Student success

New admissions standards may prompt more Kansas students to attend a community college before tackling university work.

December 26, 2010


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.


davidsmom 7 years, 1 month ago

The new standards seem awfully low to me.

SnakeFist 7 years, 1 month ago

In my opinion, success is more likely at a community college because much smaller class sizes (e.g., 30 students versus 300 students) allow students greater access to their instructors. But how does success in that environment translate to success at a university where students are reduced to being faceless numbers, are limited to speaking with UTAs or GTAs, and have no sense that anyone knows or cares whether they drop out or not?

Universities have become so focused on winning grants and commercializing research that they begrudge what little time they still spend teaching students, and then have the nerve to assert that students can't teach themselves well enough.

Thunderdome 7 years, 1 month ago

Admissions standards probably are too low, but it is more than a little disingenuous to raise those standards when, at the same time, the quality of teaching at Kansas universities has fallen off. Higher education needs a paradigm shift focusing on teaching technical skills required in the workplace. It's time to climb out of the ivory towers and pay attention to societal needs in the 21st century. When the teaching matches the cost of the education, then and only then should admissions standards be raised.

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