Thursday, July 19, 2001

Talawanda students lose automatic MU admission

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — For Talawanda High School graduates, the “free pass” into Miami Unversity soon will be gone.

        The university is changing its decades-old policy of granting automatic admission to Talawanda grads, and will require some to attend the university's Hamilton or Middletown campus as first-year students.

        Others would receive the same consideration for admission to the Oxford campus as “legacy” students — those with at least one parent who is an MU alumnus.

        The old policy, many say, hurt students who may not have been prepared for the academic rigors of MU.

        “It was a perk, but some of our kids were taking ad vantage of it,” said William Vollmer, president of the Talawanda Board of Education. “Some of our board members had been questioning the practice for awhile.”

        Many Talawanda High School students surveyed last year by a team from the High Schools That Work consortium said they did not take college prep courses because they knew they would automatically be admitted to MU, said Steve Snyder, executive assistant to MU President James C. Garland. Others said they didn't study as hard for the same reason.

        Of the 60 Talawanda High School graduates of the Class of 2000 who enrolled at MU for the 2000-01 school year under the admission program, only a dozen fit the profile of their peers from other high schools, Mr. Snyder said.

        Miami's research over the past 10 years showed that Talawanda graduates who were deemed at risk by the admissions staff often did not graduate, Mr. Snyder said.

        “Their graduation rate was 30 percent compared to 80 percent for our student body overall,” Mr. Snyder said. “A very well intentioned policy — over time — has turned on us.”

        Members of the Class of 2002 will not be affected, but Mr. Snyder said those deemed at risk of failure will be strongly urged to enroll at a branch campus.

        “Miami intended the policy as a positive for Talawanda students and to serve as an incentive for Miami University faculty to move into our district,” said Talawanda Superintendent Phil Cagwin.


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