DePaul University goes test-optional

I’m pleased to announce today that DePaul University is going “test-optional” for students who apply as freshmen for the fall term of 2012.

The only thing that will change on the application is the requirement that you submit an ACT or SAT; if you choose not to do so, you’ll be asked to submit responses to a few short essay questions.  Those questions and the details about how this all works will be coming later in the spring, with a long lead-time before applications for Fall 2012 are available in Summer 2011.  And of course, if you choose to submit an ACT or SAT as a part of your application, you won’t notice any difference at all.

We’ve talked about doing this for a while, and a considerable amount of research went into our decision.  All that number crunching confirms what admissions officers all know anyway: That your chances for success in college are, for the most part, determined by how good a student you have become, which is of course generally reflected in your high school GPA in college-prep classes. (What has turned out to be surprising to some people, though, is that it doesn’t matter which high school you attended: A 3.8 at one school is about the same thing as 3.8 at another.)

Other things are important to our understanding of you, of course, especially if you’re not a straight-A student. These “other things” what we look for in your essays, work history, extracurricular activities, and recommendations: Are you a natural leader? Do you accomplish your goals?  Have you gained experience navigating complex systems?  Are you an expert in one particular field?  Those things matter to us, and they tell us things about you that grades and test scores do not.  Our commitment to a holistic review of every application is one of the hallmarks of our review process.

We all know, of course, that if you score really well on the ACT or SAT, you’ve probably got something good going on in your head, and that’s why these tests are especially helpful for super-selective universities who need to make fine distinctions between and among thousands of students with perfect high school records.  But we also all know lots of really smart, or creative, or resourceful, or talented people with great high school records, for whom a single measure like a standardized test does not tell the whole story.  At one of the nation’s largest private universities, there is room in our freshman class of over 2,000 for people like that; those are the people we want to reach and encourage to consider applying to DePaul.

You can read more about it here. We’re eager to hear what you think about this.  Let us know!

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