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OT: SLU Drops SAT/ACT Requirement

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Just now, cgeldmacher said:

Also, what if there is a kid from a lower income area who gets a 35 on the ACT, because he's really, really smart.  His GPA is lower than others, because he had to miss time from school for reasons that were not his fault and related to his home environment.  He's not athletic enough to make sports teams and can't participate in extra-curriculars.  The best thing he has to offer is his ACT score.

Now, he has to compete against a kids from some affluent school district who hands out 4.0s left and right and whose parents get to look at their kids ACT scores and decide whether turning them in gives their son or daughter the best competitive advantage.  You can't just assume that this only benefits more affluent kids.  The parents of the more affluent kids will always find the way to turn things to their advantage.  The fewer means of differentiating kids the more it will work in the favor of those who know how to work the system.

Maybe unicorns do exist but no system designer worth his salt designs a system to accommodate unicorns.  What system is better -- the ones that admits 10,000 smart kids that it didn't before or the one that misses out on 10 unicorns?  

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1 minute ago, 3star_recruit said:

Maybe unicorns do exist but no system designer worth his salt designs a system to accommodate unicorns.  What system is better -- the ones that admits 10,000 smart kids that it didn't before or the one that misses out on 10 unicorns?  

I disagree with your idea that a kid from a disadvantaged area or poorer performing school who gets a good ACT score is a unicorn.  I think it happens much more than you would like to believe.

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Just now, cgeldmacher said:

Also, what if there is a kid from a lower income area who gets a 35 on the ACT, because he's really, really smart.  His GPA is lower than others, because he had to miss time from school for reasons that were not his fault and related to his home environment.  He's not athletic enough to make sports teams and can't participate in extra-curriculars.  The best thing he has to offer is his ACT score.

Now, he has to compete against a kids from some affluent school district who hands out 4.0s left and right and whose parents get to look at their kids ACT scores and decide whether turning them in gives their son or daughter the best competitive advantage.  You can't just assume that this only benefits more affluent kids.  The parents of the more affluent kids will always find the way to turn things to their advantage.  The fewer means of differentiating kids the more it will work in the favor of those who know how to work the system.

Then you put that information in your essay. I had friends who did just that. You provide an explanation for anything on your transcript that might be sub-par and also point to your ACT score as a better indicator of your capability. Your college application essay doesn’t have to be the cliche “How I’m going to change the world with a degree from whatever university”. Giving people insight into your life and who you are as a person, not just a student, is a great way to tip the scales in your favor. The people looking at these applications aren’t robots.

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6 minutes ago, Reinert310 said:

I get it. I just don’t think eliminating a single test score and eliminating a kids 4-year high school GPA is the same thing. Like I said, these tests take place in a matter of hours and is based almost solely on memorization and regurgitation (which, admittedly, is a large chunk of school in general, but these tests take it to the extreme). I’ll always value 4 years of data over a few hours of data, no matter of much data is crammed into that few hours. I don’t think eliminating the requirement for these tests scores means that the scores will no longer hold weight, should they be submitted, but it takes a lot of pressure off of teenagers who aren’t freaking out about taking 1 test to determine the rest of their lives.

I agree to a certain extent.  I think a student's four year performance is more important than a test score.  I just don't think the test score should be tossed aside as a consideration.  Just as I don't think other factors should.

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2 minutes ago, Reinert310 said:

Then you put that information in your essay. I had friends who did just that. You provide an explanation for anything on your transcript that might be sub-par and also point to your ACT score as a better indicator of your capability. Your college application essay doesn’t have to be the cliche “How I’m going to change the world with a degree from whatever university”. Giving people insight into your life and who you are as a person, not just a student, is a great way to tip the scales in your favor. The people looking at these applications aren’t robots.

Totally agree.  That's what I've been saying.  They're not robots.  They consider all of the factors and do a good job of it.  Which is why you shouldn't allow kids to arbitrarily eliminate one factor from consideration.  Again, affluent kids and their parents will figure out a way to use this to their advantage more than less affluent kids will.

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life is all about pressure, competition, comparison, achievement.   if that freaks one out, fine.   college probably isnt for you.   the world needs ditch diggers as well as physicists and heart surgeons.   

i always thought college was about preparation for the real world and separating the good from the bad and all in between.   but apparently not any more.   glad i'm closer to retirement than starting out.   because sounds to me colleges are taking the easy way out and not gonna prepare the kids for what they are about to get smashed in the face with.   

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2 minutes ago, cgeldmacher said:

Totally agree.  That's what I've been saying.  They're not robots.  They consider all of the factors and do a good job of it.  Which is why you shouldn't allow kids to arbitrarily eliminate one factor from consideration.  Again, affluent kids and their parents will figure out a way to use this to their advantage more than less affluent kids will.

Except one of the primary reasons for eliminating the emphasis on ACT/SAT is affluent parents already are using it to their advantage more than less affluent parents.

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Just now, billiken_roy said:

life is all about pressure, competition, comparison, achievement.   if that freaks one out, fine.   college probably isnt for you.   the world needs ditch diggers as well as physicists and heart surgeons.   

i always thought college was about preparation for the real world and separating the good from the bad and all in between.   but apparently not any more.   glad i'm closer to retirement than starting out.   because sounds to me colleges are taking the easy way out and not gonna prepare the kids for what they are about to get smashed in the face with.   

Yes, and the ACT/SAT are not good indicators of future success. You seem to be ignoring this key point. 

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2 minutes ago, cgeldmacher said:

Totally agree.  That's what I've been saying.  They're not robots.  They consider all of the factors and do a good job of it.  Which is why you shouldn't allow kids to arbitrarily eliminate one factor from consideration.  Again, affluent kids and their parents will figure out a way to use this to their advantage more than less affluent kids will.

That may be true. But again, there really is no perfect way make these selections. I think there are less unintended side effects from making these tests optional than from making them a requirement.

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Just now, BilliesBy40 said:

Yes, and the ACT/SAT are not good indicators of future success. You seem to be ignoring this key point. 

i say it is an excellent indicator of how a young student handles pressure, competition, comparison and achievement.    to just say, "well roy just doesnt test well"  that is a f'n copout imo.   roy has had 12 years to figure it out.   and if he cant, then he likely isnt cut out for pre-med or pre-law and the paths that follow.   of course roy can go to swic and catch up.   and show everyone in the long run if he has that kind of guts.   and i agree that shows some fortitude.   unfortunately, more roys will just say, "it wasnt fair i dont test well i never had a chance" instead of sucking it up and showing that fortitude.

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5 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

life is all about pressure, competition, comparison, achievement.   if that freaks one out, fine.   college probably isnt for you.   the world needs ditch diggers as well as physicists and heart surgeons.   

i always thought college was about preparation for the real world and separating the good from the bad and all in between.   but apparently not any more.   glad i'm closer to retirement than starting out.   because sounds to me colleges are taking the easy way out and not gonna prepare the kids for what they are about to get smashed in the face with.   

To suggest that the pressure of taking a test that will effect the rest of a person’s life won’t and/or shouldn’t effect a lot of 17 year old kids is just so narrow-minded and so far removed from reality...I really don’t even know what else to say.

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5 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

i say it is an excellent indicator of how a young student handles pressure, competition, comparison and achievement.    to just say, "well roy just doesnt test well"  that is a f'n copout imo.   roy has had 12 years to figure it out.   and if he cant, then he likely isnt cut out for pre-med or pre-law and the paths that follow.   of course roy can go to swic and catch up.   and show everyone in the long run if he has that kind of guts.   and i agree that shows some fortitude.   unfortunately, more roys will just say, "it wasnt fair i dont test well i never had a chance" instead of sucking it up and showing that fortitude.

Let me guess, Roy...you walked 26.2 miles, uphill both ways, everyday, in driving snow to get to school each day, right? 

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15 minutes ago, Reinert310 said:

Let me guess, Roy...you walked 26.2 miles, uphill both ways, everyday, in driving snow to get to school each day, right? 

no but i worked full time as a laborer at a water plant and commuted to college with an hour drive both ways my entire slu time and went to school from 8 am to 10 pm on my days off, Tuesdays and Thursdays.   that is what i had to do to win and i did it.   i missed out on most of the college fun time stuff, but i've more than made up for it in my post college life.  

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4 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

no but i worked full time as a laborer at a water plant and commuted to college with an hour drive both ways my entire slu time and went to school from 8 am to 10 pm on my days off, Tuesdays and Thursdays.   that is what i had to do to win and i did it.   i missed out on most of the college fun time stuff, but i've more than made up for it in my post college life.  

Good for you, Roy. You SHOULD BE proud. But having the point of view of “I worked this hard, so everyone else who doesn’t work this hard is somehow inferior to me” is just really awful and closed-minded way to look at people and life in general, quite frankly. To reply with “the world needs ditch diggers too” in reference to a teenager who didn’t perform well on one test is really ignorant. There’s just no other way to put it. Everybody has to deal with challenges in their life, some of them are just more obvious than others. I’m guessing you probably don’t care what anybody else thinks though. You seem like the type of individual who is pretty set in your ways. It is what it is I guess.

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29 minutes ago, BilliesBy40 said:

Except one of the primary reasons for eliminating the emphasis on ACT/SAT is affluent parents already are using it to their advantage more than less affluent parents.

If affluent parents are going to do what they can to take advantage of the system, then more information is better than less information.  If there is a bias in the selection process, fix that.  Make sure schools and their admissions officers consider all aspects of an application and decide based upon an overall view and not a limited view.  What you don't do is start eliminating factors to be considered.  That will always work against fairness and inclusion.

I know the popular opinion out there, that people feel compelled to have because its the popular opinion, is that testing is biased.  My point is that GPAs are also biased.  Extracurriculars are also biased.  Essay applications are also biased.  Time spent volunteering is also biased.  Interviews are also biased.  Affluent kids have advantages in all of those areas.  Narrowing the field of consideration works against what you are arguing for.

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1 hour ago, cgeldmacher said:

I disagree with your idea that a kid from a disadvantaged area or poorer performing school who gets a good ACT score is a unicorn.  I think it happens much more than you would like to believe.

In this context, such a student is a unicorn.  35 isn't a good ACT score.  It's one point short of perfection.  Per PrepScholar, the odds of getting a perfect score on the ACT (a 36 composite) in 2017 were 0.14%.  The vast majority of those kids come from good to great high schools.  You've laid out a scenario where a kid is poor, misses out a bunch of school AND scores a 35.  Out of a group that is already a tiny sliver of the student population. That's the very definition of a unicorn.

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13 minutes ago, 3star_recruit said:

In this context, such as student is a unicorn.  35 isn't a good ACT score.  It's one point short of perfection.  Per PrepScholar, the odds of getting a perfect score on the ACT (a 36 composite) in 2017 were 0.14%.  The vast majority of those kids come from good to great high schools.  You've laid out a scenario where a kid is poor, misses out a bunch of school AND scores a 35.  Out of a group that is already a tiny sliver of the student population. That's the very definition of a unicorn.

You might be right, and my example of a kid that missed time from school wasn't the best.  I have seen examples of kids who get very good ACT score who are coming out of what would be considered disadvantaged areas or poor performing schools.  When we see that, it's an indication of a kid who worked very hard and made his or herself a good student.  I don't like the idea of that kid having less of an advantage over a bunch of kids from affluent schools who jacked around and end up with lower ACT scores now being able to better compete against the kid who had to bust his ass to get his score because their mommies and daddies now have one more means of gaming the system.

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1 hour ago, disgruntledbilliken said:

People get their panties in a bunch over the weirdest things. It's simple:

  • If your kid sucks at AP physics (or one of the other really difficult HS courses in STL, LOL!) and needs validation, take the ACT/SAT.
  • If you can afford and you value test scores, take the ACT/SAT.
  • If you dicked around in HS and want to show your abilities in a way other than GPA, take the SAT/ACT and write a good essay.

This is really not "the dumbing down of America."

Or call Lori Laughlin for a referral to a good college entrance coach😝😝

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Here are my thoughts on the matter, which are informed by time teaching high school and now at the college level:

First, I'll lay out my thesis: The decision to make the ACT/SAT optional will have a negligible impact on the "quality" of students at SLU (or at other universities for that matter). 

I have taught a wide variety of bright (and not-so-bright) students. Some students demonstrated their intelligence through insightful comments during class discussion or on their essays. Some (certainly not all) of my best writers/thinkers did quite poorly on multiple choice exams. I had other students who received perfect or near-perfect scores on exams, and I expected them to be top of the class in other ways as well. However, when I would read their writing, I would realize the while they were good at regurgitating information, they weren't able to think beyond the surface. Surely, I also had students who were able to do it all. The students that can do it all (either because they are unusually gifted and motivated or because they got a little bit of a head start because of their background) will be fine. If they want to go to SLU, they will go to SLU. To this point, most SLU students are in this category. Yes, we aren't a school like Wash U that can gets their pick of perfect applicants. However, students who want to go to SLU know what they have to do to get in, and generally have the means to make it happen if they aren't naturally gifted. 

My reading is that this decision is most relevant for students who 1) Have strong GPAs, extracurriculars, recommendations, etc, but have low test scores OR 2) Have very strong test scores but are lacking in another aspect. If you are in the first category, you now have the opportunity to not submit a poor score. This means nothing, of course, without having a strong application in every other way. Likewise, if you are in the second category you can show a school that even if you either dicked around in HS or if you had to work to help you family make ends meet and that impacted your GPA, there is some metric out there that shows that you have some of the skills required for college, especially at an academically rigorous institution like SLU. 

Look, I don't think that standardized test scores are totally useless. I think they can tell us some things while simultaneously hide other things. Yet we get so wrapped up in thinking that the way things have been for us are the best way to do them, and any change will lead to "decline."  There are plenty of idealistic reasons for why getting rid of the ACT/SAT requirements is a good idea. There are also plenty of idealistic reasons for why keeping the ACT/SAT requirement is a good idea.

There are plenty of ways to "make it to the top." You can be incredibly naturally intelligent. You can be not-so-intelligent but incredibly dilligent and hard-working and make up for your weaknesses. You can be rich and well off and buy your way in (either through things like legacy or through buying a good education and test prep). At the end of the day, I don't think any of that changes. 

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45 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

no but i worked full time as a laborer at a water plant and commuted to college with an hour drive both ways my entire slu time and went to school from 8 am to 10 pm on my days off, Tuesdays and Thursdays.   that is what i had to do to win and i did it.   i missed out on most of the college fun time stuff, but i've more than made up for it in my post college life.  

Dear Roy,

It sounds like you worked incredibly hard during your college years. More than most, for that matter. It also sounds like that hard work paid off, and that you have done well for yourself. I'm glad that you were able to work your way into a good life. 

No one, and I mean no one, is trying to take that away from you.

Best,

Disgruntledbilliken

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26 minutes ago, disgruntledbilliken said:

Here are my thoughts on the matter, which are informed by time teaching high school and now at the college level:

First, I'll lay out my thesis: The decision to make the ACT/SAT optional will have a negligible impact on the "quality" of students at SLU (or at other universities for that matter). 

I have taught a wide variety of bright (and not-so-bright) students. Some students demonstrated their intelligence through insightful comments during class discussion or on their essays. Some (certainly not all) of my best writers/thinkers did quite poorly on multiple choice exams. I had other students who received perfect or near-perfect scores on exams, and I expected them to be top of the class in other ways as well. However, when I would read their writing, I would realize the while they were good at regurgitating information, they weren't able to think beyond the surface. Surely, I also had students who were able to do it all. The students that can do it all (either because they are unusually gifted and motivated or because they got a little bit of a head start because of their background) will be fine. If they want to go to SLU, they will go to SLU. To this point, most SLU students are in this category. Yes, we aren't a school like Wash U that can gets their pick of perfect applicants. However, students who want to go to SLU know what they have to do to get in, and generally have the means to make it happen if they aren't naturally gifted. 

My reading is that this decision is most relevant for students who 1) Have strong GPAs, extracurriculars, recommendations, etc, but have low test scores or 2) Have very strong test scores but are lacking in another aspect. If you are in the first category, you now have the opportunity to not submit a poor score. This means nothing, of course, without having a strong application in every other way. Likewise, if you are in the second category you can show a school that even if you either dicked around in HS or if you had to work to help you family make ends meet and that impacted your GPA, there is some metric out there that shows that you have some of the skills required for college, especially at an academically rigorous institution like SLU. 

Look, I don't think that standardized test scores are totally useless. I think they can tell us some things while simultaneously hide other things. Yet we get so wrapped up in thinking that the way things have been for us are the best way to do them, and any change will lead to "decline."  There are plenty of idealistic reasons for why getting rid of the ACT/SAT requirements is a good idea. There are also plenty of idealistic reasons for why keeping the ACT/SAT requirement is a good idea.

There are plenty of ways to "make it to the top." You can be incredibly naturally intelligent. You can be not-so-intelligent but incredibly dilligent and hard-working and make up for your weaknesses. You can be rich and well off and buy your way in (either through things like legacy or through buying a good education and test prep). At the end of the day, I don't think any of that changes. 

I think that post was very well stated.  Anything said below should not take away from my appreciation of your post.  I agree with it.

I'm just in favor of having more information rather than less.  Make sure that admissions folks know that there are biases in testing, AND biases in other areas that are used as considerations.  There's not a single metric used by colleges that doesn't have some sort of bias attached to it.  So, the idea that focusing on other criteria, besides testing, is better for kids who have less advantages just isn't accurate.  There will now be more focus on things like volunteer hours (which is beneficial to affluent kids who have more of an opportunity to get them).  There will be more focus on extracurriculars (which is beneficial to affluent kids whose schools offer more opportunity for extracurriculars and whose kids can more easily take advantage of them).  There will be more focus on GPA, which due to grade inflation which is more prevalent at affluent schools will benefit affluent kids more.

My point is that we should make sure admissions people are good at identifying kids that will be good students regardless of those biases.  Don't take away the benefit that a kid gets from a good test score and put more focus on other criteria which is equally or more biased.  Just consider it all and do a good job of seeing through the bias.  They idea that picking out one factor that appears biased and diminishing its importance doesn't make the situation better.  It just results in less information to be considered.

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If any alum is concerned about the University’s standing - they should be more worried about whether or not the faculty is providing meaningful instruction and rigorous coursework than the admission standards.

Merely my opinion, but in my experience if there was an area where SLU was falling down, it was faculty.

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I have no idea if this is a good idea or not. Won't the admissions people assume the people who do not send in a test score did poorly?  Grade inflation is a real thing. When I was a kid I knew few people that got straight A's. It seemed like at least a third of the students at my kids schools had straight A's. My son graduated with a 4.7 on a 4.00 scale.

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What are the chances of this meaning slu wants to increase enrollment? Probably not likely I’d think. 

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