How To Get Into UC Berkeley? Go To A Bad High School
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From the San Francisco Chronicle:

This SF public school is tops in UC Berkeley acceptance rate. It’s not Lowell.

UC Berkeley was the second-most competitive campus for fall 2023 applicants. This SF school had one of the highest acceptance rates in the state.
By Madilynne Medina
March 27, 2024

Students at a San Francisco public high school were more successful at being accepted into UC Berkeley for the fall 2023 academic year than their peers at any other secondary school in California.

According to data from the University of California released on March 13, Mission High School had an acceptance rate of 43% at the flagship UC campus, the highest of any high school surveyed and almost three times the state average of 15%...

Though Mission High has traditionally lagged in state standardized testing results, it surpassed a wide range of high schools throughout the state in the acceptance rankings, including private schools and San Francisco’s highly competitive Lowell High, which requires placement testing for enrollment

Mission High, located on 18th Street at Mission Dolores Park, had 90 students apply to UC Berkeley for fall 2023. Of those students, 39 were admitted to the university, according to UC data, and 23 enrolled there in the fall. ...

Mission High’s acceptance rate comes at a time when the school has struggled with meeting standardized testing requirements, a long-standing issue at the high school. Education journalist Kristina Rizga published a book in 2015 about the school and its battle with a “low-performing” reputation because of below-average state test scores despite its high graduation, attendance and college acceptance rates.

Mission High still falls below the district and California average for its math, reading and science test scores, according to a survey for the current school year from U.S. News World & Report.

Mission HS:

But the school remains above the state average for its UC acceptance rates, with 91% of its students who applied being accepted into a University of California school last year.

Mission High’s enrolled students also include many who are economically disadvantaged and from minority groups. About 56% met the qualifications for free or reduced lunch, according to Mission High’s profile on the San Francisco Unified School District website. In the 2022-2023 school year, Mission High reported 1,082 enrolled students. A majority of the students are Latinx (65%), and 13% are African American. 

Most of the students from Mission High admitted to UC Berkeley were Latinx: 21 students out of the 49 Latinx applicants from Mission High were admitted to the university, according to UC data. Additionally, UC Berkeley admitted three African American students, 11 Asian students and three white students from Mission….

Mission High still had a significantly higher acceptance rate to Berkeley than Lowell High School, which has both a larger student body and uses admissions-based enrollment. Out of 688 of Lowell’s seniors, 499 of them applied to the university. Sixty-nine students were admitted, resulting in a 14% acceptance rate.

Lowell HS:

Lowell students applying to Berkeley had the highest GPAs out of all the SFUSD schools, with an average of 4.06, according to UC data. Lowell students who were admitted to Berkeley had an average GPA of 4.22. …

Lowell has 2652 students across all 4 years, while Mission has 1,080. Dividing by 4 to approximate the size of the senior class, at Lowell 69 of 663 seniors got into Berkeley, or 10.4%. At Mission, 39 out of 270 were admitted by UCB, or 14.4%. That gap isn’t huge, but Lowell students are racially better than Mission students.

Systemwide, the University of California said last fall it saw more admitted students from underrepresented communities.

The UC system overall saw an increase in California students and groups that are “historically underrepresented in higher education,” such as African American, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students, UC officials said in a Jan. 25 news release.

According to an Aug. 8 news release, in fall 2023, UC Berkeley admitted more first-generation college students and low-income students than previous years. However, UC Berkeley said African American students were one of the only minority groups that did not see an increase in admission offers in the fall 2023 application cycle.

UC Berkeley admitted 11.6% of its undergraduate applicants for fall 2023 this year, making it the second most competitive in the 10-campus system, trailing UCLA, which admitted only 8.8% of applicants.

I think what is going is what I saw when I looked at UC San Diego admissions last year. During the Racial Reckoning, the politicians on the UC Board of Regents overrode the findings of the expert commission of the faculty senate and banned even the option submission of test scores by high school students applying to UC campuses.

That left admissions departments with only two quantitative metrics: Grade Point Average and Class Rank. The former is probably better, but it is biased toward students at better schools that offer more Advanced Placement classes because A in an AP course counts as a 5.0 while an A in a regular course counts as a 4.0.

So, UC San Diego appeared to be focusing on class rank rather than GPA, and now Berkeley is following. Class rank boosts the chances of students at lousy schools because it’s easier to get a high class rank when there’s not much competition. On the other hand, lousy schools tend to have lousy students.

But nobody else has put forward that theory of what’s going on, so I dunno.

From a 2023 UC press release:

Increase in Humanities Majors at UC Berkeley Opens Conversation for the Value of a Humanities Education

January 10, 2023
Ellie Yun

LOS ANGELES—After decades of decline in humanities divisions across college campuses, the University of California, Berkeley has reported a resurgence of students declaring majors in the Division of Arts and Humanities—an increase of 73 percent compared to ten years ago.

For years, nearly every humanities field has seen sharp drops in enrollment. For the first time in two decades, U.S. degrees in the four major humanities fields—English, history, philosophy and languages—risk dipping below 100,000.

According to UCLA campus statistics, humanities majors compose merely 8.57 percent of undergraduate student enrollment within the College of Letters and Science.

However, recent data suggests that the record decline in humanities majors may end within the following years. At UC Berkeley, the number of first-year students that are declared as arts and humanities majors has increased by 121 percent over the past year.

Further, UC Berkeley’s humanities departments like comparative literature, film and media, and philosophy have reported the highest applicant pool in a decade. Students may be realizing that the humanities offer the perfect opportunity to develop critical analysis, communication and collaboration skills that go hand in hand with technical and quantitative abilities for the workplace.

Or, then again, kids who got into Berkeley without submitting test scores realize they’d get killed majoring in chemical engineering, so it’s comparative literature, here I come!

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