By Paige Wearmouth
On September 21, 2015, The Catholic University of America released an official announcement stating that the submission of standardized testing scores is no longer required for undergraduate admission.
While applicants still have the option to submit their test scores during the application process, doing so will not give them an advantage over students who choose to omit their scores. Furthermore, the policy also extends to the distribution of merit-based scholarships. All admitted students will be under the same review for scholarships, regardless of whether or not they included their ACT or SAT scores in their application.
According to the press release, the reason for implementing this policy is to help dissuade applicants from fearing their test scores. Performance in high school is the most important part of their application to its reviewers. The policy is geared towards students of “underrepresented backgrounds,” who, in accordance with the press release, are especially at risk for holding this belief, and subsequently not applying to the University.
“We have a deep-rooted mission to serve students from diverse backgrounds, and this policy encourages students who have achieved success in high school to confidently consider Catholic University,” said University President, John Garvey.
Catholic University’s Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing, Christopher Lydon, stated that this has become a notable issue in the last decade and the University is following the precedent of many other colleges and universities by investigating and analyzing the importance of standardized tests in the admission process.
The University conducted extensive research, led by the Associate Vice President for Institutional Research and Assessment, Brian Johnson, before committing to the program.
“The study looked at the academic factors that best predicted success in the Catholic University classroom. The quality of a student’s curriculum and the grades received were by far the most significant predictors of success,” said Lydon.
Currently, the University has only launched a pilot program which will last for the next five years. The results will be evaluated in regards to several aspects of academic and university concern in order to determine whether or not the program will become permanent.
“The program will be assessed by evaluating the academic performance of submitters versus non-submitters and by evaluating retention and graduation rates of the two populations,” Lydon stated.
Upon hearing of the new policy, many current Catholic University students expressed concern about the program’s benefit to the institution as a whole. Apprehension was expressed due to the program’s emphasis on prospective students and the possibility that it overlooks the present student body.
“Our school already has a low standard for acceptance, so it seems like they are doing this to boost class sizes,” said junior Politics major Christopher Motola.
However, when asked if his perception of the school or desire to apply would have been impacted had the test-optional program been enacted when he was applying to Catholic University, Motola responded that it would not.
“No, it wouldn’t have changed my perception of the school, but it might change the way other institutions look at us,” stated Motola.
According to Christopher Lydon, competitiveness “as defined by student quality and acceptance rate,” is not expected to suffer. However, the University may expect to see an increase in applications, especially from students within “culturally and economically diverse backgrounds.”
Students who are accepted to the University and choose to enroll will be required to submit their standardized testing scores after their enrollment for advising purposes.
To view the press release, visit publicaffairs.cua.edu. For further questions, refer to admissions.cua.edu to view the Frequently Asked Questions page.