Feb 26, 2011

DePaul Joins Growing List of ‘Test-Optional’ Colleges

DePaul University in Chicago recently announced that it will join the growing list of colleges employing a “test-optional” alternative for freshman admission. The new policy makes DePaul the largest private nonprofit university in the country to make standardized test scores optional for applicants.

While still working out details, DePaul officials suggest that the change in policy will enhance the university’s “student-centered” approach to admission and support their view that four years of performance and learning in high school are far more important than performance on a four-hour test.

“Standardized test scores are strongly correlated with income, and scores vary dramatically across ethnic groups, raising questions about their fairness to all members of our society,” the university said in a prepared statement. “The prevalence of the ‘test preparation industry’ and the ability of wealthier students to take the test repeated times contribute to the debate about equity.”

Beginning with applicants for the freshman class applying in the fall of 2011, students who choose not to submit ACT or SAT scores will be asked to write short responses to essay questions designed to measure “noncognitive” traits, such as leadership, commitment to service, and ability to meet long-term goals.

One of the nation’s 10 largest private, not-for-profit universities, DePaul joins such schools as Bowdoin, Gettysburg, Lawrence University, and Wake Forest that have successfully implemented similar admission policies.

Locally, American University, Christopher Newport, George Mason, Goucher College, Loyola University of Maryland, Trinity Washington University, and St. John’s College are among the more than 840 four-year colleges and universities listed by Fair Test that do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants.

The move to test-optional is one of several changes in admissions procedures adopted by DePaul. Last fall, DePaul began using the Common Application and according to numbers provided to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the school already received 16,000 applications for a class of between 2300 and 2500 students, as of the first week of February. That’s a 42 percent increase in the number of applications DePaul received at the same point last year.

For more information on DePaul and the transition to test-optional admissions, visit the university website.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

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