GREENSBORO — It might be a little harder next year to get into N.C. A&T.
Chancellor Harold Martin briefed trustees Friday on a proposal to raise minimum admission standards. The not-yet-finished plan that Martin and other A&T leaders are considering for new freshmen would raise the minimum grade-point average slightly and perhaps for the first time set a minimum score on the math portion of the SAT.
Martin said higher standards would help A&T attract more accomplished high school students who would be more likely to stay in school and graduate from college in four years.
“What we want to do is make some tweaks” to current admission standards, Martin said. “We are exploring ways of setting the threshold a little higher.”
The UNC system sets minimum admission standards for all state universities in North Carolina. Incoming freshman must complete a required set of high school classes and earn a grade-point average of at least 2.5 — roughly a B-minus — on a four-point scale. The minimum SAT score is 880 out of 1,600.
A&T’s current minimum GPA (2.7) is slightly higher than the state standard. Its SAT minimum is the same.
A&T officials are thinking about raising the minimum GPA to 2.75. They’re also considering a significant increase to the minimum SAT score.
They’re looking at three different SAT cutoffs: a minimum of 930 on the SAT’s math and reading portions for all students; a minimum of between 490 and 520 only on the math test for all students; or a minimum of 530 on the math SAT for students who plan to study math, science or engineering.
The reason for increasing the minimum SAT score? A&T is primarily a STEM school, Martin said, and the university’s data shows that students generally need good math skills to do well at A&T.
Over the next month, A&T officials plan to see how higher standards might have affected previous freshman classes. A minimum GPA of 2.75 would have eliminated roughly 100 of the 2,100 freshmen expected to enroll this fall.
A&T officials aren’t sure how higher minimum SAT scores might have affected this year’s class or earlier classes.
Even with its current standards, the profile of A&T’s freshmen classes continue to improve.
From 2009 to 2015, according to UNC system data, the high school GPAs of new freshmen rose from 3.06 to 3.41, and average SAT scores increased by 15 points.
A&T officials expect this fall’s freshman class to have an average GPA of 3.58 and an average score of 1,030 on the SAT.
Martin called the proposed increases “sustainability for our university” as the UNC Board of Governors and the legislature are putting pressure on state schools to raise their graduation rates.
Martin said he’ll present a final version of the admissions plan to trustees in September. The new standards could take effect for freshmen who want to enroll at A&T in 2018.