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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Should the University Raise Its Admission Standards?


Underachiever Paul Driskill and elitist Amanda Marie Huff duke it our over standards.


By Paul Driskill

UMass Boston asserts on its website, “We are proud to provide an excellent and accessible university education.” As it stands, someone with a GPA of 3.0 graduating from high school right now stands a pretty good chance (on that measure alone) of getting into UMass Boston. Why should this change?

It shouldn’t change. UMass Boston is unique in its willingness to accept an “average student.” Many students in high school are average students. They haven’t figured out what they want to do in their lives, school doesn’t particularly interest them, and they’re hoping to find some direction in college.

UMass Boston offers an opportunity to a unique set of people who can’t afford a $200,000 education, who can’t get into universities demanding stellar GPAs and near-perfect SAT scores, and who don’t necessarily want to go to their community colleges.

UMass Boston is a public university – which (in addition to the fiscal implications of that title) means that it ought to serve the public, not the elite. There are 30 or so other colleges and universities in Boston to serve the elite. Elite is not a bad thing, but not everyone falls into that category.

With the continuing strain on the economy and a near-universal demand for college degrees in jobs that pay livable wages, it’s important, if not imperative, to provide an affordable education.

Not to mention, many of the people who come to our school have not been to school in years, sometimes in decades. Walking around BC, Northeastern, or even our flagship campus, whenever you encounter someone above the age of 40, it’s highly likely that the person is a faculty member. Here, it’s a mother or a father getting a degree so he or she can better provide for his or her child.  It’s someone who, the first time around, didn’t think it was necessary to go to school.  It’s someone looking for a second chance.

So, UMass Boston ought to maintain its current standard (which is by no means low) and continue to serve a public in need of an affordable, accessible education.



By Amanda Huff

With approximately 40 percent of newly admitted students touting a grade point average of less than 3.0 and an acceptance rate of 68.4 percent, UMass Boston could stand to pull in the academic reins a little bit.

Although UMass Amherst also accepts a high percentage of applicants — 66 percent — only 2 percent of their newly admitted students have GPAs less than 3.0. In fact, 60 percent of UMass Boston’s newly admitted students have GPAs between 3.0 and 4.0, whereas 66 percent of UMass Amherst’s newly admitted students have GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. And we wonder why they’re singled out as the face of the UMass system?

When discussing the issue of UMass Boston’s acceptance standards, I find it typically turns into an argument about the university’s urban mission and whether raising the acceptance bar would constitute abandoning this mission.

First of all, is it not insulting to assume that those in urban areas coming to UMass Boston are all low achievers? Secondly, there are several programs in place between UMass Boston and its partner high schools to help boost achievement for students who need it. The university stresses the importance of the urban mission in many of its academic programs.  In the College of Education I can attest to this fact.

Urban mission aside, the fact of the matter is that someone who skates by in high school meeting minimum benchmarks, as evidenced by the average numbers of newly-admitted UMass Boston students, will most likely do the same in college.

This, in turn, makes the UMass Boston degree worth less in the job marketplace. When an employer takes on an employee with a UMass Boston degree who lazily scrapes by in his or her work, just as in college, the employer doesn’t forget that. Instead, what is remembered is the quality of that first individual’s work. Future UMass Boston degree-holders are judged on that first impression.

We don’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) UMass Amherst, but we don’t need our degrees to be devalued by those who don’t take their education seriously.

About the Contributor
Paul Driskill served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Managing Editor: Spring 2012; 2012-2013 News editor : 2010-2011 Opinions: Fall 2011