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By John Raftrey And Lori McCormick

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About this blog: We are writing this blog to give practical advice to students and parents, to reflect on issues affecting college admissions, and to provide a platform for a robust community discussion on post-secondary choices. We occasionally f...  (More)

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Once Again, UC’s Confuse and Disappoint Top Seniors

Uploaded: Mar 19, 2016
(Written by John Raftrey)

The UC’s are once again giving out confusing results to frustrated high school seniors. Davis must have one long wait list. I’ve been talking with other college counselors and a lot of high performing students have been wait listed at UC Davis. One counselor suggested Davis is following what they did last year when they admitted 2,030 (two thousand thirty, not a typo) students off the wait list. This how how colleges control their numbers in an era when students are applying to more and more schools and colleges are having trouble forecasting how many students they admit will say yes.

One student was waitlisted by Davis and won a full ride to Stoneybrook University, the gem of the state of New York university system.

If you are waitlisted at a UC, make sure you read and understand the rules to make sure you stay on the wait list. You have to accept a spot on a wait list by a specific date and that date varies from school to school. You can also send a brief email. Last year 6,300 students did not tell Davis they wanted to stay on the wait list.

If you are denied at a UC and want to appeal, read closely and understand the rules and the dates to file your appeal. It is very rare to win an appeal. Something dramatic has to have changed since you filed your application. Think of it like when the innocence project uses new DNA technology to exonerate a man who has been wrongly convicted and a judge grants a new trial. It almost has to be a clear mistake made by the UC or you have to win the Intel Science Talent Search.

Where to get help. Just like there are lawyers who are expert on appeals, there is a counselor who is an expert on UC appeals. Wei-Li Sun who is a friend of mine, is an expert on UC waitlist and denial appeals. Her website a loads of free advice on what to do. Check out her website:
AskMsSun.com

Good Luck everybody. Just remember, like the old-time player and Manager of the Yankees Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
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Comments

 +   2 people like this
Posted by from a UC or two, a resident of another community,
on Mar 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm

After being to an undergraduate UC ages ago, and sending 2 kids down the application route in the last decade, "it's pretty crazy, isn't it"?
One kid had excellent grades, &APs, and SATs, and a reference: got into: NOT Berkeley! but UCLA, and UC Santa Barbara. Went to Stanford (thought about accepting Carnage Mellon).
Those were the six applied to (5/6 NOT Berkeley!)
Other - had better SATs (almost perfect) excellent grades, &APs not so much reference: got into UCLA and Davis and UCSB went to a good small mid-west college. Did not make a single supper elite (<5% acceptance rate).
There were 10 applied to! 5/10
It is really not worth while applying to 10-12 schools IMO. Not so much the fees - but the student effort in the senior year! If your kid is in the top few percent (in country) of National Merit winners, or valedictorians, they will be recruited. If teachers say - this is one of the smartest and most motivated kids in the Last Decade - GO For IT.

Pick the right level college, apply for about 6 around that level. "Reach" does not make sense in this environment.

I know very successful younger professionals who have made it in science (astrophysics @ Caltech) = Physics at Cal State East Bay, and education (ed administration masters @ Harvard) = Cal State Chico.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by All the children are above average, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm

You wrote "The UC’s are once again giving out confusing results to frustrated high school seniors. . . [Davis last year] admitted 2,030 students off the wait list."

But you also wrote "This how how colleges control their numbers in an era when students are applying to more and more schools and colleges are having trouble forecasting how many students they admit will say yes. . . You have to accept a spot on a wait list by a specific date. . . Last year 6,300 students did not tell Davis they wanted to stay on the wait list."

So, is this the UC system "Confus[ing] and Disappoint[ing]" seniors, or is it rather the system coping as it best can with massively parallel applications (thus reflecting what the students themselves brought about)?

What you cited is just one part of today's sometimes surreal US college-application environment. Students and parents focus on "gaming the system" and second-guessing what Admissions offices "want," instead of preparing well for future work (leaving Admissions to try to look past those efforts, and see the real student) -- then the same students and parents complain that the process has "become too competitive." High schools do bizarre things like award extra grade points for A+ grades (yielding boasts like "4.15 out of 4.0," which just means that all the averages should be re-normalized to 4.3 instead of 4.0, and stop playing games). I graduated from two of the big-name universities today's "top seniors" and parents lust over, and taught at a third -- I hate to break it to them, but those universities -- those that award them at all -- themselves give A+ grades as just an honorific extra, the same "grade points" as an A. In that context, the high-school GPA's look naive, just yet-another instance of high-school grade inflation to be discounted by Admissions. And the faculty at the good universities look at how the students perform to _them._ High-school grades and applications packets are very soon forgotten, forever.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by My Take, a resident of South of Midtown,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 10:14 am

All the Children, The multiple applications and resume inflation does not take place in a vacuum. Not only has securing a place in a good school become increasingly difficult as the public school system is starved of funds while the population of students applying for space has increased, and universities such as Stanford have not increased capacity in proportion to the need.

Admissions insiders often boast about their ability to see beyond fluffed up resumes, but the students with the most artificially bloated resumes are often admitted. At the same time, the universities that advertise themselves as particularly desirable, turn around and use the resulting high applicant numbers to further puff up their profile. Stanford boasts its success at being the most exclusive university in the world as proof of its superiority, while this number is the direct result of the advertising, rather than the education on offer. What is is actually superior at is rejecting qualified students and not excelling at educating a significant number of them. To turn around and blame students for this is unintelligent and mean.

When they see that the schools have the goal of rejecting them, students respond by hedging their bets and applying to more schools. To not do so would be foolish. I know many highly qualified young people with genuine resumes who have been rejected from numerous schools while being accepted at just a few. They have watched less talented peers cheat and lie their way into the top spots where they often burn out, which results in further accusations by former deans such as Julie Lythcott Haims that helicopter parents are creating teacup students. Teacup students, the product of this shabby behavior on the part of schools, make up a high percent of the tiny pool of students who get admitted. The vast majority of qualified students with genuine resumes seldom find their way into these schools. This benefits none of the students.

The world needs well educated students. The students applying want the best possible opportunities. Your comments indicate that you have no idea what is actually going on.



 +   17 people like this
Posted by All the children are above average, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

"What [Stanford] is actually superior at is rejecting qualified students and not excelling at educating a significant number of them."

An interesting offhand assertion, but taking cheap shots at Stanford has no connection to my comment above (I've neither studied nor taught there, though Stanford did offer admission, twice -- it might even amaze some people around Palo Alto that not every student in the world chooses Stanford, given the opportunity).

"highly qualified young people with genuine resumes [have] been rejected from numerous schools while being accepted at just a few. They have watched less talented peers cheat and lie their way into the top spots where they often burn out. . . This benefits none of the students."

Yes, that's part of what I wrote about -- the "gaming" of applications. Thus you concur (implicitly) that the topic of student-applicant behaviors (of which this gaming element is very important), far from being untouchable as it sometimes appears in this column, is part of any serious assessment of today's bizarre applications milieu. At least if the discussion is to move beyond shallow rhetoric about "blaming the students" or "shabby behavior on the part of schools" or bashing Stanford.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by My Take, a resident of South of Midtown,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 1:39 pm

All the Children, Yes, beyond your shallow rhetoric is a real problem, the solution of which, as I suggested in my first paragraph above, lies in bringing the supply of good college options in line with demand. As I suggested, two major changes would go a long way toward filling the gap: fully funding the public universities, and private universities, such as Stanford, shifting their focus from rejecting the most students to instead challenging themselves to accept and educate the greatest number possible. As long as our public schools are starved of funds, and our private schools pat themselves on the back for the low number of students they educate, our graduating high school students will be forced to play this game.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Everyone take a deep breath .., a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Thanks to the authors for sharing the state of UC applications and how to manage these waitlists. There is a lot that goes into this madness and confusion. We see this in the posts above.

One of the most helpful things I learned in the past year was to remember that "there is a seat for everyone" in this vast higher education world. Unlike many other countries where only the truly elite get to go to college, each student will eventually find a place to go to school. It is really what each student makes of any situation that matters.

Let's shift away from the scarcity thinking that is fueling this madness on high-priced private college counseling and applying to 10+ schools.

Not to take away from the need for families to get some help here and there, but let's change the conversation around college applications and interrupt this idea that this is some sort of unfair "game". Our children's lives are not "games" to be played.

Not sure what that conversation looks like yet - just appreciating the abundance of opportunities and different paths open to our children.




 +   13 people like this
Posted by so glad its almost over, a resident of Gunn High School,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Check out this excellent site on UC admissions.
Web Link
Look at the admissions rate for OUT-OF-STATE applicants.
The percentage offered admissions is criminal and points directly to lower standards for out-of-state applicants for a pure money grab.
We need to make this ILLEGAL.
We are ending up paying out of state tuition for our kid to go outside California because of this!!!
UCSD and Irvine are tragically bad.
Perhaps a sliding scale for tuition based on ability to pay....



 +   13 people like this
Posted by BP, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 20, 2016 at 11:31 pm

The state schools have figured out the best way to get the most money.

For example: California kids attending Arizona schools have to pay out of state fees there, and the Arizona kids attending California schools have to pay out of state fees here.

Both states double their income compared to just accepting their own kids.


 +   16 people like this
Posted by everyone is a critic, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 5:58 am

This article is so poorly written it is painful to read. Every article in this blog series is poorly written.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Single mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

My son never understood why students from foreign countries who are unable to write and understand English were admitted to the schools he applied for in California.

He is an honest kid.
I don't think he ever cheated in school, and we did not do his homework for him.

He is looking for a job at the mall selling clothes, until we figure out what we can do to help him.

Thanks 12 years at PAUSD!


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Confused Top Senior, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm

"One counselor suggested Davis is following what they did last year when they admitted 2,030 (two thousand thirty, not a typo) students off the wait list. This how how colleges control..."
When you mention not having a typo and then commit an error seven words later.......


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Is this journalism?, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Is this journalism in any form? The entire premise of the article is based on speculation.

"Davis must have one long wait list. I’ve been talking with other college counselors and a lot of high performing students have been wait listed at UC Davis."

Where are your sources sir?

And it's full of sweeping generalizations and sensationalism.

"One student was waitlisted by Davis and won a full ride to Stoneybrook University, the gem of the state of New York university system."

I understand that blog's on Palo Alto Online can be structured in a more casual format, but seems like this one was not edited, and is not journalism. For people less educated on journalistic ethics, this type of writing will blind them and mislead them.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Local Student, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 11:22 pm

As a student who is going through the admissions process,

I find this post TRIGGERING and request that it be removed immediately to protect me and other fellow students.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Harry Foster, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Mar 21, 2016 at 11:25 pm

This article is extremely triggering—please take it down.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by everyone is a critic, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2016 at 8:31 am

BP says:

"For example: California kids attending Arizona schools have to pay out of state fees there, and the Arizona kids attending California schools have to pay out of state fees here."

BP, your comments are true but a bit misleading. If a undergrad Californian attends a state run out of state school that belongs to WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) they will pay 1.5X in-state tuition. Not bad considering dorms are much cheaper in Arizona than California. In Arizona you can attend ASU or NAU with this program. Plus some WUE schools (NAU is one of them) have a tuition guarantee for four years. California schools do not have tuition guarantees, they seem hell bent on raising fees at every opportunity.

There are a number of CSUs and UC on the list for out of state WUE students to choose from. The complete list of schools can be found

at: Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 22, 2016 at 10:50 am

Yogi also said "nobody goes there anymore -- it's too crowded."

Web Link


 +   6 people like this
Posted by The Solution, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Mar 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Get your kid educated at a good school here, then establish residency in Oregon prior to application season. Now he's an out-of-stater who can get into Davis.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by PV Mom, a resident of Portola Valley,
on Mar 22, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Thank you, John, for your blog post. It’s good to get a general feel for the admissions landscape this year. I think this was pretty clearly presented as observation, not fact, so I am not following why so many people are struggling with the essence you post. To the fellow who asks “Where are your sources sir?”: under what rock do you think one would find that heretofore undisclosed information regarding the people on the waitlist? The acceptances came out last week and Davis has not disclosed how many kids are on the list. They don’t themselves know who/how many will be on the list.

I have a few things I would like to add to these remarks.

First, while it is probably early to know what is going on with waitlists this year (hence, conjecture is totally appropriate), it would surprise me if waitlists were as long as last year. That’s not to say it is not happening…just that I thought the year-to-year situation that would drive UC waitlists was different. Same time last year, weren’t Janet and Jerry were in the midst of a big tug-of-war over the budget? Janet had to hold firm on admits, despite the fact that applications had gone way up, as she was not getting what she needed, financially, from the state. She wanted to raise tuition but Jerry was holding some $120m over hear head. When the budget settled, many kids were released from the list — right? Or something like this. It would be interesting to know if waitlists are again as long as last year. Perhaps it is “the new normal” and is a function of controlling admissions among a continuing application surge (apps were WAY up again this year, at least at Cal and UCLA) rather than having anything to do with the budget last year, which is what I had assumed when reading about it back in 2015.

With regard to taking so many out of state students, I find this deeply disappointing too. As for making this “ILLEGAL,” however…where do you think the money comes from to pay for the university? Do you know what percentage of the budget is comprised of state funding at, for example, U.C. Berkeley? A mere 13% — an all-time low. U.C. is nominally a “state” school but cannot act as one when it gets only 13% of its funds from the state. It either needs to cut costs (arguably, it should) or raise revenues. It can raise revenues by taking out-of-state kids or increasing in-state tuition. Whenever it tries to raise tuition, the students and/or Jerry Brown cry foul. The price of a U.C. education is WOEFULLY underpriced relative to its value. Tuition is $13,400ish? My daughter has been accepted at a number of private schools (in addition to 5 U.C.s). The tuition for private: $49k. These schools all ranked about the same as U.C. A $36k difference in the tuition? It is a shame that people think that they are entitled to a top-drawer education without having to pay for it. And, as for a “sliding scale”…I would argue that we already have that. The kids on the lower end get an assortment of need-based assistance. They are the same ones picking up the picket signs, insisting that tuition should not be raised. Meanwhile, families “in the middle” — neither rich, nor poor — get totally screwed as their kids cannot get into UC, and the out-of-state and private alternatives are indeed out of reach.

What I find equally troubling is the “who” part of admissions — that is, to see who is actually getting in. I followed a College Confidential thread last week when my daughter was accepted to UCLA. I was shocked to see the stats that some of the admits were posting. I saw a dozen kids post SAT scores that were in the 1800 range, far below the UCLA average, and I did not go through that may posts. I see kids saying that they have received Cs, Ds and Fs. These are not all out-of-staters who are buying their way in. If your kids are not getting in, I think I would redirect the animus. As admissions gets this squishy, it becomes inherently unfair.

And finally, to the kids (or adults?) who have cried “triggering”…you don’t need to worry about any of this stuff because if you don’t have the stomach for this post, you surely don’t have the mettle for UC. You seriously find this troubling? Talk about teacups. UC (having gone there) is roll-up-your-sleeves, self-serve, fall down and pick yourself back up. Nobody is going to come and dry your tears when the wind is not blowing in the direction you want it to. If you cannot run with the big dogs, then stay on the porch.





 +   10 people like this
Posted by Harvard, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm

Big dogs don't need to bark much unless they're trying to prove they are more than they are. UC is for the big dogs? Please, you flatter yourself unnecessarily. We have the Ivy league for the big dogs. Now back to the paper pup pup, obviously more training is needed.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 3:40 am

It is celebration time and a lot of decisions to make for students and parents.

You have worked hard. No doubt you deserve a good college education.

Whether it is a UC or a private school, lift your head up high and enjoy the journey.

What is key is to accept a school that you fall in love with, have one or two friends from your high school or relatives or siblings, take good classes and get ready for healthy living, meet people, make friends, enjoy a trip or two to Europe, Asia, feel for those that don't have it.

At the end, Berkeley, Stanford, Davis, New York, Hanover, Boston are all good. You as a hard working student is blessed with these offerings and you as a parent is cherishing the journey.

By the way, I have two daughters; one went to Berkeley, another went to UC Riverside and transferred to a private college; and a son went to University of Michigan. We don't look back and ask why they were not admitted to schools they did not get in.

Key is to enjoy make friends, find mentors and definitely make grandparents proud.

Respectfully


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 3:40 am

It is celebration time and a lot of decisions to make for students and parents.

You have worked hard. No doubt you deserve a good college education.

Whether it is a UC or a private school, lift your head up high and enjoy the journey.

What is key is to accept a school that you fall in love with, have one or two friends from your high school or relatives or siblings, take good classes and get ready for healthy living, meet people, make friends, enjoy a trip or two to Europe, Asia, feel for those that don't have it.

At the end, Berkeley, Stanford, Davis, New York, Hanover, Boston are all good. You as a hard working student is blessed with these offerings and you as a parent is cherishing the journey.

By the way, I have two daughters; one went to Berkeley, another went to UC Riverside and transferred to a private college; and a son went to University of Michigan. We don't look back and ask why they were not admitted to schools they did not get in.

Key is to enjoy make friends, find mentors and definitely make grandparents proud.

Respectfully


 +  Like this comment
Posted by so glad its almost over, a resident of Gunn High School,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 11:12 am

PV Mom,
ILLEGAL was my chosen wording for a reason. Start with the correct principle and then make it work. stop making excuses like you do to avoid dealing with it.
We do not have a sliding scale. a sliding scale with no out of state admits would be simple.
1. Raise the top tuition level and likely tuition level for at least a third of attendees- I'd rather pay $35K here than $45K out of state! We are so far away from this simple ability-to-pay model it's insane!
2. Make sure the area under the tuition/population curve covers operating costs
3. Lower the bottom so that economically challenged don't have to search for aid and waste time throughout the system.
4. SAVE MONEY - going through UC admissions this year reinforced the tragic waste of money and effort at even the admissions level. duplication of websites, disparate processes for information, notification, calendars. Ridiculous parallel application to all UCs costing students 3X-4X the application dollars because of the crap shoot nature of the process. It's a UC system. Capitalize on it by eliminating duplicated efforts!!!!


 +   14 people like this
Posted by It Never Ends, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm

It Never Ends is a registered user.

It is a system in desperate need of reform.

In the past, if a student was in the top 25% of their class or had a top 25 percentile SAT score then he/she could be relatively confident in their chances of going to a state school. If they were more ambitious and wanted to go to a top 25 school then maybe they needed to be in the top 5-10 percent.

If you look at the profile of the most recent entering freshman classes something has changed. Whether by philosophy for diversity, business model preference or necessity, universities are now recruiting about 25% of their enrollment from out of state/country. What that now means is students must be in the top 1% of a global population to be competitive.

For families who have paid state taxes for almost two decades before their children go to college, that strikes me as patently unfair. We need to demand a system that works for its residents and makes them the first priority.


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