Somin: "Top 10 Percent" Admission Programs May Sacrifice Academic Merit

"Top 10 percent" admission programs, which guarantee admission to a state's public colleges or universities to the top 10 percent of graduating public high school students, may create greater sacrifices of academic merit than traditional affirmative action plans, according to Professor Ilya Somin.

Arguing that the Texas 10 percent law is more objectionable than traditional affirmative action plans, Somin believes the law permits Texas schools to admit students who probably would not have gained admission under its previous race-conscious admission program.

"Rarely, if ever, do traditional affirmative action plans determine the admission of more than 15 to 20 percent of a school's student body," writes Somin. "By contrast, at the University of Texas at Austin, over 70 percent of the student body was admitted under the 10 percent plan. While some of these students would surely have gotten in anyway, it is highly likely that the 10 percent plan leads to much larger sacrifices of academic merit than do racial preferences similar to those used at most other academic institutions," he continues.

Tricky Times for the Top 10 Percent Program,, August 9, 2007. By Ronald Roach.

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