A-State boasts highest freshmen ACT scores in school history

By Tanya Giraldo
On September 19, 2013

The 2013-14 freshmen class is considered the most academically prepared in school history due to the highest freshman ACT composite score of 23.3, according to the Arkansas State University Facebook page.

This puts the ASU freshmen three points higher than the state’s 20.2 composite ACT score and well above the national average 20.9 composite ACT score.

Rick Stripling, vice chancellor for student affairs, said he believes there are two reasons for this leap in admittance test scores.

“First, you have the academic admission standards change,” Stripling said. “Second, our recruiting efforts are finding students with high ACT’s.”

Lorie Bontrager, a freshman communication disorders major of Paragould, said it wasn’t hard for her to get into A-State.

“All I did was apply and a few weeks later, they sent me confirmation that I was accepted,” Bontrager said. “(Getting in) was a combination of (my) ACT score and GPA, but I think the ACT score mattered a bit more.”

With a 28 on her ACT and coming in as an honors student, Bontrager said it’s much more than just test scores and a high GPA.

“I always applied myself and worked hard in school. I graduated as an honor grad with a 3.9 GPA,” Bontrager said. “I think doing well in high school was the key that helped me get in easily.”

The Honors College took a big jump in admissions this year as well with a 40 percent increase in honors freshmen.

“We have the largest freshman class in the history of A-State this fall,” Rebecca Oliver, director of the honors college, said. “263 honors freshman.”

In 2012, the freshman enrollment was 232, a 23 percent increase from the previous year. The cumulative addition of 75 students to this year’s freshman class makes it the biggest rise of enrollment in honors college history.

“I’m a big believer that the reason that honors has grown over the time period of the last five years is that the right students at the right time have chosen A-State and have chosen honors and they have really made the program what it is, and that helps us recruit every successful class after that,” Oliver said. “I think that is why we are also seeing growth is because quality begets quality. When you have great students choosing your institution, they are helping to recruit the next group of great students”

This year, the Honors College freshman class had a composite ACT score of 28 and 3.89 GPA
“Prior to (fall 2009) the admission requirement for the honors college was a 24 ACT or a 3.5 high school GPA,” Oliver said. “For the fall 2009 freshman class we changed the admission criteria for the honors college for incoming freshman to a 27 ACT and 3.5 high school GPA.”

Oliver said that honors students don’t just help recruit non-honors students to A-State but help the university academically.

“When you have high achieving students in the undergraduate environment, that benefits everyone. Not just honor students, it raises the intellectual bar for all students and that’s great for the institution overall,” Oliver said. “That’s one of the reasons that honors exist, it’s to enhance the intellectual climate for all students.”

Erica Bearden, a freshman psychology major of Paragould, said she also didn’t find it hard to be admitted to ASU.

“I had a pretty high GPA and was not stressed at all about getting accepted,” Bearden said. “I didn’t really need to do anything extra besides the usual applying for financial aid.”

Bearden said she believes her admittance was based on her GPA as well as her 26 ACT score.

“I did need to provide extra applications to get accepted into the honors college because the ACT score for acceptance is a 27,” Bearden said. “Since I was only a point off and had a high GPA, I had to write an essay on why I wanted to be part of the honors college as well as get two recommendation letters.”

The admission criteria, as stated on the A-State website, for fall 2013 is a minimum ACT composite score of 18 and a minimum high school GPA of 2.30 for a conditional admission. For an unconditional admission, a minimum ACT composite score of 21 and a minimum high school GPA of 2.75 is required.

“A-State has increased their overall admittance standards over the past several years, that helps increase the overall quality of the undergraduate student populace,” Oliver said. “When you’re recruiting high achieving students, the benefits of that are far and wide.”

According to the website, the conditional admission requirements for fall 2014 require a minimum ACT composite score of 19 and a minimum high school GPA of 2.30. While the ACT requirements for the conditional admission went up a point, the unconditional admission has no changes.

Stripling said that future admission changes have not been decided.

“At this point we are stabilized. We have early indications that we are on target,” Stripling said.

Stripling explained that in 2007, it was evident people were not ready to attend the university and a change had to be made.

“Some weren’t prepared and ended with a high level of frustration, and what is even worse, they would then have debt,” Stripling said.

As the university continues to strengthen in admissions, students who found it easy to attend ASU don’t second-guess their school choice.

“Even though it wasn’t hard for me to get accepted, I’m very thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to attend such a great university,” Bearden said.


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