EDITORIAL: WKU’s high admission rates could devalue current students’ degrees

Oct. 25, 2011 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

The Issue: WKU consistently talks about tightening and raising admission standards for the University, yet according to the 2011 WKU Fact Book, the university admitted 92 percent of all students who applied in 2010. Only 600 students were denied admission.

Our Stance: The Herald worries that 10 years from now, students will look at their degrees and find that they are devalued because of WKU’s low admission standards. Will a WKU degree be a joke to some future employers? Despite administration efforts in raising admission standards, according to U.S. News and World Report list, WKU is among the top 100 institutions with the highest acceptance rate in the country.

Two years ago, President Gary Ransdell said that WKU made the decision to raise the minimum required ACT score a point a year for five years from 16 to closer to the national average of 21.

For years, WKU has been thought of a safety school for a lot of students seeking higher education, so the Herald applauds the efforts administrators are trying to enact in regards to admission standards. Who wants to graduate from a school that accepts 92 percent of all those who apply? 

Currently, for full admission, the minimum high school grade point average is 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, or an ACT composite of 20 or higher. So if the administration and the new retention task force are so worried about retention rates and having “college ready” students enroll into WKU, why is the university still obviously enrolling students that shouldn’t be admitted?

WKU formed a retention task force over the summer to address why so many students — especially rising sophomores — don’t come back to school.

Hopefully the task force, along with raising the ACT score for admissions, will change the “safety school” reputation WKU has acquired over the years.

Brian Meredith, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, said most philosophies of raising retention say that if a university brings in students who are prepared, the university is more likely to retain them.

A degree should have value in it since because it’s assumed students had to achieve just to make it into school. If WKU doesn’t succeed with its ACT and retention goals, the value of a WKU degree may be stripped away.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.