LAWRENCE, Kan. — Nearly 6 percent of University of Kansas freshmen were admitted this year through an alternative process after failing to meet the school’s new and tougher standards.

A committee reviews applications from students who don’t meet the criteria for automatic admission under the more exacting standards that took effect this semester, the Lawrence Journal-World ( ) reported.

The change led to concerns that minority enrollment would drop. But university data show 47 percent of the 750 students admitted through the committee process were minorities. Among those committee-admitted students, 243 enrolled this fall, including both minorities and non-minorities. They made up 5.7 percent of the overall 4,233-student freshman class.

Matt Melvin, vice provost for enrollment management at the university, said most of the students admitted through the new committee process would have had high-enough test scores and grades to be admitted under the old standards.

Four year ago, the school got permission to implement stricter admissions standards than those required at other state universities. The new standards require graduating high school students to complete a pre-college curriculum. For automatic admission, they also are required to have either a minimum 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of at least 24 or SAT score of at least 1090, or a minimum 3.25 GPA and an ACT score of 21 or SAT score of 980.

Melvin said test scores and high school grades are predictive of success — and ultimately, graduation — in college. However, the committee process gives a chance to students whose marks didn’t quite make the cut for automatic admission.

Through questionnaires that ask about things such as short- and long-term goals they get a chance to show whether they have what Melvin likes to call “grit” — another, though less scientific, predictor of success.

The goal of KU’s new automatic admission standards and committee process was to “shave off” the bottom 5 percent or so of students, Melvin said. He said statistics show students at that ability level had only about an 8 percent likelihood of graduating.

Admitting students to KU who aren’t ready to succeed — and statistically don’t succeed — ultimately hurts the profile of the university and doesn’t do the students a service, Melvin said.

“Our goal is never to ratchet up these standards to deny admission,” he said. “But access without success is access to nothing.”

Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,