A magazine analysis of how colleges and universities compare is not justification for changing major policies at the respective schools. However, Kansas University officials are well aware of how the Kansas open admissions policy affects the school's ranking in the current issue of U.S. News & World Report.
In this comparison, KU is placed in the "quartile three" of the roughly 200-plus "national universities." Loyal KU boosters find it difficult to understand why the school is not ranked higher, particularly when noting some of the schools in "quartile two."
KU stacks up well in most yardsticks used by the magazine's judges, but the open admissions situation is a red flag for those trying to assess the academic environment of a university. In fact, Kansas is the only state in the nation that does not have some kind of selective admissions policy for in-state students. Anyone graduating from an accredited Kansas high school can enroll at any of the Kansas Board of Regents institutions.
And this, in the eyes of those trying to grade universities in all 50 states, paints a picture of a state where the universities will take any in-state student, regardless of their academic skills. It's almost as if Kansas universities are looked upon as collectors of high school graduates who didn't meet admission standards of other schools.
Such a policy has the effect of discouraging outstanding out-of-state students and their high school academic counselors from giving serious consideration to KU or other Kansas universities.
A magazine's ranking of major colleges and universities should not be the reason Kansas changes its open admissions policy. Nevertheless, those wondering about the national reputation of the state's schools and how this national perception is translated into the academic skills of entering freshmen as well as how the open admissions policy affects faculty teaching and research, university research dollars and the efficiency and cost of higher education in Kansas perhaps should consider whether Kansas should give more serious consideration to the admissions question for regents' schools.
KU remains as one of the nation's finest state universities, regardless of the U.S. News and World Report feature. However, it cannot afford to wear blinders and not change with the times. If the school is to remain among the elite of state universities, it must be competitive and up-to-date in all facets of its programs, including its admissions policy.