Friday, July 31, 2015

What Does "Test Optional" College Admission Mean for Homeschoolers?




I received this request from Jennifer this week:

           I would like to see you write on your blog about the potential new trend
          of colleges not requiring test scores for admission. George Washington University
          dropped this requirement for incoming freshmen. How do you feel this will
          change admission for homeschool graduates if it becomes more wide spread like
           expected? I can see it being a potential double edged sword.

I have done a little research and formulated an answer for Jennifer and anyone else who is wondering the same thing about colleges not requiring test scores for admission and how this will affect homeschool graduates.

First, George Washington University is not the first college to drop the test scores requirement for admission.  I found this website  with a list of schools that "do not require ACT/SAT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into Bachelor's degree programs."  In fact, the website states that more than 800 four-year colleges and universities fall into this category.

Is this a double-edged sword?
Possibly, but not necessarily.

Second, colleges will still accept ACT/SAT scores, but don't necessarily require them.

The colleges that are dropping the test requirement still want some documentation from homeschooled applicants.  Some of the requirements I found (not all schools require everything)are: 

 portfolios that include courses taken including a list of textbooks, books read, statement of philosophy of homeschooling and why it was chosen; 2 recommendations; a transcript; an interview; and all the required application essays and resume.

For me, it would be easier to have my student take the standardized test to verify the grades on the transcript.  For others, the above list is a welcome change.

Some colleges that are test optional still ask home educated students for a test score.  Some of the test-optional state colleges require out-of-state students to submit a test score. 

Bottom line: I believe 'test optional' gives students the opportunity to put their best foot forward.

If a student doesn't test well, but has an awesome portfolio and can interview well, then that is an advantage for the student.  (Even colleges that require ACT/SAT will look at a portfolio for admission.)

If a student does test well, they can still submit test scores as part of the admission process and I think it would be to their advantage to do so.

I am taking my own advice this year about what to do about the new SAT.  My rising senior is only taking the ACT (without writing) because she does well on that test and the schools on her list will accept either test. 

How do you think test optional admission policies will affect home educated students?
Will it help give a better picture of the student's academic ability?
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