House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on changes to a 10-year-old college-admission law.
Under Senate Bill 101, which still needs approval today from the full House and Senate, the University of Texas would no longer be required to accept all applicants who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class. UT could limit such students to 60 percent of its freshmen from Texas. Such students made up 71 percent in fall 2006.
UT President William Powers Jr. has spent considerable time testifying at legislative hearings and meeting with lawmakers this year in hopes of obtaining limits on the law. He’s argued that racial and ethnic diversity — a major purpose of the 1997 legislation — could be realized more effectively if UT has greater discretion in deciding whom to admit.
So now UT Austin will go out of it’s way to admit students like those below?
Mr. Jack’s high grades and test scores — a respectable 1200 on the SAT — won him a full scholarship to the University of Florida. But the median score for his Amherst class was 1422, and he would have been excluded had the admissions office not considered his socioeconomic class, and the obstacles he had overcome.
“Tony Jack with his pure intelligence — had he been raised in Greenwich, he would have been a 1500 kid,” said Tom Parker, the dean of admission. “He would have been tutored by Kaplan or Princeton Review. He would have had The New Yorker magazine on the coffee table.”
Hardly likely. While Powers and the UT Alumni Association (I can’t believe they use my dues for this) were out bemoaning the lack of flexibility in selecting students under the top ten percent rule, Sen. Jane Nelson is promising her constituents that money will once again be a deciding factor in UT admissions.
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said the rule hurts students with sterling credentials who graduate from Texas’ mega-high schools, where many students take Advanced Placement classes and boast high SAT scores. At the same time, students from smaller schools with less-competitive curricula make it into UT, said Nelson, adding that voting for the top 10 percent rule in 1996 was one of the worst votes she’s ever cast.
Whatever could I mean by that? After all, she’s talking about credentials, AP courses and high SATs. Such credentials, as Amherst seems to recognize, are more likely when the parents have the money to pay for the prep classes and to buy a house in well-to-do area. So while Powers talks about admitting students like Tony Jack, Nelson and Shapiro and friends make it clear this bill is really about making sure that those who can afford it, get to go to UT.
So much for improving our higher education system for everyone.