Don't forget to read the article all the way to the end.
"... we have scores from 98 percent of them. And we have uncovered a striking statistic: Since eliminating the SAT requirement, we have gained 60 SAT points, on average, in our entering freshman class."
So 2% didn't submit the SAT and those who did have stronger scores. This is the trend to drop the SAT? What am I missing here?
CARLISLE, Pa. __ As the class of 2004 arrives on campus this month, more students than ever are coming without the blessing of the SAT. Five years ago, the faculty here at Dickinson, one of America's oldest liberal arts colleges, took the pioneering step of eliminating the SAT requirement for admission. Last spring, Mount Holyoke did the same, joining a minor trend. About 285 accredited colleges have now eliminated the requirement.
Dickinson believed that no longer requiring the SAT would improve the quality of the student body, and it has. Our applications are up by 35 percent since the requirement was dropped, and the proportion of entering freshmen who graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes has risen to 50 percent from 25 percent.
Our move signaled to students and counselors alike that Dickinson considered the entire student in the admission process.
SAT scores are not entirely out of the picture, since 91 percent of our applicants still choose to submit them. But after 26 years of evaluating applications at four competitive colleges, I know that the SAT is but one factor in selection, and not requiring it emphasizes that. At Dickinson, we consider strength of curriculum, grades, competitiveness of the high school, writing ability, leadership, depth and breadth of activities, and recommendations from teachers and counselors.
College admission is becoming more competitive today in large part because of the desire for a "name brand," which is thought to secure one's future, and the search for a good "price," which has the public flagships booming while many private colleges bid against one another with scholarships and discounts. The hype about the SAT feeds this competitive frenzy. Students compete for the best score and take courses solely intended to increase their scores.
We should be encouraging students to focus on the excitement of learning, rather than on a score, and to think about the substance of what a college offers. If making the SAT optional in a selective admissions process helps us get there, it is the right thing to do.
At Dickinson, students who withheld SAT scores before they were accepted usually send them to us afterward, and by the time the freshmen begin school, we have scores from 98 percent of them. And we have uncovered a striking statistic: Since eliminating the SAT requirement, we have gained 60 SAT points, on average, in our entering freshman class.
Robert J. Massa is vice president for enrollment, student life and college relations at Dickinson College.