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Skidmore College Announces Test-Optional Admissions Policy

Skidmore’s Class of 2021 will have something new in the application process: the choice of whether or not to include their SAT or ACT test scores.

The liberal arts college in Saratoga Springs is joining the more than 850 four-year schools that already have a test-optional policy. Some on the list include Hamilton College, Mount Holyoke College, Union College, and Middlebury College.

Mary Lou Bates, Skidmore’s Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, says the college is making the change after years of debate and the recommendations of a recently completed report by the school’s Enrollment Management Group.

“Part of our decision rested on the fact that in our analysis the testing has played a very small part. The centerpiece of the application is the student’s transcript and we look at many different dimensions of that transcript,” said Bates.

Bates says admissions decisions mostly come down to performance and the types of classes students take in high school.

For Skidmore freshman Zoe Islar, the change is welcome news. Islar says she has test anxiety.

“So like, for me, the SATs was like nervewracking,” said Islar.

She says she is glad the school is putting the decision in the hands of students.

“If a person feels that their test scores isn’t good or isn’t acceptable to their standards, then don’t do it, ya know? Take a chance. But if you feel like your test scores are great and send them in, then go ahead. You never know.”

Freshman Lilly Philbrick also has her doubts about test scores.

“I don’t think that SAT and ACT scores are a good indicator of a person’s intellect,” said Philbrick.

Philbrick thinks wealthier students also have an advantage over poorer applicants.

“The tests are so expensive that people who come from lower income families can’t pay for those classes that help them prep for the tests and the books are so expensive to help prep for the tests that I find that it’s unfair.”

That’s another issue Skidmore is taking aim at, according to Dean Bates…

“We’re hoping that access is going to be a big result, that students from underserved background will be more willing to consider Skidmore, in fact even drawn to Skidmore, because they feel that the work they’ve done in the classroom is going to be the focus and not test scores,”

Standardized test scores will still be an important part of the admission process. As part of Skidmore’s new policy, international and homeschooled students, as well as students with transcripts with written evaluations, will still be required to submit a standardized test score.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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