Brittanie Martinez was stunned this spring when she found out that San Diego State University had rejected her. The school guarantees spots to community college students like Martinez if they take the right classes and get the right grades. Martinez had done all those things at Grossmont College.
Something had gone wrong, Martinez was convinced, and it wasn’t her fault. A meticulous planner who dreams of managing a hotel, she had carefully checked over her application. As she pored over it again, she discovered that a crucial class hadn’t shown up on her computerized application.
So Martinez decided not to take no for an answer. She argued her case in a letter. She had a printed version of her application to prove she’d included the class. And San Diego State changed its mind and let her in.
Martinez is one of nearly 500 students who have argued back after getting a rejection letter from San Diego State this year — and more are appealing for admission every day. It is a rare step for rejected students and only a fraction succeed. But as San Diego students face a steeper battle to get into the college, counselors and community groups are urging students to try their luck. Some argue that they were wronged by computer glitches or simple confusion on their application. Others plead hardships.
The stakes grew higher this year after the local university stiffened its admissions rules, fearful that it might enroll too many students and overrun its budget. It stopped guaranteeing places for local students who met the college bar. And it tightened the rules for transfer students like Martinez to get a guaranteed spot at San Diego State, requiring them to take more classes for their chosen major.
Some community colleges are actively prodding transfer students to explore whether to appeal. San Diego City College, for instance, informed all denied students that they had the right to submit an appeal and urged them to find out why they were denied. Other colleges host workshops on how to do it.