ACT rules in admissions

The U is placing more emphasis on standardized testing.

The University’s competitiveness attracts a certain type of student while deterring many. Those who fall short of the expectations do not apply, and for good reason. Despite the claim that these expectations are mere guidelines and not rigid requirements, the numbers tell otherwise. The University’s expectations of prospective students are based on the fact that the admission standard centers on those admitted to the University previously, and the University is becoming more competitive, admitting higher-scoring students.

Similar to the trend in other schools, the majority of students admitted into the College of Liberal Arts last year scored better than 26 on their ACTs, an increase from the 22 average in 1999. Critics of standardized testing argue that the test is a classist system with questions catering to the lifestyle of the middle to upper class, predominantly white people. Studies show that the higher a student’s economic upbringing, the higher the ACT score. Standardized tests examine one aspect of a student – his or her ability to take tests.

Even with the adoption of the “holistic admissions” process, which examines criteria apart from test scores, test scores still prevail. Director of Admissions Wayne Sigler in a U.S. News & World Report piece states, “We still have a healthy respect for test scores, but we have a healthy skepticism for them too – numbers aren’t everything.” If this is true then why is the University admitting higher-scoring students, admitting fewer students of color, and furthering the gap between the University’s standards and the state average of 22 (on the ACT)?

Diversity is a quality that the University claims to achieve, but is clearly straying from. In 2004, the University admitted significantly fewer black first-year students, placing the University in company with other public institutions pushing toward selective admissions. For a school that has the second-largest student body in the country, the University is lacking students identifying with different cultures, perspectives, economic situations, talents and ambitions. Simply examining a test score robs a person of many qualities, especially with the University placing so much emphasis on tests.