About twenty people attended a Town Hall-style meeting hosted by three representatives from the University of Wyoming Wednesday night in the Sheridan High School Library.
Proposed stricter admission standards aimed at increasing college-readiness for the state's university was the topic of discussion.
UW Office of Student Affairs' Carol Frost, Vice President for Special Projects, detailed the proposed admission changes that the state's university is considering, including raising the required GPA for all students entering UW to 3.0, with a required ACT score of 21.
Students not meeting these requirements would still be admitted, but with support. Coursework in high school would be aligned with the Hathaway Success Curriculum, which is also intended to prepare for college and which has been approved by the state legislature.
UW ranks low in retaining students from freshman to sophomore year, and Frost says they have seen a direct correlation between ACT scores and college readiness, and students re-enrolling for their sophomore year.
She explains how these standards, and raising ACT scores, would help about 10% of students coming to UW.
Students admitted with support would be put into the university's Synergy Program.
Frost gave the example that Biology 1010 is one class that incoming freshman struggle with, and Synergy allows students to take Math 921 before enrolling in Biology. Students taking the Math course perform better in Biology, she said.
Frost adds that Synergy is not a remedial program.
Current admission standards at UW require students to have at least a 2.75 GPA, a minimum ACT score of 20, and three years of Math, Science and Social Studies.
New standards align with the Hathaway Success Curriculum, requiring four years of English, Math and Science, three years of Social Studies and two years of the same foreign language.
Frost said they will present the information gathered around the state to the UW Board of Trustees in November. The Board could accept changes in November or push a decision back to January.
Frost, who is also a geology professor, Andy Hansen, Associate Provost and mechanical engineering professor at UW, and Sara Axelson, Vice President of Student Affairs, fielded questions and comments from those at the town hall meeting.
While not entirely opposed to the changes to curriculum, some in attendance did express concern about possible side effects of the curriculum changes.
SHS Principal Dirleen Wheeler added that 30% of students graduating from SHS don't go to college right away - some students choose military or agricultural programs. Vocational programs, she said, and other electives are key in preparing some students for life after high school.
Members of Johnson County School District No. 1 in attendance were concerned about the effects new standards would have on electives taken while in high school.
For example, Buffalo High School music teachers in attendance said that requiring more years of Science and Foreign Language reduces hours in the day for other electives like music.
Axelson said that UW altering its admission standards would not change high school graduation requirements, and that they don't mean for these standards to take away from electives, reiterating that the university's intent is to prepare and retain the students admitted to UW.
Marcy Schueler, Johnson County Board Clerk, said that since Wyoming is the state's only university, its admission requirements sometimes influence how high schools in the state advise students to take classes and even construct curriculum.
The University of Wyoming "strongly urges students to fill out the remaining units of their schedules by taking additional coursework, especially in visual or performing arts, behavioral or social sciences, humanities, or foreign languages," according to a handout from the presenters about the changes to curriculum.
UW officials took notes and asked those with concerns to email them with written comments. Additional comments can be sent to Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can be found through the UW Office of Academic Affairs website under the link "College readiness and completion."
Comments on the Hathaway Success Curriculum can also be filed through your local state legislators.