Daily Bread for 8.21.22: Direct Admission into the UW System Is a Sensible Idea

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 75. Sunrise is 6:08 AM and sunset 7:46 PM for 13h 38m 04s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 27.4% of its visible disk illuminated. 

 On this day in 1680, Pueblo Indians capture Santa Fe from the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt.

Rich Kremer reports UW System considering automatic admissions for in-state high school graduates:

The University of Wisconsin System is considering automatically admitting high school graduates to its campuses in hopes of stemming enrollment declines and boosting college access. 

The percentage of high school students enrolling at the state’s 13 universities has been falling since 2013, according to UW System data. Historically, 32 percent of high school grads have enrolled at UW schools immediately after graduation. That fell to about 27 percent in 2020. 

During a Thursday meeting of the UW Board of Regents in Green Bay, members heard a presentation about how a policy known as “direct admissions” could temper the trend. 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Professor of Higher Education Jennifer Delaney has researched the approach and told the board direct admissions works by offering automatic admission to high school seniors who meet certain grade point average or standardized test score thresholds. 

She said direct admissions sidesteps the traditional application process, which places the impetus on students and parents to fill out multiple college applications in hopes of getting a response. With direct admissions, students, parents and high school counselors are proactively notified about an open spot.  

“Right now, we’re having individuals do individual searches for college,” said Delaney. “Those with parents who’ve gone to college have a real advantage.” 

This is a fine idea: there would still be admission standards (grades, test scores), but the admission process would be simpler (ands easier) in time and effort. Students wouldn’t have to hunt around, and hope, for a spot.  

Although the reported motivation for direct admissions is responsive to enrollment declines, a public-university, direct-admissions process should be the standard in all environments. 

Government’s use public funds to establish a large university system should not come with additional time-consuming barriers to entry for qualified students. Having already paid to establish a public system of higher education, students and their families shouldn’t have to waste their time on non-academic procedural steps to gain admission. 

(Private universities should be free to establish their own application procedures. If they should choose to make those procedures lengthy and complicated, they’ll be on their own to do so against public and private competitors.) 

Direct admission is a better admission process for the UW System.  

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1 year ago

Direct admission is a great idea. So is substantial state subsidization of tuition to improve both the future of students and the state.

We are stuck in a century-plus-old paridigm that holds that K-12 education is all that everyone needs, everything else is optional, and must be purchased with the student’s (in a lot of cases) future long-term indemnity. That indemnity has gotten very out of hand, due to many reasons not caused by the student. Not all that long ago, in 1965, when I started at the UW, tuition was $300/yr, and room and board at the dorms was $900/yr. Throw in another $100 for books. that bought a first-class engineering education. It was possible to work your way thru school, which I did, then. That isn’t an option anymore. Simultaneously, the amount of knowledge/training necessary to make a decent living has exploded. Young ‘sconnies are caught in the middle.

It is long past time to trash the K-12 limit on free public education. I understand that I am being utopian about all of this, as the state legislature has been resolute about starving higher education for the last half-century, but I’m daring to dream that it can happen.