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Admissions and Registration Committee

Urton Anderson, Richard Flores, Wolfgang Frey, Ruth McRoy, Susanne Pence, Mary Steinhardt, Angela Valenzuela, Samuel Watkins

Student Members:
Michael McKie, Mariaelena Rivera, Marci Rosmarin

Administrative Advisors:
Ted Pfeifer, Bruce Walker

The Admissions and Registration Committee met monthly during the 2004-05 academic year. The committee spent its time on four areas: (1) review, study and discussion of four recommendations related to admission from the Report of The Task Force on Enrollment Strategy, (2) a review of the registration process, (3) review of the registrar’s rules for GPA calculations and the change to plus minus grading for graduate students, and (4) review of current undergraduate admissions process and the CAP program. It also reviewed the function and composition of the committee itself.

Issues from the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy
This past year the Provost requested that the committee address the following four items from the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy Report:

IV. D. “Limit enrollment under CAP to no more than 75% of total transfers,”
IV. I. “Office of Admissions, in consultation with the Admissions and Registration Committee of the Faculty Council, to develop rigorous administrative policies to control readmitted students…particularly Degree Holder/Nondegree Seekers,”
IV.E.4. “Review policies regarding readmission after second dismissal to gauge their effectiveness and the role that the Office of Admissions should play in waivers granted by the Deans,”
IV. N. “Increase from 24 to 30 the number of transfer credits required for admission and include coursework appropriate for the intended major in admission decisions.”

The committee also reviewed the Final Report of The Commission of 125 for implications for admission policy.

The fall semester was spent in study and discussion of these issues, including extensive discussion with the vice provost and director of admissions and members of the admissions office staff. The committee also requested a formal study of students returning from second dismissal which was prepared for the committee by The Office of the Registrar (“Academic Progress of Students Placed on Enforced Dismissal for the Third Time” Appendix C-1A).

As a result of the committee’s deliberations, the following legislation was proposed:
1. Proposal for change in the readmission after second dismissal policy (D 3796-3797).
2. Proposal for change in enrollment as a nondegree seeker policy (D 3798-3800).
3. Proposal for change in the Coordinated Admissions Program (CAP) Policy (D 3801-3803).
4. Proposal for increasing the number of transfer credit required for admission from twenty four to thirty semester credit hours (D 3804-3805).

All four proposals were passed by Faculty Council at its May 9 meeting.

Review of the Registration Process
The registrar, Ted Pfeifer, presented to the committee an overview of the course registration process, with particular focus on the recently added waitlist system and the pilot project for a new prerequisite system. Regarding the status of the new waitlist system, over 3,000 courses had it turned on for Spring 2005 registration. Eighteen thousand students used the waitlist in spring registration, 13,000 got courses through it (about 71% success rate). The registrar’s office discussed their prerequisite pilot project and explained the soft (informational) and hard (prevention) enforcement options. Seventy-five courses used the hard enforcement and 600 used the informational enforcement. It was turned off for the rest of the courses with prerequisites (over 2000). The following specific issues regarding implementation of the pre-requisite system were discussed:
Who should have authority to approve how the prerequisite is handled? (Currently it is the departments so there is a lot of variability.)
What is the intent of the prerequisite? Information or compliance?
The issue of stability from year to year. What is the source of the prerequisite information? There are three different databases, and they often conflict. Currently the course schedule is taken as the source.

While no formal recommendations were proposed to address these issues, the registrar received valuable feedback from both the faculty and student perspective. Faculty and student committee members voiced their strong support for both the waitlist and the pre-requisite initiatives.

Review of the Registrar’s Rules for GPA Calculations and the Change to Plus/minus Grading for Graduate Students
The registrar’s office reviewed the complexity of GPA calculations and the various decision tables for calculating GPA in the different colleges and schools. They also explained the implementation of the new plus/minus system for graduate students which will take place in Fall 2005. There was some discussion of whether a plus/minus system was desirable at the undergraduate level as well. Student members did some initial inquiry of a sample of students and found only limited support. Faculty committee members were more favorable, but several expressed concerns about work it would require for large classes. No proposals were put forward because of the weak student support and the belief that this is an issue more appropriately addressed by the Educational Policy Committee.

Review of Current Undergraduate Admissions Process and the CAP Program
The vice provost and director of admissions, Bruce Walker, reviewed in detail the current undergraduate admission process at the committee’s initial meeting. At the March meeting a status report on Fall 2005 admission was presented. The committee also reviewed at that meeting a new CAP study (Report 2 – January 11, 2005). The report showed that CAP did increase diversity over the two years. Hispanics were 20% entering under CAP and African Americans 5%. The report also showed that top 10% continue to have higher GPAs than non-top 10%. CAP students are doing reasonably well in sophomore year but do not do as well as the top 10% group. The CAP group is richer in terms of diversity than the group entering under regular external transfer.

The vice provost and director of admissions also reviewed the current legislative session and the proposals being introduced regarding admissions. Given the legislature, at this point, has not passed any bills requiring a change in UT’s admissions procedures, no proposals other than those presented earlier in this report were put forward.

Review of the Committee’s Function and Composition
At the request of Faculty Council the description of the committee’s function and its composition were reviewed. The committee decided to recommend that the “Function” description be more specific by indicating that the committee addressed issues related to undergraduate admission and registration and not graduate issues. At the graduate level the issues of admission and registration are addressed by committees of the Graduate Assembly.

The proposed “Function" description is:
FUNCTION: To recommend to the director of admissions, and to the registrar, and to the Faculty Council changes in policies regarding undergraduate admission and registration; to consult with and advise the director of admissions and the registrar about procedures pertaining to their offices.
As a consequence the committee recommended to the Faculty Council that the student representatives be undergraduate students.

Urton Anderson, chair

Appendix C-1A

Academic Progress of Students Placed on Enforced Dismissal
For the Third Time
Prepared by
The Office of the Registrar

Background of Problem:
The University of Texas at Austin has various policies for handling admitted students who do not meet a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA). Students go on probation when their cumulative GPA drops below 2.00. Students who do not raise their cumulative GPA over 2.00 may remain on probation or be dismissed from the University. The following chart details the criteria for a student to be placed on probation, removed from probation, or placed on dismissal depending on the student’s hours:

Scholastic Probation at UT Austin:
Total College UT GPA for UT GPA for
Hours Undertaken Scholastic Probation Scholastic Dismissal
Below 15 <2.00 <1.50
15-44 <2.00 <1.70
45-59 <2.00 <1.85
60+ <2.00 <2.00

Generally scholastic probation is triggered under two conditions: 1) A student’s cumulative GPA is <2.00; or 2) Student is readmitted to UT after dismissal.

Each semester, a student’s grades are checked and compared to these criteria. At that time here are three possible outcomes. First, if the student’s cumulative GPA is 2.00 or greater, the student is removed from probation. Second, if the student’s cumulative GPA is less than 2.00 and greater than the scholastic dismissal criterion (depending on number of hours), the student is continued on probation. Third, if the student’s cumulative GPA is less than 2.00 and less than the scholastic dismissal criterion, the student is subject to dismissal resulting in one of the following outcomes:

Dean grants permission and allows student to continue on probation
Student is dismissed for the first time and must sit out one long semester
Student is dismissed for the second time and must sit out for one calendar year
Student is dismissed for the third time and must sit out for three calendar years
Student is dismissed for the fourth time and this is permanent.

This report will focus on students who have a “P” on their academic record, that is, have been dismissed for the third time and must sit out for three calendar years.

Statement of Problem:
It is well understood that a student who is placed on enforced dismissal for the third time is struggling to succeed at The University of Texas at Austin. However, to date, it has been unknown how many students placed on enforced dismissal for the third time actually go on to finish their undergraduate degrees at The University of Texas. Are these struggling students successful eventually?

To shed light on this issue, a ten-year sample was drawn for the present study: fall semester 1994 through the fall semester 2004. During this time period, 4846 students were placed on enforced dismissal for the third time.

The data show that 18% of the students placed on third enforced dismissal finished their degrees (see Table 1).

Table 1: Degree Status of Students in Sample (Fall 1994-Fall 2004):
  Total Percentage
Earned a degree 884 18%
Degree in progress 229 5%
Did not earn a degree 3773 77%
N 4846 100%

Table 2: Degrees awarded by School in Sample (Fall 1994-Fall 2004)
College Number Percentage
Business 31 3.5%
Education 49 5.5%
Engineering 11 1.2%
Fine Arts 18 2.0%
Graduate 75 8.5%
Law 3 <1%
Pharmacy 1 <1%
Architecture 3 <1%
Graduate School of Business 9 1%
Communication 62 7%
Natural Sciences 126 14%
Liberal Arts 485 55%
Nursing 5 <1%
Social Work 6 <1%
M 884 100%

The data show that students can be placed on third enforced dismissal more than once. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it is possible that students placed on third dismissal multiple times are teetering at the 2.00 cumulative GPA cutoff and show progress for the current semester. In this scenario, it is up the discretion of the dean to allow the student to continue on probation (see Table 3).

Table 3: Possible number of Third Dismissals in Sample (Fall 1994-Fall 2004):
Dismissals Total Percentage
1 4309 89%
2 482 10%
3 or more 55 1%
N 4846 100%

Table 4 details the college/school of the students who were placed on their third enforced dismissal more than once.

Table 4: Students Placed on Third Dismissal More than Once by College/School (Fall 1994-Fall 2004)
College Number Percentage
Business 34 6.5%
Education 21 3.9%
Engineering 34 6.3%
Fine Arts 9 1.7%
Graduate 9 1.7%
Law 1 0.2%
Pharmacy 0 0%
Architecture 3 1.2%
Graduate School of Business 0 0%
Communication 32 6%
Natural Sciences 91 16.9%
Liberal Arts 299 55.7%
Nursing 1 0.2%
Social Work 2 0.4%
N 537 100%

Table 5: Racial/Ethnic Breakdown of Students who Earn a Degree after being Placed on Third Dismissal:
Race/Ethnicity No Degree Degree Earned % Earning a Degree
White 2124 528 20% (528/2652)
American Indian 23 3 12%
Black 318 62 16%
Asian American 581 77 12%
Hispanic 865 203 19%
Foreign 49 11 18%
Missing 2 0 0%
N 3962 884 18%

The data show that the majority of the degrees (90%) were granted to students who had been given a third enforced dismissal only once (see Table 6).

Table 6: Degrees Granted by Number of Third Dismissals:
Dismissals Total Percentage
1 796 90%
2 79 9%
3 or more 9 1%
N 884 100%

The data show that the majority of students placed on enforced dismissal for the third time were male (see Table 7).

Table 8: Students on Third Dismissal by Race:
  Total Percentage
White 2652 54.7%
American Indian 26 .5%
Black 380 7.8%
Asian American 658 13.6%
Hispanic 1068 22%
Foreign 60 1.2%
Missing 2  
N 4846 100%

The following tables (9, 10, and 11) detail the average GPAs of students returning after their first, second, third and beyond 3-three year dismissals. These averages indicate that students generally perform above the 2.00 minimum standard; however, these performances may not be high enough to increase the cumulative GPA to 2.00 or above. When this occurs, a student may gain permission from a dean to continue on probation.

Average GPA for Students returning after first 3-year Dismissal:
Semester after returning Mean GPA (sd)
1st 2.7619 (1.1435)
2nd 2.6515 (1.1647)
3rd 2.6339 (1.1376)
4th 2.6841 (1.0953)

Average GPA for Students Returning after second 3-year Dismissal:
Semester after returning Mean GPA (sd)
1st 2.8959 (1.0875)
2nd 2.7585 (1.1720)
3rd 2.6656 (1.1814)
4th 2.6132 (1.1135)

Average GPA for Students Returning after third 3-year Dismissal and Beyond:
Semester after returning Mean GPA (sd)
1st 2.5500 (1.0380)
2nd 2.7200 (0.9358)
3rd 2.6026 (1.0861)
4th 2.8750 (1.1367)

So what do we know now that we did not know before? The following is a synopsis of the numbers used in this report:
The data from this sample (Fall 1994 to Fall 2004) indicate that 18% of students placed on enforced dismissal for the third time completed their degree.
The College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural Sciences grant the highest number of degrees for student being placed on third dismissal accounting for 69% of this sample.
Students can be placed on third dismissal more than once.
The College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural Sciences comprise the highest number of repeated third dismissals ~ 70% of all repeated third dismissals in the sample.
Whites have the highest proportion of degrees granted in the sample (20%) as opposed to American Indians (12%) or Asian Americans (12%).
Nearly 90% of the degrees granted in this sample were those students who had been placed on third dismissal only once.
Males comprised a higher proportion of this sample (66%) as opposed to females (34%).
The racial/ethnic composition of students placed on third dismissal in this sample were disproportionately minority: Whites (54.7%) vs. All other races/ethnicities (45.3%).
The mean GPA of a student returning from their third dismissal ranged from 2.5500 to 2.8959 within the first four semesters of their return.

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