I’ve had the pleasure of getting some rather obnoxious emails from the UC Office of the President (UCOP) lately. These emails border on personal attacks and I don’t have the energy or time to deal with them. For now, I’m stopping the blog updates until I can implement a solution to stop further incursions from the UCs.
Keep reading if you want to know what went down …
In one email, I learned that my post Do NOT Submit the UC Application … YET! incensed someone high up in the UCOP and I was accused of spreading inaccurate information. I politely replied with specific information of each error I mentioned in the post, careful to keep the identity of the individuals who informed me of the errors secret (something the UCOP is not very good at doing … I saw more personal information than I probably should in some of the emails I received from the UCOP):
I’m sure if you go back to the call logs at the UC Application Center, you will find documentation of the problems I mentioned. Based on what I have heard, your call center staff is too willing to disclose problems to callers, sometimes providing details such as the number of affected cases or whether the problem was pervasive. That may be an area of improvement for future training. Below is the information I have regarding the problems I mentioned in my blog post.
Two of my clients had problems with payment processing last year (the problem was so pervasive, based on online complaints, that I mandated all of my clients to stay on the phone with me when submitting payment so I can walk them through what to do if the payment didn’t go through). I also received several emails from parents and students, who were not my clients, about problems with payment processing; one parent was told by the UC Application Center that there were numerous complaints. There were also several threads on College Confidential detailing payment problems, just search “uc payment” at http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/. As of today, there is already one issue about payment processing posted on College Confidential: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/university-california-general/1826620-uc-applications-payment-screen.html; the issue sounds more like an user problem (not submitting payment within the allotted time) but I’m guessing there is no clear instructions on what the student should do when the payment screen times out (perhaps an area of improvement for when you redesign the UC application).
Academic History Section
The scrambled Academic History section was brought to my attention by parents who emailed me. This happened two years in a row (the last occurrence was a few years ago). In both instances, the parents had called the UC Application Center and were told that several hundred students were affected and that emails had gone out notifying affected students (in the first instance, I believe the number was less than 500; in the second instance, the number was in the 200 range, but the parent’s child, who was affected, was not contacted so the parent and I both suspected the number was higher).
In another email, I was again accused of spreading inaccurate information regarding test scores in my post UC Test Score Submission Requirements and Deadline (a post from 2014). Here is the paragraph that raised UCOP’s hackles:
If you are still deciding whether to take the December tests, please consider that many UCs start reviewing applications in mid-December and applicants who have indicated planned December tests are held for later review in January. This could potentially put your application at a disadvantage (applications reviewed later in the cycle may receive more scrutiny). I would only recommend the December tests if you are confident you can improve your score significantly (200+ total score on the SAT or 3+ composite score on the ACT).
Apparently someone emailed UCOP asking about my recommendation regarding the December tests. First, let me just clarify that when I make a recommendation, it is what I consider a best course of action for the students (that is not to say it is the only course of action or that it works for everyone). Keep in mind that a recommendation is not a fact nor is it a rule, and you should feel free to disregard it if it doesn’t suit you. Second, I don’t always cite my sources because I don’t want to get people into trouble (such as application readers who explain the review process to me). Keep reading and you’ll know what I mean …
My reply to UCOP:
I clarify that my opinions are my opinions (vs. facts) as clearly as I can, but I cannot prevent people from misinterpreting my opinions as facts. In the context of the information in question, my opinion is that students should only take December tests as a last resort (which, given how often score reports have been delayed in the last several test administrations by both College Board and ACT, it’s smart for students to not rely solely on the December tests for college admission). If Mr. [XXXXX] chooses to believe my opinion to be fact, that is something I cannot control.
The information contained in the sentence “This could potentially put your application at a disadvantage (applications reviewed later in the cycle may receive more scrutiny).” was written with specific qualifiers (in italics here) and a [UC Campus] reader told me that applications reviewed later are disadvantaged (this may be the reader’s opinion, which is why I phrased the information with qualifiers).
From my experience, I know firsthand that information is impossible to control. You can spend 16 hours per day answering every question on College Confidential (I’ve actually tried that for a while) and people will still misunderstand or misinterpret the information you give out (sometimes willfully, regardless of how often I clarify or how many different ways I explain the information). Because of this, I’m very careful in how I phrase everything I say; at the end of the day, people will believe what they want to believe but I have peace of mind that I did what I could to present the information as accurately as possible (and separate out facts from my opinions; you should just be glad that I at least try … I could just Fox News this whole thing … which lots of people do and I don’t hear about you going after them with email follow-ups).
Each of these emails takes me almost two hours to write because I am checking my facts and ensuring my civility level is above reproach (can’t say the same for the emails I’m getting from the UCOP). I simply don’t have time for this!