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UT Board of Trustees passes guaranteed admission for top Tennessee high schoolers (WVLT)

Posted Date: 09/14/2023


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Students who grew up in Tennessee, like Clinton High School senior Michael Rich, said they have dreamt of attending the University of Tennessee their entire lives. With growing nationwide popularity around UT, anxiety is sinking in for Tennessee homegrown students.

“One big focus is worrying about whether we’re gonna get admitted with the restrictions getting higher and higher each year,” Rich said.

The University of Tennessee System is considering a proposal to guarantee admission to Tennessee high school students who meet any of the following criteria:

Finish in the top 10% of their high school’s graduating class; or
Achieve a 4.0 or higher GPA; or
Achieve a 3.2 or higher GPA and have an ACT composite score of 23 or higher (or an SAT score of 1130-1150 or higher)

The proposal, which passed on Friday morning, said it’s an effort to, “expand access, recruit more of Tennessee’s best and brightest students.”

The Knoxville campus will require students to have a minimum of a 19 subscore in Math and English.

In 2021, 28% of Tennessee’s public high school students who graduated with a 3.75 GPA or higher chose to go out of state for college.

“This new proposal by University of Tennessee is going to open the door for kids that don’t have 27 ACT, which has become the average at UT. It’s gonna give them a shot and it’s going to take off a lot of pressure,” said Hoppy Merryman, a college access coordinator with Anderson County Schools.

Merryman said she thinks the new proposed admission plan would help students from rural areas, like the students she works with at Clinton High School and Anderson High School. She explained that many rural schools do not have the same extracurricular and course opportunities that larger schools have.

“Those students now get an equal shot with the passage of this new admission system,” Merryman said. “Our rural East Tennessee students have the opportunity to be viewed by the opportunity of what they get to do in their particular high school.”

The proposal is effective immediately, starting with the fall 2024 class.