UA chancellor addresses college concerns for ES students

Tuesday, September 4, 2018
University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz speaks to Eureka Springs High School students on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
Photo by Kelby Newcomb/Carroll County News

Eureka Springs High School students got a preview of the college experience on Wednesday, Aug. 29, thanks to a visit from Chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz of the University of Arkansas.

Superintendent Bryan Pruitt introduced the guest speaker, telling the high schoolers that the Eureka Springs School District wants to provide opportunities like this in recognition of the students’ work ethic and dedication to academics.

“We were ranked 10th last year in academics for high schools in the state of Arkansas,” Pruitt said. “We’re proud of you guys and excited for you and excited about your opportunities. That’s why we bring in some of the best folks not just in Arkansas but in America so you get an opportunity to hear from them about things that will help you be successful in your careers.”

Steinmetz said his goal Wednesday was to help students learn more about UA and address any college concerns they might have. He asked what the major concerns about UA were for the students, and students answered that they were concerned about the cost, housing and transitioning to a bigger school.

Steinmetz said he understood worrying about transitioning to a larger campus because he had gone to a small private Catholic high school in Detroit, about the same size as Eureka Springs High School.

“Let me talk about the size of universities,” he said. “We have about 27,000 students. That seems like an awfully big place, but let me put that in perspective. I’ve been the chancellor of UA for about two and a half years. Before that, I spent time on the faculty and as an administrator at Ohio State in Columbus. The number of students there currently is 66,000, almost three times that of UA.”

Compared to universities across the country, he said UA is actually medium-sized.

“We think it’s about the right size to actually serve the state of Arkansas,” he said. “The reason is because among universities here in the state we’re probably the most comprehensive university, meaning we offer more disciplines and things you can study there.”

Steinmetz said there are about 85 undergraduate majors available at UA.

He said some of UA’s other strengths are the quality of its faculty and the fact that it is a research university, which allows students to develop one-on-one relationships with faculty members.

“We have a research-active faculty in about every area,” he said. “That includes agriculture, biology and the humanities, like history and English.”

Steinmetz continued, “”It’s a personal thing that’s very deep and can affect you for your entire life. I know that firsthand because as an undergraduate I was sort of taking classes and hanging out like people did, trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I really didn’t have a clue.”

He said he had about six different majors as an undergraduate and finally settled on the field of neuroscience because he had an eye-opening research opportunity with a faculty member.

For financial support, Steinmetz said UA has scholarships and fellowships that continue to grow in funding each year.

“if you qualified for the honors college, 90 new freshmen every year get fellowships that provide about $70,000 in support for your education,” he said. “That’s probably as generous as you’ll find at institutions, and that will more than pay for a four-year education at UA.”

Steinmetz said UA also has opportunities for underrepresented students, particularly first-generation college students.

“The last thing I’ll mention is we’re in the middle of a capital campaign,” he said, “which is a concentrated effort to raise funds from private sources to run the university. The goal we set for this campaign was to raise $1 billion. I think later in September we’ll announce that we’ve met that goal. We have two years left in this campaign, so we’ve raised the goal to $1.25 billion.”

That funding is aimed at increasing the university’s scholarship pool by about $10 million, Steinmetz said, to attract students who want to attend UA but cannot for financial reasons.

He also let the high schoolers know that every student who comes through the UA or any other university struggles at some point, whether it’s with academics or the social and cultural adjustment to university life. He said UA has a “One student at a time” effort to address the issues each student faces.

“We know if we admit you to UA there is no reason you can’t succeed,” Steinmetz said. “You’re hardworking, smart and met the requirements we had.”

Dr. Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment management and dean of admissions, explained that high school seniors need to score a minimum of 20 on the ACT and have at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) to be admitted to UA.

“We work with students a little lower than that and provide a pathway for them,” she said, “but a 20 on the ACT and a 3.0 mean you automatically get admitted. The average at UA is a 3.7 GPA and a 26 on the ACT.”

McCray said grades matter more than ACT scores and that UA favors Arkansans.

“Almost 90 percent of scholarship dollars go to Arkansas students,” she said. “Be sure to apply. We have a scholarship application. The priority deadline for admission is Nov. 1. It’s rolling, so you can apply all the way through the summer before you come to UA.”

McCray continued, “If you really want access to most of the scholarship dollars, apply by Nov. 1 and check the box that says you want a scholarship application. We’ll send you the scholarship applications, and the priority deadline for those is Nov. 15.”

Students can submit the scholarship applications until Feb. 1, she said, but UA gives away 80 percent of the funds by Nov. 15.

“There are a lot of scholarships,” McCray said. “Don’t sell yourself short. The only way you can’t get a scholarship is if you don’t apply.”

“I hope to see every single one of you eventually in Fayetteville,” Steinmetz said. “You’ll like it there.”

Pruitt ended the assembly by reminding the high schoolers that perseverance is the key to success.

“They have the resources there for you to be successful,” he said. “Never give up. They have help there for you. It’s amazing the opportunities you’ll have, but you have to go there and persevere.”

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