Peers attracting more high-rank students

TCU has a lower percentage of freshmen who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class compared to peer schools, such as Baylor University and Southern Methodist University, according to institutional research statistics.

According to the TCU Fall 2008 Fact Book, 32 percent of TCU’s freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

About 42 percent of SMU’s freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, according to SMU fact books.

Thirty five percent of Baylor’s freshman population graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, wrote Jennifer Carron, Baylor’s admissions director, in an e-mail.

Ray Brown, the dean of admissions, said a high grade point average and graduating in the top 10 percent of one’s high school class are not enough to guarantee admission to TCU because being in the top 10 percent does not necessarily make a good student.

“The top 10 percent of the students are the most attractive academically, but not always,” Brown said

He said TCU looks at the prospective student’s transcript to determine the strength of their curriculum aside from their GPA and class rank.

Brown said students may be at the top 10 percent of their class but said applicants may have a weak transcript because of the classes they chose to take.

According to the Texas Education Agency, the recommended program for high school graduates consists of four years of English, three years of math, three and a half years of social studies and three years of science.

Joe Davis, senior admissions counselor at SMU, said the university examines a prospective student’s whole application because SMU does not have set GPA or class rank requirements.

He said class ranking does not determine if the applicant will be successful at SMU, but a combination of GPA, SAT or ACT scores, extracurricular activities, challenging courses and recommendation letters will.

“A lot of schools no longer release ranks because that’s all some college admissions look at,” Davis said. “Public schools still do it, but private schools and out-of-state schools are starting not to.”

Jonathan Evans, Baylor senior admissions counselor, said the university looks at an applicant’s class ranking to determine how competitive they are in the classroom.

“We’re looking for graduates, not freshmen,” he said.

Evans said admission is also determined based on the prospective student’s academic quality, SAT or ACT scores, resumes and letters of recommendation,

Brown said many freshmen who graduated at the top of their class are enrolled in public schools because they are granted automatic admission on account of the Top 10 Percent Rule.

The Top 10 Percent Rule is a law that states Texas high school students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their graduating class are subject to automatic admission to any Texas public school.

The university is not subject to the rule because TCU is a private institution, Brown said.

Bennett Parsons, a sophomore music education major, said the trend bothers him a bit.

“We should be a bit more selective and include more students in higher class ranking so we can prepare ourselves to go and duke it out with other universities who have higher academic standards,” he said.

However, Parsons said he was not surprised about the percentage.

“People talk in the street and are more likely to talk about TCU football than TCU academics,” he said. “We’re not as strong as an academic institution as we are a sports institution.”

Parsons said he graduated in the top 10 percent of his class in Juan Seguin High School in Arlington.

Ala Ahmad, a freshman political science major, said she was surprised about the statistics.

“When I was sending in transcripts and wrote essays, I worked very hard on those,” she said. “So it’s surprising to me that the data shows that there aren’t as many students in the top 10 percent.”

Ahmad said she graduated in the top 10 percent of her class in Arlington High School.

Freshmen who graduate in top 10% of their high school class: