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Topic: A Sane Experiment
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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
A Sane Experiment
Posted: Aug 3, 2000 11:56 AM
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Mount Holyoke Makes SAT Scores Optional for Admission
Questions and Answers


* What is the change in Mount Holyoke's admission requirements?

Starting with the class entering in the fall of 2001 and continuing for a
trial period of five years, we will make it optional for applicants to
submit Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores‹as well as scores from other
standardized tests such as the ACT‹for admission to the College.

* Why has Mount Holyoke made submission of SAT scores optional?

We believe that the SAT-optional policy will more closely align our
application process with the College's mission. The admission process is a
window into the culture and values of this institution. We take an
individualized, holistic approach to education and to the admission process.
Because the SAT does not measure the range of intellectual and motivational
qualities that our educational environment requires, we wish to de-emphasize
its role in our admission decisions. While the SAT and other standardized
tests have taken on exaggerated importance in public perceptions about the
college admission process, SAT scores presently, in fact, carry only about
10% of the weight in admission decisions at Mount Holyoke.

Mount Holyoke¹s application process is thorough and individualized and
includes, among many components, a comprehensive review of a student's high
school record within the context of extensive data on the quality of that
school. The College's writing requirements for admission are also rigorous
and include several essays and the submission of a graded paper. Interviews
are strongly encouraged. We also look for less tangible qualities such as
intellectual curiosity, thoughtfulness, leadership, creativity, civic
engagement, and social conscience. None of these qualities are measured by
the SAT.

Numerous issues of equity and access have also been raised with regard to
these standardized tests. Increasingly, for example, many students are
turning to expensive tutoring and test prep courses to help them improve
their scores. The College encourages high school students to focus instead
on long-term intellectual and personal growth rather than on time-consuming
and expensive strategies to raise their SAT scores.

* What will happen during the trial period?

During this trial period, the Mellon Foundation will fund a study of how
this change affects our applicant pool and our matriculants' success. We
will study the role of the SAT in our admission decision process and
determine if we can more closely align our admissions practice with our
educational mission and goals. The study will also inform the ongoing
national debate about the role of standardized tests in college admissions.

We will take a three-pronged approach to our research. First, we will
compare application, admission and matriculation rates along with academic
performance and persistence of students who do and do not submit SAT scores.
Second, we will compare the aggregate characteristics of the classes of 2003
and 2005 using multiple indicators of student success, such as engagement in
independent research, leadership positions held, extracurricular
involvement, and graduate school admission. This study will be integrated
with a current effort, also supported by Mellon, to build a climate of
achievement for all students. Third, we will examine the attitudes of high
school students and guidance counselors toward the SAT in order to learn
about the impact of the test on the educational and career aspirations of
the nation¹s increasingly diverse college-bound population.

* Why would a student decide not to submit her scores?

Some students might feel that their transcripts and other aspects of their
academic and personal achievement better illustrate their academic abilities
and potential for success in college.

* Are students at a disadvantage if they decide not to submit SAT scores?

No. Each applicant is evaluated on what she submits.

* Does this mean that it will be easier to gain admission to Mount

Not at all. Mount Holyoke is a highly selective institution committed to
academic excellence. It is consistently named among the top liberal arts
colleges in the nation; this year the College has the largest number of
applicants in its history.

For more information on this issue, please contact Kevin McCaffrey in the
Office of Communications, (413) 538-2987.

Michael Paul Goldenberg
Home: 5900 Bridge Rd #715
Ypsilanti, MI 48197

734 482-0497
cell 734 604-8559

"I wish I knew as much about anything now as I knew about everything when I
was twenty." William Ayers

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