The skyrocketing student population at Sam Houston State University this semester brings into reflection the school’s acceptance rate and the standards to which applicants are held.
Totaling 19,719 students, a headcount which is inclusive of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students attending SHSU for the fall 2014 semester, the student population is nearing its projected goal nearly five years early.
According to Diane McCormick, assistance vice president for Enrollment Management, the increase has nothing to do with a change in the acceptance rate.
“For freshmen, transfer and returning students in fall 2014, we had a total of 11,803 students accepted,” McCormick said. “Of that, 5,090 enrolled for an accepted to [form an] enrolled percentage of 43 percent.”
According to McCormick, this data is “comparable to previous years.” In order for that to be true, the inflation in enrollment must be explained by an increase in total applicants to make the percentage proportional.
“The number of students applying to SHSU has increased over the last several years,” McCormick said. “For example, we has 22,069 applications for fall 2013 and 24,776 applications in fall 2014. The overwhelming majority of our students come from the state of Texas. More specifically, our ‘pipeline’ is Houston and the surrounding areas, which makes sense.”
As for the criteria by which students are accepted, it grants applicants in the top 25 percent of their graduating class automatic acceptance. After that, applicants in the second quartile are required to have received at least a score of 20 on the ACT and/or a 960 on the SAT, while prospective students in the third quartile must have earned at least a 23 on the ACT and/or a 1060 on the SAT.
Applicants in the fourth quartile of their graduating class are “considered by review only.”
According to McCormick, the process by which transfer students are granted admission works differently.
“For transfer students, we evaluate number of transferable credit hours and GPA for all coursework completed,” McCormick said. “If a transfer student has more than 12 hours of transferable credit, they must have a GPA of 2.5. If a students has more than 18 hours of transferable credit, then a 2.0 GPA is required.”
Although opinions vary on whether or not SHSU’s criteria for admission is rigorous enough, according to McCormick, it is comparable to other universities and is constantly under supervision for potential change.
“The criteria has changed over the years,” she said. “We continually monitor student success and retention as it relates to our admission requirements and make adjustments as necessary. We make changes to our admission requirements in order to continue with our goal of providing a high quality, affordable education to students who can excel and succeed at SHSU. We are in line with our competitors and of course, monitor their changes in admission requirements as well.”
According to McCormick, because neither an increased acceptance rate nor a flawed admissions process are at fault for the swell in student population, state and nationwide attention to SHSU’s cost-effective reputation is, in fact, the culprit.
“SHSU provides a high quality, affordable education to our students,” McCormick said. “Although our population is growing, we still provide one-on-one support, both academically and in the service areas. The university has also received recognition in areas of academics and athletics which certainly has expanded our presence across the state and nationally.”