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‘Excellence, not perfection:’ PBS NewsHour focuses on UC Berkeley admissions

"We are measuring students up against what's available to them," admissions head says

Students walk under Sather Gate
Students walk under Sather Gate. (UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

The PBS NewsHour recently visited UC Berkeley and examined how the school is making a big push to improve diversity without the consideration of race or sex in the admissions process. (Video by PBS NewsHour)

Since California State Proposition 209 passed in 1996, UC Berkeley has been barred from considering race or gender in the admissions process. As the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that could expand that kind of ban across the country, the PBS NewsHour visited UC Berkeley for an extended report on how the public campus has pushed to build diverse, transformative cohorts of students.

“We are evaluating applicants and looking for excellence, and not perfection,” Associate Vice Chancellor of Enrollment and Dean of Undergraduate Admission Femi Ogundele told reporter John Yang. “That means that it allows us to take a look at students in the context of where they are coming from, everything from the curriculum that they are attempting, to the extracurricular activities that are available to them in their schools.

“We are measuring students up against what’s available to them, rather than comparing students, because we recognize that the K-12 system is not apples to apples for all the students who are going through it.”

To learn more about UC Berkeley’s admissions procedures, visit the admissions webpage or read this 2020 conversation with Ogundele.