- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 22, 2005

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Some high school graduates seeking admission to Maryland public universities are being crowded out by community college transfer students, the president of Salisbury University said.

By state law, Maryland community college students who have earned an associate’s degree or completed 56 credit hours with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 are guaranteed admission to any four-year public university in the state.

Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach told the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Friday that the number of community college transfers has grown so large that she rejected other qualified transfer students for the first time this school year.

And she said junior college transfers are forcing some freshmen to start at community colleges instead of at four-year schools.

“In a sense, by not having enough seats for them in the USM, we are pushing them down to the community colleges,” she said.

Regents Chairman David H. Nevins said the law, which dates to the mid-1990s, is good public policy because it encourages more people to pursue degrees.

But he said four-year schools need more capacity for students.

“To the extent that this policy becomes better known among the public, we’re going to be squeezed tighter and tighter for freshman admissions to our institutions,” he said.

Board member Marvin Mandel suggested raising the grade-point requirement for community-college transfers to 2.5 or 3.0 to make room for highly qualified freshmen.

“Believe me, I’ve had in the last month at least six different people come to me and say I couldn’t get my son or daughter into college, ‘but they’re taking students with a 2.0 and he’s got a 3.3,’” Mr. Mandel said.

But Towson University President Robert L. Caret said a similar law in California, where he served for nine years as San Jose State University president, encourages students to choose community college as a pathway to the state’s most prestigious public universities.

“In California, if you wanted to go to [University of California at] Berkeley or UCLA, your best chance of getting there was to go to a community college first, because you were guaranteed admission if you graduated,” Mr. Caret said. “I think as we grow the population, and funds are limited to educate them, community colleges are going to provide a much more desirable pathway for a lot of students.”

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