Columbia University has become the first Ivy League school to officially eliminate SAT and ACT scores as a required part of its undergraduate admissions process. This effectively changes their focus from academic excellence to diversity.
The university, whose typical accepted student has achieved a near-perfect score on their standardized testing and has an average high school GPA of 4.12, announced this change last week.
Columbia’s website stated that this decision was “rooted in the belief that students are dynamic, multi-faceted individuals who cannot be defined by any single factor.”
“Our review is purposeful and nuanced – respecting varied backgrounds, voices and experiences – in order to best determine an applicant’s suitability for admission and ability to thrive in our curriculum and our community, and to advance access to our educational opportunities.”
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The Ivy League university suspended its SAT and ACT requirement during the pandemic, and last year it saw a 4% increase in admitted students of color as well as a 3% increase in first-generation college students.
Now that the university has made this change a permanent one, Columbia has assured applicants that whether or not they submit test scores will not automatically advantage/disadvantage them in the application process.
“Applicants will not have an advantage in the admissions process simply by submitting ACT or SAT results,” said university administrators. “The submission of test results will be viewed only as one additional piece of information among the many factors that we will consider in our continued practice of a holistic and contextual review process.”
By eliminating testing, colleges will focus on increasing their diversity, purposefully rejecting high-performing Asian and white applicants in favor of black and Hispanic students.
Harvard and the University of North Carolina have been served with lawsuits in which test scores were presented as evidence that they rejected Asian and white applicants who scored high on their standardized testing in order to promote diversity.
To reduce proof of preferential treatment towards racial minorities, many institutions will likely follow the trend to eliminate testing in their application process.
After Columbia University announced its removal of SAT and ACT requirements, they were immediately met with backlash from the public, many of whom express the fear that the removal of such requirements will lessen the overall intelligence of future college graduates.
Others fear that they will pay incredible amounts of money for a college education, only to have that education ‘dumbed down’ in order to include students who weren’t able to obtain a good high school education, or who weren’t willing to put in the effort to do so.
Journalist and news anchor Saagar Enjeti condemned the move and the dangerous precedent it sets, saying, “The entire US elite system is ditching merit in favor of an affirmative action regime. No test scores for college, no LSAT for law school, soon no MCAT for med school.”
Elon Musk responded to Enjeti’s tweet, saying, “Very few Americans seem to realize the severity of the situation.”
Very few Americans seem to realize the severity of the situation
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 4, 2023
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was among the majority of colleges that made SAT and ACT scores optional during the pandemic. However, they have already reinstated the testing requirement because they recognize its importance in maintaining the institution’s reputation as one of the top universities in the world.
MIT Admissions Dean Stu Schmill explained the university’s decision to keep its testing requirements, saying that it’s “not all about who comes in the door but also who goes out.”
At one point, MIT admitted students with a wider range of test scores. This resulted in fewer students making it to graduation.