Today’s secondary school students must strive for more than just high grades if they hope to get a scholarship.
Thompson Rivers University is the latest post-secondary institution to emphasize achievements in leadership and community service for entrance scholarships.
TRU’s senate will weigh in on proposed changes to the ambassador entrance scholarship policy that places the term “documented exemplary leadership and community service” ahead of “academic excellence.”
The change in wording has led a senior lecturer with TRU’s department of math and statistics to worry that academic achievement is being de-prioritized in favour of extra-curricular accomplishments.
“I believe this is a major mistake for the university,” said Dave Tomkins in a letter to the senate. “In my opinion this new policy will continue the practice of allowing the top scholars to go to other universities without TRU making any serious effort to recruit them.
“And even those high-achieving students that may still decide to study at TRU will not be getting the support that they clearly deserve,” the letter states.
The lowest secondary school average held by an incoming ambassador scholarship recipient was 88 per cent last year and 89 per cent the year before.
In Tomkins’ opinion, the bar should be set much higher at 95 per cent or more.
But TRU is already “far from” competing for top academic achievers, according to Gordon Down, manager of financial aid and awards.
That’s because most universities also have entrance scholarships based on academics and extra-curricular accomplishments.
“The current trend in university admissions and scholarships is moving away from primarily assessing academics to looking at the overall applicant,” wrote Down in his response to Tomkins.
He highlighted the University of British Columbia’s scrapping of $1 million in scholarships last year to reinvent the process and consider greatest overall accomplish, only one facet of which being academic prowess.
The senate will discuss the issue during its meeting on Monday.
TRU’s student union had no comment as of press time.