We are baffled by the criticism that erupts every time one of our state’s universities begins considering increasing its admission standards.
Regents at New Mexico State University are planning to vote this week on raising the minimum grade point average from 2.5 to 2.75, effective for Fall 2016. Officials at the University of New Mexico are also talking about implementing a similar change there.
Like clockwork, once news of those proposed changes broke, the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico and New Mexico LULAC vowed to fight the proposals, arguing that increasing admission standards could affect Hispanic student enrollment.
The fact is that one of the best predictors of how successful a student will be in college is how well that student did in high school. Frankly, a high school student who can’t pull off a 2.75 grade point average is probably better off considering a community college than the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State University.
Here’s another sad fact: The graduation rates at our state’s universities are embarrassingly low, and one of the major reasons for that is the fact that our universities have low admission requirements.
The Council of University Presidents in New Mexico compiles a report every year that tracks graduation rates for the state’s universities. Graduation rates at universities are based on the percent of first-time, full-time freshmen who graduate within six years. The graduation rates were as follows:
• New Mexico State University: 43 percent
• University of New Mexico: 49 percent
• New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: 44 percent
• Eastern New Mexico University: 29 percent
• Western New Mexico University: 23 percent
• New Mexico Highlands University: 18 percent
Admitting students who aren’t prepared is clearly not working for our state’s universities. It’s setting those students up for failure and it’s costing taxpayers a great deal of money.
It’s also devastating for the students who aren’t able to cut it and who end up dropping out. Besides being a blow to their confidence, we fear that many of these students are walking away with student loan debt that they will end up struggling to pay off.
Officials at NMSU and UNM should increase their GPA requirements. If anything, the 2.75 minimum GPA NMSU wants to institute isn’t high enough. But it’s a good start.