Over the past 12 years, CSU has come to house more high-caliber students to the benefit of the institution and the students who attend it.
According to data provided by the CSU Office of Budgets and Institutional Analysis, a larger number of high-caliber students are being admitted to CSU and more of these high-quality students are enrolling.
“Clearly we are attracting more higher-quality students to the university,” said CSU Provost/Academic Vice President Peter Nicholls.
All high school students are assigned an index score, determined by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, the state policy and coordinating board for Colorado’s higher education system. The CCHE index scores are determined by the student’s ACT or SAT score and their grade point average.
For instance, a student with a 25 ACT score and a 3.1 grade point average would have a 102 index score, according to the CCHE Admission Index provided on the Highlands Ranch High School website. The higher the grade point average or the test scores rise, the higher the index score as well.
Since the fall of 1994, increasingly more students with index scores of 101 or greater have been admitted to CSU. In the fall of 1994, 4,931 students with index scores of 101 or greater were admitted and in the fall of 2002, 7,562 students with 101 or greater were admitted.
Additionally, since the fall of 1990, increasingly more freshmen with index scores of 125 or greater have enrolled at CSU. In the fall of 1990, 121 freshmen with index scores of 125 or greater enrolled and by the fall of 2002, that number had increased to 443.
Mary Ontiveros, executive director of admissions at CSU, said the CCHE index score is a “decent” reflection of the caliber of the student and the student’s capabilities.
“A student who has a 125 index and above is a really high-caliber student,” Ontiveros said. “We know that if a student has an index score of 90 or below, their chances of being academically successful on this campus drop dramatically. So, we try to use 90 as a guide.”
Landing these high-caliber students is beneficial for the university, as an institution, Nicholls said.
“The quality of students helps to set the academic tone for an institution. Students come in with higher expectations. They want to see more in the way of opportunities,” he said. “So, anytime the overall academic preparedness of the students goes up, I really think that helps to set the tone for the academic quality of the institution.”
Kendi Cakerice, a freshman from Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, takes comfort in knowing she is surrounded by other high-quality students.
Cakerice scored 30 on her ACT and had a grade point average above 4.0, giving her an index score of 132. She said it is nice to know she isn’t going to school with below-average students. She added these high-quality students will make university officials want to do things like hire better professors.
Not only are students reassured by this information, but they say their parents take comfort in it as well. “It certainly puts my parents’ minds at rest,” said Adam Zandman-Zeman, a freshman biochemistry major from Alaska.
Increased admission and enrollment of these high-quality students is all a part of a larger recruitment effort on the part of the CSU faculty, Nicholls said.
“Student recruitment is a very important part of what we want to do,” Nicholls said. “This has paid off.”
The admissions staff is taking part in that recruitment effort as well.
“I think that we are doing a better job of targeting those who have a 101 index and above,” Ontiveros said. “The best way to get some of these (125 index score) students to come to your institution is to offer scholarships. We have, in the past number of years, had better scholarship assistance available to 125s.”
Tillie Trujillo, the director of operations in the admissions office, said faculty members recruit these high-quality students by doing things like sending them letters.
“They will do that to all admitted students, but they may do some things in addition to that to high-ability students,” Trujillo said.
Ontiveros echoed the importance of faculty recruitment.
“To really get the best ones enrolled, you need money and you need a real commitment from faculty,” Ontiveros said. “We’re getting more students, and most of the students we’re getting are better.”
Despite all this, average index scores for new freshmen have remained steady at 110 since the fall of 1999.
Keith Ickes, the associate vice president for administrative services, said this happens because the number of new freshmen with index scores between 101 and 105 has increased along with the number of new freshman with index scores greater than 125. Consequently, according to Ickes, the two basically offset each other and the average remains constant.