In Texas, if a senior graduates in the top ten percent of their class, they are automatically accepted into any college in Texas that they choose. This law was originally put into place in order to boost the minority population in colleges. At first glance, the law seems logical, fair, and rewarding. It is definitely an incentive for a student to work towards. Though the law does not allow for differences in schools or which classes a student took. It also does not account for extra curricular activities or other normal criteria that a college generally considers.
Some schools are weaker than other schools. They are easier, and therefore, the playing field is off set. If an average student attends a weaker school, although they may make A's and try very hard, they may not be equal to a student who makes A's and attends a stronger school. Or if a very intelligent student attends a stronger school, they may fall just short of the top ten percent of their class. Both cases are unfair. That is one reason there are SATs and ACTs. If a student does very well in school but makes just an average grade on their standardized test, the college can get a better feel for the student. They can also factor in extra curricular activities or the level of classes they took. With the ten percent rule, there are no other factors. The school looses their privilege of choosing their own students. The school looks at all of the student's strengths and weaknesses, and is able to choose students who will compliment their school. This also allows students who may make lower grades or have a lower score on the SATs, to have a chance at being accepted because they have other qualities that they could bring to that campus.
When the college looses their privilege of choosing their students, the level of the school may also drop. For instance, UT is a very popular school, and many students dream of attending. If most of the students choose to go to UT, then the college's maximum number of students is filled quickly. The school only has a few spots available for students who were not automatically accepted, even if they were better qualified to attend UT. This is unfair to both the students and the school. Some, but not all of those students would have gotten into UT; the rule took away many spots that could have gone to students who deserved to be accepted.
Also, students may "cheat" by purposely going to a weaker school, where the classes are much easier. Or they may take easier classes all together. As a student who took many honor classes in high school, I know how it feels to compare report cards with someone who took regular classes, and who I know didn't work nearly as hard as I did for the same grade. I'm not saying that the person who took regular classes didn't work very hard for their grade, I just feel that the person who took honor classes should be given some kind of credit for challenging themselves.
Another less obvious factor is that many students of lower income schools may still not apply to the school of their choice because of money issues. The application fee alone is $40. Attending college costs several thousands of dollars. There is definitely not enough information given to these students about grants and scholarships that could help with these costs. Without this information, they believe that they couldn't afford to attend anyways, and therefore don't apply or attend college at all. So the minority population may still not even be improving in colleges.
There are many obvious, and not so obvious, points as to why this law does not work, at least not how it is supposed to. I believe first we need to work on bettering our education in elementary, middle, and high schools. Once that is improved, students will have an equal chance to attend any college they want to, regardless of race or percentile. The ten percent rule doesn't fix the minority problem, it just creates other problems. Students need better education, and more information about colleges and opportunities.