How Open Admission” Policies at New Mexico Comprehensive Universities Fail Students & Taxpayers

(Albuquerque, NM) – At some “Comprehensive” universities in New Mexico, particularly: ENMU, Highlands, Northern, and WNMU, all you need to get in is a high school diploma.

In a new Rio Grande Foundation policy brief by William P. Leonard, PhD, “How Open Admission” Policies at New Mexico Comprehensive Universities Fail Students & Taxpayers,” Leonard makes the case against the types of “open enrollment” policies that bring large numbers of ill-equipped students into the higher ed system.

Those “ill-equipped” students usually must take remedial classes even before embarking on their higher academic studies. According to the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC), on average only 17 percent of students who take only one remedial course in college graduate within six years. Matriculants who are not required to take remediation present a 77 percent graduation rate.

As Leonard notes in his brief, no one benefits when students fail to complete their studies in higher education. Students themselves see limited earnings gains despite years and thousands of dollars invested. And, the schools and taxpayers divert resources to serve a group of students that is simply not prepared for additional educational attainment. A 2013 report pegged the total cost of remediation at $22 million.

According to Leonard, the best and most obvious reform is to simply demand that New Mexico’s “Comprehensive” universities impose somewhat more stringent standards that reduce the numbers of students entering the institutions in need of remedial classes.

Additionally, Leonard contemplates the role of New Mexico’s failing K-12 system including the use of “social promotion” that gives many graduates of New Mexico’s K-12 schools the misguided notion that they have actually mastered high school academics.