Elevated standards would foster quality U

The University’s Twin Cities campus is having a banner year attracting students for the class of 2003. Many of the University’s colleges have reached full enrollment for freshmen entering in the fall of 1999. These numbers speak well of the University, and point to increased demand for the quality programs our institution provides. However, many colleges have arrived at full capacity earlier than in previous years, which suggests standards might not be as high they could otherwise be. In response to the higher number of quality applicants, colleges at the University should not be afraid to raise requirements for admission. Stricter standards would benefit students, faculty and the University as a whole.
Current admissions standards vary by college. The admission office uses the ACT aptitude rating to determine most candidates’ strengths. The AAR is equal to high school class percentile plus twice the ACT score. A student graduating in the top 20 percent with an ACT score of 25 out of 36 has an AAR of 130 (80 + 2 x 25). Both the Carlson School of Management and College of Biological Sciences require a 135, whereas the Institute of Technology requires a 130 and the College of Liberal Arts a 110. Any student with an AAR above the required number is automatically admitted if their application is received by Dec. 15. Students who do not meet the criteria are admitted on an individual review basis.
When considering the elements of a quality college experience, interaction with fellow students plays an important role. Students spend most of their time with other students. In class, in the residence halls or at the library, students interact. By raising the admissions standards for all students, the value individual students take home from their shared experience increases.
As a public institution, the University certainly does have a responsibility to be accessible to the students of our state. However, the Twin Cities campus is not the only public higher education opportunity our state provides. In addition to places like the University of Minnesota-Duluth, a wide variety of other schools, such as St. Cloud State University, are also available. The University also boasts a high-quality liberal arts school at the Morris campus. However, the Twin Cities campus is the flagship of the University system and should be taking the best students. The Madison and Ann Arbor campuses of Wisconsin and Michigan are both examples of state schools with more rigorous entry standards. Minnesota should not deny its residents access to college education, but that does not mean we have to sacrifice the quality our main campus expects.
The Twin Cities campus should view this year’s numbers as proof that our high quality programs are attracting students of higher caliber. It bodes well for the future that this school is in such high demand. The University’s colleges should take this opportunity to review their standards and seriously consider raising the requirements for admission. Taking such action will not only provide students with a better college education, but will reward the reputation of those who graduate from this institution. The Twin Cities campus should be the place that high achievers attend in the state of Minnesota.