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Campbell column: Test-optional for colleges the right idea

SALISBURY — I think Wake Forest University has the right idea.
The college became test optional in 2008, ditching the requirement for standardized test scores such as at the SAT and ACT.
“We’ll still be looking for the very best students,” Martha Allman, dean of admissions, said on the college’s website. “Eliminating the test requirement will demonstrate that we value individual academic achievement and initiative, as well as creative talent and character, above standardized testing.”
Since then, Allman told the News and Observer, the college has become more racially and socio-economically diverse, with an uptick in applications.
“When we became test-optional, we started seeing these wonderful students that perhaps we would not have seen in our applicant pool before,” she said in the Observer. “We don’t have any regrets at all.”
It’s an interesting concept, one I’d like to see more colleges embrace.
My SAT scores were average, despite taking the test several times. But as a student I had an above-average track record, graduating at the top of my class while balancing multiple clubs, playing tennis and working a part-time job.
Those average SAT scores kept me from applying to more competitive colleges. I figured I didn’t have a chance and I didn’t want to waste money on applications fees for schools I likely wouldn’t attend.
It’s a shame that three hours can be the deciding factor in a major life decision.
Maybe that’s why more than 850 colleges in the country are now test optional.
DePaul University will drop the testing requirements for freshman entering the school this year.
“This student-centered approach emphasizes that the best indicators of student academic performance and ability are reflected through a student’s high school performance in college preparatory courses,” states a press release on the university website. “While it is expected that most applicants will still submit test scores for admission, those who do not will be considered on their high school record in college preparatory courses along with required essays that are designed to reveal proven predictors of student success — including leadership, long-term goal-setting, perseverance and self-confidence.”
For me, the SAT was nothing more than a slap in the face. The test placed an unfair label on my college applications and made me question my academic abilities.
Colleges should be taking the time to find the best students, not the best test-takers.
Sarah Campbell covers education for the Post.
Contact her at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/Sarah.SalisburyPost

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