UWO to implement direct admission for high schoolers


Source: UW System Direct Admissions Task Force

Josh Lehner, Assistant News Editor

UW Oshkosh is working toward implementing direct admission, which would automatically admit high school students with the right GPA and test scores, voiding the need to enroll.

UW-Green Bay implemented the program earlier this month, but it won’t take effect until 2024. According to the school’s press release, “all high school seniors graduating from Green Bay Area Public Schools in 2024 and forward will no longer be required to complete a college application and will instead be directly admitted to UW-Green Bay.”

UWO Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Erin Grisham said that direct admissions aims to correct the bureaucracy of enrollment, which she said is a barrier to many high school students who aren’t determined to go to college.

“This initiative aims to encourage students,” she said. “Arizona has had a version of this initiative in place. If you take certain courses and get a certain GPA, you know that you’ll be accepted. I think it really empowers students and families and shows that college is accessible.”

Grisham worked with the UW Board of Regents to produce a report looking at the potential benefits of the initiative for Wisconsin. According to the report, under direct admission, it is common that “students, parents and high schools receive letters indicating a student has been admitted to a set of institutions and outlining steps for how the student can ‘claim their place’ using a common and free application.”

The report cites an Idaho study showing a 8-15% enrollment growth from in-state students after implementing direct admission.

Idaho’s enrollment growth stands in stark contrast to the UW System, which has experienced a total enrollment drop of about 29,000 students since 2010 (excluding UW-Madison), according to the report.

“Recent declines in enrollment have been related, in part, to changes in the … percentage of high school graduates immediately enrolling at UW System institutions,” from about 32% in 2017 to 27% in 2021, the report states.

When asked about direct admission during his town hall last month, UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said that UWO is looking into it and referenced UWGB, which is the first UW System school to implement the program.

“Green Bay is a leader in this, and they are moving swiftly forward,” he said. “A lot of other UW System schools are looking at this to determine if it will fit in.”

UWO Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Aggie Hanni said that direct admission’s primary benefit is encouraging students who otherwise wouldn’t attend college by not only reaching out to them, but also by providing financial and housing resources.

We take it for granted how much of a barrier it is to apply to an institution,” she said. “It guarantees them a spot and intends to target resident students those who live in Wisconsin. They will basically be guaranteed a spot at a UW System school.”

Hanni said that this initiative would involve UW schools working in tandem with certain high schools to contact students and their families and by holding events and visiting local high schools. Details are still being worked on, but Hanni said that implementation of direct enrollment is moving forward in pragmatic steps.

“We’re still in the process of figuring out the logistics, such as what the qualifications for students will be,” she said. “The earliest that this would likely be implemented is fall 2024, which is likely standard for all UW schools opting into this initiative.”