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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Low standards equal devalued degree

    Is a diploma from the UA really that impressive? In class, there are always those few people who make you question, “How did you even get into college?” Or better yet, how did some of them even figure out how to fill out the application? According to the UA Factbook, out of the 26,626 applicants last year, 20,065 were admitted to the UA. That is a 75 percent acceptance rate. Compared to elite college like the University of California, Los Angeles, or the University of Sourthern California, we look like a community college.

    Wildcats place themselves on a pedestal in terms of academics in the state. But looking at Arizona State University, with an acceptance rate of nearly 87 percent, we are not too far from its low standards. Additionally, the UA’s average freshman retention rate is a mediocre 79 percent, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Maybe if the UA was more selective with admissions, graduation rates for freshmen within four years might rise from the low 34 percent they are now.

    Is our university letting in students based on financial reasoning or intellectual prowess?

    In January 2011, the UA proposed to the Arizona Board of Regents to raise the cap on out-of-state students. An odd idea when you consider that in comparison to Northern Arizona University and ASU, the UA has the most out-of-state students, with 30 percent of the student population coming from outside Arizona. These students pay significantly more tuition than in-state students − approximately $17,210 more. Although, out-of-state students bring diversity into the classroom, the UA is attracting wealthy out-of-state students who are not up to par with university level standards.

    Since 2005, the UA has accepted 2,930 more out-of-state students. This year, the UA accepted 38 percent more non-resident students into the freshman class than in years past. The UA’s attempt to accept more students may be to cushion the financial expenses of running a university in the absence of state funding due to harsh budget cuts over the years. But the university should focus on quality over quantity when it comes to the education of its students.

    In letting in underqualified students, are we just accepting them for the first semester’s tuition payments? Is this higher acceptance rate to make the UA more accessible to out-of-state students, or simply just to get a quick dime?

    In the UA’s defense, there are many bright students admitted to the university every year that come from outside the state. With students in the Honors College and the UA’s elite programs, they are the ones maintaining the UA’s reputation as a credible university. Future doctors, teachers, and scientists walk amongst students who will end up dropping out midway through freshman or sophomore year.

    Ultimately you can get into the UA easily, but can you stay in? The UA’s 79 percent freshman retention rate comes up far too short compared to our fellow Pac-12 universities. The University of Oregon’s retention rate is 84.2 percent while the University of California, Berkeley, comes in at 97 percent. In comparison to our peer institutions, UA falls towards the bottom.

    Out-of-state, in-state, rich or poor, the UA has to raise its academic standards for admission. The acceptance of qualified students will lead to successful graduates. Admit students who actually take school seriously, not just the ones with the dough.

    — Jacquelyn Abad is a sophomore studying journalism and Spanish. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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