A Proposal: March 25th is Test Optional Day

A few things have been getting my attention lately (besides the impeachment of the president). One is the large numbers of colleges and universities that are making standardized tests optional or eliminating them all together. By the time March 25th rolls around, there will almost certainly be more, so I won’t even bother to mention the latest to join the club.

The second thing is the Iowa caucuses, which get an awful lot of attention every four years, as we gear up for another presidential election cycle. And when I–a native Iowan, as many know–think of Iowa, I think of the people there. And I often think of one particular Iowan most people have probably never heard of. Go ahead, guess who it is.

It’s this guy. If you don’t know him, you should. He’s been called the greatest human being who ever lived. He won the Nobel Prize and America’s highest honor given to a civilian, The Congressional Gold Medal. Congress actually voted unanimously to honor him. It’s been said he saved the lives of a billion people. He was born in Saude, Iowa, on March 25, 1914. The town is so small you can’t even get Google Street View.

So, how does this tie into test optional day? Here’s a section from the Wikipedia page: When Borlaug applied for admission to the University of Minnesota in 1933, he failed its entrance exam, but was accepted at the school’s newly created two-year General College. After two quarters, he transferred to the College of Agriculture’s forestry program.

The greatest human being who ever lived. And he failed his college entrance exams.

I often think of Norman Borlaug when I talk to people about test-optional admissions. Because I wonder how many people have been kept from college, kept from their dreams, and kept from accomplishing something that might put them in his company.

So I’m going to say March 25th is Test-optional college admissions day. I’ll use #TestOptionalDay on social media, and I hope you will too. This is a story that needs to be told.

Who’s with me?

7 thoughts on “A Proposal: March 25th is Test Optional Day

  1. And that happens to be the School Day SAT Test for March – and I am organizing that for my school for the first time ever. So much thought here.
    I remember a West Wing episode with Norman Borlaug’s name mentioned – great human being.
    Fabulous idea Jon.


  2. I love the “everyman” feel of this story. And even though it was years ago, there is a lesson here. Let’s shout this far and wide so we don’t lose any more brilliant minds.


  3. Because I have been a college advisor for SO long, I have many stories I could share about past students who just were not good at standardized tests, were not accepted to many colleges because of this, but their brilliance and drive won out and they were more than successful in college and life. I have also had many students with exceptional test scores who failed miserably in college and needed tremendous support to dig out of very deep holes they got themselves into. As we all know, students are not test scores, they are all individuals with both strengths and weaknesses. Let’s all concentrate on the strengths of those who will create the future by celebrating March 25 Test Optional Day!


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