|October 17, 2006|
Union latest school to become SAT-optional for admission
Joining a growing list of top schools nationwide, Union College announced today that it will make the SAT and the ACT optional for high school seniors who apply for admission.
The decision, which is effective starting with the Class of 2011, comes after months of discussions between campus administrators, faculty and high school guidance counselors, who urged the College to maintain its high standards by emphasizing academic achievement.
"We have learned that the best predictor of academic success is a past record of academic achievement in a demanding, rigorous class roster," noted Admissions Dean Dan Lundquist. "While always preferring more data rather than less, we are more concerned that many attractive, success-bound students might not be looking at Union.
"By deciding to make SATs optional we hope to continue to broaden our reach, and we will certainly not lower our standards," he continued. "We want to send the message that admission will still be merit-based and driven by years of academic success, as reflected on the transcript. Union seeks students with excellent academic credentials. That credential is, primarily, the transcript."
Dan Lundquist, VP for Admissions, Financial Aid and Communications
Lundquist said that as the College's recruitment outreach extended to a broader and more diverse audience, it became clear that requiring standardized test scores was sending the wrong message.
Union received a record 4,373 applications for this year's freshman class, with 1,841 accepted. Sixty-four percent of this year's freshman class of 560 students graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. The average SAT score for the class was 1240.
"Many of the most important lessons to be learned in college occur outside of the traditional academic settings," Lundquist said. "We believe that in all learning environments, the richness of the educational experience is enhanced by breadth, depth and diversity; we seek a talented student body with individuals who will have an educational impact on each other in and out of class. With that in mind, it is our hope that this move encourages more high-achieving students to apply to Union."
The College will continue to accept standardized test scores from students who believe they strengthen their academic record. The new policy does not affect students who apply for admittance into the College's Leadership in Medicine program.
Union, which has ranked consistently in the top half of U.S. News and World Report's 100 best liberal arts colleges, is the 27th school on that magazine's list to become SAT-optional. Other schools include Middlebury, Hamilton and the College of the Holy Cross.
"Union College's decision to drop its testing requirements for all applicants confirms that highly selective admissions decisions can be made without the distortions from coachable, biased and poorly predictive SAT or ACT scores," said Bob Schaeffer, public education director, National Center for Fair & Open Testing.
Union has long been a leader in the debate over the value of standardized test scores for prospective students. In 1987, the College was one of the first in the country to no longer require the SAT for admission. Instead, students could submit scores from the College Board's achievement tests or the score on the American College Testing exam.