On March 29, California State Auditor released a one-hundred-plus page audit revealing that the UCs were making the college application process more difficult for California residents by way of offering preferential treatment to non-resident students. This treatment included accepting non-resident students who had lower average GPAs and lower standardized test scores.
We would be outraged if students were given the opportunity to pay more so that they would have a higher probability of admission to UC and CSU schools, so we should be similarly outraged that less qualified non-residents are offered admission because they are required to pay more. This type of system may be favorable to private institutions that entertain the legacy system, but you should not be able to pay your way into a UC.
Condoning this type of discrimination affects residents at various levels. For instance, students assisted by financial aid technically pay less than other students. If we permit such an enrollment mindset, these students would consequently have lower admission rates because the UC receives relatively lower monetary compensation from accepting them over other students. This would greatly reduce the quality of students who enroll — a large detriment to the UC’s supposed goals.
Furthermore, it would set a precedent similar to that of a legacy system. Students whose parents graduated college will likely have higher salaries and thus those students will invariably pay more for college and be accepted at higher rates. In this way, having a system that takes tuition into consideration is tantamount to a legacy system.
In addition, instituting lenient standards for non-resident students may cause division within the student body. Some UCSB students already have this “superiority” mindset, one example of this being the culture of putting down SBCC students on the basis of their having less rigorous courses. Out-of-state students would face the same unfortunate derision, and nobody deserves that treatment.
It is especially ludicrous to subject qualified students to face this treatment. This unfair treatment would breed an atmosphere of intense animosity between students that is totally unnecessary.
There is perhaps a case to be made that admitting increasing numbers of non-residents benefits the UCs because it spurs competition and helps with diversity. In theory, accepting more non-resident students should raise the standard for all admitted students, but this is clearly not the case, as the evidence points toward under-qualified non-resident students being admitted over their resident counterparts.
The argument that increasing non-resident involvement improves campus diversity might have its merits, but geographic diversity should not be valued on the same level of class-based or race-based diversity. The evidence shows that accepting additional non-resident students comes at the cost of accepting more underrepresented minorities in both undergraduate and graduate realms.
Having a system that intentionally admits students willing to pay higher tuition in the name of diversity is counter-intuitive. Accepting students just because they pay more reduces diversity of class, and in this case, racial diversity as well.
Overall, not only is increasing the number of under-qualified non-residents incredibly unfair, but it is also counterproductive to the very goals for which the UC should stand.