Administration looks to recruit fewer, but more qualified students

Trey Crumbie

WKU is experiencing many changes this semester, prominent among them an incoming freshman class with the highest average ACT score in school history.

President Gary Ransdell said the average ACT score for incoming freshmen was 22, an increase from 21.4 from last year. Ransdell said it was not a rising trend but a direct result of more selective and higher admission requirements. The average GPA has also risen from 3.14 to 3.19.

Ransdell said he wanted WKU to decrease the number of students that require developmental and remedial education and plans to work more with KCTCS.

“It’s not credit-bearing, so it doesn’t help them complete the required 120 hours for a degree,” Ransdell said. “It’s expensive to deliver, and students who require developmental ed graduate at a much lower rate than students who do not.”

Ransdell also said WKU’s enrollment plan for the future will involve implementing higher admission standards, reducing development education, increasing international enrollment, sustaining the current level of Kentucky students, and recruiting more out-of-state students.

Ransdell said because of stricter admission requirements, enrollment is likely to slightly decrease but will improve retention and revenue.

“It’s about quality and quantity,” Ransdell said.

Brian Meredith, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, said as standards rise, more students will be college ready.

“As you raise the standards, you may have fewer people in the class coming in, but at the same time, you’re also having a class that is college-ready and can hit the ground running,” Meredith said. “And will be successful as it moves from freshman to sophomore on into graduation.”

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said in recent years, WKU has been looking at Composite Academic Index, a score that combines GPA and ACT.

“ACT is a test taken on one day,” Emslie said. “Where a GPA measures a cumulative performance through high school, and we thought it was important to consider both and it just turned out that this particular combination is a very good predictor of student retention.”

Emslie said that the number of Kentucky high school students projected to graduate is declining, while some out-of-state high school graduates will increase.

“Therefore, it makes sense to recruit in other areas,” Emslie said.

Ransdell said international students and out-of-state students graduate at a higher rate than Kentucky students.

“Kentucky students will be our core, but from a quality and revenue standpoint, we have to increase the mix of non-Kentucky students,” Ransdell said.

Meredith said WKU plans to work with alumni and increase recruiter activity when it comes to attracting out-of-state students. Meredith also said WKU is working with institutions across the globe to recruit international students.

Ransdell said WKU intends to hire new full-time faculty in the future and decrease its dependency on part-time faculty.

“We have been consistently hiring new faculty,” Ransdell said.