MTSU Pondering Limits of Growth, Guaranteed Admission

Middle Tennessee State University is thinking about how it will change when it can’t keep adding more students. Over the next few years the growing Murfreesboro college could tweak what it looks for in new recruits.

MTSU officials think by the time this year’s freshmen graduate the student body will number around 30 thousand. Debra Sells is the school’s vice president of student affairs; she says 30 thousand might be a good plateau for MTSU.

“Unlimited growth without sufficient resources to support those students just isn’t going to be a good thing for the students or the university, or frankly for the state of Tennessee. So we’re just trying to work our way through what’s the right number, and how should we be approaching that.”

New state budget laws reward colleges that successfully graduate more students, where the previous system provided more state dollars for raw headcount. So now schools like MTSU have to look at enrollment with an eye for quality as well as quantity.

Sells says that means guaranteed admission could get tougher. Right now freshmen are sure to get in with a 3.0 GPA or a score of 22 on the ACT. Such changes take awhile to implement because students start enrolling up to a year in advance.

At the same time, Sells cautions selective admissions can become a kind of “arms race” among universities, which she says is not MTSU’s goal either. As a proposal takes shape in the next few months Sells says faculty will get a chance to weigh in.

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