The Ivy Coach Daily

May 11, 2022

Where MIT Goes The Rest Do Not Follow

MIT has reinstated a testing requirement in its admissions process (photo credit: John Phelan).

Loyal readers have likely discerned that there are quite a few recurring themes over the years on the pages of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog. One such theme? Where Harvard leads, the rest tend to follow. If Harvard drops test score requirements, other elite universities soon drop test score requirements. If Harvard doubles down on the practice of Affirmative Action, other elite universities soon double down on Affirmative Action. And on and on — since the dawn of elite college admissions. It’s Harvard and then there’s everyone else.

In a piece for Inside Higher Ed entitled “MIT, Diamonds in the Rough and the Testing Culture Wars,” Jim Jump writes, “Someone once said (OK, it might have been me) that when Harvard University itches, everyone else in higher education scratches. Is the same true of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology? We may soon have an answer to that question. MIT’s announcement that next year it will reinstate its requirement that applicants submit test scores has already generated responses from those who believe it is time for admission tests to disappear altogether, as well as from apologists for the testing industry. Is MIT’s decision the beginning of a trend, an anomaly or neither? We probably already have the answer, at least in one regard—MIT’s announcement has not opened the floodgates to other institutions reversing their test-optional policies.”

We happen to agree with Jim (even though he claims we so rarely agree with him — it’s not true, Jim!). MIT’s recent decision to mandate SAT or ACT scores again in its admissions process after a hiatus during the pandemic was bold and on brand for the school. But we suspect it will not lead to a wave of other elite universities reinstating testing requirements in their admissions process. Because MIT, while one of the very top universities in the land, is not Harvard. A recurring theme on Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog is not where the Massachusetts Institute of Technology goes, the rest tend to follow. It’s where Harvard University goes, the rest tend to follow. It’s always been Harvard.

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