Adding enrollment cap would increase retention rates
It is no secret to NAU students the school’s retention rates are dismal, to say the least. With numbers hovering around 70 percent of freshman students returning for their sophomore year, there is a simple question that needs to be answered — Why?
Perhaps it is because of the small-town culture shock felt by the So-Cal crowd or the laughable reputation NAU has acquired with Arizona natives. However, the most likely reason for NAU’s mediocre retention rates is the administration’s value of quantity over quality of students.
It has become increasingly evident that NAU’s administration is desperate to attract large numbers of freshman regardless of the quality of the students they are accepting. For automatic acceptance into the university, a high school senior must have a 3.0 GPA or be in the top 25% of their graduating class. To be “considered” for admission, the student must have a 2.5 GPA or be in the top 50% of their graduating class.
For native Arizonans like me, the task of achieving a 3.0 GPA from a public school requires only the slightest amount of effort consistently during those four years and even less to accomplish the coveted 2.5. With these easily attainable requirements and NAU’s hunger for a larger student population to increase state funding, the status of students admitted has fallen by the wayside.
By accepting a large majority of students who apply (NAU has a 65% acceptance rate), the university is hurting their retention rates as well as their loyal student population. Some say past performance is no indication of future performance, but the more intelligent would call that a fool’s philosophy.
While there is the occasional exception to the rule, more often than not, students who underperformed in high school will underperform in college, especially considering the “recreational” activities of the NAU student population.
True to form, I have stated the problem and, were I the stereotypical complainer, my story would end here. But I’m not, so it won’t. To kill two birds with one stone and increase the retention rate as well as the intelligence level of the student population, NAU should implement an enrollment cap.
In 2009, as a result of massive state budget cuts, ASU was forced to implement an enrollment cap, among other measures, to make up for the lack of funding. Since the enrollment cap was established, ASU retention rates have increased over five percent to a whopping 84 percent in 2011, putting NAU to shame.
As it stands, NAU has no limit on the number of students it admits each year. By imposing a maximum number of incoming freshman who can be accepted, the admissions office will have the ability to select the best applicants. Not only would capping enrollment help retention rates, it would allow the funds previously allocated to accommodating larger freshman class sizes to be used toward increasing professor’s salaries. An increase in professor salary allows the university to offer a greater incentive for more qualified faculty to come here and those professors who are currently employed to stay. Having a more qualified and loyal staff in addition to a more intelligent student body would bring NAU to a level of prestige it has yet to see.
Although some may advocate for a larger student population (but I am still unsure of the reasoning behind that argument) the truth of the matter is: Students deserve the best bang for their buck. By enacting an enrollment cap, NAU will have the ability to accept the best and brightest of the applicants, and will in turn host a student population that is driven to succeed instead of smoke weed.