UCSC Canceled Freshman Admission Offers for Missing Transcript Deadline – Most Appeals Approved

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel, UCSC approves 364 of 370 appeals for admission (September 10, 2015):

After thorough consideration of 370 appeals and a storm of controversy, the UC Santa Cruz Cancellation Appeals Review Committee has readmitted 251 students for fall quarter and 113 students for winter 2016.

According to Michelle Whittingham, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at UCSC, the 251 fall quarter approvals were based on evidence that confirmed circumstances beyond the applicants’ control.

Although the 113 winter quarter approvals were also based on information in the appeals, Whittingham said public advocacy for the students, including an online petition calling on the university to reinstate the affected students, also played a role.

My somewhat-taken-out-of-context two cents:

Wei-Li Sun is a UC admissions expert who has provided counseling to prospective UC students since 2006. She believes UC admissions offices need to provide a more user-friendly admissions policy.

“I get the sense that the UCs believe students should be able to hold their own and that navigating the complex application process is a sacred rite of passage,” Sun said. “That may be the case, but it is also bad customer service,”

What I really wanted to convey to the UCs (I did bring some of these points up during the counselor conference; whether the campuses actually heard or taken to heart what I said is questionable):

  1. I think the UCs genuinely believe that the requirements and deadlines are as clear as they possibly can be. But what they don’t consider is that some students, parents, and even school counselors may interpret the information differently than how the UCs intended. I’m not saying the UCs have to find six different ways to explain the same requirements or deadlines to each student, but, to the extent possible, they must make an attempt to anticipate and resolve potential misinterpretations before they arise.
  2. I get the sense that the UCs may believe that students should be able to hold their own and that navigating through the complex application process is a sacred rite of passage. That may be the case, but that is also bad customer service. Even with financial aid, most students still have to pay a lot of money out-of-pocket to be at the UCs. Without financial aid, students often have to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend. I think the UCs have to reevaluate and find a middle ground between holding students accountable for their own actions and helping them navigate through the red tape.
  3. Between the enrollment reduction and the implementation of the waitlists from several years ago, and the most recent mass cancellations, the UCs do not appear to be concerned about generating goodwill among California students and parents. The complaints I hear from both students and parents often stem from their frustration that the UCs neither want nor respect their opinions when considering or implementing policy changes. While parent or student input may not always be relevant, getting buy-in from them, in addition to school counselors and policy makers, is just as important, particularly to a system whose primary purpose is to serve the student population of California.
  4. Part of building goodwill is to keep parents and students well informed in meaningful ways. I think some students and parents are especially frustrated because information they deem important, such as statistics for admission or waitlist, is not always readily available or easy to find. Instead of reactively defending against a predictable backlash resulting from something like the mass cancellation, I think the UCs could do a better job of proactively reaching out to parents and students, the media, and the California taxpayers with the relevant information in order to regain trust, and make sure everyone is on the same page. When it comes to something as important as college admissions, no one wants any surprises.

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