Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Will MIT change and challenge the test-optional movement?

Probably not. 

Great piece by Jim Jump if you are following the test-optional movement. A highlight:

There are, of course, some global reasons why test-optional policies will not go away. One is the decision by the University of California and Cal State systems to no longer use test scores in their admission processes. As a result, colleges that recruit heavily in California will have a hard time reinstating test score requirements. But students outside California may also rebel against colleges that return to requiring test scores. The Ivies may be able to get away with it, but two years ago, when the pandemic accelerated the number of colleges going the test-optional route, an admissions dean friend postulated that colleges farther down the food chain may find that students may simply refuse to apply to colleges that aren’t test optional.

Read it here in full!

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Sal Khan: Test-Optional College Admissions Adds Ambiguity and is Bad for Students

Sal Khan: Test-Optional College Admissions Adds Ambiguity and is Bad for Students

Interesting read if you are following the test-optional movement and related debates. Sal Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a non-profit that partners with the College Board. Read the interview here

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Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

Colleges That Are No Longer Test Optional

And so it begins…

MIT is no longer test-optional.

Will other schools follow in the name of transparency (because—let’s be honest—although test-optional policies do have merit at some institutions, they do not increase transparency around the admissions process)?

After careful consideration, we have decided to reinstate our SAT/ACT requirement for future admissions cycles. Our research shows standardized tests help us better assess the academic preparedness of all applicants and also help us identify socioeconomically disadvantaged students who lack access to advanced coursework or other enrichment opportunities that would otherwise demonstrate their readiness for MIT. We believe a requirement is more equitable and transparent than a test-optional policy. In the post below —  and in a separate conversation with MIT News today —  I explain more⁠ about how we think this decision helps us advance our mission. 

Some popular schools that have also rolled back COVID-era test-optional policies include UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, New College of Florida, FSU, UCF, and USF (all State University System of Florida). 

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TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

TODAY! 3/14 at 8pm Eastern: Test Prep and College Planning Open Forum Q&A

Join us on March 14th at 8 pm eastern for a casual discussion on all things test prep and college planning. We’ll be presenting a few of our top tips and strategies but will leave most of the session open for your questions. This session is for students and parents.

Register here!

Hope to see you on March, 14th!

News of the Week

News of the Week

Will test-optional become the new normal? As more colleges embrace the practice for a few years—or permanently—the debate is changing.

So of course….the College Board Announces Streamlined, Digital SAT.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of a decision that Harvard University’s use of affirmative action in college admissions is legal. The court will also hear an appeal of a ruling that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s use of affirmative action was legal.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

Dartmouth College announced an anonymous $40 million gift that will enable the college to offer need-blind admissions to international students. That brings to six the number of colleges with the policy: Amherst College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Five students say leading colleges and universities are acting as an illegal “cartel” in violation of antitrust law. One of the students’ lawyers is a former prosecutor in the Varsity Blues case

Harvard is slow-marching the ACT and SAT into decline and diminished relevance

Some colleges reject the idea, but most appear to be allowing students to visit—with certain precautions.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

Test Optional May Not Apply to Homeschooled Students. Even some colleges that have gone test optional still require homeschooled applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. Admissions officials say test scores are a valuable metric for homeschooled students, who can be challenging to evaluate.

Twenty education groups are issuing an open letter to college presidents and boards urging them to abandon legacy admissions, which remains popular among private colleges and some public institutions. “As Jerome Karabel details in his book, The Chosen, legacy preferences arose at elite institutions in the 1920s and 1930s as a way to limit the enrollment of Jewish immigrants whose qualifications outstripped those from long-standing well-to-do families that Ivy League colleges preferred to see on campus,” the letter says. To this day, the legacy preference continues to favor wealthy, white families. 

Ten Higher Education Stories of 2021

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

PSAT scores are back this week. If you’re a high school junior, this moment marks the start of SAT and ACT prep season. (That is, if you haven’t started already!) Read Applerouth’s handy guide to understanding your PSAT scores and what to do next as you prepare for the SAT or ACT.

The Will to Test in a Test-Optional Era. Hundreds of colleges have suspended their ACT and SAT requirements. Many students won’t let them go… (but for good reason…not all TO is created equal). 

According to an updated list released by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), more than 1,815 colleges and universities now practice test-optional or test-blind admissions, an all-time high. The list includes nearly all of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities. At least 1,400 institutions have already extended those policies at least through the fall 2023 admissions cycle. Among the schools that will not require ACT or SAT tests from current high school juniors are well-known private institutions, such as Amherst, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Stanford, and Tufts. In addition, many public university systems including those in California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, and Washington will remain test-optional or test-blind.

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College Deferral Steps

College Deferral Steps

Every year we work with a handful of deferred students on turning those defers into admits. Reach out to us if you want individualized guidance!

Some colleges and universities can’t admit all of the students they would like to in early decision or early action (“ED” or “EA”), so they defer some and evaluate them again during regular decision (“RD”). These candidates have a shot (albeit small at many top-20 schools) at getting admitted RD. However, some schools just defer everyone or almost everyone! A not so nice practice. Most students who fall into this category should move on and focus on other schools. If you are not sure which category you fall into, ask us. 

If you’d like some general guidance on working the deferral, you’ll find it below. But first, a few notes before doing anything to “work” a deferral:

1. Stay positive for RD, or preferably, early decision 2, and keep moving forward on other apps! Those are much more important now.

2. Consider ED 2; it’s often smarter than relying on RD. Not all schools have ED 2; check your Common App to see if ED 2 is offered at any schools on your list. Why? Because….

3. The RD round is tough.  Get familiar with the ED 1 and RD numbers and understand why ED 2 can present a significant advantage over RD. Read this chart by Jeff Levy and Jeannie Kent. Pay particular attention to the percentage of the class filled by early plans.

4. Don’t make the same mistakes again. You should be very open to doing a thorough evaluation of what might have gone wrong with your early app(s). With fresh eyes, you might find a few things you would change. Or, with the feedback from someone else, see that you missed the mark completely on some elements of your application. If you’d like an evaluation of your deferred app, our “redo report,” contact us.

Other Tips:

–Get your guidance counselor’s support. Have your guidance counselor advocate for you via telephone. Make sure updated grades/transcripts are sent promptly. Your grades should have remained the same or improved, not dipped.

-If you applied test-optional, consider taking and/or sending scores. Colleges have always valued competitive scores and this year is no different.

–Get an extra letter of recommendation if the school notes you are allowed to send one*. This letter could be written by a teacher, coach, employer, or someone else who can speak to your background, performance, and potential.

*Side note on alumni letters and letters from well-known or famous people. Many students ask if these are helpful to send, and the answer is usually no. And…some schools explicitly state not to send any extra letters.

–Make contacts locally and talk to students and alumni. Reach out to local alumni chapters and ask if there is anyone willing to meet with you for an informal informational interview. Use this meeting as an opportunity to learn more about the school, and demonstrate your interest in attending. Information learned in these meetings can be included in your deferral letter.

-Connect with your regional rep and consider sending a deferral letter (aka an update letter or letter continued interest). You should have connected with them prior to applying, so this email won’t be out of the blue. Ask if they have any specific advice for deferred candidates. Are reasons for the deferral that you can address in the coming months (grades, test scores or lack thereof, lack of demonstrating interest, or understanding the mission and values of the school)? If you had an interview and established a good relationship with your interviewer, you can also reach out to them to see if they have any tips. A deferral letter should contain information updating the school on what you’ve been up to both inside and outside of the classroom since the time you applied as a way to show your fit for the school, how you will add value, etc. It should not be a list of your accomplishments or a brag sheet.

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News of the Week!

News of the Week!

Through mid-November, applications are up, the Common Application finds. For early applicants, there is only a modest increase in submitting test scores.

Ohio State U. Unveils a Plan for All Students to Graduate Debt-Free

Admission to University of California campuses will from now on be done without standardized tests. When the board voted to eliminate SAT and ACT scores from its considerations, it left open the possibility of using another test. But faculty members did not believe such a test existed or could be created.

Schools are starting to release their testing policies for the 2022-2023 admissions season. Stanford is one of the first, going test-optional for a third year in a row. 

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