FAU Raising Admission Standards?

The Sun Sentinel ran a story today about how FAU is hoping to "raise its admissions standards in hopes of attracting students who are better prepared for college."

Of course I and all sane instructors support this idea. Of course I want the best-prepared students in my classroom; not because I'm "afraid of a little hard work" but because I'm afraid of having all my hard work stymied by a minority of students who are not operating at the college level.

The article also cites a couple of astonishing stats:

Right now, students are generally required to have a 3.0 high school GPA and a 440 on both the math and reading portions of the SAT. Students with a lower GPA can be admitted if they have higher SAT scores. The average high school GPA for FAU is 3.3, the second lowest of the 11 schools in the state university system.
Brian thought this GPA sounded all right until I pointed out that our high schools use a 5.0 scale now. Second-lowest in the state U system is... well... bad.
About 16 percent of freshmen in 2000 dropped out within six years. Another 25 percent transferred to two-year community colleges, an indication that university work was too difficult for them. The lower a student's high school GPA, the more at risk they were of leaving FAU, data showed.
That's 41%, dudes. 41% who either drop college entirely or leave to go "down" (as opposed to leaving to go "up" -- to FSU or UF, or even "sideways" to FIU or USF).
FAU data show that many students are struggling in math. Just half of freshmen in 2005-06 received a C or better in their math classes, compared to a state average of 62 percent.
Damn. HALF of our freshman fail math? And the state average is 38% That's a state-wide crisis but a local crisis for sure.

So what is the solution to this problem? According to the FAU bigwigs, it is to refuse more students so that they will go to community colleges and reapply when they have the AA. This of course would take a huge chunk out of our freshman classes (and therefore revenues), but they're hoping to attract better students, it seems, by cutting out the "riff raff."

Since this is a blog, this is the part when I'm supposed to rant and rage about how horribly misguided they are and how much this system sucks. But I've been discussing this issue by email today with a friend, and he agreed to let me publish his screed under a false name.

start Caliban:

The thing "the suits" are missing is that, generally, the transfer students from the CC's are even less prepared and capable than the native/core curriculum students. I am of the opinion that the majority of students transferring with an AA are just as "socially promoted" and "skill deficient" as any high school students we accept. At least the freshman we take have some ability as indicated (albeit poorly) by their SAT/ACT scores. I suspect that, if required, the majority of CC transfers couldn't even come close to the minimum scores we require for these tests. Unfortunately, our "non-traditional" student mission has become more of a project in social engineering than an educational endeavor. It may be very impolitic of me to say it, but the same "open admissions" policies that exist in the CC's are evidence of a de facto "open admissions" policy in our institution. The fact that we accept CC students from an "open admissions" scenario without any true evaluation of their suitability other than a questionable "AA" is proof that our absurdist institution has defied physical law and created a situation where "shit flows uphill."

When I can get faculty to speak openly and freely about the subject (much alcohol applied), most express some version of "these students don't need or warrant university degrees; they need good technical/vocational training so they can be gainfully employed." This position is not echoed by the faculty holding Education degrees. The average "Ed.D." is just another "sob sister" who is more concerned about the little darlings' self esteem and politically correct nonsense about everyone needing and deserving a college education. Is it any wonder that we are discussing this issue when we are led by an "empty suit" whose highest academic achievement is a Masters in Education?

In short my fascistic plan for remedying the situation would include the following points:
  • Yes, raise the admissions standards for freshmen immediately. Bite the bullet on enrollments for now; we are not supposed to have enough money anyway.
  • Require all transfer students to provide the same test scores that we require of freshmen, whether they have an AA or not. (A legal bind that will take a political genius to solve. Too bad our best politician is little more than a Ken doll.)
  • Allow the individual colleges to set their own secondary admissions standards based on the necessary knowledge/skill sets. Our sister institutions already do this and our College of Business and College of Nursing have begun to institute this.
  • Dismiss any student whose semester GPA falls below 2.0 on more than one occasion with NO CHANCE OF RETURN. Once we've thrown out the garbage, why bring it back in? Do we like the flies and maggots it collected when we got rid of it the first time?
  • Apply my Homeric Rope [a sort of spectacular auto-de-fe-esque hanging] trick to all non-college administrators and replace them with non-whores with degrees in anything but Education.
End Caliban.

My friend is blunt and impolitic, no doubt, but there's truth in that thar screed: if we shuffle the students off to get AAs, who are we going to be admitting in two+ years? Aren't we just delaying the inevitable? Aren't we just pushing the responsibility of "weeding out" those who cannot master college-level work from the desks of TAs to the desks of full professors? Wouldn't it make sense to require a test in addition to the AA, just as we require a test in addition to the High School Diploma?

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