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Mormon College Changes Lottery-Admissions System

Ricks College has changed its admission policy for next year, after Mormon Church officials became uncomfortable with a lottery-like system adopted last year to determine who could enroll.

The church, which operates the two-year college at Rexburg, frowns on gambling.

Changes were made after church officials decided the computerized random selection process used last year was inappropriate.

The new policy will admit students based on academic preparation, national test scores, grade-point averages, church and seminary attendance and personal worthiness. The 1996 policy selected 1,000 students from a pool of more than 3,000 students with similar qualifications.

Ricks has been trying to keep enrollment to 7,500 for several years. The school had a record 8,217 students three years ago but spokesman Don Sparhawk said Wednesday the current enrollment is 7,755.

“Even though we had some positive results (with the computerized system), the process left some feeling like it was a drawing. The random selection was only used on the last 1,000 spaces after competition selection was over,” Director of Admissions Gordon Westenskow said.

Competition for admissions to Ricks has dramatically increased over recent years. Since 1987, the average ACT score has increased from 17 to 24. The average grade point average has increased from 2.7 to 3.5.

This year, 2,300 students were denied admission for the fall of 1996.

Another change for 1997 is that applicants will receive geographical consideration. Since Ricks College is a church school and not an Idaho school, admission will be representative of world-wide church membership. Currently, 46 percent of Ricks students come from Idaho and Utah. The new policy will ensure other geographical locations have equal admission chances.

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