A tip of the cap to Bucknell University for joining nearly 1,000 other colleges and universities, including Susquehanna University, which are making standardized tests — the SAT or ACT — a thing of the past for applicants.
Bucknell announced last week that the freshman class of 2020 can now apply with or without the standardized tests, long regarded as a key entry point for students. Bucknell will become one of a handful of universities to offer the policy across it’s three academic colleges — Arts & Sciences, Engineering and the Freeman College of Management. Bucknell will review its policy over a five-year window to assess the patterns of success for students who submit scores and those who don't.
The move, university officials hope, opens the school up to students from a variety of backgrounds.
“The principle point for going test optional was to provide greater access to Bucknell,” said Kevin Mathes, dean of admissions. “We are looking for ways to open our doors to more students, and by going test optional, we’re making sure students aren’t letting a single test score dictate whether they consider Bucknell.”
Standardized tests can offer a measurement. For too long, however, many have viewed SAT or ACT scores as the measurement.
“There is nothing inherently bad about testing,” said Bill Conley, Bucknell’s vice president for enrollment management. “But we've always looked at testing from an arm’s length because, in our holistic approach, we feel the most important thing is a student’s academic
transcript along with the assessment of their character and the kind of challenges they’ve taken on to get where they are.”
Bob Schaeffer, of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, says more than half of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland are test optional. He also sees a surge with more than 100 schools making the switch in the last five years.
“Studies show that an applicant’s high school record — grades plus course rigor — predicts undergraduate success better than any standardized exam,” he wrote. “By going test-optional, colleges increase diversity without any loss in academic quality. Eliminating testing requirements is a ‘win-win’ for both students and schools.”
Bucknell will take five years to determine the viability of the program, which offers a long enough window to test the proposal. It seems like a wise decision to measure the people more than a simple number.