LSU has repeatedly attempted to quiet the skeptics of the University’s “holistic admissions” policy by publicizing the accomplishments of the incoming freshman class.
A recent University magazine advertisement inaccurately stated that this year’s freshman class has the highest GPA.
The University published a half-page ad describing the academic accomplishments of the 2019 freshman class in the Sept. 24 edition of the bi-weekly Baton Rouge Business Report. Despite the University’s assertion in the advertisement, the average unweighted GPA for the Fall 2019 freshman class (3.42) slotted below the Fall 2017 freshmen (3.43).
LSU Media Relations Director Ernie Ballard said the advertisement used projected statistics for the 2019 class to meet the Business Report’s printing deadline. Future advertisements will reflect the updated data, Ballard said.
The projections reflect anticipated ACT and GPA data for the incoming class before the semester begins. Final numbers are gathered after the first 14 days of classes, Ballard said. Discrepancies between the projections and final numbers can be attributed to students enrolling in multiple universities or not showing up to campus, among other things.
This year’s average high school transcript GPA for freshmen is 3.66. The University used the 3.66 reported average to predict the freshman class’ unweighted GPA, Ballard said.
The projected GPAs for 2018 and 2017’s freshman classes were 3.64 and 3.56, respectively, according to a press release. Final numbers revealed unweighted average GPAs of 3.42 in 2018 and 3.43 in 2017.
LSU President F. King Alexander came under intense scrutiny last year after the implementation of the University’s new admissions policy. Holistic admissions de-emphasize standard test scores and GPAs, and instead evaluate applicants using recommendation letters, personal essays and extracurricular activities.
Alexander wrote a letter to The Advocate in September detailing the incoming class and applauding the University’s direction, “We are keeping Louisiana’s best and brightest here at home while raiding other states of their top talent.” The University’s website goes further, calling the 2019 freshmen “a class of their own.”
“Collectively, our incoming has an average GPA of nearly 3.7 and an ACT score of 26,” Alexander wrote.
Holistic admissions drew ire from across the state. The harshest critics, like University benefactor and former Louisiana Board of Regents member Richard Lipsey, believed holistic admissions would lower the academic quality at LSU.
In a letter to the editor published in The Advocate last September, Lipsey criticized the University’s move toward holistic admissions, “the unilateral action he [Alexander] has taken to disrupt the admissions process for not only LSU, but schools across our great state is unwise, dangerous and will produce chaos.”
The ensuing battle resulted in the Board of Regents launching an audit into admissions standards at public universities throughout the state. The board finished the audit in June, concluding LSU exceeded the Regents’ admission policy for allowable exceptions and should limit the acceptance of less-qualified students.
Despite the public debate on the admissions policy, the University welcomed the largest class in campus history for the second consecutive year. Over 6,100 students make up this year’s freshman class, according to a University press release. Diversity within the incoming class also increased by more than 7%, according to the University.
Additionally, the 2019 freshman class outperformed the 2018 class in terms of average ACT scores. This year’s class had a mean ACT score of 25.6 compared to 25.5 in 2018, according to the LSU Media Center.
The Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College also broke enrollment records with 789 freshmen this year, up from 745 in 2018. The record-breaking honors class entered with the highest average ACT score of 31.6.
“The stat in the ad is still true among Honors College students having the highest freshman GPA ever, but since the overall GPA is just behind the overall record, we tweaked future ads that we would be placing to represent this change,” Ballard said.