Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion piece written by William Powers Jr., president of the university.
USA TODAY’s March 28 editorial, “Texas’ 10% admission could teach colleges a thing or two,” makes an important point: The top 10% law was a useful tool during the years when we were prohibited by law from considering race in our admissions. When the law was implemented in 1998, only 41% of our Texas freshmen were automatically admitted because they were in the top 10% of their high school class. But the editorial also suggested that the 10% law is responsible for increased racial diversity on our campus. In reality, our success in building a diverse student body is more the result of recruitment, outreach and scholarships for underserved populations. The problem with a system based on automatic admission is that eventually, a university runs out of capacity. For the entering class of 2008, we have automatically admitted more than 9,100 top 10% Texas high school graduates for a class of only 7,200. Not all will attend. But we anticipate that 81%-85% of our Texas freshmen will be admitted based on a sole criterion — class rank. Within two years, we could reach 100%. We are running out of room for the virtuoso musician, the math genius, the student body president with tremendous leadership skills and even the National Merit finalist. Moreover, we tell our children to be well-rounded, but when they want to attend the premier public university in Texas, they discover that only one thing matters — class rank. We favor limiting automatic admission of top 10% students to half the freshman class. We believe the other half should be admitted based on a holistic review of all their credentials. Combined with our aggressive recruiting, such an approach would enable us to accomplish the goals of the top 10% law while building a diverse, talented and well-rounded student body.
Opinion: University of Texas favors flexibility in class rank policy