Minority Higher Education Pipeline: Consequences of Changes in College Admissions Policy in Texas

Angel L. Harris, Princeton University
Marta Tienda, Princeton University

This paper examines whether replacing affirmative action with an admission guarantee for students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class affects the college-going behavior of young adults. Specifically, we use administrative data on applicants, admittees and enrollees from the two most selective public institutions and Texas Education Agency data about high schools to evaluate whether and how application, admission and enrollment rates changed under three admission regimes. Disputing popular claims that the top 10% law has improved diversification of Texas’s public flagships, analyses that consider changes in the size of graduation cohorts show that both Hispanics and blacks are more disadvantaged relative to whites under the top 10% admission regime at both University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Simulations of gains and losses at each stage of the college pipeline across admission regimes for Hispanics and blacks confirm that affirmative action is the most efficient policy to diversify college campuses, even in highly segregated states like Texas.

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Presented in Session 58: Access to and the Impact of College Education