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The Ivy Coach Daily

August 5, 2020

The PR Spin of Colleges

It’s our argument that colleges that went test-optional for the Class of 2025 would still love to see great test scores (photo credit: Bryan Y.W. Shin).

File this one as too cute. The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) — to which we are a member — recently put out a press release entitled “Nearly 400 NACAC-Member Colleges and Universities Affirm Test-Optional Means Test-Optional.” In the release, NACAC writes, “Nearly 400 college and university members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) have signed on to the association’s statement affirming that students will not be penalized for the absence of a standardized test score for admission in Fall 2021…’The message to students and families is simply that test-optional means test-optional and that students won’t be subject to penalty if they do not present a test score during the upcoming admission cycle,’ said Angel B. Pérez, NACAC CEO. ‘The institutions that have signed our statement support our approach and are affirming that students without a test score will not be disadvantaged.'” So what do we think about NACAC’s release?

You guessed it. The fact that NACAC had to defensively put our a release stating that the very colleges that are test-optional this year really won’t penalize students for not submitting test scores says it all. The truth is that our nation’s elite colleges — in spite of the fact that they have signed this statement — still value great test scores. All else being equal this coming admissions cycle, an elite school will still choose the student with a top SAT or ACT score over a student with no score. Remember, it’s many of these same schools that are pledging to not penalize students for not submitting test scores that have pledged for years to not penalize students for needing financial aid. But, as our loyal readers know, the vast majority of colleges that claim to be need-blind are really need-aware.

And while NACAC CEO Angel B. Pérez is a longtime hero of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog for his candor about the highly selective college admissions process, in this particular instance, he’s regrettably not telling it like it is. While so many of these universities are openly pledging to not penalize students for not submitting test scores, it is our argument that — like the NACAC press release — it’s all a whole lot of PR spin.

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