It’s about this time of year that some college freshmen at state universities may be wondering whether they made the right choice. They may be asking: Am I as successful as I could be, or in over my head? Is this school the right fit for me? Would I be happier somewhere else?
Some may have dropped a class or two or may have already made the decision to go elsewhere, perhaps their local community college. Maturity, study and social habits and the reality of finances all weigh into the decision.
The Kansas Board of Regents made a unanimous decision last week that could make the choice of whether to attend a junior college that much easier for some. The regents approved tougher admission standards for public universities, including Kansas University.
That makes sense because schools like KU should not be the place where ill-prepared students get their start in higher education. Dollars — the student’s, the university’s and the state’s — are wasted when that happens.
Currently, to get into a regents university, students must either complete a pre-college curriculum, score 21 or higher on the ACT, or rank in the top third of their high school graduating class.
Under the admissions requirements, students must complete a pre-college curriculum with at least a 2.0 grade-point average and then have either an ACT score of 21 or higher, combined SAT score of 980 or higher, or rank in the top third in their graduating class.
The new standards start in four years so students entering high school next year have time to adjust.
“The underlying piece of all this was to better prepare people for success, not to eliminate anyone,” said Regents Chairman Gary Sherrer, who headed a task force on the standards. “We want you to be successful, so prepare yourself accordingly.”
Sherrer’s comments have a message for regents universities as well as high schools: Make sure students are prepared for university work before letting them in.
In 2008, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 22.3 percent of KU students did not return for their sophomore year, up from the previous 19-year high of 17.3 in 2003.
Administrators at some of Kansas’ 19 community colleges say many students who recently graduated from high school need developmental work in math, reading and English. Remedial work is best done before a student heads to a four-year institution and a two-year college is an appropriate place for that.
Community colleges play an important role in the state’s educational system. They give all students, including those who transfer to four-year schools and those seeking job training, a chance for early success, and at a reasonable price.