High school students with low test scores, rejoice! Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. will no longer consider SAT or ACT scores in its admissions and financial-aid decisions.
As Inside Higher Education reports, there are about 800 schools in the U.S. where these standardized test scores are optional, but Hampshire is the first competitive, four-year college in the nation to completely reject them altogether.
Hampshire College said in a recent announcement they are now “test blind,” adding that their decision was based out of “concern for fairness in access to educational opportunity.”
It’s no secret that standardized testing favors students who can afford after-school tutors and assistance from testing centers — leaving behind low-income students who cannot afford these opportunities.
Also, as the New York Times points out, you’d be surprised how many students don’t apply to college because they can’t be bothered to take the exam. It’s also why, earlier this year, the College Board made a stunning announcement they would redesign the SAT as part of an effort to make their exam more accessible to students with lesser means.
When jobs reports consistently show that people with degrees have much higher employment rates and much bigger paychecks, enrolling more low-income students in college can be a ticket to the middle class.
According to US News college rankings, it costs $46,625 a year to attend Hampshire, but 60.5 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, with the average need-based scholarship or grant award at $29,910.
Perhaps ditching the SAT and ACT just came naturally, since Hampshire runs its campus a little differently. Professors don’t give out actual grades to their students. Instead, they receive “detailed narrative evaluations” based on their classwork, discussions and projects.
“Tests aren’t part of Hampshire’s pedagogy, so why would we use a test to determine which students would thrive here? The SAT is essentially one test on one day in a given year,” said Meredith Twombly, the dean of admissions and financial aid. “Students’ high school academic records, their history of civic engagement, their letters of recommendation from mentors, and their ability to represent themselves through their essays trump anything the SAT could tell us.”