Dean: Proposed overhaul of top 10 rule may widen applicant pool

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    Graduating in the top 10 percent of your high school class might not be a free ticket to the University of Texas at Austin anymore.

    With the limitations from a bill in the works in the state legislature, a university official says there is a higher possibility that more top ranking high school graduates will apply to become a Frog instead of a Longhorn.

    Ray Brown, dean of admissions, said the university will have to wait to see whether the bill will affect the makeup of TCU’s applicant pool.

    If there is an impact, it probably will be a favorable one because it may give the university access to a larger pool of top 10 percent high school graduates, he said.

    Currently, Texas law mandates that state universities had to accept any prospective student who graduated in the top 10 percent of his or her high school class. A report on the UT Web site states that in 2008, 80.9 percent of students from the university’s incoming freshman class were admitted on the basis of the top 10 percent rule.

    The bill was read before the Texas Senate on Feb. 10 and March 24 but failed to pass. The bill was motioned for a third time by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, on March 25 and passed 24-7. The Senate bill limits state universities to admit no more than 60 percent of their incoming freshman class based on their rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

    The bill has been referred to the higher education committee of the Texas House of Representatives.

    According to the Texas Senate Web site, “the process would start at the top and work its way down: first, applicants in the top 1 percent of their graduating class would be admitted, then the top 2 percent applicants and so on, until the cap is reached. Then, remaining top-10 applicants would go into a pool, to be reviewed holistically, and admissions from that pool could make up an additional 10 percent of the incoming class. The rest of the applicants would be reviewed under the standard admissions process.”

    Brown said that although there is a possibility that the legislation will bring more top 10 percent graduates to TCU, the university does not anticipate a serious impact.

    “It’s a shift in policy but the reality is, the shift in practice is not going to have that big of a ripple (effect) on us,” he said.

    Ashley Emond, a junior strategic communications major, said she thinks the law change gives less incentive to high school students to perform well.

    “I don’t understand why they changed it, because I think it used to benefit those who worked hard. But I don’t personally think it will affect TCU,” she said.

    Matt Endter, a sophomore pre-major, said he thinks the change in legislation will open doors for graduates who have high potential, but may not have performed as well academically in high school.

    Senator Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, who voted for the bill, said in a telephone interview that universities should take into consideration such factors as the difficulty of the curriculum at the graduate’s high school, whether they participated in advanced placement classes and whether they were involved in extracurricular activities.

    “The law as it stands is fundamentally flawed and unfair,” Wentworth said. “I’m opposed to any automatic admission into a Texas state university … that is based on just one criteria.”

    Wentworth said he hopes the automatic admission of students based on their class standing will be completely overturned one day.

    “It only takes 16 votes, and there were already 13 of us who wanted to repeal it,” Wentworth said. “I would have wanted to repeal the whole legislation, but capping it at 60 percent was the best we could do.”