UCSD announces new policy to prioritize California residents, first-generation college students, and students from low-income families

Apr 29, 2024 | Political News

University of California San Diego announced changes to university policy regarding students hoping to switch to “selective majors” in the fields of science, technology, and engineering, namely, factors having nothing to do with merit.

Beginning in Summer 2025, in addition to GPA, administrators will adopt a point system, taking students' socioeconomic status and their parents' education history into consideration when deciding who gets to fill the highly coveted spots.


“The selection criteria for entry to the major will consider academic achievement in the specified screening courses and will also be aligned with UC San Diego's priorities of serving California residents, first-generation college students, and students from low-income families,” the university wrote.

Students will be awarded “one point each for having a 3.0 GPA or higher in the major screening courses; California residency; Pell Grant eligibility; and first-generation college status.”

Those who have the highest number of points “will be admitted until all available spaces within the major have been filled.” Ties, the university added, “will be broken using random selection.”

Selective majors include all Data Science, Public Health, Bioengineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and all majors in the School of Biological Sciences.

Chemical Engineering, NanoEngineering, and Structural Engineering were also included in the list, but UCSD noted that they are likely to have their “selective” status removed in Summer 2024.

The move has faced mixed reactions.

“I would say that giving advantages to those with lower income or first generation backgrounds absolutely makes sense, and that alone does not concern me,” one user wrote on the UCSD Reddit page. “What does concern me at least is it seems like they are heavily underrepresenting the effect of GPA, which should be the most important aspect. And now, those who come from middle class backgrounds with college educated parents immediately get dropped significantly for highly competitive majors like Computer Science or Data Science.”

They lamented that, “now, it seems like majors that were super competitive to switch to (or recently impossible for CS and CE) are now going to be handed almost exclusively to those who can check 3 or 4 of the requirements, and majors which before were reasonably guaranteed for high GPAs but not a sure shot are now going to be far less likely for those who do really well in the screening classes.”

“Do we have the support systems in place to ensure that the students we admit to these competitive majors will be able to excel?” math professor Melvin Leok added. “I asked for the outcomes for students who were in these majors with poor GPAs at the end of their first or second year and whether they completed the major in a reasonable time, and what the career outcomes were, but I was told that it would take too much analyst time to run those numbers, to which I said that it is unconscionable to run this pilot without doing that analysis.”