Colorado College is adopting a test-optional admission policy in an ongoing effort to increase the diversity of its student body. A test-optional policy means applicants will choose whether or not to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, as part of their admission application.
The change in admission policy will begin with first-year and transfer students applying for entry in fall 2020.
The test-optional policy aligns with CC’s admission philosophy of holistic review, where students are valued as more than “a number” and students’ strengths beyond their test scores are considered. The change also supports the college’s strategic plan on increasing access.
“Standardized test scores do not always reflect the academic potential of students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” says Colorado College Assistant Professor of Psychology Kevin Holmes, who served on the Committee on Admission and Financial Aid. “The new test-optional policy removes a barrier to admission for these students.”
“Test scores are only one of many criteria that are considered in an applicant’s academic portfolio,” says Mark Hatch, vice president for enrollment at CC, noting that given the college’s holistic review of applicants, standardized test scores add little to predicting success in college.
CC’s Committee on Admission and Financial Aid spent 2018-19 academic year considering whether Colorado College should adopt a test-optional admission policy. A number of studies have found that retention and graduation rates remain relatively unaffected by test-optional policies and that the high school GPA is a stronger indicator of academic ability and a more reliable predictor of college success than standardized test scores.
Additionally, studies in recent years around standardized testing have increasingly made clear the cultural, social and economic biases of test design. This also includes access to preparation materials such as study guides and prep courses. Such design and preparation strategies can have a significant impact on scores, with the results being standardized test scores tend to be higher for wealthier students and for white students.
Colorado College moved from a standard testing policy (requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores) in 2010 to a flexible testing policy, which allows applicants to submit three test scores from a variety of testing sources. The current policy requires one critical reasoning/verbal test, one quantitative test and a third score of the students’ choosing. Since the implementation of the flexible testing policy, the number of first-year students applying to the college has doubled and the applicant pool and student body has become more diverse.
Read more about Colorado College’s test-optional policy.