- The University of Wisconsin System plans to roll out a direct admissions initiative next year to boost enrollment across its campuses.
- System President Jay Rothman announced the news during a board meeting last week. He anticipates that qualifying high school students in the state will receive letters in July 2024 offering entry to system colleges they’ve been matched to for fall 2025.
- The system is one of several public higher education networks trying out direct admissions, which usually entails sending offer letters to high school seniors without them having to apply.
The University of Wisconsin System is still working out key parts of the program, according to meeting documents. For instance, the team overseeing the effort is developing its high school outreach and marketing and communications plans.
“We expect that we’ll introduce the UW opportunity to more students, some of whom may never have thought about attending college,” Rothman said.
Although some programs base these offers on criteria like GPA and standardized test scores, others merely require that students graduate.
The UW System will match rising high school seniors to its campuses based on admissions criteria, Rothman said.
“We hope that direct admissions will not only grow enrollment, but also streamline the admissions process and help expand the number of Wisconsin residents with a UW degree,” Rothman said.
UW System enrollment has steadily decreased over the past decade. Headcounts fell from nearly 181,000 students in fall 2012 to roughly 161,000 students in fall 2022, representing a 11.2% decline.
However, early 2023-24 data shows 161,322 students are enrolled this fall, representing an increase for the first time since 2014, Rothman said.
All but three of the system’s 13 universities are participating in the direct admissions initiative. UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse and UW-Eau Claire are opting out, but they have the ability to join in the future, the Wisconsin State-Journal reported.
Nearly 500 high schools will be able to participate in the first phase of the program, a system spokesperson said Monday. The system’s goal is to expand the direct admissions program to all Wisconsin high schools in the coming years, according to meeting documents.
UW's announcement came the same week as one in Georgia, where public colleges and policymakers unveiled their own direct admissions effort, called Georgia Match. Beginning this week, over 120,000 high school seniors in the state will receive a letter telling them which of Georgia’s public colleges are holding a spot for them for the fall 2024 term.
All 22 institutions in the Technical College System of Georgia, and all but three of the 26 colleges in the University System of Georgia are taking part.
The State University of New York system also created a direct admissions program this year, informing over 125,000 graduating high school seniors in the state that their local community colleges had spots for them this fall.