Direct Admissions: Considerations for Policy and Practice

May 1, 2023

Share this

Title: The Link Between Student Lists and Direct Admissions: Pros, Cons, and Policy Implications

Authors: Lynneah Brown and Rachel Burns

Source: State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

Researchers from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) recently released a short report on considerations around direct admissions policies. Direct admissions is a method to admit students to an institution while circumventing the traditional student application process. This is an increasingly popular tool in which colleges let students know that they have been accepted and provide consumer information about their institutions—all without students having to formally apply for admission. State systems of higher education are increasingly interested in advancing such programs.

As the research team from SHEEO points out, there are several factors that state and institutional leadership should take into account when formulating plans and policies on direct admissions. One consideration is the intended audience. Though direct admissions programs are a relatively recent policy development, they have already taken a variety of forms, and institutions and states are interested in pursuing these practices to achieve different goals. For example, some state systems or institutions may use direct admissions to expand access to students from backgrounds underrepresented in higher education, such as first-generation or low-income students. However, there are also examples of direct admissions programs that are designed to prevent “brain drain,” the phenomenon of potential college students leaving the state.

Another factor is data availability. Direct admissions relies on robust longitudinal, student-level data, and this is not always immediately available to institutions. The authors argue that student lists—or student contact and academic information—are a strong option for direct admissions policies, but they should be used with caution. While there is now a wider range of vendors in the educational technology sector that offer student lists, prior research points out that student lists often leave out students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, and students from rural communities.

A link to the report can be found here.

—Alexander Cassell

If you have any questions or comments about this blog post, please contact us.

Keep Reading

We Are All Complicit in the College Admissions Scandal

In wake of the recent college admissions scandal, former Tulane President Scott Cowen writes that it’s time to own up to our mistakes, close admissions loopholes, and rethink what it means to be elite.

April 8, 2019

Policy Levers Leading the Way to Reentry for Incarcerated Students

We know that postsecondary education changes lives and provides a stepping-stone to prosperity. Though we recognize education’s transformative power, those who stand to benefit the most are often cut off from access—especially individuals in the criminal justice system.

July 31, 2017

Evaluating a Scalable Solution for Enhancing Teaching Practice

There are a variety of ways in which faculty learn, and continue to learn, about teaching. But given the increase in contingent faculty—part-time and full-time non-tenure-track faculty—who now comprise about 75 percent of all college and university instructors, the critical question is, “How do we scale faculty development efforts to reach a greater number of faculty?”

July 10, 2017