Making Merits Matter More

Come holiday season, an anticipation greater than presents occupies the minds of students. The impending deadline of UC Admission deadline approaches, and it is natural to contemplate all the possible scenarios of acceptance and rejection from the UC of one’s choice.

Indeed centralization on standardized test scores and personal statements is a key, but other fields required in the application such as race should not be necessary when evaluating prospective students, and further still aspects such as volunteer hours completed should carry lesser weight.

SAT scores are a valuable portion of the application process. They are results of an applicant’s critical reasoning capabilities.

Personal statements are also an integral piece to the greater whole of a UC application in granting a momentary look into the applicants’ character. The applicants’ passions, as well as aspirations in life, may allow the university to discern the future possibilities.

Of the two, personal statements should garner more weight in making a decision. A brief look at one’s character may present more information to the type of student that individual will be. Adversely, SAT scores reflect nothing about who the person is, or whether  they could benefit the university with their attendance. A single poor test day could ruin a student’s chances at admission, despite him or her being an honest and hard-working person.

In contrast, volunteer hours completed should possess a lesser weight overall despite being somewhat necessary. Specifically, this component of the application should only assess the hours done qualitatively, not quantitatively.

It should never be the case that volunteering 40 or so hours washing dishes should look better than, or outweigh 10 hours volunteering in a hospital, or helping a child with his or her reading just because of the amount of hours volunteered.

The type of volunteer work matters, and be it three or four hours feeding the homeless in a soup kitchen, it should hold more weight than 20 hours cleaning books in a library.  Or at least the effort should not be minimized by the time.

Other requirements such as that of parents’ income may also exist as a beneficial aspect of the UC application for any applicant.

It is the inclusion of race in the application that is the most troubling. Where personal statements and SAT Scores focus primarily on personal accomplishment, and family income provides future benefit as financial aid, race only adds affirmative action to an application that should lean only toward what the person has accomplished.

By adding a race category, it only alludes to the potential of a decision being made only on the basis of race, diminishing the weight of accomplishment over a predetermined factor.

This contradicts the status any UC strives to maintain when instilling the idea that excellence is prioritized and the standard. Allowing students into a university based on their race lowers this standard significantly when individuals of a specific race are selected over students who have worked relentlessly to achieve the standard of excellence beset in their minds from the very beginning.

Their accomplishments soon amount to nothing when affirmative action prioritizes a person of particular race over a person that is well-qualified to meet the standard so heavily reiterated.

Conclusively, race should not be a requirement in the first place.





Abel Saldana is a  first-year English and Literary Journalism double major. He can be reached at