Business is booming

It soon could be a lot harder to gain admittance into one of UTC's most popular majors.

After being spotlighted nationally, officials with the UTC College of Business say it may be time to be more selective and require students to meet grade point average criteria if they want to graduate with a business degree.

"So many students are attracted to a business degree," said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. "There is a large application pool, but not all those students are qualified."

Business is, in many cases, a fall-back or catch-all major for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students who flip-flop about what career to pursue after college, and a College of Business admission standard would change that, giving business degrees a little more value, some students say.

"Students wouldn't get started in the program and then realize they can't do it," said Samantha Cox, a senior accounting major at UTC. "If there was a requirement, it would weed them out in the beginning. I think it would make it more exclusive. It makes you feel like you have more behind your degree."

Creating separate admission standards for the College of Business would set a precedent at UTC. Up to this point, any student, regardless of academic performance, can pursue any major.

A faculty committee is reviewing the proposal, being pushed by UTC College of Business Dean Richard Casavant. If approved, UTC would be following in the footsteps of many large universities such as the University of Georgia and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which limit enrollment in certain majors.

Dr. Casavant said officials are not sure if new requirements would include grades in specific classes during students' freshman and sophomore years, or overall grades.

Dr. Brown said setting an admission standard will improve the graduation rate in the College of Business and at UTC overall because it will fend off the weak, academically unprepared students who are more at risk of dropping out.

Improving graduation rates has become a top priority for colleges such as UTC because Gov. Phil Bredesen's reform plan for higher education ties future state funding to graduation rates.

UTC business majors2009 - 2,0102008 - 1,9792007 - 1,9092006 - 1,6972005 - 1,568Source: UTCDifferential tuition approved at UTBeginning this fall, students in the UT College of Business, College of Nursing and College of Engineering may pay more for their degree than other students. UT trustees will vote on the proposal in February, and officials said they made the recommendation to offset costs and budget cuts. Students in those majors will make enough after they graduate to make up for additional tuition, officials said.* Engineering students will pay $680 more per year.* Business students will pay $700 more in their sophomore year and $1,200 more in their junior and senior years.* Nursing students will pay $2,700 more in their junior year and $2,790 more in their senior year.Source: UT

"We want to make sure that the students who major in business are well prepared to complete a degree," said Dr. Brown. "This will go well together with the focus in the state on graduation rates. But I know some students will not be happy that their performance made them ineligible for the

business degree."

At UT, students are required to have taken sophomore-level accounting, economics, statistics and business administration classes before they can apply for a business major. A 2.75 cumulative GPA is required, and a 3.0 GPA is required for accounting majors.

In the last five years, the UTC College of Business has grown significantly in size and recognition. Enrollment grew more than 28 percent, and for the last few years both the Princeton Review and Business Week have recognized the college as being good quality for the price.

Limiting enrollment will only improve the school's image, said Dr. Casavant.

"Being more selective would help the school grow in prominence," he said. "The better quality you have, the more you attract certain types of students."

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