Sarah Lawrence Goes Back to SATs

For years Sarah Lawrence College was one of the few schools in America that not only didn’t require applicants to submit SATs, but didn’t even look at them when considering students for admission.

So much for that; it’s decided to end the policy beginning with next year’s applicants. According to a statement from the school:

Beginning with the Fall 2013 application cycle, we will accept SAT and ACT test results from applicants who choose to submit them. The submission of standardized tests is optional. Along with your transcripts, test scores may provide additional evidence of your academic achievements and potential. However, Sarah Lawrence is committed to a holistic review process, and we know that standardized testing may not accurately reflect the potential and contributions of all students.

In 2005 SLC stopped collecting SAT scores from applicants. Since standardized test schools are essential to determining college rankings, however, evaluating the school proved difficult. And so U.S. News & World Report just made stuff up. According to a 2007 article by Sarah Lawrence President Michele Tolela Myers in the Washington Post:

I was recently informed by the director of data research at U.S. News, the person at the magazine who has a lot to say about how the rankings are computed, that absent students’ SAT scores, the magazine will calculate the college’s ranking by assuming an arbitrary average SAT score of one standard deviation (roughly 200 points) below the average score of our peer group.

In other words, in the absence of real data, they will make up a number.

For awhile Sarah Lawrence just said the hell with it and let U.S. News do what it wanted.

But this stance got a little difficult to maintain (college rankings are largely based on standardized tests; the schools and the rating agencies can come up with an alternative workaround measure, but it’s still not really reflective of what the school is all about). So they’re going back to test optional. “You will not be at a disadvantage,” the school explained, “should you choose not to submit your scores.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer