Hampshire College is not the first school to step away from using standardized tests as part of a holistic college application process. One potential downside is becoming ineligible to participate in many of the “official college rankings” lists. But these lists tend to represent a number of factors, including alumni donations, that don’t necessarily provide insight into the academic experience of the college. Hampshire College opted to add two admissions essays, as well as a graded paper from the student’s high school. This seems to line up with the research that suggests the best indicator for first year college success is GPA.
Look no further than the comments attached to this article, and you’ll see the wide variety of opinions regrading standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Some feel the standardized tests unfairly place minority students at a disadvantage. Others feel there must be some kind of standard to measure all students against, as high school environments and curriculum vary so widely across the country (and the world). I have long felt that with enough money and time, any student can “study for the test” and earn a higher score on the SAT or ACT. (Key words being money and time, which for many students, especially the first college-bound generation, are simply not options. For students who do have the funds for such resources, their time may already be over-taxed with extracurriculars, leadership, sports, jobs, caring for family members… you know, the things college admissions care about.)
I do not see how anyone, be it a student or a university, could view the SAT or ACT as measures of intelligence. Why else would the companies who run these tests so willingly sell practice tests? Why would there be so many expensive “prep” courses with guarantees of score increases? It saddens me when I see students focus so manically on their SAT and ACT scores when they have so much more to offer their future college community. I think the U.S. college system is long overdue for an overhaul on our reliance on standardized tests. If we all push past our testing culture, perhaps college-bound students could focus more on pushing themselves to new heights, rather than focusing on pushing past their classmates’ scores around them.