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Monday, November 19, 2018

Academics & Research

New admission policy raises GPA standards for transfers


Graph of fall 2017 transfer student GPA.

The new transfer GPA policy will go into effect Spring 2019. More than 400 students admitted Fall 2017 would not have been admitted under the new policy, with 565 students going through holistic review instead of automatic acceptance. | Michael Slaten/The Cougar

Over 400 transfer students would not have been admitted for Fall 2017 under a new transfer policy that will be put in place Spring 2019.

The UH system Board of Regents approved an increase in GPA standards for transfer admission at a November meeting. Students will now need a 2.5 GPA to be automatically admitted rather than the previous requirement of a 2.25. Students below a 2.25 will no longer be considered for admission.

Vice Chancellor and Provost Paula Myrick Short said during the meeting that students who transfer in with a lower GPA are at a much higher risk of ending up on academic probation after their first semester.

Just under 20 percent of transfer students admitted in the Fall 2017 semester would have been affected by the new policy, with 7.7 percent of students not being admitted, according to data obtained from the University. 

Transfer students with GPAs that fall between 2.25 and 2.5 will be looked at holistically for admission under the new policy. Completion of core math and English requirements are good indicators of student success at the University and will be used for those looked at holistically for admission, said Richard Walker, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, at the Board of Regents meeting.

San Jacinto College design freshman Katherine Gangestad plans to transfer to UH in a year. She said she still expects to be automatically accepted into the University, despite the raised standards. But Gangestad said that the raised standards could affect some community college students at San Jacinto College.

“I know a lot of people who aren’t doing that well. I think people who are on top of everything, they will be fine,” Gangestad said. “It might depending on how good of a student they may be, but it varies.”

Tier one standards

Short said the standards have increased at the University since becoming a Tier One public research university in 2011, and the admission policy of a minimum of a 2.0 GPA needed to be raised.

“Students that come to us with a 2.0, any student that comes to us particularly in those GPA bands, tends to have a lower GPA after their first semester,” Short said at the Board of Regents meeting. “We are setting them up for potential dropping out and failure if we admit students below a certain GPA.”

A minimum 2.25 transfer GPA puts the University in line with five other “emerging” public research universities, such as University of Texas San Antonio and Texas Tech, according to a document presented at the meeting. Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin both have a minimum transfer GPA of 2.75.

On average, students transferring will end up with a lower GPA than their transfer GPA after their first semester at UH, according to a document presented at the meeting. More than a quarter of  transfer students admitted with a GPA less than a 2.25 are put on academic probation after their first semester.

Across the board, first-year retention rates drop with lower transfer GPAs, according to a document presented at the meeting. Students with a GPA above 2.5 have a 78 percent retention rate, and the first-year retention rates drop to 64 percent if their transfer GPA is less than 2.25.

“This is all about ensuring we have the right admissions policies in place to make sure our students are successful at the University of Houston,” Short said.

Students with less than 15 credit hours will continue to be looked at for freshman admission.

UHin4

Short also said at the meeting it would be great to look into a UHin4 tailored more for transfer students. Currently, she said, it’s marketed to all new students but is really meant for the incoming freshman. Short was open to the idea of showing community college students that are interested in transferring the classes they need to transfer to the University in two years and then graduate two years after that.  

“Our goal is to get them to take as many credits as possible to get them out in the shortest amount of time,” Walker said when discussing the idea of a UHin4 type program.

He said having students sit down with advisors and making sure they transfer in with the right credits will also help with degree completion.

The Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes spoke at the November meeting about the need for students to go to school full time and graduate with the right credits. He said the students should not have too many more extra credits than what they need to graduate.  

“The key is that if you graduate students sooner, you get funding for that graduation sooner,” Paredes said. “So institutions should see a built-in incentive to graduate their students as quickly as possible.”

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