My Blog

College Admissions

Bitter Irony in Test-Blind Admissions

Those in favor of test-optional and test-blind admissions tend to wax poetic about the need to abolish testing requirements in order to improve access and equity. I have previously written about how the latter belief is misguided (see here) and false (see here). But today I want to highlight one school in particular because the school and its head of admissions have declared themselves champions of test-blind admissions policies and harshly criticized colleges that do otherwise. That school is Worcester Polytechnic Institute with its head of admissions, Andrew Palumbo. He doesn’t hide his criticism of MIT for going back to

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College Admissions

Test-Optional May Increase the Value of Attending an Elite High School

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does often rhyme.” – Mark Twain In this instance, it appears that test-optional admissions is recreating the very problem that standardized tests were intended to solve in the first place. Purpose of Standardized Exams for Admission Without all students taking the same classes with the same teachers and the same grading scale, how can colleges accurately compare applicants to determine who is best prepared to succeed at a given institution? They can’t. Even a standardized measure is far from perfect, but it helps bridge the gap from using high school GPA to predict college

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College Admissions

The Ideological Crusade Against Testing

Opponents of standardized testing have two favorite studies: “Defining Promise” and a University of Chicago study. A thorough look at each reveals that they do not overturn the facts found by the many more studies that show that test scores help colleges select students who will have better college outcomes (typically lower rates of academic probation, higher GPAs, and higher graduation rates). Instead, despite their efforts to the contrary, these studies actually support the role of standardized testing in college admissions. The researchers’ conclusions reveal that they are not doing research to discover what is true. They are propagandists trying

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College Admissions

Hiding Inequality

When I met Bob Schaeffer, the Executive Director of FairTest, at a National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) conference in October of 2012, I thought he was misguided. In our roughly 20-minute conversation, he decried that the SAT and ACT were tests that could be prepared for and explained that he wanted them to be abolished. Why did I think him misguided? Because of course the SAT and ACT can be prepared for. Can you think of any test that you can’t prepare for? Especially at over 30,000 feet in the air, I want my pilot to have prepared

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College Admissions

Truth, Lies, and… College Admissions

If the name Mackenzie Fierceton rings a bell, you probably read an article about her titled something like “Student Loses Rhodes Scholarship After Lying…” But, as the saying goes: “The plot thickens.” I’m going to do a post that uses her story to discuss some aspects of the college application process that are typically not talked about. After college when I started helping students get into college, I was very surprised to hear from a well-respected independent college counselor that “college essays are not autobiographies; they belong to the genre of memoirs.” As Vivian Gornick, the acclaimed memoirist writes in Truth

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College Admissions

Broken Dreams: College Access and Outcomes

There has been an increasing focus on opening up access to a college education. In principle, I completely agree with and support this focus: a college degree is a dynamo for individual, generational, and societal advancement. Many college admissions counselors have taken up this worthy cause. For example, the updated mission statement of NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) states that they are “driven by a fundamental belief that expanding opportunity and removing barriers to postsecondary education advances equity and benefits everyone.”[i] But, there’s a problem. Good intentions do not always lead to good outcomes. Unfortunately, many very well-intentioned

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College Admissions

Test optional. Confusion mandatory.

“Garbage in; garbage out” is a popular phrase to describe the effect of bad information on outcomes. Think of your local weather service: “Today it will be sunny. No chance of showers.” And you end up drenched from a downpour – bad info led to a bad outcome for you. When given bad info, it’s actually those who do not trust that info and pack an umbrella anyway who end up dry. So believing bad information tends to lead to bad decisions, which more often lead to bad outcomes. The same is true with colleges’ test optional admission policies: misinformation

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College Admissions

Selectively Test Optional

Most colleges prefer applicants to submit standardized test scores. This post was published by Summit Prep and shared here with permission.

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College Admissions

How Standardized Testing is Essential to Promoting Equity

Educational inequity is a crisis in the United States, and standardized tests are among the best available tools for understanding disparities in achievement and opportunity. We can only fix what we can measure. This post is authored and published by the National Test Prep Association and shared here with permission.

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