College Admissions

UCLA college admissions by exception


A response to the nationwide college admissions scandal, AB 1383 would require athletes and others admitted to public universities outside the normal admissions process to be approved by at least three administrators. Campuses would have to create clear rules for how they choose the exceptional admits, and anyone recruited to a sports team would have to play on that team for at least a year.


Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, the bill’s author, says it could help head off the kind of fraud allegedly perpetrated by wealthy families at the center of the Varsity Blues scandal. Parents are accused of paying bribes to falsify test scores and gain admittance for their children as athletic recruits, even though some lacked experience in the sport they supposedly played. Because the University of California is semi-independent from the state, it wouldn’t have to obey the new rules unless the university’s regents approve them — but an internal UC audit already has made similar recommendations. 


There’s no official opposition on record. The bill has its limits, however: It wouldn’t apply to private colleges, California residents who receive school-based financial aid, or applicants who already meet a university’s minimum requirements for admission.


University of California campuses can admit up to 6% of each incoming class from among students who don’t meet the university’s minimum standards. But the process, known as “admission by exception,” is shrouded in secrecy — and at least one campus exceeded the cap last year.


With California colleges including UCLA at the epicenter of the Varsity Blues, and no vocal opposition, Newsom signed Oct. 4, 2019. The bill was part of a package that he said “strikes at the forces that keep the doors of opportunity closed to too many people in our state.”