Valdosta State University administration and the Faculty Senate are considering an increase to the admission requirements on SAT scores for incoming freshmen.
During the Faculty Senate meeting held on Sept. 15, a proposal to increase the SAT minimum requirements moved forward to the Educational Policy Committee by unanimous vote. The proposal asked for a total composite SAT score increase from 850 to 900.
Critical reading/English scores will drop from a current accepted 440 by 10 points to 430, while the math score would drop from 410 to 400, both of which are in keeping with the Georgia Board of Regents guidelines.
“Every five to ten years, universities self-assess their admissions standards,” Dr. Louis Levy, interim president of VSU, said. “This allows the college to determine if the standards are appropriate for the mission of the university.”
This process of changing the SAT admission requirements starts with the Admissions office, the registrar and the Faculty Senate working together to determine how well-prepared students are to be successful at VSU.
It also allows VSU to measure itself against other universities in regards to size for enrollment and admissions, Dr. Levy said.
The Admissions office recommended the change to the Provost and Dr. Levy.
The proposal moved to the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, and was sent to the Educational Policies Committee for review before the next Faculty Senate meeting Oct 20.
If approved, the university will then take the proposal to the Georgia Board of Regents for its approval.
“We want to be more attractive to better students,” Walter Peacock, admissions director said. “Our SAT average had fallen from a high of 1,028 to about 995 and the freshman to sophomore retention rate had fallen from about ten percentage points [during 2005-2006].”
“Clearly the surrounding school systems will take note,” Dr. Levy said.
This will change VSU’s form of recruiting from high schools that are preparing their students for admission to VSU, he added.
As VSU began assessing these possible changes, the university realized that it is not keeping pace with its peer institutions, Peacock said.
“We got to looking at what all of our peer institutions are doing and we were falling behind.”
However, the total composite score increase will affect incoming freshmen.
“From the local school’s standpoint, we need to know how to prep our students,” Brian Law, a Valdosta High School counselor, said.
Law appreciates raising the bar but is concerned that it limits students.
“I hate that we put so much emphasis on SAT scores,” Law said.
By looking at peer institutions’ standards and SAT averages, VSU hopes that this move will help close the gap between the requirements at VSU and other institutions.
Peacock asserts that VSU’s SAT average will improve as well as its retention rates.
The current minimum standard at Georgia Southern is a composite 1010, while Kennesaw State University requires a 950 combined minimum on the SAT.
But the proposal comes with complications. According to the proposal documentation, it would have denied 280 freshmen for the current fall 2011 class.
Additionally, both Dr. Levy and Peacock admit that this may impact up to 200 incoming freshmen for the fall 2012 semester, if approved.
Still, there are others that think that the proposal doesn’t go far enough to ensure that a degree from VSU carries the weight of other institutions.
“We were looking for it,” Graham Davis, president of Student Government Association, said. “It became obvious that we need this. We’d like to see more of an increase.”