What the U's McMaster said about the cutback in transfer students

I spoke yesterday with Bob McMaster, the University of Minnesota’s dean of undergraduate education, about the decision to cut back a little on the number of transfer students the U will accept in coming years.

I had raised the question in a previous post about what that means for access for community college students as well as prospects for improved cooperation between the U and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system.

Below is part of the conversation. I hope to continue coverage on Monday.

The overall impression I had of his argument:

The cutback affects an extremely small number of transfer students — most likely those with below-average GPAs and who’ve not earned enough credits to prove they’re ready to transfer. The U will also tend to favor Minnesota transfers.

Here are three of the areas he discussed.

Reason for the cutback:

1) Lack of space. As the university increases the number of its science, technology, engineering and math students and improves retention, space will get tight.

2) Improving the transfer experience. Fewer transfer students mean the U can focus its resources on improving how it serves those who get in.

How many students will be cut:

Out of a total cut of about 300 transfer students, about 60-70 will probably come from MnSCU two-year colleges, McMaster estimated.

(The current average intake of 3,084 transfers will go down to a target of about 2,780, give or take a hundred or two, he said. That represents a 10 percent decrease in the number of transfers it currently takes in. But the U will give preference to Minnesota transfers, McMaster said, because “we feel it’s very important for the pipeline issue.”)

Who among them would tend to get cut:

Those with a small number of credits and low GPA face more scrutiny, though the exact bar hasn’t been set yet.

McMaster said students who come in to the university with 14 or fewer credits have “very poor retention and graduation rates.” When students enter with 25 or 30, though, “the student success rate jumps way up.”

Also, those cut would also likely have GPAs below the 2.5 – 3.0 range.

McMaster told me:

“We want a student to be somewhat of a proven entity. … We’re making sure we’re bringing in students who can succeed.”