Low admissions standards beneficial for students
April 28, 2008 —
AN ENLIGHTENED APPROACH -
Admissions director Jim Dwyer's quote in Paul Scozzari's article on rejection rates speaks volumes to the forward-thinking approach that SVSU employs in its admissions policies.
" ... the philosophy of people like President Gilbertson and myself is that it should be easy to get in, but hard to get out," he told Paul.
High admissions standards don't always mean high standards in the classroom. Elite public universities suffer from grade inflation just as community colleges do, and the quality of an individual's education in a cavernous lecture hall with 300 students is questionable at best.
What high admissions standards do is to simplify a university's job: Instead of a qualitative assessment of a student's potential, admissions decisions are largely quantitative beasts. If the numbers aren't there, they don't have to bother.
It's tougher at Ivy League schools, though, when all the numbers are the same (read: impeccable) and admissions representatives end up scratching their heads, choosing what few applications to select out of thousands of equally impressive portfolios.
So selectivity isn't all that bad. Many students that performed poorly or typically in high school really aren't very good students.
But many, perhaps the majority, have the potential to be exceptional college students. Students coming from high-poverty high schools may not have been appropriately challenged, since standards at such schools are often very low. Incompetent teachers still ruin subjects for untold numbers of students at high and low-poverty schools alike.
SVSU's admissions policy implicitly recognizes that a high school education is occasionally a poor indicator of a student's potential. Not all high schools educate their students the same, though. Achievement differs immensely from one geographic region to another.
But as Dwyer said, the school's relaxed admissions standards don't mean students should expect to skate by. As long as standards in the classroom are high, standards in the admissions office don't really matter. What's important is that students are receiving a quality education.
Earlier this year, we published an article on the dropout and retention rates at SVSU and other colleges. Every year, between fall and winter semester, a significant portion of that year's freshman class drops out. And the graduation rates for the average freshman class hovered around 65 to 70 percent, depending on the class and year.
So it's pretty clear that students aren't cruising effortlessly through the system, at the very least. The curriculum seems to weed out those students who simply can't do the work, due to whatever circumstances.
What the admissions policy does is give as many students as possible an opportunity to excel, academically and professionally. SVSU has innumerable opportunities in and out of the classroom for students of all backgrounds, not just students from good high schools.