High school students are breathing easier as more universities nationwide adopt standardized test-optional policies. That’s right, no SAT. But according to Director of Admissions Karen Pellegrino, Fairfield is not following suit.

“Standardized tests are considered in light of the students’ academic record from high school and are never looked at in a vacuum,” said Pellegrino. “There is no minimum score, and while standardized tests can provide one helpful piece of information, it is never the only piece or most important piece,” she said.

Students including Tim Rich ’08 agree that the SAT should not be the sole factor in a school’s admissions decision.

“I feel the idea that a test like the SAT can provide an accurate portrayal is insulting of an individual. Students with the money to pay for tutors and hours of preparation courses are groomed for better schools while the poor are left behind,” Rich said.

It was this idea Providence College administrators had in mind on July 26 when the Rhode Island school joined the 730 colleges and universities that do not require the SAT for acceptance.

Students at Providence College can now submit their SAT score if they believe it will help their application. They may also choose to withhold their score if it would be detrimental to their overall high school record.

Christopher Lydon, head of admissions at Providence, said the decision was based largely on allegations that show the SAT is biased toward students from higher socio-economic backgrounds.

“There is a body of evidence that shows students from disadvantaged socio-economic cultures where English is not the primary language routinely score lower than students from affluent backgrounds with English as the primary language,” he said.

Lydon believes “the playing field is not level” as a result of monetary factors, namely “the ability to spend money on test prep or take the test multiple times” – an advantage many students do not have.

Providence College also hopes the new policy will increase the application pool of minority students as well as first generation Americans.

“If the overall application pool only grows 5 percent but minority and first generation American applications increase 15 percent, we will achieve what we wanted,” said Lydon.

Pellegrino, however, believes Providence’s policy provides no guarantee for an increase in diversity. Fairfield, for example, has achieved a more diverse student body as “applications from AHANA students increased by 30 percent … and enrollment increased over 90 percent [from last year’s freshman class] without dropping the SAT requirement.”

Lydon also hopes the test-optional policy will emphasize the importance of students’ overall high school performance, not just standardized testing.

Robert Schaeffer of Fairtest, an organization dedicated to eliminating the SAT as a factor in college admissions, applauds Providence’s decision.

“Even the test-makers themselves agree high school records are a better indicator of success,” Schaeffer said, adding that Providence will most likely be able to make “as good or better decision [regarding admission] without requiring the test.”

But students such as Kathryn LaChapelle ’09 believe eliminating the SAT, which has existed since 1901, is a bad decision.

“It’s a generally standard way to assess the thinking and comprehension skills of students entering college,” she said.

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