Director of Admissions John Young was recently among a panel of guest experts on WXXI radio’s “Connections with Evan Dawson,” who discussed the changes announced for the SAT. Among the topics was whether colleges who have gone SAT optional would consider requiring the tests after the changes are implemented. Hobart and William Smith Colleges went test optional in 2006, no longer requiring the SAT or ACT scores for most students.
Dawson provided a brief history of the SAT, noting it was originally a way to measure all students equally but has become inequitable with the growth of the test prep industry. He went on to explain that colleges who made the test optional “Found they started to attract better students… the test didn’t do a good job of predicting college career success.”
In discussing the overhaul of the SAT that will take place starting in 2016, Dawson asked Young if the test was “still valuable” and if such changes may ever cause a reversal of the Colleges’ decision.
Young noted when HWS made the decision back in 2006, it was “really designed to broaden our applicant pool. We saw many students who, anecdotally, weren’t applying because they saw our average SAT score … and didn’t think we’d pay attention to the other elements of their application.”
In the roughly seven years since, the Colleges are happy with the results. Young said it “definitely broadened the socioeconomics of our applicant pool.” He pointed to the fact that HWS has more first generation students than previously and different ethnicities not represented before, among other factors.
“It has been a real positive move for us,” he said.
“When we went SAT optional, we knew that there were just some students for whom the SAT scores were not good predictors of their success in college,” said Young. He explained even when HWS did require the tests the admissions staff would spend “much more time looking at the transcripts, recommendations and other elements of the application. And I think we can make a very good decision without standardized test scores.”
The full hour-long program can be heard online.