New Study of “Holistic” Admissions at UCLA Generates Controversy

Glenn Ricketts

UCLA law professor Richard Sander is in the news again, following release of this study of undergraduate admissions policies at his university. According to Sander’s findings, UCLA's “holistic” approach– that’s a new one for me – actually weighs race and ethnicity far heavier than other factors in determining admissions decisions for some students, whose academic credentials are significantly weaker than many other applicants who weren’t admitted. 

Sander, as we saw here recently, is not one to mince words about race-based admissions policies, even if, as at UCLA, you come up with a novel term like “holistic” to try and provide cover for something that’s purely, simply, flatly, indisputably, unarguably illegal, as he concludes.  

Not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of faux pain and canned anguish at UCLA – see the description here in IHE recently – where various student groups protested and university administrators – who evidently did not read the report or dispute its accuracy – complained about its “hurtful” impact on UCLA minority students.   

But as one of the posters in the comments thread observes, what about the “hurt” that results from the inevitably high failure rate among unprepared students admitted under UCLA’s “holistic” criteria?  No one, he concludes, seems to want to talk about that.  I wonder why.

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