Promoting Diversity in Undergraduate Admissions

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis has published an article presenting new research on diversity in undergraduate admissions.

The article considers the State of Texas’s 10 percent plan, which provides guaranteed admissions into state universities for the top 10 percent of high school graduates in the state. “For the study, Kalena E. Cortes, an associate professor of public policy at Texas A&M University, and Jane Arnold Lincove, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, looked at the records of 146,000 Texas public high school students who graduated in spring 2008 and spring 2009 and who applied to at least one four-year public university in Texas,” according to Inside Higher Ed.

The study finds that “the Texas 10 percent plan, one of the most prominent experiments in guaranteed admissions, made high-talent, low-income students more likely than they historically have been to apply to the flagship universities in Texas.”

Inside Higher Ed emphasizes that the study’s findings demonstrate that flagship state universities, such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, are able to attract more minority and underprivileged students with the 10 percent plan than they previously did. “So guaranteed admissions, the paper argues, can reduce the problem of ‘undermatching,’ in which talented, disadvantaged students apply to few if any competitive colleges — even though in many cases they would be admitted and awarded aid. Given the better graduation rates and (in many cases) significantly greater resources available at the more competitive colleges, many education experts see undermatching as a major problem.”

State universities with declining enrollments may wish to consider adopted guaranteed admission plans such as this to encourage high school graduates in economically distressed areas to apply for university admission. Private universities that have tried other plans for diversifying enrollments may also find the 10 percent plan an effective alternative approach.

The article by Cortes and Licove appears in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. The American Education Resesarch Association (AREA) summarizes the study’s findings at its website. Inside Higher Ed reports on the study and the Texas 10 percent plan.

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