I saw the headline and LOVED it! As an advocate of ensuring that the admissions process assesses whole human beings – all that individuals have to offer and ways to create the most complete “pictures” of candidates – I was thrilled to read the article in USA Today. WPI is the first nationally ranked engineering institute to adopt a test-optional admission policy for candidates applying for entrance in fall 2008… Wow! In their own words, “This policy is designed to encourage a broader range of students to pursue degrees in science and engineering-related fields. It also acknowledges that standardized testing is not the most accurate assessment of academic potential for many students. Demonstrated academic achievement, coupled with strong motivation and creativity, are often the best indicators of a student’s future success at WPI.” I think the whole idea of success at college is often lost in the craziness that surrounds the college search, selection, and admission process. “Getting in” is just one the steps in attending college. Making sure that you can succeed in the setting – that the academic and social environments are a match for who you are and will grow to be – is critical!
WPI has joined over 740 colleges and universities that de-emphasize the use of standardized tests. Think of the implications and what that means to you personally… No doubt in applying to a half dozen schools, some of them will rely heavily on standardized test scores… and so good/great scores will only add to the multifaceted description of who you are… Conversely, if you feel that your scores don’t really reflect your abilities then thinking in terms of discovering which schools particularly attend to the quality of research papers, projects, portfolios, and personal characteristics such as leadership and initiative may help you. (Visit www.fairtest.org  for a list of those of colleges. ) Now I’m not making a ringing endorsement of these schools – in fact some of my favorite places aren’t listed there and I know that they are seeking to understand each individual candidate. I am applauding the concept and its implementation… considering whole humans/the entire student and what s/he brings to the school. I believe that Kristen Tichenor, from WPI is on the right track when she says that the new policy may “lower the flame” on the hysteria surrounding the admissions process.
What’s your take on this?