Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly Lavadenz

Second Advisor

William Perez

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Stoddard


In July 2022, the University of California (UC) permanently eliminated the standardized tests requirement for its freshman admissions in order to alleviate the severed socioeconomic gap and college access barriers that were heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. This critical policy analysis research explored the immediate effects of UC’s policy reform on higher education equity. All 14 participants were underrepresented minority (URM) students who applied to at least one UC campus for fall 2022’s freshman admissions and were enrolled in four-year universities at the time of this study. From demographic surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews, I applied critical race theory (CRT) tenets and internalized oppression theory to explore, interpret, and provide counter-narratives of URM students’ college planning and application experiences after the policy reform. From analyzing these students’ perceptions of the elimination of the standardized tests requirement and UC’s admissions equity, I identified the following four findings: 1. Insidiousness of Higher Education Racism: The Role of Standardized Testing in Admissions 2. Enduring Internalized Oppression: The Lingering Effects of the Legitimization of Standardized test requirement 3. Intersectionality of Race, Income, First-Generation College Students’ Status, and Pandemic Impacts 4. Increased Trust in the Higher Education Admissions System After application and identification, I critically discussed the research findings and provided implications for future policies, practices, and research directions for higher education admissions equity based on the four findings. In conclusion and alignment with the CRT tenet of interest convergence, UC’s policy has increased opportunities for all students and has benefited both White and underrepresented minority URM students in terms of their acceptance into highly selective, four-year universities.

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