Kansas University still is getting mixed reviews on its efforts to recruit Kansas high school graduates.
Having a large number of National Merit scholars enrolled may have been an interesting talking point for Kansas University, but in the big scheme of things, it's far more important for the university to do a good job of recruiting top students from Kansas.
Officials announced this week that the number of National Merit scholars enrolled at KU had dropped from 99 last year to 49 this year. The decline was attributed to last year's decision to pull back on the full-ride scholarship deal for out-of-state Merit scholars. The size of the decline was surprising considering that students who already enrolled were allowed to keep their scholarships. Such a large drop in out-of-state students may indicate that many students had been selecting KU not necessarily for its academic excellence but rather for its financial assistance.
KU officials announced at the time that they hoped to redouble their efforts to recruit academically talented Kansas students. Being a National Merit scholar, of course, is only one predictor of a student's ability to succeed in college. Many other worthy students in the next academic tier are deserving of the university's support and recruitment efforts.
Unfortunately, reports continue to surface from local high school students who feel slighted by their home town university. Kansas State University's recruitment efforts often are rated above KU's by local students. Although many Lawrence students may choose to break away and attend college in another city, many would consider KU more seriously if they felt the university was taking an interest in them. Reports continue that many students in other Kansas cities share that view.
Pulling back on out-of-state National Merit scholarships should allow KU officials to redouble their efforts to provide financial support to top Kansas students. There are many worthy Kansas students out there who could use a helping hand.
Although KU's efforts to recruit Kansas students may have improved in recent years, it appears they will have room for improvement.