Tougher standards affect some would-be students

For the third year running, Northern Kentucky University has seen more than 14,000 students enroll for the fall semester. But while those numbers may be up, there are some who won’t be attending NKU this year. Students with less than a composite score of 19 on the ACT and three deficiencies were, under the new standards, denied access.

These guidelines came about, in part, due to a study the university conducted during the fall 2003 semester. In the study, conducted jointly by the Office of Admissions and Institutional Studies, it was found that 240 students would not have been admitted had the proposed standards been in place.

The new standards were agreed upon during a year-long process that involved members of the faculty, the Office of Admissions and representatives of the student body. Due to these new standards, 198 students were turned away from NKU for the Fall 2005 semester.

The NKU Academy, a five-week program designed to help students who were denied access to the school, went into effect over the summer. The program would allow the students who were offered admittance to take two remedial courses. At the end of the five weeks, if they had completed everything required of them for the courses, then they were granted admittance.

According to Vice Provost Paul Reichardt, the academy was prepared for 40-50 students to sign up, but was shocked by the 72 students who arrived to take the courses. Adjustments were made, as well as new sections and teachers being added to the academy. The 68 students who remained completed the requirements to be admitted.

When asked what was done to make sure that students knew about the academy and what options they had, Reichardt said local high school counselors were informed of what was going on, allowing them to help steer students to the classes that they need to be taking. Information was sent to each local school, and several school counselors made strong efforts to try and get their students ready.

For those who were still denied admission, letters were sent out explaining the academy and how it could help them. The academy itself was an intense experience, combining five weeks of eight-hour days. Each day students studied, were tutored and tested by teachers to make sure they were able to gain entry to the university. Vice Provost Reichardt was pleased with the results. “It succeeded beyond my wildest expectations,” he said.

Ron Weiter, head guidance counselor for Lloyd Memorial High School, was happy to share his thoughts about the new standards. “In general, I have few issues or concerns with NKU’s new standards,” he said. “Although I’m concerned with access for all students to higher education, I am aware that there are still other viable alternatives to starting one’s higher education.”

Weiter was also eager to share his thoughts on Lloyd’s preparations. “We are never totally satisfied with the academic preparation for our students,” he said. But he was quick to say the school has been working with other colleges that already have higher standards and have been assisting students to reach those for some time. He also said the number of Lloyd students going on to college has remained steady at 60 percent.

With this being the third year with 14,000 students enrolling, Reichardt is optimistic for the future. “We were told to expect lower enrollment for the first two years when we implemented the new standards, but surprisingly, that hasn’t happened,” he said. Reichardt also said that new scholarships are on the way for next year, citing that they will be available to academy students who need the financial support that the scholarships would give. “This way,” Reichardt said, “we make sure everyone has the chance to succeed.”