The Example of the University of Chicago

Penn Not Going Test-Optional, UChicago Test-Optional, Test-Optional Schools

UPenn won’t be going test-optional anytime soon (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

Will other universities follow the example of the University of Chicago by dropping their requirement that applicants submit an SAT or ACT score? The University of Chicago is an elite school among elite schools. It is ranked in the latest “US News & World Report” ranking of colleges in a tie for third with Yale University, behind only Princeton University and Harvard University. When a school like George Washington University goes test-optional, you can bet that jaws don’t drop in Ivy League admissions offices. Sorry, GW. We had to pick one test-optional school at random — it wasn’t personal! In any case, when a school as prestigious as the University of Chicago drops the SAT / ACT requirement, your guess that other highly selective colleges may choose to reexamine their own requirements is a good one.

Going Test-Optional Isn’t in the Cards at UPenn

It seems the University of Pennsylvania, however, will not be following the University of Chicago’s lead by going test-optional anytime soon. In a piece by Yoni Gutenmacher in “The Daily Pennsylvanian” on the University of Chicago’s decision to drop the testing requirement, Eric Furda, the always candid, longtime dean of admissions at the university asserted, “‘Do I see Penn going test-optional? I don’t see us going test-optional…We look at testing as part of our admissions policies and there is some added validity there.'”

As Guttenmacher writes in his piece, “Despite not championing the policy for Penn, Furda did say that he saw the University of Chicago’s decision as well-intentioned and potentially impactful on the world of competitive admissions to elite universities. ‘Whenever an institution of Chicago’s stature makes an announcement like this, it makes institutions then look at what they’re doing,’ Furda said. ‘They are trying to increase access and looking at where there are barriers to that access.’ Furda said that Penn’s office of admissions is always looking for the best way to evaluate its applicants, noting the policy change they implemented in 2015 to disregard applicants’ scores in the essay section of the SAT.”

Eric Furda continues to set the benchmark for candor among all deans of admission at highly selective colleges. We salute Dean Furda for telling it like it is — as we’ve done so many times before! In fact, we recently dubbed Dean Furda a hero of our college admissions blog, a recurring character over the years who is a wonderful reflection on the field of college admissions and on his institution of higher learning, too.

Do our readers think that there will be highly selective colleges that soon follow the example of the University of Chicago? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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