Direct admissions to college mean you can now be accepted to a college without ever even applying.

Eager to boost enrollments and student diversity, many universities are using this new direct admissions strategy. Direct admissions reverses the traditional process. Instead, schools find you from a pool of candidates that match their desired criteria. Much like pre-approved loans or credit cards, you may receive offers from schools you’ve never previously considered. And, you may avoid much of the effort required for regular admissions applications. Some schools still require an application and/or fee to enroll. But you’ll already know you’ve been accepted, rather than paying an application fee before knowing if you will get in.

Direct Admissions by State

According to the Education Commission of the States, at least twelve states have programs to guarantee admission for eligible students. Here are some examples of state programs:

  • Idaho | The Direct Admissions initiative proactively admits all Idaho public high school seniors to a minimum of 6 in-state colleges and universities each year. The 2022-2023 cut score was a 2.6 unweighted GPA.
  • Minnesota | Early in the school year, seniors who are on track to graduate at participating high schools will receive personalized communication, co-signed by their high school and the Office of Higher Education, that lists all participating Minnesota colleges and universities they are proactively admitted to. Seniors then complete a free application for each school they are interested in attending. 
  • Texas | Students who will graduate in the top 10% or 25% of their high school class can qualify for automatic admission at participating colleges.

Direct Admissions Platforms

  • Concourse, one of the first companies to offer direct admissions, began accepting basic student information via online accounts verified by high school principals, teachers, or counselors. Member universities receive the anonymous data of those matching their criteria and can then choose to offer non-binding admissions and financial aid to those nameless accounts. Concourse says its students average 5.8 offers, with 60% of those offers including scholarships. Account creation is $75 for students but fee waivers may be available.
  • Greenlight Match has member institutions set enrollment criteria. Students create profiles verified by counselors; then the institutions review and make offers. Students review offers with their counselors and choose which to accept. The platform leverages more than 1,500 community-based organizations and 400 college partnerships.
  • Niche Direct Admissions asks students to create free profiles, which include high school, GPA, and interests. Currently 25 colleges in their program have set criteria and may offer students admission and scholarships.
  • SAGE Scholars FastTrak requires students to build profiles with their email, GPA, transcripts, majors/academic interests, sports/activities, and favorite colleges. More than 450 SAGE Scholars colleges receive this information. Schools will then contact students with a “preliminary admissions”  email to further discuss admissions options.

Common App Direct Admissions

Even the Common App now offers direct admissions with 14 colleges participating in a pilot program last year. Almost 30,000 students received offers, with the most acceptances among students of color and first-generation college students. WIthin the Common App, each college screens for a minimum GPA among students who attended high school within the college’s home state. Students who qualify receive a non-binding admissions offer via email which often includes financial aid. Students who accept the offer are guaranteed admission and can also avoid application fees and essays. For more about how the Common App direct admissions program works, see their FAQs.

Whether you apply via the traditional applications or direct admissions process, be sure to choose YOUR best-fit college. How to Choose a College That’s Right for You. And, to boost your chances for more scholarship money, work to improve your ACT and/or SAT test scores. Learn how.