Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

March 1, 2007

UT President says limiting top ten percent law would give UT advantages

Filed under: Top Ten Percent Rule — texased @ 5:29 pm

UT president speaks out against top 10 percent law – Top Stories:

UT President William Powers asked the House Committee on Higher Education Monday to allow the University to limit the portion of the student body it admits under the top 10 percent law.


“It would help our diversity efforts if we have more capacity for holistic review in a larger part of our class,” Powers said. “What we would like is relief that does not do away with the top 10 percent rule, but has about 40 to 50 percent of our students coming through the top 10 percent rule. That would give us the advantages.”

Like what?

UT president speaks out against top 10 percent law – Top Stories:

“We are committed to a diverse student body as a highest priority,” Powers said. “We’ve had our most diverse class in history enrolled as freshmen this year.”

Powers said one of four students admitted this spring were Hispanic or black, but UT will have difficulty raising that percentage if the law is not adjusted, and the overall student population would begin to climb again.

Right. Theoretically, what Powers is saying makes sense. There are only so many minorities that graduate in the top ten percent of their class which would ultimately limit the number of minority students admitted. However, this assumes that UT has reached that point. Have they? Are there any minorities out there in the top ten percent that haven’t been admitted to UT?

Then there is the assumption that the percentage would increase if you remove the cap. Would UT continue to admit top ten percent minority students at the same rate as before the cap? And what percentage of the students who are currently not admitted under the top ten percent rule are minorities (beside the football team)? Does it even come close to those admitted under the top ten percent rule?

I thought having a high percentage of top ten percent students in your class is a good thing for a university. It’s one of the categories used by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings. Luis Figueroa has a point:

UT president speaks out against top 10 percent law – Top Stories:

Figueroa said the nation’s more prestigious universities admit more than 90 percent of their students finishing in the top ranks of their class

Why hasn’t anyone provided examples of students who wanted to go to UT but didn’t get in? Just show us one National Merit Scholar Semi Finalist that didn’t get accepted. They can’t be that hard to find, can they?. Maybe they just don’t make good press.

For the record, I have two degrees from UT as does my husband. I probably wouldn’t have qualified under the top ten percent rule since transferring to three different high schools across the state makes it difficult to calculate GPAs. Nor does it give you the chance to become the newspaper editor or student body president. I was admitted in one of the honor’s programs anyway (probably based on geography–someone ought to check out the percentage of students from El Paso).

It’s highly likely that my son won’t go to UT because he’s homeschooled and the top ten percent rule doesn’t apply to unaccredited private schools. But that’s our choice and we’ll live with it. Until someone can show me how the education experience at UT has declined at UT because of the top ten percent rule, I’ll support it even it means some football players don’t get in. No, wait. That is going to far.


  1. My guess is that what the President of UT is really concerned about is legacy admits. With the Top 10% Law/ H.B.588 in effect it probably limits the number of o.k. but not stellar student admits. Those who would have been admitted because of a legacy connection to UT prior to this law now they can’t admit them because of space.

    Most colleges are funded from three sources. Tuition, Alumni Donations and income from their endowments – like a three leg stool each leg has to be strong to support the college/university. So my guess is they are worried because less of the admitted students can afford full tuition and they probably believe they will give less in alumni donations.

    Historically colleges primarily educated the wealthy elite over time the mission changed. The author of the SAT was instrumental by advocating the idea the students should be admitted based only on academic intelligence; as a result today most schools maintain a dual system. One set of standards for general admissions and another for legacies’; this law threatens the dual system. It will be interesting to see how this issue unfolds.

    Comment by SamanthaMG — April 20, 2007 @ 6:39 pm

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