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« Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 546 -- What Deregulation? | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 548 -- Earmarks. »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 547 -- The University of Texas' Top 10% Rule.

A Good Problem To Have-

The Texas legislature is currently weighing whether to change the "Top 10% rule" for Texas' flagship university, The University of Texas at Austin. The Top 10% rule currently guarantees admission into UT for students who graduate in the top 10% of their Texas high school class.

It wasn't a terrible idea when it was dreamed up, but the rule is in need of some serious changes:

The flagship campus in Austin is increasingly the school of choice for students in the top 10 percent. Eighty-one percent of UT's freshmen from Texas enrolled under the law this academic year, and Powers said he expected that figure to rise to 86 percent for the entering class this fall.

Under Shapiro's plan, UT would admit students ranking in the top 1 percent, the top 2 percent and so forth until half of the slots were filled. The remaining slots would be filled through what she called a "holistic" examination of the pool of applicants, taking into account leadership, musical and artistic talent, race, ethnicity and other factors.

Without some change to the law, UT will be forced to reject all Texas high school graduates who are not in the top 10 percent by 2013, according to a report by the university. By 2015, the report said, there will be no room in the freshman class for students from other states or countries.

Back in 1999, I probably would have gotten into UT one way or another due to test scores and extracurricular activities alone, but I was fortunate enough to benefit from the Top 10% rule. It was the easiest college application on earth. I was already in. Essentially, I just had to send in my declaration.

The Top 10% rule definitely provides high school students with certain incentives for performing well in class. It might also lead to complacency ("I'm in, even if I get straight Cs my entire senior year") in some cases, or defeatism ("there's no way I can get into the top 10%, so what does it matter?") in other cases.

In the past, I have bounced around the idea of a Top 5% rule for UT, while keeping the Top 10% for everyone else. The Top 10% rule currently applies to Texas A&M and other state schools, but they are not facing the same level of demand that UT now faces. At some point in the future, however, they may. In another decade or less, those other schools would need their own rule change.

In the immediate future, without a legislative change, the Top 10% rule will begin having serious negative consequences for UT. It's not an issue of whether the law should be changed, it's a matter of how and when it can be phased in/out.

Whatever happens, let's hope that we don't end up watering down the increasingly high-achieving UT student body. Let's make sure that we're not caving to the race card mongers on this issue by crafting rules that require quotas based on anything but achievement. Let's not take a step backward in our admissions selectivity. Let's promote diversity by seeking out the best and the brightest from around the country and the world, and let's reward only the very highest achieving Texas high school students with admission into our primary flagship university.

As someone with a vested interest in the value of my degree, I represent a lot of people out there who a) want to see a change and soon; but b) don't want to weaken the admissions criteria in the process.

So far, I like what I see from the legislature, but I am concerned that special interests on the left are lobbying hard on this issue and may try to undermine the very purpose of the change.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Deregulation, Deschmegulation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 March 2009 11:03 AM