Local official speaks against higher KU admission standards
By RACHAEL GRAY
After a Kansas state school opted to raise its admission standards, a
local education and Kansas Board of Regents member is speaking out
against the decision.
The state board approved a proposal from University of Kansas
officials to boost entry requirements for incoming freshmen, starting in
fall 2016. Prospective students would have to earn at least a "B"
average in high school to gain automatic admission, while others would
have their applications reviewed by a committee.
Students can now enter any state university by scoring 21 out of 36
points on the ACT college-entrance exam, having a 2.0 grade-point
average in a college prep curriculum or graduating in the top third of
their high-school classes. The state plans to change those requirements
in fall 2014, so that students must both achieve the ACT score and meet
one of the other two requirements.
The new standards for automatic admittance to the KU would be even
more stringent. A student with an ACT score of 21, 22 or 23 would have
to earn a 3.25 GPA on a 4-point scale in high school. A student who
scored 24 or better on the ACT could get in with a 3.0 GPA in high
Janie Perkins, regent and USD 457 supplemental programs coordinator, voted against the measure.
"My concern is that the Board of Regents already have standards in
place for all the state institutions. I work with a very large
population of at-risk students in our district. Many of them try their
best to be A and B students, but many struggle and it's very difficult,"
Perkins said since KU is a state institution, and state taxpayers pay
for the institution, the college should promote more in-state students.
"I feel that our taxpayers already pay into the system, and for that
reason, (KU) should be more accessible to students, instead of building
roadblocks," she said.
Perkins said she could understand tougher admission standards if KU was a private university.
"I didn't agree with them changing the standards. I know they have
their reasons and I respect that but then again, I felt increasing those
standards would keep some students from even thinking they could get
in," she said.
Perkins said she understands that some applications may be reviewed
by a committee to weigh extra curricular activities and involvement for
Some students work night shifts at beef packing plants in southwest
Kansas and don't have the time or energy to attend school and
participate in extra-curricular activities, she said.
And others may not be aware of the other standards that could be an exception to the rule.
"I'm just afraid some of the students are not going to be aware of
the requirements for post-secondary education. Some of them may see part
of the information and not even apply. Many of our students, especially
here in western Kansas are first-generation college students," she
The regents also approved tuition increases that are expected to
raise an additional $31 million annually, to help offset rising
operating costs at the state's six universities and the University of
Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. The increases will vary --
and some students won't see higher rates — with the biggest boost
experienced by new, out-of-state undergraduates at KU.
The regents acknowledged concerns that fewer high school graduates
can afford to attend state universities as tuition rises each year, but
said extra funds are necessary to keep programs from slipping. Boosting
admission standards at KU is designed to improve graduation rates by
making sure incoming students are prepared.
According to the university, about 65 percent of its freshmen would
have hit either mark, and Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little stressed
that students who can't will have their applications reviewed
individually. In many cases, she said, they'll be admitted and receive
guidance on how they can improve their chances of succeeding.
Regents still expect to draft regulations to help flesh out the
details of how the new plan will work. KU officials believe that not
only will a lower percentage of students drop out but that some high
achievers will stay in Kansas instead of going out-of-state.
The board approved the policy, 8-1, with Perkins casting the only
dissenting vote, citing concerns about the effects of the higher
standards and the university's plans to set a new Feb. 1 deadline for
students who want to be admitted automatically.
The regents were unanimous in backing tuition increases proposed by
the state universities but, in what has become an annual ritual, they
bemoaned the need to raise the additional funds.
While KU's increase for new out-of-state undergraduates is 6.9
percent, about 65 percent of its returning undergraduates are in a
program that sets a single, guaranteed rate for four years. Fort Hays
State University proposed no increase for its out-of-state
Tuition increases for undergraduates from Kansas will range from 2.9
percent at Fort Hays State to 6.2 percent at Emporia State University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.