Thursday, September 08, 2005

America's Best Colleges and the Top Ten Percent

This is a quick and powerful read. -Angela

September 1, 2005

By David Montejano*

This week the US News & World Report (Aug. 29, 2005) released its annual ranking of the country's best colleges. A review of the rankings reveals that the very best colleges have student bodies overwhelmingly comprised of students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class. It should come as no surprise that nearly ninety percent (and upwards) of the entering freshmen at the best private universities graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class. But this holds true for the best public universities as well.

Top ten percenters basically made up the entire entering class at the University of California-Berkeley (99%) and the University of California-Los Angeles (97%). In fact, Berkeley and UCLA, with a 25% and 23% admit rate, rejected many top ten percent applicants.

In Texas, where legislators recently considered modifying HB 588 (the “top ten percent” admissions law) because of fears that its flagship universities would be “overrun” by top ten percenters, the national rankings should provide some perspective. The University of Texas-Austin, with only two-thirds (66%) of its freshmen graduating in the top ten percent and with a 51% admit rate, has a fairly relaxed profile compared to much higher ranked universities. Texas A & M University-College Station has even more breathing room: only half (49%) of its entering class were top ten percenters and three-quarters (72%) of all applicants were admitted.

Special Report: America's Best Colleges*
Rank School Freshmen in top 10% of HS class ('04) Acceptance
(admit) rate ('04)
1 Harvard 96% 11%
5 Stanford 87% 13%
17 Rice 86% 22%
20 UC-Berkeley 99% 25%
25 UCLA 97% 23%
27 UNC-Chapel Hill 74% 36%
30 USC 84% 27%
52 UT-Austin 66% 51%
60 TAMU-College Sta. 49% 72%
*U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT (Aug. 29, 2005)

The national rankings make two points very clear:

(1) that the freshmen of the very best universities are overwhelmingly made up of top ten percent students; and (2) that acceptance (admit rates) by the very best universities is extremely competitive.

One final point might be added: universities with top ten percent student bodies can play football. Look at USC, UCLA, and --well, maybe-- Cal (Berkeley).
*Professor David Montejano is Chair of the Center for Latino Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley.

1 comment:

  1. But the questions should be, what about all of the private schools that do not rank students? What about the magnet programs such as Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax Virginia where the bottom 90% of students would probably be a top 10% if they went any where else.

    Would the top 10% of students at Dallas Carter be in the top 10% at Plano East high? Probably not. Then how does being in the top 10% at Dallas Carter make a student a better college student than being between 10% and 20% at Plano East?