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Resolution calls for more lenient college admissions due to COVID-19

by Will Phillips

The House Education Committee advanced a resolution Tuesday asking Louisiana universities to adopt a flexible and holistic admissions approach amid the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Many students were unable to take the ACT in April since it was cancelled due to the virus. The House resolution asks the Louisiana Board of Regents to let schools assess potential students applying for the summer and fall semesters by looking their full academic records rather than just test scores, as some may not have any.

“Many of the students were not able to take the ACT in April, and that’s moved until September,” said Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, who authored the resolution. “Because of this crisis we ought to do everything and anything we can to look at the whole student for the summer and the fall. I don’t know of any university who is not doing that. I just think it’s a step in the right direction.”

Referring to the impact of the virus, Tom Galligan, LSU’s interim president, said at a recent Baton Rouge Press Club meeting that he expected “we are all going to be more flexible than we might have otherwise been in the past as we learn how to deal with these issues.”

LSU’s move to holistic admissions in 2018 sparked controversy with the Board of Regents, which oversees higher education in the state. Without consulting their own LSU board of supervisors, school administrators began admitting students who did not meet the minimum requirements for ACT scores and grades in an effort to attract more students. 

LSU touted bringing in the largest, most diverse and highest achieving freshman class in its history in 2018 – its first year using a holistic approach to admissions. 

Former LSU President F. King Alexander argued then that other universities across the nation looked at resumes, essays, recommendations and more to assess potential students rather than just test scores and GPA. 

Those opposed to holistic admissions, including members of the oversight boards and some of the universities’ biggest donors, argued that the policy lowered LSU’s standards and prestige.

“I haven’t received any push back,” Fields said Tuesday. “The Board of Regents has directed the institutions across the state to look at holistic approaches due to the calamity we find ourselves in. I’ve talked to all of the system presidents, and none of them have given me any push back.”

Before the late 1980s, LSU had a holistic admissions policy. Under the rules now, colleges can make a number of exceptions to the normal admissions standards, but LSU came under fire for exceeding this number. Critics feared this would take prospective students from University of Louisiana system schools. 

LSU normally requires a 3.0 GPA and a 25 on the ACT, while the University of Louisiana at Lafayette typically requires a 2.5 GPA and a 23 on the ACT. Southeastern University normally requires a 2.0 GPA and a 20 on the ACT.

This article was written by Hailey Auglair of the LSU Manship School News Service.

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