NSC looks at rais­ing min­i­mum GPA

School con­sid­er­ing ways to mod­er­ate re­cent break­neck growth

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NEVADA & THE WEST - By Meghin De­laney Las Ve­gas Re­view-jour­nal

Ne­vada State Col­lege is con­sid­er­ing rais­ing its min­i­mum ad­mis­sions re­quire­ment for the first time, partly to help curb the rapid en­roll­ment growth it has ex­pe­ri­enced in the past two years.

Since 2016, the 16-year-old Hen­der­son col­lege has been the sec­ond-fastest-grow­ing bac­calau­re­ate in­sti­tu­tion in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to the Chron­i­cle of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion. En­roll­ment jumped 12 per­cent from 2016 to 2017, then­leapedan­other15 per­cent last year. The col­lege wel­comed 4,867 stu­dents this fall.

NSC first floated the idea of rais­ing the min­i­mum re­quired grade-point av­er­age for ad­mis­sion from 2.0 to 2.5 early this year. Col­lege Pres­i­dent Bart Pat­ter­son and his staff are tak­ing the idea to the com­mu­nity now, look­ing for feed­back and other ideas to cre­ate more sus­tain­able growth.

“It seems like it’s prob­a­bly the right time” to raise ad­mis­sion stan­dards, said Roseanne Richards, the di­rec­tor of col­lege and ca­reer

eq­uity for the Clark County School Dis­trict.

NSC has been grow­ing much faster than other lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions. En­roll­ment num­bers at UNLV and the Col­lege of South­ern Ne­vada are in line with where they were last year, with just over 30,000 and 35,000 stu­dents, re­spec­tively.

The cost of an NSC ed­u­ca­tion also likely makes it at­trac­tive for lo­cal stu­dents. In-state tu­ition for the fall se­mes­ter is $2,055 for a 12-credit course load. UNLV costs $2,688 this fall.

Rais­ing the bar

About a dozen mem­bers of the com­mu­nity met with Pat­ter­son at the Latin Cham­ber of Com­merce on Fri­day to dis­cuss the pro­posal. Of­fi­cials will hold an­other com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion Mon­day.

In­creas­ing the min­i­mum GPA for ad­mis­sion to 2.5 would bring NSC more in line with what it calls “peer in­sti­tu­tions” — schools with sim­i­lar pro­grams and de­mo­graph­ics — around the coun­try. Right now, it per­forms com­pa­ra­bly in terms of grad­u­a­tion rates to these schools, even with a lower stan­dard of ad­mis­sion.

If the new stan­dard had been in place in the fall 2018 se­mes­ter, only 63 stu­dents would have been disqual­i­fied for ad­mis­sion based on their GPA. If the change is adopted, stu­dents who don’t make the cut might be di­rected to other state in­sti­tu­tions, like CSN, an open-ac­cess sys­tem with­out a GPA re­quire­ment.

When NSC opened, UNLV and the Univer­sity of Ne­vada, Reno re­quired a GPA of at least 2.5. Both have in­creased that min­i­mum to 3.0.

Even with the change, Pat­ter­son said, of­fi­cials would be will­ing to look at stu­dents with GPAS lower than the 2.5 thresh­old on a “holis­tic ba­sis.”

“They’ll still be con­sid­ered for ad­mis­sion, but it’ll be a more stren­u­ous process,” he said.

For ex­am­ple, a stu­dent with a low GPA who shows par­tic­u­lar prom­ise or has ex­pe­ri­ence in a ca­reer field could still be ad­mit­ted. A stu­dent who had a strong aca­demic per­for­mance in 11th and 12th grades after lag­ging in the ninth and 10th grades or who ex­pe­ri­enced an ex­treme hard­ship while in high school also could be con­sid­ered.

Sev­eral peo­ple in the au­di­ence Fri­day said in­clud­ing that flex­i­bil­ity seems a rea­son­able com­pro­mise.

“I was con­cerned when I came in here about mov­ing the GPA to 2.5, but this hy­brid thing, I’ve never heard of it. That’s phe­nom­e­nal!” said Don Soder­berg, the di­rec­tor of Ne­vada’s De­part­ment of Em­ploy­ment, Train­ing and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Changes to the ad­mis­sions process must be ap­proved by the Ne­vada Sys­tem of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Board of Re­gents. Pat­ter­son said the pro­posal may be for­mal­ized and pre­sented at a late Fe­bru­ary meet­ing and would likely not go into ef­fect un­til the fall 2020 se­mes­ter.

Con­tact Meghin De­laney at 702-383-0281 or mde­[email protected] re­viewjour­nal.com. Fol­low @ Meghin­de­laney on Twit­ter.

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