Part of Eastern University’s Christian mission is to assist students who may be struggling to get in to college. Although admirable, our acceptance rate of 71% is far too high and our standards are bordering on low. A search on Eastern’s web site will show that the average cumulative SAT score for an entering class is 1052. A quick search of comparable schools to Eastern will show similar SAT standards but much different acceptance rates. Arcadia University, a school similar to Eastern, has an acceptance rate of 61%. Likewise, Baldwin-Wallace College’s acceptance rate is at 67%. And while the differences might not seem all that significant, imagine a class of twenty students reduced to the small size of four to eight people. It would actually make a huge difference.
I understand that, statistically, low-income students from the inner-city may have lower test scores. However, I think that pinning the low test scores on one demographic is presenting a mistaken view of achievement here at Eastern. Some students may not have the proper training for college, but other students can be just plain lazy. And on the one hand, we’re faced with the calling to help those students who may have few options otherwise. On the other hand, a university such as Eastern should place a strong emphasis on academic goals and achievements.
The purpose of a university is to engage in a high standard of education. As such, we must readily participate in a mature and scholarly level of learning, which some students just aren’t ready to face. As Christians, we’re told to do justice and assist those who may not be able to face situations such as college by themselves. And as a Christian university, we should have ingrained within us the passion to carry out this justice. But where is the justice in leaving those students who need assistance with their schoolwork floundering as they find themselves lost in their classes, when we accept students who just fit into our low standards?
While we’re all being thrust into a much different environment than high school, some people are bound to need more help than others, and perhaps there’s a solution to solve the too-lax acceptance rate and combat poor grades in classes from students who are wholly unprepared.
I propose that Eastern decrease the number of students that it accepts every year and create transition schools for those students who are academically unprepared to come to college. While college is not for everyone, there is a certain unfair societal pressure urging everyone to go to a good school so that each person can earn more money and have better job opportunities. However, the purpose of a transition school would be to help students who do not quite meet increased college acceptance requirements catch up with their better prepared peers. Strategically-placed transition schools could offer writing-intensive classes to teach grammar and composition skills, basic mathematics classes, and other core classes that would lead to an associate’s degree.
These transition schools would take students two years to get through, culminating with a required written paper. Based on the scoring of this paper, students could be offered priority acceptance to Eastern if they show adequate progress and writing skills. If an applicant feels slighted for being accepted into the transition school, perhaps they shouldn’t be coming to the campus at all.
College should be for those who truly want to be there, and by accepting most of the applicants that apply to Eastern, our university is only fostering an environment of apathy and carelessness with its too-low standards.
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