Automatic Admits; 10% or None?

What is your opinion of the Top 10% law? Actually, it is the Top 10% except for UT, law. Well at least a couple lawmakers don’t think much of it. They have filed a bill that would do away with automatic admissions into state universities.

Why would anyone want to get rid of a system that guaranteed access to the big state universities for every student who worked hard enough to be among the top 10% of their class? Well, because it hasn’t done what it was designed to do. The lawmakers who dreamed up the law believed that it would increase diversity at state institutions. They assumed that every senior class, no matter the makeup of the population, would flock to our flagship universities if given the guarantee of admission. Now at 20 years and counting, the law has had no significant effect on underrepresented populations at our flagship universities.

Even though UT is not attracting more Black applicants, it is attracting a lot of applications. That is why they were granted a waiver on accepting 10% of the top students in the state. When the automatic acceptance numbers reach 75% of the desired number of freshmen, the door is closed to any additional automatic acceptances. That is why the number changes from year to year.

Because UT is only able to review applications and make its own decisions on 25% of their freshman class every year, they believe that the system is hurting their ability to accept more minority students. That is the rational for the bill designed to repeal the Top 10% law.

The law has been targeted for repeal a number of times over the past 20 years. I believe the reason it has survived is its appeal to rural and small school districts. High schools who graduate less than 100 students can send a handful of their graduates to A&M and UT because they are at the top of their class. Many of these schools cannot afford to offer AP and Dual Credit curriculum so their students could not compete with graduates from large high schools without the guarantee provided by the Top 10% law.

In my opinion the law needs to remain on the books but should be modified. Change the percentage for automatic admits from 10% to five percent. That way, every high school in the state has a chance to send graduates to UT or A&M but it allows all the universities the opportunity to select students who will support the culture of their campus. Even in this all or none society, compromise will usually produce the best solution.

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