Going Test-Optional was the Right Choice
On Friday, April 1st, Skidmore officially went test-optional, beginning with students applying for the class of 2021. As a student who spent countless hours of my junior year in high school taking the ACT twice and spending Saturday mornings on tutoring, I wish that Skidmore had made this decision several years ago. But, the reality is that Skidmore made the right decision, and not because I needed more sleep. Skidmore made the correct choice because the opportunities I had to improve my score are not open to everyone, and my scores did not necessarily reflect how well I perform at Skidmore.
According to a study done by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), a national organization that has been helping to lead the national effort against the use of standardized testing, when comparing 2013 SAT scores to family income, it shows that the more money your family makes, the higher average SAT score you will have. This is because these students can afford to be coached through the standardized tests as their family can afford to spend the money on tutoring, test prep, and practice tests.
In an email sent to the Skidmore Community, President Phillip Glotzbach writes, “We believe that adopting a test-optional policy would significantly decrease the advantage gained by students who can afford to improve their scores through additional test preparation, and thereby level the playing field for prospective students across the socioeconomic spectrum.”
Decreasing the advantages some people have in access to education is something I strongly believe in. I believe everyone should be able to have access to a college education. Last summer I spent part of the summer interning at Collegiate Directions Inc., a community based organization that helps mainly first generation students from Montgomery County, MD and DC apply to and graduate from College. Without CDI many of these students would not be able to graduate from college, yet alone apply to college. Part of this has to do with the fact that CDI provides these students with test prep something them and their families would likely not have been able to afford.
CDI is just one example of an organization that helps to minimize the advantage some have when applying to college, but I believe that by going test-optional, Skidmore is doing their part in helping to minimize this advantage.
The George Washington University went test optional this year, and while their overall application pool increased, the increase was particularly significant among first generation students, many of whom chose not to submit scores. The bottom line is that by making test scores optional a college can help to reduce the advantages faced by those that can afford test prep.
Hopefully, Skidmore will experience similar results in the coming year from their decision to go test-optional. I believe that this is one step in the right direction to equalizing the playing field for those from all economic backgrounds when applying to college. And, it will make a great school even better and more diverse.