Admissions policies should recognize unique challenges.
Many students dream of a college education.
For some, the dream is becoming more elusive.
Tuition increases never help. And now, one of Kansas' public universities plans to implement tougher admission standards that would create another hurdle for some high school graduates.
The Kansas Board of Regents recently voted 8-1 to approve raising admission standards at the University of Kansas. Prospective students would need to have a minimum 3.0 high school grade-point average and ACT score of 24 or SAT of 1,090; or, a minimum 3.25 GPA and ACT of 21 or SAT of 980.
Ideally, higher standards would compel high school students to be better prepared when they head to college.
In crafting the change, KU saw an opportunity to improve retention and graduation rates, which also would improve the university's academic standing.
The question is in how to balance the quest to improve a national ranking with the responsibility of a state-funded institution to accommodate as many capable in-state students as possible.
The lone regent to vote against the plan — Garden City USD 457 Supplemental Programs Coordinator Janie Perkins — understandably expressed concern regarding at-risk students who have college potential but face unique challenges.
Students who fall short of the requirements could have their situations reviewed by a university committee that would take sports and other extracurricular activities into account.
Such a review also should acknowledge the plight of students from poor families who can't participate in those activities because they work outside of school to help make ends meet.
The system shouldn't favor students from affluent school districts who don't face such challenges. All taxpayers — not just the wealthy — support the state's universities with their dollars, after all.
It's also worth noting that students who don't meet KU's criteria still would have good options in community college and the other public universities in Kansas that haven't tightened their admission standards.
Perkins' "nay" vote wasn't going to derail KU's plan. But it did remind us that many good Kansas students who face extraordinary challenges also deserve an opportunity.
Give Perkins credit for going against the grain to drive home that important point.