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A short dive:
- The University of Wisconsin system is discussing potentially automatically admitting some high school seniors to its campuses as a way to give underrepresented students greater access and counter recent enrollment declines.
- This arrangement is known as direct enrolment, where colleges proactively offer a place to high school leavers with good enough academic results without having to apply.
- The Wisconsin system has just begun to consider direct admission. The next step will be to form a commission to recommend to officials whether to implement such a program.
Direct enrollment programs have begun to develop in a few states, notably Idaho, which became the first to test such a policy in public institutions about seven years ago.
Early results from the initiative has shown promiseas it increased first-time undergraduate enrollment by just over 8% and in-state student enrollment by nearly 12% at the state’s public colleges, with gains primarily at two-year, open-access institutions.
All Idaho public high school graduates are proactively accepted to all of its community colleges and open access institutions. Since fall 2015, nearly 120,000 students have been proactively admitted.
The Common Application — an online portal that allows students to apply en masse to more than 1,000 participating colleges — also piloted direct enrollment at three historically black institutions early last year. In January, it added three more non-HBCU colleges to the program.
Common application found students were more likely to apply to college if they were automatically accepted. Common App expects to continue adding colleges to the program. Some institutions with entry rates below 50% have also expressed interest in participating in the next version of the experiment, he said.
Wisconsin system regents last week heard details about direct admissions in other states from two college professors who have researched those strategies.
Jennifer Delaney, who teaches at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said it can be empowering for students when colleges proactively offer direct admissions. Politics is generally low for institutions, Delaney said.
It also helps attract historically disadvantaged students, Delaney said, noting many institutions usually get rid of the application fee during direct enrollment, removing a barrier that can prevent low-income students from applying to college.
Enrollment management officials said at a meeting last week that they would have to offer students automatic admission if they had to consider factors such as their GPA, whether that metric was weighted in any way, and the list of high school courses they took. visited.
The hurdle is that the state of Wisconsin does not have a centralized database that contains all of this information, so it would take a lot of work to figure out how to collect it.
Johannes Britz, the system’s interim senior vice president for academic and student affairs, called for a panel to make a recommendation on a potential direct admissions program.