March and May SAT as well as April ACT, many students lost key testing opportunities. If a student has scores available, however, they will assist with the application of certain scholarships and University graduation requirements.

The new test-optional policy for the class of 2021 “is intended to reassure students and families who have to make decisions in the coming weeks about fall 2021 applications, and is consistent with actions taken by other colleges and universities,” a university policy statement by the UC regents said. “It is intended as an accommodation and not a permanent policy shift, and does not foreclose future (UC Regents) Board policy actions with respect to the use of standardized tests in University admissions for fall 2022 applicants and beyond.

Even before the new coronavirus outbreak, the University of California had been debating continued use of standardized test. 

A faculty task force in February recommended keeping the ACT/SAT requirement, but critics argue the exams are biased and not good predictors of academic success. 

UC regents were to have weighed in on the testing controversy in May. But they made clear that the decision to suspend test requirements was not a permanent change. 

”With the current anticipation of the University of California’s stance on becoming test optional, the board was sure to note that the adjustment to admission standards, “is not intended as an admissions policy shift but is rather a temporary accommodation driven by the current extraordinary circumstances.”

The modification to A-G letter-grade requirements will only apply to the spring semester, or any summer school courses taken in 2020. Student’s GPA will not include classes graded on a pass/fail or credit/no credit basis during this time.

For some students this may come as a relief, but for others it brings frustrations.

Senior Olivia Seargeant believes it was the right decision to make, yet has some discontent over how it alleviates the workload for younger classes.

“I understand, but it’s just a little frustrating that we [seniors] had to take the ACT, SAT and AP tests and worried about our grades for so long and now juniors don’t have to,” Seargeant said.

The UC system was not the first to alter admission standards, either.

Oregon State University eliminated standardized testing requirements for those applying for the fall of  2021 as well.

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