Texas Southern Implements New Selective Admissions Policy - Higher Education

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Texas Southern Implements New Selective Admissions Policy

by Michelle J. Nealy

Texas Southern University’s Board of Regents ended the university’s long-standing open admissions policy with a unanimous vote, at the urging of the university’s new president John Rudley.

TSU officials hope that the new requirements will bolster the university’s sluggish graduation rates. About 70 percent of first-time freshmen arrive at Texas Southern without the skills needed to perform at the college level, according the institution. More than half of TSU freshmen leave before achieving sophomore status and only 16 percent earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, compared with 55 percent statewide.

To the dismay of some alumni, TSU will require prospective students to graduate in the top 25 percent of their high school class or have a 2.0 grade point average in high school and score between 775 and 820 on the SAT or between 15 and 17 on the ACT. Students who do not meet the requirements will be required to attend a conditional summer academic program.

“A 2.0 GPA is not too much to expect,” Rudley told Diverse in a recent interview. “We really can’t spend all of our resources on students who are academically unprepared. We would like to offer them the opportunity to go to the community colleges that are here. We’re not, in effect, going to leave them without an option.”

Students who are unsuccessful in the conditional summer academic program must complete two years at local community college as part of the university’s “2+2 Program.” Through this program prospective TSU students complete two years at a community college with prescribed courses that are transferable to TSU.

TSU leaves the ranks of a handful of historically Black colleges and universities that continue to operate under open admissions policies, including Wiley College, Bluefield State College, Southern Arkansas Baptist College, University of the District of Columbia and Edward Waters College.

This announcement came on the heels of another major declaration.

Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) and the Texas Legislative Budget Board released $26 million for TSU’s 2008 Reorganization Plan. The funds include $13 million for deferred maintenance and $12 million for TSU’s academic development initiative.

“These funds will help us improve our facilities and laboratories, and will allow us to expand our educational programs and provide the infrastructure necessary to support those programs,” Rudley said.

Texas Southern University has spent the last two years in the headlines because of financial mismanagement and the firing of former president Priscilla Slade.

Tuition is slated to increase by 9 percent next fall, to $2,670 for 12 undergraduate hours, the university reports. Seventeen professors were approved for tenure, giving them a pay boost of $3,000 each and the administration has added additional counseling for students in their junior year in an effort to increase graduation rates.

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