More About Test-Optional Admissions

We’ve abruptly and unequivocally changed the rules of college admissions for all expected-to-attend-college Gen Z’ers and, by extension, their parents, precipitating wide-ranging reactions. But, all reactions are underpinned by what one university administrator recently shared in a Maguire Associates survey

“Students are confused by the various test requirements and second guess what we are really doing behind the curtain. There is a lack of trust that schools are holding true to their word, that test scores are truly optional and will not negatively impact chances of admission…”

Fears that their “Golden Ticket”, the promise that a college degree is the gateway to lifelong economic prosperity—even in a time of great economic uncertainty—is in jeopardy only compounds applicants’ and their families’ mistrust

Many students (and their parents), not ready to accept the changing admissions criteria continue to seek SAT and ACT testing opportunities. Since local test sites are closed or full, some clients report driving 150 miles away from home, even crossing state lines, sometimes adding hotel and dining costs, creating additional stress for families. Students, who are unable to afford such costs or unwilling to endure such extra lengths, may worry that they’ll be disadvantaged in the admissions evaluations. 

The concerns of the current generations of students are understandable, as until Fall 2020 admissions, over half of admissions officers surveyed in the 2017-18 school year reported the SAT/ACT was “considerably important” in their evaluations. 

2017-18 graph courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine, July 15, 2021

Thus, many applicants fear rejection as a result of a less-than-comprehensive evaluation sans test scores; not reassured by admissions officers “holistic admissions” platitudes, touting that the totality of an applicant’s experiences will be considered in the evaluation, rendering the lack of a test score inconsequential. Yet, during pre-COVID “holistic admissions”, 52% of admissions officers placed “Considerable Importance” on the SAT or ACT score, creating an obvious confusion

So far, given demand for admissions, as evidenced in record-breaking applicant pools for many universities, admissions officers are slow or simply overlooking the need to address such a glaring credibility issue. Will students continue extending goodwill and continue applying to colleges regardless of rule changes? Or are the record numbers of applicants, signaling the mania to obtain a college degree at any cost is at peak frenzy, for which colleges should take heed or risk being washed over when the college admissions bubble pops?


Educators who first taught and learned from the young in the modern high school classroom, now with 20 years of consulting experience, bring an understanding of the complexity of the modern teenager and the travails of parenting soon-to-be adults regarding their education to bear when advising families throughout the United States and around the globe. See us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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