SGA senator aims to increase international, out-of-state enrollment
As chair of the Undergraduate Academic Affairs Committee, Student Government Association senator Clint Kirchhoff plans to create an initiative that would make the University’s admissions process more selective and “holistic” to increase the amount of students who graduate on time and reach more students from out-of-state.
“The administration often sets goals for what they want to see in the student body,” Kirchhoff said. “Examples would include the 11,000 students living on campus (with) a graduation rate in the neighborhood of 60 percent, which I’d still say is much too low. I would like to see similar goals set relating to the percentage of students from outside greater Houston, outside of Texas and outside of the U.S.”
Kirchhoff said he wants the Office of Admissions to set goals to increase the graduation rate and put greater focus on students who are likely to actively contribute to campus life.
“Currently, the only methods the admissions office uses to evaluate applicants are grades, and in the case of freshman applicants, standardized test scores,” Kirchhoff said. “I want them to make additional considerations, particularly extracurricular involvements, rigor of coursework and a required essay.”
Director of Student Recruitment Jeff Fuller said UH looks for students who will be successful when they enroll and “sometimes” takes into account extracurricular activities.
“Typically, we look at an SAT score of an 1100 out of 1600 or an ACT of a 24 composite,” Fuller said. “Of course, Texas’ top 10 percent law does allow students to be automatically admitted if they rank in the top 10 percent.”
Kirchhoff said that while the University prides itself on diversity, the community is lacking diversity in terms of geographic origin.
“One of UH’s potential selling points, as it gains more prominence, is the opportunity to meet and appreciate people with many different backgrounds, experiences and goals,” Kirchhoff said. “This kind of experience is highly valuable for students in preparing them to participate in today’s global economy.”
According to UH’s most recent student enrollment statistics, the percentage of out-of-state and international students is slowly on the rise, with out-of-state rising to 2.9 percent between 2013 and 2014. International student rates rose to 9.8 percent in the same period.
Michael Woodson, assistant director of Transfer and International Admissions, said this equates to about 100 new out-of-state students per year and 150 to 300 new international students per year.
“Once institutional research certifies the data, the 2015 numbers will be out,” Woodson said. “I do expect those numbers to reflect the increased trend in both of these populations of students.”
The University still falls behind in comparison to other Texas universities.
For example, Rice University’s Fall 2015 student body population numbers show 58 percent are either out-of-state, from U.S. territories or international students.
Texas Southern University showed in 2011 that 12 percent of their population was out-of-state and 3 percent was international. Clint Strickland, associate director of recruitment for Houston Baptist University, said that HBU’s out-of-state rate sits at 4.8 percent, and the international student rate is at 3.2 percent.
Last September, SGA proposed the First-Year Freshmen Residential Requirement that would require all first-year freshmen to live in on-campus housing, notwithstanding exemptions. Kirchhoff said if the bill were put into effect, this would increase not only the University’s on-campus residential numbers, but UH’s international and out-of-state numbers as well.
“Perception is key in attracting talent,” Kirchhoff said. “The more places we can find UH’s name, the further our name recognition goes. The more valuable our degrees become, the more people are enticed to apply and the more talent we attract (the more) our reputation (is enhanced), and the cycle begins anew.”