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Where better than Texas for a road trip to size up what a state's college system has to offer? The Lone Star State guarantees Texas high school students in the top 10 percent of their class a place at the state institution of their choice. We visited four such schools, all within a hot afternoon's drive of downtown Houston but all with a very different feel, to see what set them apart. Profiles by Carol Frey.

Schools:

University of Texas—Austin
Prairie View A&M University
Sam Houston State University
University of Houston