By Ricardo Azziz | November 15, 2012
One of the questions I am asked most frequently about our consolidation is how are we going to continue to maintain local student “access”? And of course, although less likely to be articulated, a second question is “How are we going to enhance these students’ success?”… Because “access” without “success” has limited value.
In today’s blog I will review a few facts that set the stage for our developing fair, effective, and efficient policies and procedures to address issues of higher education access.
Firstly, the consolidation of ASU and GHSU will lead to the creation of a new comprehensive research university, the fourth such institution in Georgia. And student admission standards to research universities are invariably higher than at state universities (e.g. ASU). Course work and professors in research universities are generally expected to be more demanding, and students at these universities are often more likely to pursue postgraduate studies. Why should this be? In short, it’s all about maximizing “quality” and “competitiveness.”
Maximizing the quality of the educational experience and outcome … which to a great degree depends on the academic quality and potential of the student (and faculty of course).
And it’s about maximizing the competitiveness of the university, of the state of Georgia, and… of the graduates. Greater institutional competitiveness which will allow the university to compete with the best of the best nationally and globally – for faculty, for resources, and for recognition. Competitiveness for the state, that can boast and benefit from the unique output, and enormous economic and social impact of its nationally ranked research universities. And competitiveness for the graduate, who has demonstrated an ability to excel in a challenging environment, who will receive a diploma that is subjectively valued more highly than that of other schools … and whom potential employers will perceive as more “competitive” than his or her peers.
Secondly, admission to a university depends on a broad range of criteria. Applicants must have graduated from an approved high school, and completed the Required High School Curriculum (RHSC; previously called College Preparatory Curriculum or CPC coursework)1. The student’s high school Grade Point Average (commonly called GPA) and admissions test scores (SAT or ACT which generally measure academic readiness) are also evaluated as part of the admissions decision
And because admission standards are not based on any one single criterion, the university system calculates a more helpful “Freshman Index” (or FI), a composite of the high school GPA and admission test scores. And, as expected, the minimum FI scores required for regular admission to a research university are greater than those for a state university (essentially a score of 2500 vs. 1940, respectively; see table below).
Thirdly, all USG institutions are able to offer limited (special) admission to students who do not meet the university’s regular (standard) admissions criteria. For example, ASU is able to offer limited admission to students with FI scores as low as 1790. Essentially, in these circumstances ASU serves as the local junior or two-year college. However, the number of such students allowed into USG universities varies by type of institution. For a state university such as ASU the proportion can be no more than 20 percent of first-time freshman enrollment; alternatively, for a research university this proportion can be no more than 7 percent.
|Minimum Admissions Requirements* for Freshman Applicants in the USG|
|Sector||FI** for Regular Admission||FI** for Limited Admission|
|Research Universities (e.g. GHSU or ‘New U’)||FI of 2500||FI of 2020|
|State Universities (e.g. ASU)||FI of 1940 or more||FI of 1790 or more|
|*Minimum admission testing scores are the same for both types of institutions and both types of admission: 430 for SAT Verbal/Critical Reading and 400 for SAT I Math, or 17 on ACT English and Math **FI is ‘freshman index’|
Lastly, and unique to ASU, those Georgia students currently living within a 50 mile radius of the university can be granted special admission if they do not meet the minimum required criteria for even limited admission (e.g. have FI indices below 1790 or did not take the SAT/ACT exams so an FI can’t be calculated). Today these students are admitted to a specialized program, termed ‘University College.’ This strategy was implemented with Board of Regents approval in 1997 in response to the fact that the closest USG access institution to Augusta (East Georgia State College located in Swainsboro) is greater than 50 miles away. However, we should also note that East Georgia State College has already been addressing a similar need with Georgia Southern University, by establishing a satellite campus in Statesboro, initially on the campus of Georgia Southern and now at an independent location. It is something to consider for Augusta.
So, as we consolidate how are we to reconcile the admission criteria of a research university with our community’s need for “access”? We can’t simply keep the admissions standards the same as for a state university when we become a comprehensive research university … because that would mean being a mediocre non-competitive research university and we can’t have that! And we can’t simply turn our back on our community and its youth – we don’t want that either! So we must try and find possible strategies and tactics to address this conundrum.
To appreciate what kind of strategies we may want to pursue to ensure access, while maximizing competitiveness and student success, we must first define which students actually need to be provided special or facilitated “access” or assistance. Overall, we can consider at least five types of students requiring particular assistance:
- Those who are not academically ready to enter a regular university…
- Those who do not yet have all the required high school courses for admission…
- Those for whom a university education is not the right choice…
- Those who are non-traditional students, and…
- Those who currently meet admission criteria for state universities (e.g. ASU), but who do not meet the minimum admission standards for a research university (e.g. GRU)…
In the weeks ahead we will review each of these groups, what is currently being done to afford them access, and what may be additional options as we move forward to create the next great American University.
————————————– o ————————————–
1Required high school coursework for admission to a USG institution includes 4 units of mathematics, 4 units of English, 4 units of science, 3 units of social science, including one course focusing on world studies, and 2 units in the same foreign language.