Highlights from Higher Ed: Dual Enrollment, Early Decision and Acceptance Rates

RJ Nichol
Feb 7, 2020

University of California faculty report recommends keeping SAT and ACT as admission requirements

Faculty leaders at the University of California (U.C.) have recommended that the institution continues to require SAT and ACT scores as part of its admission process, in the belief that “the standardized tests may actually help boost enrollment of disadvantaged students.” The faculty members who sit on the U.C. Academic Senate’s executive committee are responsible for establishing admission requirements. Although their recommendations are not binding, “Any rejection of the faculty’s final recommendations by the [Board of Regents], which is set to vote on the issue in May, would overturn traditional practice and spark a political firestorm.” Opponents of standardized testing argue that the SAT and ACT are biased against disadvantaged students. Yet the faculty board’s recent year-long review of the issue found that “most UC admissions officers offset much of the bias against disadvantaged students by evaluating standardized test scores in the context of their high schools and neighborhoods. Applicants’ tests scores, for instance, are compared both to those statewide and at the local high school, enabling UC officers to identify standouts among students with similar socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Source: LA Times

New study raises concerns about unequal access to dual-enrollment programs

Recently released data about California high school students’ participation in dual-enrollment programs revealed that Latinx, African-American and socioeconomically disadvantaged students were less likely to take advantage of the opportunity than white and Asian students. The finding “suggests they all do not have the same level of access to the early college experience.” Dual-enrollment programs, which allow high school students to take college courses, have been associated with higher degree-completion rates and higher first-year GPAs. They also make it easier for community colleges “to fill their seats and create stronger relationships with their feeder high schools.” Overall, approximately 12.6% of California high school students who were seniors in 2016-17 had taken a dual enrollment class at some point during high school. However, a “higher share of Asian (19%) and white (14%) high school seniors took dual enrollment courses than Latinx (11%) and African-American (9%) seniors.” Latinx students make up half of the population of California high school seniors.

Source: Education Dive

2020 early decision numbers dropped significantly; early action dipped slightly

After rising steadily since 2017, the number of early applications for the 2020 class year fell significantly, from more than 171,000 students in 2019 to fewer than 122,000. The number of early action applicants also declined, albeit by a much smaller margin, from just over 1,107,000 to just under 1,075,000. Early decision requires applicants to pledge to enroll if admitted, whereas early action does not. Despite the lower numbers in both categories, the firm that conducted the research believes that students are still applying to college at the same general rates. Researchers also determined that “that reports that black and Latino applicants are less likely than white and Asian applicants to apply early are true. Only 10 percent of early applicants this year were black (compared to 15 percent of higher education enrollments). Only 11 percent were Latino (compared to 19 percent of higher ed enrollments). In contrast, Asians made up 16 percent of early applications and are only 8 percent of total students. And whites made up 60 percent of early applications but 55 percent of students.”

Source: Inside Higher Ed

Despite lower admission rates, it might actually be easier to get into college

Although admission rates at schools such as Harvard and Stanford hover in the single digits, “the vast majority of schools where most Americans get their post-secondary education admit most of the students who apply.” In fact, “it may actually be getting easier to be admitted, despite perceptions.” A Pew Research Center analysis of more than 1,300 four-year colleges and universities revealed that just 17 of them admitted fewer than 10% of applicants. Overall, the average acceptance rate exceeds 50%. More than half of the schools surveyed admitted at least two thirds of their applicants.

Source: CNBC

RJ Nichol

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