The Inconvenient Truth About “Test-Optional”

Earlier this week, I did a college planning “secrets” workshop at College 101 in historical East Setauket, where I attempted to edu-ma-cate a nice group of parents about the ins and outs of college admissions, financial aid and scholarships.

The topic turned to what admissions officers are looking for in a candidate, so I threw out the question, Why do you think it’s so hard for admissions officers to figure out if a kid is qualified to attend their college?

I received several guesses, but the sole correct one came from a gentleman, who, ironically, is a high school teacher.

Before I tell you the answer, take a guess yourself!  Is it:

  1. Kids come from different high schools, so it’s difficult to compare apples to oranges
  2. Some APs are hard, some are actually easier than honors classes
  3. All teacher recommendations are “glowing”
  4. All of the above

Or something else?

And, with all the test-optional schools out there, does it even matter how you score?

Let me address the test-optional thing first, because it may seem to be a trend to you.  Example, U Chicago recently announced that it too was becoming test optional.  My response:

Big whoop.

Pardon the cynicism, but does ANYONE really think that next year’s group of kids will have LOWER scores than last years, back when U Chicago required scores?

So why the big announcement?

To get more applications in.

More applications equals more rejections, which means more selectivity…

…and higher rankings!

Hear me now and believe me later, the death of the ACT and SAT are greatly exaggerated.  They’re not going away any time soon.

Which brings me back to my original question, why it’s so hard for admissions officers to gauge the qualifications of their applicants.  Here’s the answer:

Grade inflation.

Ironic that a teacher (identity protected) would answer that one, right?

But he’s on the front lines, where he, like I, witnesses the “average” GPA of 93 day in, day out.

Seriously.  How can EVERYONE have a 93 average?

And how can everyone be in National Honor Society?

Enough rhetorical questions, I’m sure you get it.

Here’s the deal:  one of the last bastions of objectivity are the standardized tests.

No, I’m NOT saying they’re perfect.  They are far from 100% successful in predicting how well a student will do in college.

Yes, they favor mass-affluent families, because the more you prep and take either test, the better you’ll do.  And that take resources, as in cashola.

Like it or hate it, it’s besides the point.  It’s how things work.

I’m not judging and neither should you. Thems just the college facts, Jack.

It’s up to you

That’s all I got for you today! 🙂

-Andy “Inflatable” Lockwood

P.S.  Our ACT Crusher prep class is open for registration – here’s where to enroll.  Use the coupon code ‘Sept100’ to get 100 bucks off, if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂

P.P.S.  We keep the classes small so everyone gets personalized attention, but at group rates. And they’re guaranteed.  See our registration page for details.

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