To get into LSU, students have to score 22 or higher on the ACT, with at least an 18 in the English subsection and 19 in math, as well as receive a 3.0 GPA in high school.
That is, unless they manage to get one of the university’s rare waivers that allow them to enroll without meeting the normal criteria.
According to documents obtained by The Advocate through a public records request, the little-known granting of admissions waivers is on the rise at LSU.
Seventeen waivers were granted during the 2012-13 school year. For this summer and fall, at least 65 have been granted, a few of them through the university’s “Tiger Bridge” program that allows students to live on campus while taking classes through Baton Rouge Community College.
The university received 94 requests for the current school year. That number also is up, from about 24 requested in 2012-13 school year.
Nine of the students granted admission are identified as requesting waivers because they are athletes, though no other details are provided.
The documents, which the university heavily redacted before releasing, citing student privacy laws, do not identify the individuals who received the waivers. They also don’t tell what the students’ GPAs or scores were, or even which high school the students graduated from.
An admissions committee, made up of faculty, is given the final say and doesn’t always go along with the admissions office’s recommendation.
Aside from athletes, the documentation can be vague on reasons for waiver requests. Some are simply identified as “academic issue” or “personal extenuating circumstance.”
Some students seek waivers for medical conditions.
Board of Regents Chairman Roy Martin alluded to LSU’s waiver program this summer amid a review of minimum admissions requirements for the state’s historically black colleges. Martin said it is widely known in some circles that the people who most often benefit from LSU’s waiver program are athletes and those who come from families with influence.
“Other students don’t,” Martin said flatly.
The Dallas Morning News earlier this year reported that influential Texans had helped students skirt admissions requirements at the University of Texas at Austin. Based on the Morning News’ review of requests for such waivers, legislators, university leaders and wealthy alumni were among those who made pleas on behalf of underqualified students.
Because of the redactions in the LSU documents, it’s unclear whether students with ties to influential people have been admitted to LSU under the program.
LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander defended the program as providing a needed opportunity for special cases. He noted that LSU has the state’s highest requirements for admission among public colleges and that athletes still have to meet the NCAA’s academic requirements.
“I’m very cautious about making projections on whether a student’s going to succeed or not too early,” he said. “You could have a valedictorian of a high school class who doesn’t take the ACT well.”
He said there are numerous cases of students getting waivers and performing well in college.
“I think we need to be cautious of saying, ‘You’re not worthy,’ ” he said.