Standardized tests have long been a rite of passage for aspiring college students, but a growing number of institutions are lifting their mandate requiring applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score. According to Fairtest.org, more than 800 colleges and universities no longer require applicants to take either of the two major standardized tests. The trend represents a shift in how institutions measure academic potential. With less emphasis on test scores, students are proving their merit in other ways. From academic consistency to community service, the modern college-bound student has a well-rounded resume to go along with high marks.
Scores Fall, Schools React
Advocates for this that shift away from standardized tests as a measuring stick argue these tests offer only a narrow glimpse into academic potential.
“[Colleges and universities] recognize that neither the SAT nor ACT measures what students most need to succeed in higher education,” FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer said, according to Huffingtonpost.com.
While standardized tests struggle to gauge creativity and can’t take into account background, there may be more to this indictment on tests than just effectiveness. According to TheAtlantic.com, 2011 SAT scores fell to their lowest levels in almost 40 years. Increased diversity and a widening achievement gap indicate that standardized tests will no longer suffice as a mode to compare students.
With schools dropping their mandate for students to submit an SAT or ACT score, driven high schoolers that do perform well and submit test scores are more likely to stand out. Students that want to submit well-rounded applications but struggle during tests aren’t hopeless. Programs like Study Point SAT tutoring come along side students to create personal improvement plans.
If anything, these relaxed requirements should drive students even more to achieve strong scores.
Stand Out From the Crowd
A GPA and SAT score alone may have warranted a dream program 15 years ago, but colleges and universities have expanded their ideal student archetype and are finding new ways to look for it. Selective colleges desire well-rounded students, but that doesn’t necessarily they’re trying a new activity every week. A student involved in marching band, for example, would be more likely to stand out if he or she demonstrated leadership and dedication in that activity rather than limited involvement in many activities.
With so much information available online, admissions offices are getting a glimpse of potential students through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. According a 2011 survey of admissions officers reported by Usnews.com, 24 percent of respondents said they have visited an applicant’s social networking page. Predictably, students whose online identities depict illegal activities are less likely to get in. Other frowned-upon online characteristics include vulgarities, plagiarism or anything that makes admissions offices “wonder,” according to Forbes.com.
Students can set themselves apart from careless peers by maintaining a respectable social media presence. Not everything needs to be pictures of studying and philosophy quotes, but content that makes admissions offices “wonder” can disqualify students instantly. Students can further enhance their online identity by ranking well in search engines and submitting a professional contact email (ex. firstname.lastname@example.org).
The modern college applicant is more transparent than in any prior generation, and students that fully commit to the application process are more likely to receive that joyous acceptance letter.
Peg Cummings A former teacher and business executive, Peg believes that all anyone needs to make a start up a business is an idea, start-up capital, and a smart consultant.