Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 29, 2005
It seems that calls for diversity have become almost fashionable these days, so much so that to see university officials touting new and improved minority statistics tend to ring shrill and hollow.
Such is not the case, however, with the recent announcement that this year's freshman class has a high percentage of minority students, mostly because freshman classes typically foreshadow the trends to come.
But while there might be cause for optimism now, vigilance and persistence on the part of administrators and students alike is necessary to ensure that these changes will continue into the future.
By most measures, this year's freshman class is rather impressive. Aside from being the largest class ever, it can boast of a respectable average SAT score of 1122. More interesting, perhaps, is the fact that it has a fairly large proportion of minority students (27 percent).
Administrators have understandably been congratulatory in their assessment of these new numbers. After years of working to bring in larger numbers of high-achieving and minority students, it looks like the investments are beginning to pay off.
Of course, none of this is to say that the job is done.
Sadly, while our highly acclaimed faculty has been recognized throughout the world, our student population's academic performance is less than impressive. The UA's four-year graduation rate stands at a lackluster 57 percent, and freshmen retention rates haven't been able to break past 80 percent.
Thus, if we can expect these numbers to remain somewhat steady in the next three years, one in five of our freshmen won't make it to their sophomore year, and almost half of them won't graduate in four years, regardless of how impressive they appear at the moment.
If such dire numbers are to be avoided, much of the burden should fall on the shoulders of students. Members of this apparently bright freshman class should be sure to seize every opportunity afforded them. Free tutoring services, office hours and one-on-one advising services are only a few of the many institutions meant to assist students that might find themselves falling through the cracks.
By the same token, the UA administration has a great deal of work to do if it hopes to continue the success it has enjoyed with this year's freshmen. More than lip service must be paid to the goals of boosting retention and graduation rates.
There's a long road ahead, to be sure. But given the talents of this year's freshmen, it doesn't look to be nearly as arduous as before.
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Caitlin Hall, Ryan Johnson, Damion LeeNatali, Aaron Mackey, Mike Morefield and Tim Runestad.