Senate votes to raise minimum GPA for entry

Senate Faculty recommends increasing
minimum GPA requirement for admission.

Senate Faculty recommends increasing minimum GPA requirement for admission.

A proposal to raise admission standards has moved one step closer to reality at PNW. 

The Faculty Senate has voted to raise the minimum grade point average requirement to 2.2 for applying students. The GPA requirement is currently 2.0. 

Members of the Faculty Senate say raising the GPA will likely improve PNW’s graduation rate by making sure students enrolled at the university are academically oriented.

“Institutional Research has found that students who come into PNW with below a 2.5 GPA tend not to complete their programs,” said Kim Scipes, chair of the Faculty Senate. “Going to college for many of our students means taking on some level of debt to finance their education, and we want them not to take on a bunch of debt if the odds are against their success.

“Increasing the GPA requirement somewhat—although not as high as the Administration encouraged—is intended to urge students to be better prepared for the challenges of higher education,” he said.

The Senate’s Educational Policy Committee presented data from the Office of Institutional Research that students with a GPA of less than 2.2 are likely to be retained 71.84% of the time. 

The Administration originally proposed the minimum GPA requirement to be raised to 2.5. 

The Senate’s proposal also recommends the university permanently abandon a requirement to submit ACT and SAT scores for enrollment consideration. 

“Standardized tests have been shown not to measure intelligence or predict performance,” said Scipes. “What they measure [is] how well one ‘knows’ certain things—but not all things.  So, for example, the people who design these tests come to their positions with certain knowledge, and they use that knowledge to produce the tests.”

He said that means students from different backgrounds – including first-generation college applicants – often fare poorly on these tests. 

“Most of these people who designed the tests have come to their positions from an upper middle class or higher background, were overwhelmingly white, graduated from elite liberal arts colleges… which usually gets referred to as ‘Western’ civilization,” he said.  “It largely ignores people of color and working-class people of all colors and all genders, and their contributions to world development.”

PNW first made standardized test scores optional for high school students after the start of the pandemic. Since then, many colleges and universities made the scores optional. 

Indiana University Northwest, Indiana University South Bend, and Chicago State University all made test scores optional. Other schools, such as Purdue Fort Wayne and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, are weighing proposals to do the same. 

The recommendations now go to the university’s administration, which must make a final decision about changing admission requirements. However, Scipes said he is optimistic. 

“After all, they solicited the Faculty Senate’s support on these issues,” he said.

Several students embraced the recommended changes. 

“In regard to the ACT and SAT, I disliked them… such an unnecessary stress factor,” said Kristina Sosic, a sophomore Electrical Engineering Technology major. “For the GPA, I could definitely understand why students find it harder to succeed in college if their GPA is under 2.5.” 

Vince Forester, a freshman, said the change can strengthen the academic future of PNW students. 

“I thought it was actually funny how easy it was to get into PNW,” Forester said. “However, the curriculum isn’t as easy. So, raising the acceptance requirements makes sense.” 

Lucy Torres, a sophomore Elementary Education major, can also understand the Faculty Senate’s reasoning – and could encourage students to do better. 

“I met the requirements, but I did improve my academics [more] in college than in high school,” she said. “What I was lacking improved, and I think that can be the same for other students.” 

The change is now being weighed by PNW administrators.

“These recommendations from the Senate to Provost Holford will be under review by the Senior Leadership Team of the university,” said Kris Falzone, associate vice chancellor of Marketing and Communications. “Any changes would be implemented for students applying for admission to PNW whose first semester would be Fall 2023 or beyond.”