In 2015, Idaho adopted the nation’s first direct admissions system and proactively admitted all high school graduates to a set of public institutions. This reimagination of the admissions process may reduce barriers to students’ enrollment and improve access across geographic and socioeconomic contexts by removing many human capital, informational, and financial barriers in the college search and application process. Despite a lack of evidence on the efficacy of direct admissions systems, the policy has already been proposed or implemented in four other states. Using synthetic control methods, we estimate the first causal impacts of direct admissions on institutional enrollment outcomes. We find early evidence that direct admissions increased first-time undergraduate enrollments by 4–8% (50–100 students per campus on average) and in-state levels by approximately 8–15% (80–140 students) but had minimal-to-no impacts on the enrollment of Pell-eligible students. These enrollment gains were concentrated among 2-year, open-access institutions. We discuss these findings in relation to state contexts and policy design given the emergence of literature highlighting the varied efficacy of similar college access policies.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||34|
|Journal||Research in Higher Education|
|State||Published - Sep 2022|
- College admissions
- Direct admissions
- Education policy
- Higher education
- Synthetic control
ASJC Scopus subject areas
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Are direct college admissions the future of higher education?
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