Regents 010920

Louisiana Board of Regent Claudia Adley said Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 that she still had some questions about a new admissions policy and asked to postpone the expected vote.

The Board of Regents deferred action on a new policy for oversight of admissions by Louisiana colleges and universities.

The idea is to get everyone more comfortable with the plan before its final adoption.

Count us in the less-than category of comfortable because the new policy erodes standards at LSU.

The Regents study nails LSU’s controversial decision to violate long-standing policies on admissions. LSU’s decision to exceed its limits was apparently taken without extensive consultation with anyone.

In effect, the flagship university’s main campus put its financial interests ahead of the academic interests of students, creating a system of “holistic admissions” that allowed students in without the requirements on the ACT test and other rules in place for a generation in Louisiana.

The ACT requirements and other admissions standards are not intended to be exclusionary. Rather, with different requirements for each level of the college system, the goal is to match students’ abilities with a campus at which they are likely to excel.

The proposed new Regents policy, to the good, reaffirms the tiers of academic requirements for differing universities — for example, lower ACT scores for a regional university than the flagship LSU campus.

There will continue to be more exceptions for some campuses, a rule that may be questioned; after all, if a student does not meet the requirements of McNeese State but is let in anyway, the same problem arises as at LSU: Is the student ready to succeed in college studies?

There are also penalties envisioned for campuses that violate the rule but there is also in the new policy an LSU get-out-of-jail-free card. Above a small percentage of in-state exceptions, 4 percent for LSU, for example, campuses would get 100 further exceptions for nonresident or international students. If past violators — basically, LSU’s main campus — can show that the students it let in over the last two years succeed academically, there could be further discussions about expanding exceptions.

Rules are rules, then, except.

The Regents in the new policy would also continue to allow a big loophole in admissions standards. Students could get in on the basis of ACT scores or grade-point averages, not both.

There is no perfect predictor of college success. It is part of the American faith that hard work and opportunity will be rewarded. Today, it is fashionable on many campuses to say that standards of any sort are discriminatory in one way or another. That’s more Tom Hayden than Horatio Alger, of course.

But it serves a student and family poorly to admit a student who cannot, based on reasonable and not onerous standards, succeed academically.

Admissions standards have served the state well and should be continued.

Our Views: Board of Regents report makes clear LSU's admissions guidelines may hurt more than help