In two years, Kansas could see a 20–45% drop in freshmen enrollment at regent’s universities.
The problem is simple. Currently a student can get into a state university by meeting any of several Qualified Admissions criteria, such as an ACT of 21 OR completion of the QA high school curriculum with a certain GPA, etc. By 2015, the “or” changes to “and” with big ramifications.
Each regents school is calculating how much of this last fall’s entering class would have been excluded if their entering students had to meet the full set of QA requirements rather than just one. These figures are not public but the extent state universities used their prior exemption window is public.
The University of Kansas will take the least hit because they have higher admissions requirements. And K.U. used very little of their earlier “window” to admit students who could not make even one QA requirement. For our other state universities, losing one-third of their incoming freshmen is probably an optimistic estimate.
This will be a tremendous windfall for community colleges, and stretch their staffing beyond current capacities. But our state universities that have become addicted to ever-growing tuition-driven enrollments will face a crisis.
What can Kansas universities do to avoid the massive 2015 drop-off in enrollment?
With the new QA criteria in place, some officials are praying that Kansas high schools will boost their student enrollment in the full QA college curriculum overnight. But this raise-the-bar-and-they-will-come optimism is unrealistic. Many Kansas schools can’t staff it and many Kansas students are not college-ready or college-able.
A few of the Kansas schools that applied for the recent innovative school waivers asked that middle school math be counted toward the high school QA requirements. The additional math in the revised QA is a real hurdle that some schools can’t schedule and some students can’t pass. And admitting a middle school course for Qualified Admissions blurs the whole QA curriculum. That is not going to happen.
Over these last few years, regents staff have likewise resurrected some weak science courses (integrated general science, physical sciences, animal sciences, etc.) that were clearly not college-preparation courses and were removed for 2001 high school graduates.
But these actions are trivial. No last minute changes in Kansas high schools can boost QA curriculum completers by the needed numbers. Unless there are eleventh-hour changes in Kansas QA requirements, a drop in university freshman enrollment two years from now is unavoidable.
Many Kansas high schools have been pressuring students with hallway banners that assert “Where all students attend college!” They need to sober up and get honest with students. We need good plumbers and auto mechanics and they often make more money than college graduates. Recent figures from both ACT and SAT show that nationwide, barely 25-30 percent of high school seniors are college ready.
Kansas Tech Schools have good tech faculty and need to focus on that expertise.
Tech schools should never have been allowed to offer academic general education beginning in 2005. That is the job of our universities and community colleges.
There are many additional problems in Kansas higher education that arose in 2005 and will take years to resolve.
But this Qualified Admissions train wreck will not wait.