Universities Go Test-Optional Indefinitely | This Week in Admissions News

10/03/20235 minute read
Universities Go Test-Optional Indefinitely | This Week in Admissions News
The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, Columbia University became the first Ivy League to become test-optional indefinitely, allowing students to do away with the SATs. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

Universities Go Test-Optional Indefinitely

Following two years of test-optional policies, Columbia University has become the first Ivy League school to adopt the move permanently. Students applying to Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science will no longer be required to submit standardized test scores.

The university said that it crafted its application to allow flexibility “for students to represent themselves fully and showcase their academic talents,” but that entrance exams are not mandated. Columbia dropped its testing requirement in 2020 and continually extended that waiver.

Following Columbia’s announcement, the College of William & Mary in Virginia also announced that it would adopt test-optional policies indefinitely. "William & Mary’s holistic admission review process involves many components, including several optional elements, such as standardized test scores, teacher recommendations and interviews," the university added. They have been test-optional for the last 3 years.

Many universities have become test-optional since the beginning of the Covid pandemic to make it easier for students to apply to university. However, many of the most prestigious schools in the nation have decidedly stated that they do not plan to adopt permanent test-optional policies.

Columbia has also stated that students who will submit test scores will not be given advantages over those who don’t. “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,” the university said to Higher Ed Dive.

Despite the test optional policy last year, 43% of applicants to Columbia submitted SAT scores and 28% submitted ACT scores. The SAT has also maintained that its new digital format is better suited for students and connects them to important services like finding scholarships. Many of the most prestigious schools in the nation have decidedly stated that they do not plan to adopt permanent test-optional policies.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. In an effort to speed up student visa applications, the US government has announced that prospective students can receive their I-20 forms upto 365 days before the start of their program date. An I-20 form is a Certificate of Eligibility issued by accredited colleges or universities in the US for students on an F-1 or M-1 student visa. "Students are still not allowed to enter the U.S. on a student visa more than 30 days before their program start date," the US State Department clarified in a Twitter post.
  2. Harvard Law School organized a joint event with Yale Law School, the Harvard Crimson reported. They invited representatives from more than 100 law schools, 30 other institutions of higher education, and the U.S. Department of Education to discuss “best practices for law school data.” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona called on institutions at the event to “stop worshiping at the false altar of U.S. News and World Report.” The publication had earlier asked Cardona to urge universities to provide open access to all their data. Eric Gertler, the CEO and executive chair of the U.S. News & World Report responded to Cardona’s comments in the Wall Street Journal saying that prominent colleges snubbing them “don’t want to be held accountable by an independent third party.”
  3. Bard College will no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, President Leon Botstein announced today. “The educational character and comparative merits of colleges cannot be distilled into a uniform numerical ranking,” says President Botstein. “Particularly one that does not take into account the curriculum and faculty and is based on flawed and irrelevant metrics, many of which concern only institutional wealth.” 
  4. International students in Canada do not need to pay all or part of their tuition fees to be eligible to apply for a study permit application, the Economic Times has reported. The Federal Court, in an important ruling, said as long as international students can prove their ability to pay for tuition and other expenses when required, they can be invited to apply for a study permit and will not be penalized for unpaid tuition during the application submission stage.
  5. According to a survey involving 1,000 current four-year college students in the US conducted by Intelligent.com, an online magazine, 51% of respondents use TikTok for their college homework, mostly for math, English and art. Of them, one-third said the app helps them with 50% or more of their academic work. Of this group, 58% prefer using TikTok over other search engines. More than half of users also said they learn more on TikTok than in their classes.