The Kansas Board of Regents has made an important change to admission requirements to the state’s public universities. The regents should be commended for the action, and for the possibilities it opens up for the next generation of state leaders.
As Tim Carpenter of The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week, the board ended a “mandate that applicants complete a pre-college curriculum and by turning to high school grade-point average rather than class rank when weighing prospects. The new system would create distinct admissions paths for people seeking to enroll at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, but unify the approach at Wichita State University, Fort Hays State University, Emporia State University and Pittsburg State University.”
The goal is to encourage more, and more diverse, students to pursue higher education in the state. That might not be the correct path for every single student, true. But in and economy that requires high levels of technical skill and critical thinking, it’s difficult to think of many careers of the future that won’t require some sort of postsecondary training
The future is more education, not less.
Quite simply, that means that any efforts by the regents to increase access to a quality education, while making sure that more state universities have standardized requirements, are worthwhile.
More generally, when we talk about admissions requirements, we should be careful not to talk about ways to keep people out, but rather ways to bring them in. Some students may not be ready for a four-year university right away. But that means that guidance counselors and others in the public school system should be making sure that they are on paths to technical education, two-year colleges, or other specific career paths.
The world we’re living in is changing. The role of employment, education, and the broader economy are all shifting. Some of these changes have created incredible improvements — like the technology we carry around in our pockets every day. Some of these changes have created fear and uncertainty — as jobs and careers have become less predictable and stable.
The Board of Regents must be given immense credit for taking the future head on. Members have also been focused on affordability, which can be an even bigger hurdle for many. One single board doesn’t hold all the answers for Kansas — that will likely require ongoing, collaborative efforts between businesses and governments — but it is playing an important role right now.