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University System’s 2001 Admissions Goals Have “Raised the Bar”

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Atlanta — January 9, 2001

Thanks to heightened admissions standards implemented by the Board of Regents over the past four years, University System of Georgia freshmen are entering college better prepared to succeed. More students are taking tougher high-school courses, fewer need remedial classes, and students’ SAT scores now are competitive with national statistics.

The Board of Regents passed a strengthened Admissions Policy in 1996, implementing more rigorous requirements for recent high-school grads (graduating in the past five years) entering college for the first time. The policy, which also includes transfer students, addressed several stark realities within the University System, including the fact that many students entered the System without completing the high-school curriculum needed to prepare for college-level work. Many were enrolled in mandatory learning support (remedial) courses, graduation rates were declining, and institutional missions also did not drive admissions standards.

The Board’s 2001 admissions policy has been phased in gradually at the University System’s colleges and universities since Fall 1997. Students who entered the eighth grade in Fall of 1997 will be the first class of students fully impacted by the new standards in the Fall of 2001. The five-year phase-in process has allowed impacted students time to prepare effectively to meet the new academic requirements.

From Fall 1995 (the year the Board of Regents first began publicly emphasizing the need for heightened admissions standards) to Fall 2000, the percentage of traditional freshmen who completed the mandatory College Preparatory Curriculum (CPC) increased from 76 percent to 91 percent. Meanwhile, the number of traditional freshmen requiring learning support (LS) coursework decreased from 27 percent to 16 percent in Fall 2000. Perhaps most impressive, the average SAT scores of traditional freshmen jumped 31 points over the past five years, from 998 in Fall 1995 to 1,029 in Fall 2000.

Dr. Daniel S. Papp, the Board of Regents’ senior vice chancellor for Academics and Fiscal Affairs, said the System is pleased about the movement toward full implementation of its 2001 admissions goals. “Our universities are raising the bar and demanding more from students seeking admission,” he said. “In return, students are responding by meeting the standards we set. This proves what we asserted all along – students will work hard and meet expectations, especially if they are clearly articulated and support is provided.”

When the board approved its admissions policy, four goals were articulated for the implementation plan: increasing average SAT scores, reducing the percentage of students admitted with CPC deficiencies, reducing the percentage of traditional freshmen in learning support courses (at a rate of 5 percent annually), and continuing to serve a diverse population. All four goals are on target with the implementation phase in.

The full college-prep curriculum that will be required of all traditional freshmen in 2001 includes a minimum of 16 units of academically rigorous courses that encompass four units of math, four of English, three of Science, three of Social Science, and two of a foreign language. Students seeking entry into a university (versus a two-year college) must compete additional courses for admissions consideration. In addition, all students must meet established minima SAT/ACT scores and grade-point averages, with requirements set higher for access into the University System’s universities. To determine the category of institution for which they are best prepared, students are evaluated according to their “Freshman Index” – a formula comprised of their high-school grade point average and SAT or ACT standardized tests score.

After full implementation of the policy in 2001, traditional freshmen without the mandatory CPC or who require LS courses will be admitted to the University System’s research, regional or state universities only under special circumstances. Learning support courses – for those students who still require such support – will be concentrated in the System’s two-year colleges, which will serve as admissions access points. Students who succeed at the two-year colleges then may transfer to a university, aided by enhanced transfer policies also implemented as a part of the revised admissions policy.

While the policy is clear-cut, it also provides opportunities for flexibility, according to Papp. He emphasized the higher standards do not apply to non-traditional students (those who graduated more than five years ago). Campuses also may utilize limited admissions and presidential exception slots for traditional students who show promise but do not meet the standard admissions criteria. Papp also noted that with a goal of reducing learning support participation by 5 percent each year beginning in Fall 1997, the policy took into account that some institutions would need slightly longer to achieve full compliance. The additional timeframe was granted for campuses that began with inordinately high levels of learning support students when the implementation began.

In addition, pilot admissions programs have been implemented at several campuses around the state to ensure access for students who do not live close to a two-year institution. The programs in Americus (at Georgia Southwestern State University), Augusta (at Augusta State University), Columbus (at Columbus State University), Savannah (at Savannah State University), Statesboro (at Georgia Southern), and Valdosta (at Valdosta State University) serve the needs of both non-traditional students and traditional students who are under-prepared and location-bound.

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