. . . good news for Md.'s public colleges

June 01, 1999|By Donald N. Langenberg

FOR YEARS, Maryland high school graduates with a solid B average were virtually assured of being accepted by the University of Maryland, College Park. But that's no longer true.

So many good students applied for fall enrollment to Maryland's flagship campus that officials there could accept only one-fifth of them. It's a smart bunch, too: The mean grade point average for the incoming freshman class is 3.7, compared with 3.54 last year.

National trend

This surge in applications by top students to public universities is a nationwide trend that is the result of several factors, including demographics, the low cost of public universities when compared with private counterparts and higher quality public institutions .

This year, some 17,000 students applied to UMCP compared with 16,200 last year.

Excellent students

When admissions directors meet to sort through this flood of applications, they face an embarrassment of riches -- so many excellent applicants that it is painful to have to turn away many good students.

But those students who aren't accepted at UMCP have a number of high quality, affordable state institutions to choose from in Maryland. With more high-achieving students throughout the state, more campuses will be enriched academically.

In the Baltimore area, students may choose from five University System of Maryland institutions with nationally recognized programs, including Towson University; University of Maryland, Baltimore, University of Baltimore, Coppin State College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Each year, some 15,000 students graduate with bachelor's degrees from USM schools. The majority of these graduates stay in Maryland and secure good jobs in high-demand areas, including science and technology, the health professions and education.

In fact, USM institutions are the major producers of Maryland's professional work force. And we do a good job at it.

The Maryland Business Research Partnership found that 80 percent of employers ranked Maryland's public colleges and universities as good or excellent in preparing a work force that meets their needs. And, during their working lifetimes, recipients of a USM bachelor's degree will earn on average $1.5 million more than a high school graduate.

The combination of good schools and students will pay out increasingly high dividends not only in terms of vigorous economic growth, but also through all of the other contributions our schools and our graduates make to the community through cultural programs, service and volunteerism, and research into pressing environmental and social problems.

Maryland is giving its public universities its best and brightest, and we are proud to be able to help them grow into people who can give even more back to their communities.

Donald N. Langenberg is chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

Pub Date: 6/01/99

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