An Invitation to College

A State Leader’s Guide to Launching a Direct Admissions Initiative

As states seek to reverse pandemic-era higher education enrollment declines, one promising emerging approach is the development of “direct” admissions initiatives (also referred to as “proactive” or “guaranteed” admissions).

Under direct admissions programs, students are notified of their admittance to participating postsecondary institutions, based on a predetermined set of criteria, at the beginning of their senior year. These initiatives have shown significant promise for increasing enrollment of first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds, and students of color.

As education leaders continue to explore innovative, equity-driven college access strategies in their states, direct admissions initiatives should be front and center. Using insights shared by direct admissions leaders in nine leading states, this report examines promising planning and implementation strategies and highlights key considerations for leaders before embarking on the implementation of a direct admissions policy.

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