Testing has been on the way out for some time now, and 2021 just might be the year that we see test blind—even beyond SAT subject tests—become more prevalent.
So with testing on its way out, what’s in?
- Being interesting, bold, different, eclectic in your interests and pursuits outside of “school”
- Excellence in something (or a few things), but real excellence, like wow excellence
- A deep interest in something (or a few things), but real depth, like wow depth
- Forging your own path…
But this isn’t anything new.
In the past, the most successful applicants we have gotten to know were those who had competitive grades, competitive scores (maybe even a laundry list of them), and on top of that—for the most selective schools—had an interesting resume that told a clear and compelling story. Some activities were even a bit out-of-the-box, rare/unique, or at best a bit surprising; surprising is wonderful in college admissions because so many applications are just the same. If an applicant took an interest to a depth uncommon for someone in high school, even better.
At the most selective schools, everyone has awesome grades and test scores. One of the main reasons so many applications don’t stand out has nothing to do with testing or grades, but a student’s resume and activities—their life outside of coursework. Many students feel like they are doing something wrong if they are not doing what everyone around them is, like play multiple sports, joining Science Olympiad or Debate, NHS, Interact/Key Club, and minimally taking part in a bunch of other clubs or “service” opportunities they don’t really care about. They do this instead of pursuing a few activities deeply, especially if those activities are not what their peers are doing.
If we keep moving toward a test-less or less test-heavy college admissions model, students will hopefully have more time to focus on their interests outside of school. What these interests are, and the depth in which they are genuinely pursued, might become more important than ever before as we see the bar on that front rise.
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