LSU’s flagship campus in Baton Rouge is changing its admissions procedures, moving toward what it calls a more “holistic evaluation” of prospective students that will include, for the first time, a required letter of recommendation from a teacher, advisor, school administrator or counselor.
The changes, referenced in a June 22 letter to college admissions counselors at high schools throughout the state, will go into effect for the summer/fall 2019 academic term, which means they will apply to rising high school seniors who are now beginning the college application process.
The “holistic evaluation” could have a significant impact on who gets admitted to LSU. Though the university will continue to maintain its admissions requirements of a minimum 3.0 grade-point average and 22 ACT score, students who fall short of those requirements will still be considered for admission on the basis of other criteria, says LSU Vice President of Public Affairs Jason Droddy.
“There are myriad examples where students may not have an ACT score that’s high enough, or may have just moved to America, or parents who get divorced and their GPA dips,” he says. “So we’re looking at life circumstances and are there other qualitative measures that will help us predict whether the kid will be successful because that is what admissions requirements are about—predicting success.”
Droddy says the new approach is not a “deviation” from current procedures but merely a way for LSU to consider other factors when evaluating applicants.
In recent years, a growing number of universities around the country—including, most recently, the prestigious University of Chicago—have announced they are dropping standardized test scores as a requirement of admissions, largely on the grounds that they place an unfair cost and burden on low-income and minority students, and ultimately hinder efforts to broaden diversity on campus.
Droddy says the changes at LSU are being made independent of those national trends, and notes that LSU was “an outlier” compared to most other universities that require letters of recommendation and take life factors into account when evaluating applications.
Will the university see an increase in enrollment as a result of the changes?
Perhaps, but Droddy does not predict it will be significant, and he says concerns that the quality of incoming LSU freshmen will drop are unfounded.
“I guarantee the freshman profile is going to be as successful as it was this year and last,” he says. “These are are going to be successful. There will be no dip in quality.”