Uc Berkeley Application Essay Bressay Field Reserves
Is the kindergarten aide or soup kitchen volunteer a leader?And what about “blue noise,” what the admissions pros called the blank blue screen when there were no activities listed? ”IN personal statements, we had been told to read for the “authentic” voice over students whose writing bragged of volunteer trips to exotic places or anything that “smacks of privilege.”Fortunately, that authentic voice articulated itself abundantly.It’s an extreme version of the American non-conversation about race. To better understand stressors, I was trained to look for the “helpful” personal statement that elevates a candidate. Yet readers also want to know if a student has taken challenging courses, and will consider A. Even such objective information was open to interpretation.Here I encountered through-the-looking-glass moments: an inspiring account of achievements may be less “helpful” than a report of the hardships that prevented the student from achieving better grades, test scores and honors. P.’s along with key college-prep subjects, known as a-g courses, required by the U. During training Webinars, we argued over transcripts.In norming sessions, I remember how lead readers would raise a candidate’s ranking because he or she “helped build the class.” I never quite grasped how to build a class of freshmen from California — the priority, it was explained in the first day’s pep talk — while seeming to prize the high-paying out-of-state students who are so attractive during times of a growing budget gap. (He had taken one of the expensive volunteer trips to Africa that we were told should not impress us.)Income, an optional item on the application, would appear on the very first screen we saw, along with applicant name, address and family information. The idea behind multiple readers is to prevent any single reader from making an outlier decision.(A special team handled international applications.)In one norming session, puzzled readers questioned why a student who resembled a throng of applicants and had only a 3.5 G. We also saw the high school’s state performance ranking. Admissions officials were careful not to mention gender, ethnicity and race during our training sessions. Privately, I asked an officer point-blank: “What After the next training session, when I asked about an Asian student who I thought was a 2 but had only received a 3, the officer noted: “Oh, you’ll get a lot of them.” She said the same when I asked why a low-income student with top grades and scores, and who had served in the Israeli army, was a 3.? And some of the rankings I gave actual applicants were overturned up the reading hierarchy.
Application readers must simply pick it up by osmosis, so that the process of detecting objective factors of disadvantage becomes tricky.
Highest attention was to be paid to the unweighted G. A., as schools in low-income neighborhoods may not offer A. Another reader sees an undercount and charges the first reader with “trying to cut this girl down.”The lead reader corrects: “We’re not here to cut down a student.” We’re here to find factors that advance the student to a higher ranking.
Another reader thinks the student is “good” but we have so many of “these kids.” She doesn’t see any leadership beyond the student’s own projects.
I could see the fundamental unevenness in this process both in the norming Webinars and when alone in a dark room at home with my Berkeley-issued netbook, reading assigned applications away from enormously curious family members.
First and foremost, the process is confusingly subjective, despite all the objective criteria I was trained to examine. Could it be because he was a nonresident and had wealthy parents? A.’s, or a lot of applicants whose bigger picture would fail to advance them, or a lot of Jewish and Asian applicants (Berkeley is 43 percent Asian, 11 percent Latino and 3 percent black)?
Should I value consistent excellence or better results at the end of a personal struggle? An underrepresented minority could be the phoenix, I decided. I scribbled this exchange in my notes: A reader ranks an applicant low because she sees an “overcount” in the student’s a-g courses.