Direct Admissions

The college application and admissions process continues to serve as a barrier to equitable college access. College applicants face a gauntlet of unclear and uneven information points, multiple steps toward preparation, varying application and admission requirements, and administrative hurdles—all of which rely heavily upon social and cultural capital.

Previous interventions that simplified or removed barriers to college search and choice reduced these frictions and increased the likelihood of college application and enrollment but did little to close existing equity gaps at scale. Systemic change in college admissions policies and practices is required to reduce persistent inequalities in college access by income, race, and geography. Policies that signal postsecondary opportunities by proactively admitting students to college (i.e., direct admissions) and streamlining the application process with one simple and free form (i.e., common applications) are two innovative ways to reduce barriers to access and increase educational equity.

 

Background

To enhance policy development and knowledge-sharing among state higher education offices and systems interested in implementing direct admissions, SHEEO convened a learning community of three leading states in August 2021: Hawaii, Idaho, and Minnesota. Participants from these states learned from each other and from researchers how to advance and improve policy solutions. State leaders from Hawaii, Idaho, and Minnesota now serve as resources for other states interested in direct admissions. Since these policies level the playing field and eliminate the need for extensive social and cultural capital in the college application and admissions process, they show promise in improving access and reducing inequalities in college admissions and, consequently, degree attainment.

 

State Resources

With guidance from researchers and learning community states that have implemented direct admissions, SHEEO includes resources that states have used to inform systemic state-level policy changes that have the potential to reduce inequalities in college access across race, income, and geography.

 

Blogs

 

Past Events

SHEEO hosted four Communities of Practice (CoP) webinars to discuss what states hope to accomplish through their participation, their perceived challenges in advancing their goals, what they hope to gain from the CoP, and to provide a commitment to being active participants in the CoP.

Participants from the SHEEO direct admissions learning community in Minnesota and Idaho, joined by Dr. Taylor Odle, presented at the 2023 SHEEO Policy Conference. The speakers shared an overview of the direct admissions project, including research findings, program implementation and changes, inclusive workgroup processes, and data usage. The slides from the panel can be found here.

 

Opportunities

Lumina Foundation is pleased to announce The Great Admissions Redesign, a challenge to find and support the best ideas to simplify college admissions. “COVID, changing testing policies, and the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on admissions practices are causing once-in-a-generation upheaval within college admissions,” says Melanie Heath, Lumina’s strategy director, in a statement. “These conditions create an opportunity for rethinking admissions. Now is the time to reimagine how colleges connect with – and better serve – today’s students.” Nearly $3 million in grants is available for states, higher education systems, and groups of institutions to fundamentally transform the way potential students connect to college.

Lumina is hosting an informational webinar on September 12 and applications are due October 6. Lumina strongly encourages SHEEO agencies and systems to apply.

 

Contact Us

For inquiries about the Direct Admissions project, contact John Lane at jlane@sheeo.org or Sakshee Chawla at schawla@sheeo.org.

 

Further Reading  

Academic Research

Policy Research

Direct Admissions in the Press