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Clarion University talks high GPAs

The Clarion Call report
Clarion University

Clarion University’s 2018-2019 school year is well underway and the quality of academic credential of its newest students is the highest it has been in more than a decade. In recent years the grade point averages have risen from 3.20 in 2005 to 3.43 in high school graduates.

“72 percent of the incoming class carries a GPA greater than 3.10,” said David Dollins, associate vice president for enrollment management. “In addition, 68 percent of the incoming class ranked in the top half, and 24 percent ranked in the top fifth, of their high school classes.”

With the inception of Clarion providing merit scholarships, coupled with the creation of the director of scholarships position, Clarion University has been able to attract some of the best students in the Clarion region and throughout western Pennsylvania. Dollins stated that this freshman class has earned more than $1 million in merit awards. These awards go toward helping them access the various opportunities here.

Clarion began offering merit scholarships using institutional funds in the 2014-2015 school year. A program was developed to use the scholarships to attract students into STEM majors and the university’s education programs. As the program expanded the university began offering merit scholarships to students in any major in the 2016-2017
school year.

The scholarship strategy has been designed to help the university bring in a highly qualified class of students. Academic programs that have been driving the recent increase in quality have been primarily in the nursing programs, criminal justice, education programs, business and the art and science programs.

Other popular majors declared by the new freshman class are biology, speech pathology and audiology, undecided/exploratory, medical imaging sciences, early childhood/special education, management, allied health, early childhood education and accounting.

This year is also welcoming an expanded capacity of the Honors Program. This program provides an academic opportunity for students with creative interests and abilities. A minimum score of 1220 on the SAT and a 3.64 high school GPA is required to be admitted into the program. This year, the program was expanded to admit 54 new

“The curriculum for the Honors Program has been changed a little in order to give students more flexibility in the courses they take in addition to providing everyone with opportunities in research, international study, and internship experiences.” said Rod Raehsler, the Honors Program director.

The new curriculum will also provide for the creation of important community service projects. Not only will it supply students with more experience, it will allow them to work toward their degree through these projects.

“I am also re-forming a student research group for students interested in presenting their work at academic conferences,” said Raehsler.

Dollins said these factors, combined, add up to the increase in academically prepared students.

“We consistently hear from students and families how much they appreciate the highly personalized and hands-on academic environment that Clarion provides. Our academic programs continue to lead the State System in the number of national accreditations, and students know they are going to gain an exceptional experience, both inside and outside of the classroom,” Dollins said.

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