Automatic admissions encourage qualified, low-income scholars

Low-income, highly qualified students are more likely to choose selective universities that match their academic profiles when they know automatic admissions policies guarantee their acceptance, according to a new study from faculty-researchers at Texas A&M University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Kalena E. Cortes, an associate professor at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, and Jane Arnold Lincove, an associate professor at UMBC, conducted the study. The researchers examined the effect of the “Top 10% Plan” admissions policy in Texas, which had been created as a replacement for affirmative action. During the time of the study, Texas granted automatic admissions to any public university for all students who achieved a class rank in the top 10 percent in their high school during their junior year.

Their study was published online in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning.

“The difference in access to elite universities often begins with the student’s application choice and the information she has about her college options,” Cortes said. “Demystifying college admissions policy is a pathway to greater inclusion.”

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