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Parents Moving School Districts to Help with Admissions

sgopal2sgopal2 3856 replies52 threads Senior Member
Hello,

I just saw an interesting article about the UT automatic admissions policy. It appears that the top 10% of students from each of the state's high schools are automatically guaranteed acceptance into the UT system. In recent years, this has been changed to top 7%.

In the article, the author states that some parents have gone so far as to move to lower performing school districts to help tip the scales in favor of their child:
That has led some families to game the system, by moving their kids to lower-achieving schools where they have a better chance.
http://www.marketplace.org/2016/05/18/wealth-poverty/top-10-rule-faces-new-challenge-texas

This brings up a whole host of issues. Wondering what others think of this practice?
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Replies to: Parents Moving School Districts to Help with Admissions

  • gettingschooledgettingschooled 1917 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I live in Texas and I have never met or heard of an actual person with a name who moved their kid to a lower performing district to get into UT. When you look at houses, is it a strike against a very high performing district? For some.

    I don't know any parents who think putting their kids in an underperforming school is a good idea.

    While the top 7 percent is guaranteed admission to the university, a whole host of factors including test scores and ECs are factored in for admission to your major.

    UT's four year graduation rate is rising. Greater focus on advising seems to be helping that. But McRaven and now Governor Abbott have come out against the law, so 2017 will be an interesting legislative session.
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  • beyondtxbeyondtx 84 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I do personally know families in our area who have taken this into consideration when buying/moving. The competition to be at the top in one of our local schools in particular is so fierce that some parents figure moving gives their kid a fighting chance for auto admit. It's not like they are considering switching to a school that is awful, just maybe one that is a notch down in competetiveness.
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  • fauvefauve 3500 replies26 threads Senior Member
    If a family prefers a less-competitive high school which still has excellent teachers, more power to them. Having a school full of overachievers can be frustrating to students who spend a lot of time on their ECs or sports. The students whose parents are paying for multiple private tutors and test-prep tutors could also be accused of "gaming the system".

    Because of an employment transfer, our DDs went from a highly competitive district to a more values-based school, and they were able to rise to the top quickly, develop great self-confidence, enjoyed very good academics, thriving ECs and top-Ivy admissions. Who knows what the results would have been in the previous environment? They were able to succeed at their colleges, and top grad programs despite the slightly less rigorous HS.

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  • 2019hope2019hope 201 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I haven't heard of changing districts....since ISD's are usually huge. I have heard of parents placing their kids in less competitive schools inside the district. I also have spoken with many parents who have bought houses in the "one notch down" high school areas expressly for the 7% rule.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42001 replies2269 threads Super Moderator
    I don't like the rule. My dad is a professor at UT, and he said the problem is that kids in very poor school districts who qualify automatically often are not able to succeed at the university.

    On a more personal level, three generations of my family have been Longhorns - my grandmother attended graduate school at UT in the 1920s. But it looks as if none of my sister's three kids will be able to get in. The older two were not in the top 7% at their competitive high school. I don't think my younger nephew will make it, either. It's a shame, because they would done well at UT. My niece is graduating this year. She's in the top 10%, but not the top 7%. My older nephew appealed his rejection without success.

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  • gettingschooledgettingschooled 1917 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Since UT does not meet full need, I wonder how many top 7 percenters from poor backgrounds actually attend.
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  • Qwerty568Qwerty568 1203 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I'm a bit confused as to why UT decided on a top 7 percent auto admit as opposed to a SAT/GPA cutoff instead.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42001 replies2269 threads Super Moderator
    ^The thinking is that it gives kids in small, poorer schools more opportunity to attend college.
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30745 replies197 threads Senior Member
    Given that there is a very high correlation between SAT/ACT scores and family income, using a percentage for the auto admit is a way of leveling the playing field for students from lower income neighborhoods and somewhat lower performing high schools. As MainLonghorn points out above, this does pose risks for those students from the lower performing schools. If the university is not prepared to provide the supports necessary for their successful transition, many will struggle and eventually drop out.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 4110 replies28 threads Senior Member
    This is definitely happening in North Texas. The parents aren't moving to underperforming districts just less competitive districts. It's a very unfortunate situation and the rankings game being played by students is not to the students' development.
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  • ScienceGirlMomScienceGirlMom 423 replies23 threads Member
    I personally knew one student who said he was attending a very small, pretty much unknown private high school for the advantage of graduating at the top of his class. Last I heard, he was enrolled at UT. I thought it was sad that he missed out on the usual high school activities just for the sake of being admitted to one particular college.
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  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn 42001 replies2269 threads Super Moderator
    ^Well, the one particular college IS highly rated and affordable, so I can understand why someone might do that.
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  • 2019hope2019hope 201 replies0 threads Junior Member
    That is true. Hard to look OOS when you have such a good, affordable option at home.
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  • piesquaredpiesquared 178 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2016
    @gettingschooled I can answer for the quite low SES school where I work: two out of fifteen admitted can afford to go to our Texas flagship. One has a lot of outside scholarships; one lives with his mother who is a housecleaner but has a noncustodial father who owns a business and he can afford to bridge his son's gap.

    Many of my students would have been happy to go to UT-Austin (and wanted to), but were gapped too much to afford to go. So that little canard about low income students at lower ranked schools (which mine definitely is) taking up all the spots has just not been borne out in my experience.

    The money at Texas A&M has in recent years been better so more of my top 10% students have been able to go there. This year was NOT a good year financial-aid wise for A&M, so most of my top 10% students are going to our local state school.

    Edited to add: We'd be happy if people chose our school based on the fact that their motivated student could finish in the top 7%. I don't see anything wrong with taking that into consideration as one data point in your high school evaluations. I'd honestly tell you that the preparation at our school is uneven, and compared to the education my own children have received at a different high school in our district, definitely less rigorous.
    edited May 2016
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  • EarlVanDornEarlVanDorn 1200 replies87 threads Senior Member
    @Qwerty568 The Fifth Circuit outlawed racial discrimination in colleges within that district briefly, and so the Texas legislature responded by ordering that the top ten percent from each high school be admitted. Without racial discrimination very few minorities would be admitted. The Supreme Court later said that racial discrimination was okay in order to promote "diversity," so it was relaxed to seven percent, with the understanding that UT would discriminate like mad against students from affluent districts.
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  • HannaHanna 14866 replies42 threads Senior Member
    I have had clients in Texas discussing this issue with me. They weren't looking at moving; they were deciding between private schools that did not rank and OK public schools where their children were likely to be in the top 7%.

    It's rational.
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  • OldFashioned1OldFashioned1 110 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2016
    I know an upper middle class Caucasian family with an MD and JD mother and father who send their children to a title 1 inner-city high school. D1 is at Princeton. No doubt D2 is going to be valedictorian and go somewhere equally elite.

    No doubt their inner city high school is a MASSIVE admissions hook.
    edited May 2016
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  • piesquaredpiesquared 178 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Just one more anecdotal (non data) point to add to this discussion. At my sons' high school, this year's graduating class has a healthy number (10% of the graduates) going to UT-Austin. Of those attending (not accepted; that number would be a lot higher), none are in the top 5% (those kids are going Ivy or other highly selective schools): only two are ranked in the top 8% (this year's auto admit cut-off, next year it will be 7%). The others going to UT are outside that magic ranking and are review admits.

    There were kids who really wanted to go to UT who were not admitted, but I was interested to see how many were admitted through the review process (majors varied in competitiveness).
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24764 replies20 threads Senior Member
    How many families are really in the position that their kids are going to miss the top 7% at an excellent public school but would be in the top of the under performing school? And if the family had several children, would they all benefit from the move?

    Say you are in a top school and estimate you will be in the 10-15% range but you really want to go to UT. If you transfer to a lower performing school, you probably would get into the top 7% of that school. But say you aren't in the top 10%, but more like 40%. Is it still a sure thing you'd get to the top 7% of the other school? How about if you have a sibling in the top 5%, should that sibling have to move too?

    There are always going to be people who game the system, but really I don't think that many. I wouldn't think it was worth it to give up the other benefits of the more elite high school (AP classes, ECs, leadership opportunities, top sports teams, excellent GCs and facilities, to maybe have a chance at UT. In my area there would be no need to move, students can elect to go to the inner city schools from the urban areas. Very few do it. They could be top dogs at some of the city schools, but most remain in the suburbs. Now, there are a lot of people who move to the suburbs for the schools and are happy to be in the 50% range when they could be in the top 10% in the city, but there is no auto admit to our flagship and they probably have the same chance of getting in from either the city school or the suburban one.
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  • gettingschooledgettingschooled 1917 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Choosing a non-ranking school is a gamble. It takes your student out of the auto-admissions group and moves them to the 25 percent holistic pool. That pool is very competitive especially for engineering, business and computer science. Of course, if you know they aren't going to be top 7 percent in their current school, it may be worth the risk.

    The only kids I have seen leave our district are those who had other issues with our school. I'd characterize our district as one of the top 10 in the state. For the most part, they don't like the size and competitiveness so they aren't interested in more of the same at UT or A&M.

    Since number of students in the top 10 percent of their high school class is a factor in USNews, I don't expect McRaven/ the legislature to drop too far below that with any change they make chasing rankings. People who think their top quarter kid from a competitive school will have a shot are probably going to remain disappointed. Due to financial aid constraints and population growth, UT has way more demand than it can handle.
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