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UW Trustees Vote to Boost College Readiness


November 18, 2011 — More high school graduates will enter the University of Wyoming prepared to succeed in college, and more will receive extra support to pursue degrees, as a result of action by the UW Board of Trustees on Friday.

Trustees voted to align UW's admission standards with Wyoming's legislatively approved Hathaway Scholarship Program "success curriculum," in addition to two years of coursework in fine arts, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, career-technical courses, or additional foreign language.

The standards, which also include a minor adjustment in high school grade point average and test scores, will take effect in the fall of 2013.

"Ninety percent of our entering students from Wyoming already are taking the Hathaway success curriculum, and our research shows that our well-prepared students persist and graduate at significantly higher rates," UW President Tom Buchanan says. "Our new admission standards will communicate to Wyoming families the courses that their students should take to succeed in college, whether at UW or elsewhere."

To be assured of admission under the new standards, Wyoming high school graduates will be required to take four years of English, science and math (algebra I, algebra II, geometry and one other), three years of social studies and two years of the same foreign language, with a minimum high school grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and an ACT score of 21 or higher. Some of the foreign language and math requirements may be met in grades 7 and 8. Those are the requirements of the middle and top tiers of the Hathaway program.

Trustees also voted to require at least two years of coursework in fine arts, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, career-technical courses or additional foreign language.

The university will not turn away students as a result of the change, Buchanan says. Wyoming high school graduates will still be allowed to enroll at UW with a minimum high school GPA of 2.25 and an ACT score of 20, and without having completed the "success curriculum." Students also may be admitted by exception, provided that their previous performance indicates promise for success at UW. These students will be admitted "with support," including UW's Synergy program or other academic transition programs.

"All students who would be admitted under the current standards will continue to be admitted under the new standards," Buchanan says. "The change is that we will identify those students who will benefit from additional support and provide it to them."

The trustees' Friday vote followed an extensive public input process that included "town hall" meetings in eight communities around the state this fall. Information gathered at those sessions and other input was provided to the Board of Trustees, who also heard direct public comment before the vote.

"The new standards represent the basic preparation necessary for students to succeed in college," Buchanan says. "More and more jobs in Wyoming are requiring postsecondary education, and this change will help ensure that our young people have the talents and skills to thrive in an increasingly knowledge-based economy."

As part of the change, UW will expand the award-winning Synergy Program, in which students are organized into small groups and take general education classes together, receiving help from peer mentors and others.

"We are stepping up our commitment at the same time we signal realistic expectations to our incoming students for success in college," Buchanan says. "We anticipate improved student retention and graduation rates as a result."

Admission guidelines for students who transfer to UW from community colleges will remain unchanged. A student who's earned at least 30 credit hours at a community college with a GPA of 2.0 or better is admitted to UW with no other requirements

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