CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A national conference on direct college admissions policies will be held Dec. 6 on the University of Illinois campus. The daylong Direct Admissions Conference at the I-Hotel and Conference Center will explore how these programs can reverse college access gaps among low-income, rural and urban populations; can help mitigate admissions and financial aid costs; and help postsecondary institutions address declining enrollments and equity concerns.
Policymakers and agency representatives from states that currently use direct admissions and/or related policies will speak about their systems and share early outcomes. Participants also will include nationally prominent education researchers, education foundation partners and officials from states that are considering adopting direct admissions programs.
Under direct admissions systems, students are proactively admitted to college. Typically, all students are admitted to open-access institutions, and students who surpass a pre-identified academic performance threshold – based upon grade point average, ACT/SAT scores or a combination of measures – are admitted to selective colleges.
Students, parents and high schools receive letters indicating that a student has been admitted to a set of colleges and how they can claim their place using a common, free application.
Direct admissions policies can be life changing for students who might not consider or otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education, including first-generation college students and high-achieving, low-income students, said the conference organizer, Jennifer A. Delaney, a professor of education at the U. of I.
“In 2015, Idaho adopted the nation’s first direct admissions program, admitting all high school graduates to a set of the state’s public institutions,” Delaney said. “Idaho has reported remarkably positive outcomes, including an 88% increase in applications, a 6.7% increase in the state’s college-going rate and a 3% reduction in students migrating out of state for college.”
South Dakota also adopted proactive admissions for high school seniors who graduated in 2018.
This year, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law to develop a pilot program that would automatically admit high-performing high school graduates to targeted public colleges.
Under that law, called the Public University Uniform Admission Pilot Program Act, Illinois high school students who graduate in the top 10% of their class, successfully complete the ACT or SAT assessments and meet other requirements would automatically be admitted to a select group of state universities.
A team of researchers from the U. of I. and the University of Pennsylvania will release a new report at the conference that rigorously reviews direct admission policies and provides recommendations for states considering such programs, Delaney said.
Registration for the conference, which is supported by the Joyce Foundation, is free but must be completed online by Nov. 26.
The I-Hotel and Conference Center is located at 1900 S. First St., Champaign.