Trickle-down Academics in Georgia

In recent years all Georgia colleges have become more selective, even the non-selective ones.

According to an article by Laura Diamond in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

This year’s freshmen at the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Georgia College & State universities shattered records for SAT scores and high school GPAs. That continued a steady rise that has altered the state’s higher education landscape, making a slot at Tech or UGA hotly competitive and fueling huge growth and higher standards at other public universities.

Georgia Tech’s freshmen earned an average 1378 on the math and verbal SAT — up almost 50 points from five years ago. They took more than three college-level Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses by the end of junior year in high school and three more during senior year.

This doesn’t mean they’re dramatically smarter, serious, or more talented at UGA but it does matter for admissions policies at Georgia’s other schools.

As the article explains, there’s a trickle-down effect. If UGA gets higher scoring applicants, that means it can reject them, sending their rejects to other state schools: “Enrollment at Georgia Southern and Kennesaw State universities has increased and the student talent has improved. Kennesaw State freshmen earned an average 1,074 on the math and verbal SAT — a gain of 52 points over the last decade.”

All of this happened because of the generous HOPE scholarship, which made UGA more selective by paying the full tuition of most in-state students for almost 20 years. This kept some of the highest-achieving high school students in state.

Now that the scholarship has been dramatically gutted by the Georgia legislature, let’s see how long schools like UGA remain selective.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer