Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Cooperating University

Western Kentucky University

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Author's Keywords

Minority students; Percentage plans; Underrepresented students; Admissions; Critical race theory; Educational policy


Minority college students--Texas; Universities and colleges--Admission--Law and legislation--Texas


This qualitative case study explored the experiences of 10 Top 10% African American and Hispanic students at Texas A&M University. The purpose of the study was to examine how the Texas Top 10% Law influenced underrepresented students' perceptions of the law, application to universities under the law's provisions, and feelings of acceptance at a Texas flagship institution. Critical race theory (CRT) served as the theoretical framework for the study. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The study confirmed linkages with CRT research on underrepresented students' experiences with Affirmative Action policy through exploration of social construction, differential racialization, and intersectionality. Findings indicated that (a) race and diversity on college campuses are still prevalent issues for African American and Hispanic students, (b) high-achieving African American and Hispanic students emphasize their merit rather than Affirmative Action policy for their presence at predominantly White institutions, PWIs, (c) family expectations and financial support for Top 10% African American and Hispanic students are miniscule, and (d) there is limited understanding and knowledge of the Top 10% Law in African American and Hispanic communities. These findings are meaningful to higher education officials, elected leaders, and policy makers in several ways. First, results clearly indicate that the Top 10% Law is working, as reflected in the demographic composition of racially isolated schools. Second, the emphasis of the Top 10% law is on undergraduate admissions; the law does not impact enrollments or diversity goals for graduate and professional schools. Third, communication and dissemination of information between K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions lack consistency. Stories and statements from study participants validated much of the research on college choice and access. Using CRT as a framework, this study provided an alternative perspective on how African American and Hispanic students perceived, related to, and applied the Top 10% Law.