Neeley School to require higher GPAs of freshmen

Stricter GPA requirements proposed for freshman pre-business majors next semester will try to stop students from “churning up” the program, the Neeley School of Business’ senior associate dean said.Pending University Council approval in November, incoming freshmen in the pre-business program next fall will be required to maintain at least a 2.5 GPA by the end of their first year and complete five required courses, said Bill Moncrief, senior associate dean.

The motion for the requirement change passed at the last Undergraduate Council meeting Oct. 19.

Griffin Kirchner, freshman pre-business major, said because it’s his first semester, he is a little concerned with the potential rise in GPA requirements. But he understands the purpose is to keep the business school prestigious, he said.

“I can see the pros and cons to both sides,” he said. “The pro would be to turn out more competitive business majors. The con would be if people mess up their first year, they may not get a chance to prove themselves.”

Freshmen will have to take microeconomics, macroeconomics, intermediate composition, applied calculus and one core requirement class, according to the proposal the Neeley School submitted to the Undergraduate Council.

Moncrief said students normally apply for admission to the business school during their sophomore year, but some students are getting caught up in what he calls “the churn-retaking” courses multiple times to boost GPA to the required level. Presently there are 40 seniors and 160 juniors still in the pre-business program, Moncrief said.

“They can’t get their grades to where they need to be, either because of the lower division or their overall GPA,” Moncrief said. “I don’t think it’s in their best interest, and it’s terrible for our classes.”

Under the new program, Moncrief said, students not meeting the 2.5-GPA requirement at the end of their first year will be required to change majors.

Those students will be encouraged to pursue a business minor, which the Neeley school is presently restructuring to make it friendly to non-business majors, he said.

The reason for this, he said, is to keep students on track toward a degree, instead of spending five or more years in college retaking courses.

“Instead of changing out after a year and a half of going through this, in your freshman year if you’re not there, (you may) move on to something else and get a minor in business,” Moncrief said.

Administrators in the business school are ultimately trying to lower enrollment to 1,400, Moncrief said, and eliminating students in “the churn” will continue to drive enrollment down. Presently, Neeley school enrollment is 1,763, Moncrief said.

Moncrief acknowledged that the GPA requirement puts a lot of pressure on incoming freshmen, especially men, who have a significantly lower GPA during their freshman year compared to women. However, he said, he feels the vast majority of students will step up.

“We’ve found that every time we raise the bar, students step up and meet the bar,” Moncrief said. “I don’t think we’re going to eliminate a lot of people.”

Moncrief said fraternities on campus need to explain the change to their freshmen and help them meet the requirement.

“(Fraternities) need to help their freshmen through the process or there are going to be a lot of freshmen fraternity guys that don’t get into the business school,” Moncrief said.

Jeremy Ross, a senior accounting major, said he thinks the business school should never lower its standards.

“If the GPA goes up, it reflects well on the school,” he said. “And for people who work hard, it’s a good thing.