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Columbia College considering selective-enrollment admissions policy

Updated: July 3, 2012 9:43AM

Columbia College Chicago is considering altering its admissions policies to be more selective as part of a Blueprint for Action 2016 strategic plan that could hurt some students if approved.

The plan, submitted to the college by President Warrick Carter on Tuesday, states: “We the college need to reconsider our current ‘generous admissions policy’ and adopt a more selective policy for undergraduate admissions. Our current policy should be reconsidered to ensure that we are ethically and responsibly admitting and enrolling students who are not only academically able to succeed, but also financially able to meet the demands of a college education.”

To be admitted as a freshman at Columbia, ACT or SAT scores are not required. The college, which has an enrollment of close to 12,000, requires transcripts of high school academic records or a GED, an essay and a letter of recommendation.

According to the blueprint, the last comprehensive examination of the college’s admissions policy took place roughly 10 years ago.

A Columbia associate professor who chose to remain anonymous contended that a more selective admissions policy would hurt some students. Over the years, many have viewed the college as “a school of second chances,” he said.

“I think that it’s going to be detrimental to kids coming out of Chicago Public Schools who maybe didn’t have the best education, who looked at Columbia as ‘This is somewhere . . . I’m going to have a chance to succeed,’ ” he said. “If the admissions gets more selective, then those kids are going to have less options available.”

But he noted that even the most liberal professors at the college think some changes are necessary.

That’s “because the federal government is really cracking down on how long a student can be on probation on financial aid,” he said. “We don’t really have a choice but to be more selective because if you have a generous enrollment, a lot of the kids are just not prepared. They don’t have the skill set to go for four years, and they end up flunking out. The school just doesn’t have the resources to do a lot of remediation. That’s something that’s going on at community colleges all over the country.”

Columbia spokeswoman Diane Doyne declined to discuss specifics of the plan.

“Like many institutions, Columbia at times re-examines its admissions standards and enrollment policies,” she said. “The President’s plan recommends that the interim provost and vice president of student affairs closely examine these standards and policies. However, no decisions have been made at this time, as the plan is subject to adoption by the Board of Trustees in late June. It would be premature to discuss specific implementation details at this stage.”

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