With Black Enrollments Dropping to New Lows, UCLA Adopts a “Holistic” Admissions Model

According to the 2006 JBHE survey of black freshmen at the nation’s 30 highest-ranking universities, there are 99 black first-year students at the University of California at Los Angeles this fall. They make up only 2 percent of all first-year students at UCLA. The black presence on the UCLA campus is lower now than at any time since the 1960s.

Admissions officers are restricted by state law from using race as a factor in the admissions process at UCLA. This year, only 11 percent of the 2,166 black applicants were admitted to UCLA. The university’s overall admittance rate is nearly 26 percent.

In an effort to increase diversity in the student body, the UCLA administration has adopted a new admissions model that will follow a “holistic” approach which looks at academic merit in the context of a student’s position in society. Under the new plan, a student of any race who comes from a low-income family and attends high school in an inner-city school district that has a poor record in sending kids on to college might be seen in a more favorable light by admissions officials than a student with slightly higher academic credentials who grew up in an upper-middle-class family and attended high school in a wealthy suburban district.

Officials at UCLA hope to use the new admissions model for the class entering the university in the fall of 2007. The new plan is patterned after the “comprehensive review” admissions model used at the University of California at Berkeley.

Admissions officials at UCLA hope that their new plan will result in an increase in the number of black students at the university. But it must be noted that under the comprehensive review plan used at Berkeley, blacks make up only 3.3 percent of the first-year students on campus this fall. This is higher than the black percentage of freshmen at UCLA but still well below the level of black enrollments that existed prior to the enactment of the ban on race-sensitive admissions.