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Monday, August 3, 2020

Columns

UH needs to embrace or evolve


File photo/The Daily Cougar

File photo/The Daily Cougar

With a four-year graduation rate of 16.5 percent and a six-year graduation rate of 45.7 percent, it’s difficult for UH to rival the best Texas colleges when almost half of the student body doesn’t have a degree after six years of enrollment.

Granted, many UH students are nontraditional. Many work at night to pay for the classes they take during the day. Many have bills to pay and families to support, and many are older students returning to school.

The fact that it takes these students longer than four years to graduate has nothing to do with laziness. Choosing to add school to an already demanding schedule proves ambition, but there are only so many classes these students can take.

If you do have the luxury of time and can manage 15 hours a semester, then it’s probably best to take them. Financially, it doesn’t make much sense to stick around longer than needed.

In 1936, Hugh Roy Cullen said, “The University of Houston must always be a college for working men and women and their sons and daughters.” To this day, it has been.

Still, UH is unsatisfied with the graduation rates and understandably so. The statistics don’t look good for a school trying to rise in the national rankings.

The University has urged students to take 15 hours a semester to ensure on-time graduation and though it would be ideal for all the students to do so, for some it’s impossible.

UH proudly claims to be a school for the working man and woman, but at the same time, pushes for full courseloads and quick graduations. UH can’t decide what it wants to be.

Does it want to be a school that truly supports working students and provides an opportunity for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend a major university? Or does it want to be a traditional school with traditional students, on-campus communities and four-year graduates?

Until the University decides, it’s going to be hard to change.

If UH is to compete with Texas’ most respected colleges, we need stricter admission standards. It’s not outlandish to expect our incoming students to be the best. Our professors are just as qualified as those schools with stricter admission policies, and they deserve students dedicated to class.

However, by tightening up admissions, a significant number of students dependent on UH would have to look elsewhere. Not every student walking on campus today had perfect scores coming out of high school, but each of them contributes to the character and personality of our school. If we began to accept only the top students, our reputation would improve, but UH would be a very different university.

Whether or not we should sacrifice the demographic of our campus to increase numbers is not an easy choice to make, considering how important diversity has become to the University.

Our diversity is something to be proud of, and though our graduation rates undoubtedly need improving, there’s a reason the numbers are the way they are. Being a unique school creates unique dilemmas.

Whether you’re a part-time commuter or a full-time student living on campus, we’d all love to see UH get more recognition for the great school it is. But as we push toward becoming a school like UT or Texas A&M, we lose a bit of our foundation in the process.

If we’re a school that caters to the worker, then we should embrace it. If we want quick graduates, then we should focus on traditional students.

UH is trying to commit to both, and as great as that would be, it seems too difficult to actualize. All it’s done so far is create stagnancy.

Lucas Sepulveda is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]

 

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