By Riley Prillwitz
Late this August, Colorado College announced that, beginning with incoming high school and transfer students for the fall of 2020, applicants are no longer required to submit standardized test scores for review. The new policy is an expression of the school’s belief that students should be seen as “more than ‘a number,’” as the CC website states.
“Students who believe that their academic work speaks of their potential for success better than their standardized testing would benefit from this new policy,” Director of Admission Matthew Bonser said.
“It puts us in a growing group of schools that have decided that standardized tests do not have to be an important part of the admissions portfolio,” said Kevin Rask, professor of economics and business.
This change would allow the Office of Admission to more holistically consider applicants, and through this, potentially increase diversity and inclusivity on campus.
“There is good evidence from the experience of other schools that it increases the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the applicant pool along with the admitted student profile,” Rask said of test-optional policy. “I think it will likely have similar effects at CC, along with increasing the number of applications.”
Current students at CC also have opinions regarding the new policy. Austin Halpern ’20 would have liked the option to omit standardized test scores when he was applying for college.
“I was never a good test taker, so it was scary having my college options mostly depend on an exam,” Halpern said. “I’m really proud of other parts about who I am, and I’d rather showcase those things instead of a number.”
However, there is a catch. On the CC website, a more detailed page about the new admissions process contains a section about applicants who aren’t included in the change. Non-native English speaking international students, homeschooled students, and Division I athletes are a few categories of students who will still be required to send in a score from either the SAT or ACT.
Rosa Ma ’22, an international student at CC, feels that this may be unnecessary.
“My feelings about these standardized tests are always conflicted,” she said. “I understand why the admissions office want us to prove our English proficiency level; at the same time, I think standardized tests are not the best way.”
Ma also said that international students already have to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language score to prove their English literacy, and she thinks one “proof of proficiency level” is enough.
Meanwhile, students who do qualify are still able to submit their standardized test scores if they so choose; the Office of Admission will review them, though the scores will not be used as the deciding factor.
“We do not use an arbitrary cutoff point for admission consideration, and test scores are not the ultimate deciding factor in our process,” states the CC website. “They do, however, continue to be valued as a standardized measure which can provide helpful information to the Admission Committee.”
Rask agrees: “We were already test-flexible, so the actual standardized test component in the admissions files had been de-emphasized. This new policy takes it a step further.”
With this new policy reaching colleges around the country, the need for college applicants to take standardized tests may be decreasing. A new, more inclusive application process is on the rise, at CC and beyond.