Sunday, October 4, 2015

College of Letters?

In a significant break from tradition, UC Berkeley will ask some freshman applicants to submit letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors this fall. And the UC system is studying whether all of its nine undergraduate campuses should do the same in future years as another way to choose among the avalanche of students seeking admission. The new policy at UC Berkeley, while optional and limited this year, has triggered much debate at other UC campuses and high schools around the state about the value of such letters and whether they hurt or help the chances of public school students. Adding even optional recommendations to all UC applications "would be a sea change," said Stephen Handel, UC's associate vice president for undergraduate admissions. Upcoming deliberation will have to measure the usefulness in admissions decisions against concerns that a change might "inadvertently disenfranchise certain students from even applying," he said. Unlike most private universities and some public schools, UC generally has not asked for recommendations in its main undergraduate applications. It relies instead on high school grades, standardized test scores, personal essays and a review of students' accomplishments and personal challenges...

With so many students submitting stellar grades, it is important to tell whether they have the personal and academic skills "to survive in a very competitive and very large university environment," said Panos Papadopoulos, who chaired the Berkeley Senate during the plan's approval...

Full story at

Someone will have to deliver all these letters:

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