Admission to NKU to become more rigorous

In an effort to increase graduation rates at Northern Kentucky University, more admissions applicants with certain deficiencies on their records are going to be rejected under a new plan. A university outreach program designed for students needing remedial help before starting classes is also being abolished.

In recent years, NKU has allowed a significant number of students to enroll even if they lacked sufficient standardized test scores to enter. However, it now plans to substantially reduce the number of exceptions it makes.

“We looked at data of those who do not meet the admissions criteria… (and) students with a large number of deficiencies were very unlikely to persist to graduation,” University Provost Gail Wells said.

Funding concerns also prompted the change.

“Our funding continues to be a challenge and so we can’t be all things to all people,” Wells said. “We need to concentrate resources more on students who are college-ready.”

One places those resources was being spent was on the NKU Academy, a summer prepartory program “designed specifically for first-time undergraduate students who would not otherwise be admitted to Northern Kentucky University,” according to its website.

“We will not be having the NKU Academy in the summer any longer,” Wells said. “We will refer those students to Gateway (Community & Technical College), stay in touch with them and recruit them back when they have finished remediating their deficiencies.”

Wells said remedial efforts are the goal of Gateway, and they would be better suited to prepare those students to transfer in to NKU.

NKU’s student government president, Kevin Golden, agrees it is not NKU’s role to make high school students college-ready.

“Students are expected to be prepared to go to college,’ he said. “If the research shows that certain requirements not being met are leading to an unsuccessful attempt at college, then there is a responsibility to help students correct any deficiencies before they enter. Stronger utilization of the (Kentucky Community & Technical College System) can lead to stronger performance at a four-year University.”

He added that “the ultimate responsibility lies with the student.”

Wells agreed but said that NKU would continue to help students desiring to attend the university who may not make the necessary test scores.

“We are going to be working with the high schools…to help develop transition classes so they will be able to bring those scores up …(for students)…really committed to going to NKU or a four-year institution,” Wells said. “We believe those students will be able ot use that high school senior year to become admitted.”

Some exceptions will still be granted, but it will be much more rigorous. Wells said the university will take a holistic approach in determining these cases but applicants will have to have a high grade point average and class rank, and other factors will include how close they are to the necessary test scores, diversity, and special artistic or athletic talents.

NKU’s admissions office does not expect to have many problems recruiting college-ready students.

“We believe this is a positive step for NKU and expect the impact on recruitment will likely be minimal,” Melissa Gorbandt, director of admissions said. “The NKU brand remains strong and we have experienced continued growth and quality in our applicant pool in recent years.”

Story by Jesse Call