College & Workforce Readiness

Colorado to Admit Its Top Graduates

By Vaishali Honawar — January 25, 2005 1 min read
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Starting next fall, the top 10 percent of students in every high school graduating class in Colorado will be guaranteed admission to the University of Colorado.

University officials said the top-10 plan is expected to help relieve admission anxiety for students and parents. “They know that going into high school, if they perform at this particular level at this GPA and class rank, they can get into the University of Colorado guaranteed,” said Jack O. Burns, the university’s vice president for academic affairs and research.

Students admitted under the plan could be placed at any of the university’s three campuses—Denver, Colorado Springs, or the main campus in Boulder.

Three states already have similar programs, mostly with the goal of improving minority enrollment. California admits the top 4 percent of each graduating high school class to its state university system, Florida admits the top 20 percent, and Texas admits the top 10 percent.

While University of Colorado officials say that increasing minority enrollment is not at the center of their plan, they have other efforts aimed at achieving that end, such as precollegiate programs.

The Texas top-10 program, started in 1997, has run into problems in recent years. Seventy-five percent of students admitted to the flagship University of Texas at Austin last fall were accepted based on finishing in the top 10 percent of their high schools.

That rate has prompted university President Larry Faulkner to call for a cap on the number of students admitted under the program, saying it is “unhealthy” to admit such a large percentage based on a single criterion.

Mr. Burns said the University of Colorado considered Texas’ experience as it developed its plan and has built in safeguards such as minimum grade point averages and entrance-exam scores.

To get into the university, a student must complete a college prep curriculum and either graduate in the top 10 percent of his or her class, or have a minimum GPA of 3.8 out of 4 points.

“We are looking at numbers we can manage, based on previous students that have come into the university,” Mr. Burns said.

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A version of this article appeared in the January 26, 2005 edition of Education Week

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