A Glimpse into 2022 College Admission Trends: Part 1
Test-Optional Schools Continue to Increase
The college application to-do list, at first glance, is always slightly overwhelming and confusing. Last month, we assigned February as the month to make a plan for any possible standardized testing. We want to take a look at the buzzword “test-optional”, and make the idea as clear as possible for you.
As of the 2021-2022 application season, 1800 colleges and universities are now test-optional, with the most selective schools at the forefront. Harvard even announced recently that it will not require student test score submissions through at least 2030.
The idea of schools being test-optional isn’t going anywhere. If you have a high school junior starting the college application process, learning what that idea means and what you can do will empower your teen to decide their individual course of action.
A Little Background Information
For the past 15 years, a number of colleges and universities have been gradually becoming test-optional. These schools, usually smaller, preferred to view the potential student in a more holistic way.
When COVID-19 hit, suddenly high school students had more difficulty finding a way to take the ACT or SAT as testing sites closed due to safety restrictions. The result: a nationwide movement in higher education that is likely to become the norm.
By moving towards test-optional, schools hope to put the focus on what the student has to offer overall, and give all applicants a more level playing field.
Before you make any decision regarding testing, your teen should be researching exactly what each school on their list requires. In all likelihood, they will run into one of three words: test-optional, test-flexible, and test-blind. To move forward with a plan, it’s important to know the difference.
Test-optional simply means the student has the choice as to whether or not they would like to submit their score. The decision will be made based on a variety of factors and consideration over how the overall application looks.
Test-flexible allows students to submit scores on alternative exams, such as IB or AP scores, rather than SAT or ACT scores.
Test-blind means that even if the student submits a score, that score will not be considered as part of the application.
What Should Your Teen Do?
Of course, if you are like many parents, you are a little skeptical about omitting scores from the college application, and wondering if that actually puts the student at a disadvantage.
If accessible, your teen should take a standardized test, either the ACT or SAT, so they at least have the option to send it.
If a school is test-optional, a teen should submit the scores if:
- The SAT or ACT score is average or above average for the school.
- The student is applying for merit-based aid and needs scores to qualify.
- The other parts of the application are not as impressive.
On the other hand, a teen should not submit scores if:
- The score does not show their capabilities as a student.
- The score is below average for a particular school.
No matter what, though, a teen will not be at a disadvantage if omitting scores, especially if the other components of the application are strong.
Test-Optional Policies and the College Essay
More emphasis than ever is placed on knowing the student as a whole. Colleges want to get an idea of the student’s personality, values, and passions prior to admission.
Therefore, prioritizing other parts of the application will be a key to admission. A well-written and authentic college essay that showcases both talents and character will be exactly what admissions officers want to see.
The college application process is a hefty and tedious one. If your teen is looking to start their essay and turn their application into a memorable one, reach out for help.