Top 10% no longer top notch

Picture by:Natalie Hill

Staff Writer

Paige Wilson

For years the top 10% has been a “safe zone” for students to receive guaranteed admission to University of Texas at Austin.  Now the bar has been set higher than ever before, as UT will only be required to accept the top 8% of students starting from the 2011 freshmen entering class.

                A new state law, Senate Bill 175, passed by the 81st Legislature will forever change the top 10% rule. This new law has brought across mixed feelings on whether it is good or making something that was nearly impossible even more impossible.    

                The law will only require them to fill up 75% of the class size with students who they are required to accept. This means doors will be open to more students who couldn’t grace the covers of the elite top percentile.

                The original top 10% law was issued in 1997 to boost the number of minority students’ enrollment after a federal court ruling in the Hopwood case prohibited admissions officials from considering students’ race and ethnicity in the admission process. However in 2003 the United States Supreme court ruled that admissions office could use race as a determining factor.

                Legislatures were hesitant change the rule since it has, in the past, worked by increasing the number of minority students and decreasing the number of white students. However they agreed to tweak the law for UT Austin.

                Of this year’s freshmen class, 86% of students were admitted in accordance with the top 10% rule. If this new rule was in place today 723 spots would be open for students not in top 10%.

For years the classes at UT Austin have been filled with kids who ranked in the top 10% and little. They had tons of smart students but many of the ones who didn’t make it in were either just as smart or excelled in other areas. Some of the students who were accepted were extremely smart but were never a part of a team or a “complete package”.  I am not saying we should admit kids who are completely below standards or the kids that are in UT Austin are not creative but I feel more opportunities should be open to students who couldn’t rank so high but have such a creative different mind that with a good education could do wonders.

Students who made the top 10% at their school may not even make it into the top 30% at others. Especially in Texas there are tons of small towns that have graduating classes of maybe 40 people. In my opinion these schools don’t have the competiveness as other like Coppell. This means kids graduating in the top percentile at other schools might not even know half the things students who weren’t in the top percent at more competitive schools. I remember when my brother first started college at Texas A&M, he was extremely nervous because he got into the school after being put on the waiting list and wasn’t sure if he could keep up with the material as well as students who automatically got in due to the top 10% rule. He soon found out that in his basic math classes kids who got in due to the rule couldn’t even grasp basic math we do in our sophomore year some even as a freshmen.

                This rule instigated at UT Austin will not completely solve this problem but will help the effort. Students who are in the top 8% will still get in automatically and this includes kids that fall in the category of less competitive schools but this leaves more room for kids who weren’t able to have their name on that top 10% list.

                For years kids have beaten themselves and up and overwhelmed themselves with work to a breaking point just to make the top 10%. This can give students a little relief that they can make it without drowning themselves in school work and have the chance just to enjoy high school.

                Hopefully in years to come at UT Austin this rule could be completely eliminated so that there is an even playing feel for all and more creative people than smart can walk the halls of UT Austin and make longhorn history.

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