As our loyal readers know all too well, “test-optional” policies at universities mean about as much as a $50 gift card on a Black Friday purchase of $1,000 or more at a Five-and-Dime store. Who is purchasing $1,000 worth of goods at a Five-and-Dime? Sorry, we just had to vent about some of these not so great Black Friday 2020 sales being as it’s the day after Thanksgiving and all. In any case, we have long argued on the pages of this blog and in the press that, all else being equal, students with great test scores will always have an advantage over students who don’t submit test scores to schools that went “test-optional” due to the pandemic. And it’s not like one highly selective university is guiltier than other highly selective universities — they are all fibbing about what “test-optional” truly means at their institutions.
Georgetown Went “Test-Optional” This Year
One such fibber is Georgetown University, a school that is actually a bit more forthright about its consideration of tests in admissions this year than the rest. As Sarah Weber reports for The Georgetown Voice in a piece entitled “Georgetown instates test-optional policy for 2020-21 application season,” “Georgetown has opted to waive the ACT and SAT requirement for applicants to the class of 2025, citing the ongoing pandemic and the widespread cancellation of college admissions tests as unintentional barriers to prospective Hoyas. While Georgetown still encourages students to submit test scores as part of their application, the admissions process will not penalize students who do not submit SAT or ACT scores. In addition to the flexible approach to standardized testing, Georgetown will allow AP test scores to cover the previously optional, although highly recommended, submission of SAT subject test scores. As with SAT and ACT scores, applicants are asked to submit scores from any SAT subject test scores they took prior to the pandemic, though it is not required.”
But Their “Test-Optional” Policy Is, Essentially, Meaningless
Hey, in the same breath that Georgetown’s admissions office is saying students aren’t required to submit SAT Subject Tests this year, they’re saying they are highly recommended. Perhaps they deserve a pat on the back for at least being candid about it. After all, every highly selective university — except universities that admirably forbid the submission of SAT Subject Test scores this year like Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — feels the same way. And, yes, that’s irrespective of anything and everything they might say to the contrary. But Ivy Coach, are you suggesting admissions officers don’t tell it like it is? Uhhh, yes. It’s these same admissions officers who claim their institutions are “need-blind” as they ask your family’s ability to pay on the application for admission. It’s these same admissions officers who claim not to discriminate against Asian American applicants as, for years, they wrote super obvious codes on applications that reeked of bias. It’s these same admissions officers who once claimed not to discriminate against Jewish applicants as they literally instituted quotas to cap their numbers. No, admissions officers aren’t holier than thou. They are human beings. And human beings lie sometimes.
117 Students and 55 Professor Petition Georgetown for Change
But we digress. In any case, some students and professors at Georgetown — 117 students and 55 professors to be precise — are petitioning the institution to go “test-optional.” As Ethan Greer reports for The Georgetown Voice in a piece entitled “SFS Academic Council calls for reform Georgetown’s admissions practices,” “The SFS Academic Council (SFSAC) released a petition to eliminate the consideration of standardized testing scores and legacy status in Georgetown’s admissions as part of the SFS’s commitment to global anti-racism. The petition, which has 117 student signatures and 55 faculty signatures at the time of publication, follows the SFSAC’s release of a letter to the SFS Dean’s Office in July suggesting several steps the SFS can take to adopt anti-racism as a core value. The letter also advocates for increased diversity in curriculum and opportunities to reflect on and discuss racial justice within the SFS community among other policies.”
But Georgetown Proudly Marches to the Beat of Its Own Drummer
So 117 students at an institution with a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,513 students signed a petition. We guess it’s a start? Please. Georgetown’s longtime Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon, a lion of college admissions, only stopped snail mailing admissions decisions due to the pandemic. Most universities began notifying applicants of their admissions decisions electronically a generation ago. And all these years after just about every highly selective university joined the Common App., Georgetown remains a holdout with its own archaic application. But 117 students and 55 professors signed a petition. That’s cause for the executive director of FairTest, an organization bent on eliminating testing in college admissions, to sound out a celebratory email announcing this progress at Georgetown. Eye roll indeed.
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