Alternative applications rewrite the rules of college admissions

Stefanie Botelho's picture

If job candidates can pitch their strengths to potential employers, why can’t college applicants make a tailored case for their admittance? Some colleges are letting their applicants do just that. By lessening the weight of standardized test scores and offering alternatives to the traditional admissions process, colleges are increasingly allowing their applicants to decide how they want to present themselves to admissions officers. In so doing, they are reinventing the face of the application process and breaking out of the rut admissions offices have worn into the road to higher education.

Striking standardized test scores

A decade ago, colleges across the nation started deemphasizing SAT/ACT scores as a key to admission. In the past few years, top schools including Sarah Lawrence College, Wake Forest University and, as of this May, Wesleyan University have chosen to adopt a test-optional policy. The admission page on Wesleyan’s website reads, “We believe that students should have the power to decide how best to present themselves to the admission committee and whether—or not—their standardized test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential.” Wesleyan’s philosophy allows students to have a say in how they want admissions committees to assess their merit, and many other colleges are catching on.

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