State launching ‘direct admissions’ program for high school seniors

The state of Minnesota is launching a new program in an effort to promote college access.

Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced that, starting this fall, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education will launch a “direct admissions” program for high school seniors.

The pilot program will notify graduating seniors of their college options within the state and eliminate the application fee for the participating colleges and universities.

Currently, the program will include 40 Minnesota high schools that volunteered to participate and more than 50 state colleges and universities. The high schools then share students’ transcripts and contact information with the postsecondary schools to allow the colleges and universities to determine which students they’ll offer direct admission to.

The state says the program can potentially reduce equity gaps by providing information directly to students and eliminating the need to navigate an often-complicated admissions process. Plus, it can reduce the number of students leaving the state for postsecondary education. Officials also say other states have successfully implemented similar programs.

“As a former teacher, I know the college admissions process can be overwhelming for students,” Walz said in a statement. “We are committed to removing barriers and making higher education more accessible for students in Minnesota, and this includes making sure students know all the opportunities and options available to them.”

“We want Minnesota high school seniors to know they are college ready, and they have multiple options in our state,” Office of Higher Education Commissioner Dennis Olson said. “Our goal is to reduce anxiety around the traditional college admissions process and allow students to apply with confidence.”

The Office of Higher Education first proposed starting the program during the 2021-22 school year after funding was approved by the Minnesota Legislature in 2021. Instead, it was moved to early next month.

It wasn’t immediately clear which high schools were selected for the pilot program.

More information is available online.