UCA reports ACT increase

The University of Central Arkansas experienced an increase in the average ACT score among first-time undergraduates and retention among full-time, first-time undergraduate students, according to preliminary data. The average high school GPA for first-time students also increased.

The average ACT composite score this year for first-time undergraduate students is 24. Last year, the average was 23.7. In 2014, the average was 23.3.

“We are pleased that the quality of our class of 2020 is outstanding and that the ACT scores of our first-time undergraduates have increased. That, plus our increased emphasis on retention is very important as we move ahead,” said UCA President Tom Courtway.

Retention for full-time, first-time undergraduates from fall 2015 to fall 2016 is 72.9 percent. The retention rate from fall 2014 to fall 2015 was 72.4 percent and 69.9 percent from fall 2013 to fall 2014. The two-year retention rate also increased from 56.8 percent to 57.6 percent.

“We see that our efforts to focus on student success have resulted in improved one-year and two-year retention rates,” said Steven Runge, executive vice president and provost. “This year, we are expanding several student programs identified as critical initiatives in our strategic plan and expect to see continued growth in retention and graduation rates.”

The university increased admission standards two consecutive years, requiring first-time undergraduate students to have a minimum high school grade point average of 2.75 and a score of 20 on the ACT beginning fall 2015. Students were required to have a minimum high school grade point average of 2.75 and a score of 21 on the ACT for fall 2016. The average high school GPA for first-time students has gone from 3.3 in 2014, 3.4 in 2015 to 3.5 in 2016.

Graduate enrollment increased slightly from 1,867 in 2015 to 1,872 in 2016. Total fall 2016 enrollment is 11,487. Enrollment for fall 2015 was 11,754. First-time undergraduate enrollment was 2,044 in 2015 and 1,877 in 2016.

“Although our enrollment is down slightly, it was expected and is primarily a result of our increasing admission standards over the last two years,” Courtway said. “We will continue our aggressive recruitment efforts in Arkansas and surrounding states, continue to recruit transfer students from Arkansas’ two-year colleges and most importantly, continue to stress student success and graduation. That is what really matters.”