CollegeAdvisor.com presents on Test-Optional Schools as part of its Testing Series in a 60-minute webinar and Q&A with college students and alumni. Our CollegeAdvisor panelist will share their insider perspectives on how applying to test optional schools can affect your application. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2021-06-17 Test-Optional Schools
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Test-Optional Schools. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation. Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists.
Hello everyone. My name is Arianna Pagan. Um, I have been in higher education for five years now, and so I’m super excited to be here with CollegeAdvisor, sharing the expertise I’ve had at both in admissions and in. Academic advising, um, to help prospective students and families navigate the college admissions process.
Um, so I actually got my start in higher education working at Emmanuel college in admissions, recruiting students from north and south America. And in 2019, I made the transition to move into academic advising [00:01:00] and work with students in all majors to create an execute their academic plans. So that’s a little bit about me, um, and I’m really excited to get started.
Test optional schools has definitely been a topic even on the other side, within admissions, in higher education. So I’m very excited to give you all an inside look, um, and share some information that will hopefully help you all in your college process.
All right. So to start off, there are actually a few different standardized tests that a high school student can take. When looking at preparing for their college application, um, the preliminary Scholastic aptitude test, most of you know that as the PSA T and it’s usually taken in your sophomore year and that score is something that’s really raw, but it’s also super, super helpful for you as a student to see just with a raw score without any studying or preparation where you land [00:02:00] on the PSA T and it’s usually a pretty good indicator of how a student will do on the essay.
And then there’s also the national merit scholarship qualifying test. And that’s really for students who end up taking the PSA T and the sat or act, you actually are qualified, uh, depending on your score for some national scholarships, which can definitely be beneficial when, uh, paying college tuition.
And then of course, there’s this galactic aptitude tests sat, sat subject tests, um, as of fall 2021, however college board did announce that they were planning on eliminating sat, subject tests. Um, so that’s just something to keep in the back of your mind. But as of right now, they are still, um, something you can take.
And then of course the American college testing or the act, uh, has become more popular actually within the past 10 to 15 years. That it’s really a great option for students who maybe like maybe aren’t that, um, equipped to writing and prefer [00:03:00] more of a science-based, um, academic testing as the act does have, um, a science section.
And then of course the international baccalaureate examinations or the IB exams more popular in the Northeast than anywhere else. Um, but this presentation is going to focus primarily on the sat and the act as those are the most commonly used in college admission.
All right. So, I mean, standardized tests play a few different roles when it comes to a student’s college application. And the first being that it’s a predictor of student success, meaning that on the admission side, standardized testing can be a good indicator of first year and second year retention for institutions.
So looking to see, you know, correlating the, your sat or act score with how well you will do at the college and how likely you [00:04:00] are to stay. And typically the trend is that the better a student meets the standardized testing average for a university. The more likely they are to stay after their first year.
And that’s something that’s really important, um, on the admissions. And the second part to that is that they can bridge the equity, the gap and equity education. So college board actually has, um, a waiver for the sat fee for low-income 11th and 12th grade students in the United States and us territories.
And so to see if you’re qualified for, for that fee waiver, you just have to check with your high school guidance counselor, uh, for more information. And, um, when we talk about counters grade subjectivity, so if you’re in 11th or 12th grade student and you realize, man, I don’t really have the best GPA of a solid sat or act score can really work in your favor.
Um, and overall, uh, in terms of a measure of college readiness, [00:05:00] We’re what we’re talking about is that first of all, it’s just one indicator, right? So when we’re looking at your applications, we’re not just looking at your test scores, we’re not putting more weight on your test scores. It’s just one predictor in an entire student’s application.
And it’s something to remember is that the most important predictor of college success is an academically rigorous high school experience.
So before COVID where many schools test optional, the short answer is yes. Um, 50% of four years institutions were actually test optional before COVID. And so it was already a trend. And as when COVID began 1,364 year institution specifically, um, went pre COVID and have announced that they will continue to not require standardized exams for fall 2022 applicants.
So if you’re planning on [00:06:00] applying to college, this coming fall, meaning you’ll enter college next fall in 2022, um, most universities are going to stick with not requiring, uh, test scores for this coming academic.
And then, you know, how has COVID affected standardized testing? Um, for one it’s diversified the applicant pool. Um, you have people applying for colleges now who otherwise wouldn’t have applied simply because they didn’t want to take standardized testing for whatever reason, but with COVID schools that would previously have relied on standardized testing and GPA are now being forced to take a more holistic approach to reading application.
So what does that mean? That means more weight is being given to extracurriculars your work experience. What skills have you built your essays, references the courses you’ve [00:07:00] taken throughout your four years, and then of course your GPS. And this holistic approach has actually made college admissions more competitive.
Um, and, and in doing so what’s happened is that a lot of students feel that pressure now to make sure that if they’re not submitting test scores, that their application isn’t just qualified for admission, but that their application is competitive within that pool. Um, yeah.
Um, and here’s just a sample list of schools that as of right now are test optional. Um, and you can see you’ve got some tier one and tier two schools like Harvard brown, Fordham, Georgetown, Northwestern. And previously, as I previously mentioned, um, at this point there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U S and pre COVID.
Remember, half of those were test [00:08:00] optional and, you know, the reason being, and the reason that was a trend prior to COVID is because research over the years has shown that sat and act are valid, but they’re not as reliable as the sole predictor of success in college.
All right. And we’ve got our first poll. Hannah, I’ll let you take that.
Okay. Yeah. So we would love to hear back from you. It takes a minute for the, the answers to come in. Um,
Okay. Pretty, pretty much what, what I expected, it seems like not sure is the biggest, um, indicator and then yes and no are about neck and neck. So yeah, let’s see. Yeah, it looks [00:09:00] like it’s starting to, even out, we have 10 people saying yes. Eight saying no and 15 saying not sure. All right, I’m going to close the poll now and across the board.
That’s actually, that’s pretty normal. Um, from my years in admissions, it is pretty much 50 50 students who apply with test scores and. Who don’t. Um, so the question now is our school’s going to stay test optional. The short answer is yes, a lot of schools are going to stay test optional, but for schools that went test optional during COVID this time, next year, what they’re going to be doing is looking at the data from that previous freshmen class, the class that started in the fall of 2021.
And primarily what they’re going to look at is student retention. So the number of students that stayed the engagement of those students, if those students felt connected to the university and then of course their GPA, um, and using that data, [00:10:00] a lot of universities are going to determine whether to stay test optional or return to requiring standardized tests.
Um, in my professional opinion, I think a lot of schools that have gone. Test optional during COVID will most likely stay COVID. What you’re going to see is, you know, top tier schools like Harvard, Yale, you know, the brand name schools, so to speak, they’re probably going to return to requiring testing. Um, but for, you know, a lot of other schools, what they’re seeing now is that by eliminating that testing, they’re opening up the pool to more competitive candidates.
Their applicant pool is diversified, not just in terms of how qualified the candidates are, but also where these candidates are coming from. So they’re not just coming from the United States, they’re coming from, you know, Europe, they’re coming from central and south America. They’re coming from the, you know, Caribbean islands.
And so, um, most likely a lot of schools will, but they’re, you know, the data from this incoming [00:11:00] first year institution is also going to dictate how they move forward with test-optional learning.
So, what are the benefits of submitting your test scores? Uh, I wholly have to say it really depends on the student, meaning that, you know, everybody’s college journey is going to be different. Every student who’s an 11th or 12th grader right now, they’re all at different stages of the application process.
Um, and. You know, in terms of being an indicator of success in certain fields. So while a lot of schools have gone test optional during COVID, there are still certain majors and certain career paths. Um, but we’ll stick with majors for now. There are certain majors that still are being required to take the standardized testing.
So, you know, major such as nursing [00:12:00] engineering, computer science, if you’re a pre-med or pre-vet student, for example, your sat and act scores are still going to be required. And the reason being is that there is a lot of correlation between the prediction of how well you do on your sat or act and how well you do on your board examinations for licensures and certification down the road.
Um, and so, uh, That’s one of the benefits is that for students who are interested in those fields, you know, you can even tell and look up your score on an sat or an act and see how that correlates to, you know, sitting for your RN or BSN license, um, or your engineering license and things like that. The second part to that is, uh, for students who may not have been that involved in high school, you know, maybe you only were in one club, maybe you weren’t involved in anything.
Um, having a good test score can really counter that lack of involvement. Um, and it can really show that you’re [00:13:00] still a competitive applicant and that you’re still a qualified applicant. Um, so for students who may feel like man, you know, I haven’t really gotten involved in anything, you know, I don’t really have anything that’s, you know, talks about who I am or what I do.
Some really good test scores can definitely even the playing field for. Um, and lastly scholarships. Um, so the national merit scholarship program is a federal program. So if you do really well, like I said, on sat or act, um, or PSA T’s, excuse me, you can qualify for free tuition. But in addition to that, a lot of schools, for example, Baylor university, Texas tech, Georgia state, all offer scholarships based on standardized test scores.
So that’s also something to inquire about when you’re looking to apply to college. You know, if there’s a specific college you’re interested in and you end up getting a really good test score, that’s a question you want to ask and say, you know, are there any scholarships available at your institution [00:14:00] for, you know, really good test scores?
Um, so that those are some of the benefits of submitting your.
Uh, so what are the benefits of not submitting your scores? Again, it depends on the student. You know, you could be a really well-rounded applicant. You know, you could have a, you could be class president and you were in a sport and you were involved in your community and you worked part time and you had a really high GPA, not sending test scores, isn’t going to impact you.
And I think that’s something that’s really important in that admissions officers across the board have been trying to get applicants to understand is that if you’re not submitting test scores, we’re not penalizing you for that. It’s, they’re two different applications. So when we’re looking at somebody with test scores, we’re including those in the whole application, but if you’re not submitting test scores, it’s still a holistic view [00:15:00] of your application.
Um, So that’s really something to keep in mind. It’s not like we’re looking at your applications and saying, oh, they didn’t submit test scores. So they’re not as good as the ones who submitted them. And we’re also not thinking, oh, they must have gotten bad test scores. That’s not, that’s not the mindset that we’re in.
We’re really just looking at your application without test scores and saying, okay, if they didn’t submit test scores, this is what they view as a solid competitive application. Um, the next benefit would be your scores don’t match your grades or your GPA. So I’ve often seen in reading applications, you know, a student who maybe had just below the average GPA for, um, admission, you know, and they just worked their whole high school career.
Um, But then they got a really solid test score and that keeps you intrigued. And that keeps you wanting to find out more about that student. And it also is a really good indicator, like I said, [00:16:00] of college preparedness. Um, you know, your application, like I had just mentioned is stronger without test scores.
You know, if, even if you’re got a score for those of you who are looking at more competitive admissions, you know, so some of those top tier schools like Harvard, Yale brown, um, if your test score meets their average test score, You know, you have to really ask yourself, is that helping your application or is your application stronger, not submitting the average score and just, you know, really highlighting other parts of your application, like your community service or your AP classes or IB classes.
Um, and so it, it really is, like I said, it depends on the student and making sure that with, or without them you’re submitting the strongest and best application that represents you as a student.[00:17:00]
So what advice would I give to someone who is looking to find test optional schools? The first I would say is really do some self-reflection like if you’re looking for test optional, initially you’re probably already on the fence. And the poll really indicated that that a lot of students still are on the fence about submitting tests.
And so just do some self-reflection and, and ask, you know, why do I want test scores? Did you take the sat already? And you’re, you’re kind of average or below average. And so you’re not sure if you want to retake it. Um, are you looking at test optional because you’re just afraid to take the exam as a whole, um, you know, really ask yourself why you’re looking for test optional schools and make sure that, you know, you’re also looking at what the institution offers, because test optional, shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
It should really be. Is this [00:18:00] college a place where I can see myself growing for four years? Do they have the resources I need to be successful in the career? I’m looking for, if you don’t know what you want to major in yet, does this university provide me the resources to figure that out? You know, so that’s the kind of self-reflection I’m talking about.
And that’s the research that you also need to do, um, on these university. And the last piece of advice is don’t stress, please. Don’t stress. I, I have had so many conversations with students over the years who have great applications and we’re discussing them and we’re talking about what’s great and what we can improve before we submit them.
And the question is, well, what about my sat score? Should I send them, should I not? Should I send them, should I not? And it really boils down to who you are represented as in this application. Is your application really strong and really highlights you without them? Or [00:19:00] does adding them make you more competitive?
Does it make you look better? You know, and I think if you take away anything from this, please do not stress over test scores.
Okay. We’ve got another poll that is going out now.
Okay. Looks like we have quite a few people researching schools, some who are working on their essays, a few who haven’t started yet. That’s totally fine. We’re still in June. Um, yeah, mostly research in schools. That’s good. That is a really important, as I just mentioned. And, you know, for those of you who are in the process of [00:20:00] writing or editing your essays, there’s a lot of emphasis that goes on the essay as well.
I mean, I’ve, you know, denied students who have a pretty decent test score, but their essay is just, you know, horrible grammar. It doesn’t flow, you know, it’s boring. I mean, you know, that’s, that’s why, when I say don’t stress about your test scores, remember there are other parts of the application that are weighed just the same, if not more.
Okay. So we have five who haven’t started yet 26, who are researching schools, seven, who are working on their essays and four who are putting together their application materials. Awesome. Congrats to you for who are almost done. Okay. So this is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful, and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, moving onto the live Q and a I’ll [00:21:00] read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.
So you can see and then read them out loud before our panelists gives you an answer. As a heads up, if your QA tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link in your email and not the webinar landing page. Okay. Our first question is, would you recommend submitting a score that is slightly below the average for that school?
And if so, how much? Under like 30 to 40 points under the average, if you are 30 to 40 points under the average, um, if your GPA is at least 0.5 higher, I’m talking about your average GPA. If your GPA is at least 0.5 higher than what the school’s average GPA is, I would say you could send them if your GPA is not at the average or is a little bit below, do not send [00:22:00] your test scores.
It will only hurt you.
Our next question is what will they be looking at instead if they won’t don’t look at act or S and he scores everything else you submit. So we’re going to look at your references. We’re going to look at your, um, essay, and then we spend a little bit more time on your entire transcript. So we’ll look at your GPA, but we also want to see the kind of courses that you’ve taken, because again, we’re looking for college readiness, um, and we’re looking for students who have that college readiness within their coursework.
Um, if they haven’t done well in just the standard college prep level, maybe they’ve taken some honors or APS. Um, but we definitely spend more time looking at the transcript to see the kinds of courses you’ve taken, um, and to see if you’ve actually challenged yourself academically. Um, as a student and then we also want to see what you’re involved in.
[00:23:00] Um, for us, it’s really important that we’re bringing in students who are going to be a part of that college community. Right. We want students who are going to be involved. We want students who we’re going to bring new opportunities to the university or college. Um, so that’s really what we spend, uh, our other time on if you’re not submitting test scores.
Okay. Our next question is, can your submitted score hurt your applicant? Yes, it absolutely can. Um, and I’m not sure if a lot of students are aware of this, but if you have submitted your application. And you know, what a lot of students will do is they’ll take the sat and then, or the act, and when you’re there, they automatically give you three free submissions to a college, right.
Where you can right there. And you’re in the right before starting the testing. You write in three universities that you want to send those test scores to. And what a lot of students don’t realize is that sometimes we see those test scores [00:24:00] before you do. So if you’ve submitted your application and your test scores, and then you find out that your test scores were not average or better, you do have the option to email the admissions office and say, I would like my standardized test scores to not be considered as part of my applicant.
And we as admissions advisors and counselors are required to then view the application without those scores. Um, so a lot of people might say, oh, well, you’ve already seen them. Right. But that’s where, like there’s a professional divide where you have to say, okay, now I have to re review or view the student’s applications solely based off what’s in front of me and not looking at the sat or act, but it is an option.
Like I said, if you get your scores after and you realize they’re not up to par for the university, you can email and ask them not to consider them as part of your application. Okay. Our next question is what is sat [00:25:00] blinds? Sure. So, um, test blind essentially means students are not required to submit any standardized test scores.
Um, and so, you know, it is for students who are, you know, on the fence test blind might be a really good option because it’s the same as test optional. And it’s like, I just mentioned where if you’re not submitting scores, we’re not looking at your application and saying, oh, they didn’t submit scores. So clearly they have bad scores.
That’s not what we’re doing. Um, and there are several variations of this admissions policy. Some colleges may exempt applicants who have scored above a certain grade point average, you know, so if you have a certain grade point, average university might say, you know, this is really good. We actually don’t need your test scores.
Um, while others may leave it up to the student to decide whether or not they want to, um, submit. And that’s something that you can always ask the school’s admissions office, um, to call and clarify if their test blind or test optional. Our next [00:26:00] question is what is considered a good test score for the sat?
Like what range is selective, highly selective, et cetera. Um, I mean, anything above, I mean, what’s considered average right now. Um, for four year universities is really around an 1100, um, a student who has below 1100 across the board. Typically isn’t the most competitive candidate. Um, and they’re typically the students who get either wait-listed or, um, deferred admissions, whereas, you know, a tier two school that’s a little bit more competitive, anything above, you know, a 1200 is really going to be great.
Um, and then for, you know, places that are top tier schools, you know, you’re thinking IVs at this point, you should have a perfect score.
Okay. Our next question is how much time does school spend looking at an application? To be honest, it varies. So at a smaller school. So [00:27:00] any school that has under 5,000 students, it’s pretty typical that your admissions officer might spend on average seven minutes looking at your application. Um, whereas at a larger school, it might be closer to, you know, for.
Five minutes. Um, but again, that, that does vary year to year, depending on how many applications the school gets, um, you know, after weeding out the students who could be wait-listed. So, you know, we really have a very quick window to know whether or not a student is a competitive applicant and whether you’re qualified and it really goes like this, where we’re looking for the standard stuff, right.
We’re looking for your test score and we’re looking for your GPA. And if you don’t have your test score, we’re just looking at your GPA. And if it’s there, if it’s maybe average, what we’re then doing is we’re looking at all of the extracurriculars. We’re looking at your essays, your references, um, your essay as well.
And if it doesn’t grab our attention, if it’s, you know, the same as the other [00:28:00] 70 applications, I’ve read that day, we just move right on. We do. Um, so, you know, there’s a very short window that you have to make a really solid impression, um, for admissions. Okay, our next question is how much do colleges look at freshmen year?
Uh, so it really depends on the school. Um, and this is where that level of academic rigor comes into play. So if a student is applying from, you know, a college prep academy, um, or an independent school, you know, we want to see that you’ve taken, uh, the courses that are relatively starting at a competitive level.
Um, you know, we want to see at least four years of English, um, four years of math and science, and then, you know, at least, you know, two to three years of some solid, um, history as well. Um, but for students who come from public schools that doesn’t put you at a disadvantage, it just means that [00:29:00] depending on the school district, that you’re in every school submits a school profile.
Meaning that we see, you know, the average test score of your school, the, you know, percentage of college bound students. And so, you know, and we see the curriculum as well. So what we’re doing is we’re looking at that curriculum and what’s recommended, and then comparing that to what’s on your transcript.
So we definitely look at it, but we’re also looking for an upward trend. So we want to see, you know, from freshman year through junior year, have you taken more competitive classes? Has your GPA gone up? Um, but it is pretty, it is pretty normal as well for students who have, you know, not really focused freshman year.
Maybe they had a lot of transition issues, but we see their sophomore and junior year a solid, and we definitely take that into consideration. Okay, our next question is do more, does more than one admissions officer look at one [00:30:00] application. It depends. And this is where I say it’s really important to be a competitive applicant, not just a qualified applicant, because depending on how on the applicant pool for that year, what ends up happening is, you know, we might start to see a trend of students who are above our average, and those are definitely the students we want to admit.
So if we’re seeing more students with the above average GPA, students who are, you know, exceptionally involved in their communities and in school, their essay is intriguing and perfect. When we get an essay, when we get an essay, that’s just kind of average. When we get a GPA, that’s either average or just below, we might send that to committee review and say, you know, Personally feel either way whether to admit or deny.
And so we send that to the admissions committee, which it’s then reviewed by the entire admissions team. Um, and at that point, multiple people will locate your application. So like if you’ve ever been deferred, [00:31:00] um, or if, you know, you’ve heard of being deferred where you apply and then, you know, later on we consider you for admission or if you’ve ever been wait-listed, your application has definitely been viewed by more than one person in the admissions office, but typically it’s just one admissions officer.
Okay. Our next question is whether, uh, if the school profile is also considered for international applicants, uh, it depends on the university. Um, so across the board, it’s hard to say. Um, but it really depends on the university. So like if a university has a relatively small international. Um, population you’re talking like anything under like 5% you’re, we’re definitely going to consider the school profile.
Um, whereas you know, a school that has a very large international population, they might not look at that. Um, because they ha they already have an established reputation in other countries and with [00:32:00] certain schools and other countries that we don’t, they don’t need to look at the, um, international, um, college profile.
Okay. Our next question is, do colleges actually look at the COVID section and additional notes section? And if I go test optional, I was planning to explain why test optional in there and COVID disrupt in CS. Um, I would say if we it’s kind of split, so it, there’s kind of just this understanding right now that, you know, with COVID we just assume that if a student isn’t submitting score.
Then it’s just like it was before where they feel their application is best with this. But if you are somebody who maybe you took the S the PSA T and you really studied for the sat or the act, um, putting that disclosure in there might be helpful. And most across the board are reading that [00:33:00] section. Um, and we’re also taking notes on that as well, especially for a student who like might be borderline, meaning you might just meet the cutoff for admission.
Um, we definitely take that, that section into consideration.
Our next question is, do colleges look at unweighted or weighted GPA? So we look at your weighted GPA, but, uh, what a lot of universities do is that we’ll actually, reweight your GPA. So, um, when it comes to courses like. Like if you’re taking chorus, for example, or maybe you’re taking, um, you know, like, uh, some colleges won’t take a public speaking course, you know, like those core, those courses are all factored into your GPA, but on the admissions level, there are certain electives that we’re not considering as part of your GPA.
So we will actually reweight it based on whatever the university’s, um, you know, formula is for doing that. And so [00:34:00] typically it ends up being a little bit higher than whatever your weighted GPA is. But by doing that, what we’re doing is leveling the playing field and saying, okay, based on our admission standards and our reweighted GPA, it kind of puts everybody on the same field and we can, um, look from there.
But initially we’ll look at the weighted GPA. Okay. Our next question is if I don’t want to sit at all for the exam, is there any reason to take a practice exam or just sit for it without. No just don’t take it. Just don’t take it. If you’re not going to study for it, if you don’t want to study for it, you’ve already mentally made the decision that this is just not what you want.
And like, from a mental perspective, you’re just not going to do well on the exam. So if you know, you don’t want to practice for it, don’t just pay to take it. It’s just not worth it. Yeah. Thank you. Think of all the things you could’ve done with that [00:35:00] Saturday, honestly. Um, our next question is, do you look heavily on senior year?
Like having a lot of hard courses? We do. So this is the way it breaks down. If you are somebody who is looking to apply early action, meaning you submit your application in November or December. Different from early decision, early decision, meaning you’re also applying early, but if you get into that university, you’ve, you’re required to go.
You’ve made that commitment. So if you’re applying early action, um, Hannah, can you repeat the question? I just like totally. Do you look heavily on senior year courses, especially like taking difficult courses. So if you’re applying early action, we can’t even see your grades for that first semester. And typically, like, even if you’ve taken midterms in, uh, early November, [00:36:00] early December, we don’t even see your midterm grades.
So early action. We can see the courses you’ve you’re taking, but we can’t see any grades. If you’re applying regular decision, we do place more weight on your first semester, senior year grades. For some students that’s actually really beneficial. Maybe, you know, that extra semester, you had a higher GPA, maybe that extra semester, you finally started taking some of those harder courses.
Um, and then I’m not sure a lot of students are aware of this, but when you officially, you know, make the commitment to attend a college in may or June, your final transcript is sent to the admissions office. And so we do one last glance over of that senior year course load. And so if we see that you’re taking, you know, chorus study, Jim, you know, a free period.
That doesn’t really look good. Um, and sometimes a college will interview a students and say what [00:37:00] happened, and that could also jeopardize scholarship. Um, if you have a certain GPA that’s needed for a scholarship and you, you know, ended senior year with a bad GPA or not the most difficult courses, just keep in mind.
That’s something we, we, we consider. But you know, we do look at what you’re taking senior year, but depending on when you apply, we may or may not see the grades in terms of whether it’s considered for admissions. Um, you know, if you’ve got a pretty heavy senior year course load and you’ve got like one study, that’s not gonna affect you.
You know, like if you’re taking a solid course load senior year and you’ve got maybe like one chorus class, that’s fine. Like everybody, everybody needs that for either senior year, for sure. But definitely you want to stay as competitive a candidate as possible through graduate. Okay, our next question is with COVID.
It is, it has been a bit challenging to do community work. Is it still okay to do some community work this summer? [00:38:00] Absolutely. Um, and that’s definitely something colleges understand, like it’s, we totally understand that. You know, if you, a lot of people aren’t engaging with their communities, a lot of communities are still just in the reopening phases.
So if you’re looking to do community service this summer more prep to you absolutely do it. Okay. Our next question is, uh, Because of, or I guess this is sort of related because of COVID 16 year old is not allowed to volunteer at places she did for two years pre COVID. How does that lack of community service affect her application?
I assume similar answer. Yeah. And we’re not, we’re not going to see that as like a lack of community service. We’re just going to see, oh, she was involved for two years, you know, COVID happened. So she wasn’t able to do it. We’re not gonna penalize the student for not being able to participate because of a global pandemic.
Yeah. You’d think. Um, okay. Our [00:39:00] next question is, uh, base, we’ve seen a few questions for the class of 20, 23 about, uh, whether or not the schools that have gone test optional or planning on staying test optional through, uh, that admission cycle. A lot of, a lot of students will, or I’m sorry. Test-optional is still going to be an option for students applying in 2023.
Like I had mentioned before, COVID 50% of schools in the United States were already test optional. Um, and there’s a really good indication that a lot of schools after COVID, that weren’t test optional, we’ll move to test optional. Um, so, you know, it’s really, even before COVID it was a trend and even after COVID, it will continue to be a trend.
Okay. We’re going to take a very quick break in the Q and a, and, [00:40:00] uh, I’m going to tell you what you can do. If you’d like to work with an advisor from our team of over 155 advisors and admissions officers, you can sign up for a free consultation by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right.
Of the. From there just right in consultation and alive team member will get back to you to organize your free consultation with us. Awesome. And now we’re moving back to the Q and a, our next question is, does not submit thing, your sat test scores affect how much you are considered for merit based scholarships.
Um, it depends on the school, so, you know, it, it really, it varies by school. There isn’t like an answer across the board. Um, so that’s a question to ask the schools you’re specifically interested in, um, and say, Hey, you know, I’m looking at applying or, you know, I’m preparing to apply as are their merit based scholarships for these scores.
Um, but as I had mentioned, [00:41:00] there are a few schools at schools like Baylor, Texas tech, uh, Georgia state, um, that do, and there’s many more. Those are just the few that I know off the top of my head, but it, again, it varies state to state.
Okay, our next question is, is it the student or the high school that sends the transcript and school report? Um, so when you’re applying initially it’s the school that’s sending that information. And then what ends up happening is, uh, when you graduate, if you’ve deposited at a certain school, our admissions office will send that request to your, um, to your high school guidance office and they will resend it.
But if you are a transfer student, you are required to send your transcript to the school you’re looking to transfer to. If that makes sense. Yeah. Fantastic. Okay. Our next question is what are your general predictions for this false [00:42:00] admission cycle? You know, that’s such a great question because if COVID has taught us anything about this previous cycle, it’s that the competition.
Is higher than ever. Um, and I think it says something that by becoming test-optional, we’re having way more applicants at universities. I mean, across the board universities, big, small, medium are seeing increases in their applications because that barrier has been removed, which for some students was the only barrier for them.
Um, and so I think moving into this next cycle, we’re going to see an even more competitive applicant field. And we’re going to start to see universities accepting students who have higher than average GPA’s who really, you know, have the most competitive applications who have done interviews. Um, and for those submitting test scores who have the highest.
Test scores. Um, and for those who don’t, you know, we’re really looking at [00:43:00] everything else. Again, we’re not penalizing anybody for not sending scores. So I think moving into the fall semester for universities, it’s really up to the admissions office to make requirements clear. And I think it’s really important that we spend more time.
I think what’s going to happen is you’re going to see admissions officers spending a little bit more time on applications that are just average. Um, and for students, you know, it’s really important as I’ve mentioned throughout that you be not just a qualified candidate, but a competitive candidate. Um, cause those are the students who get the most money.
Those are the students who get admitted, um, right now. So those would be my predictions for, uh, this coming application site. Great predictions. I mean, scary predictions, but predictions. Very scary. Yeah. Uh, our next question is if we are thinking of applying restrictive early action, how does the [00:44:00] whole submission of transcripts and grades work?
So again, if you’re applying, um, you know, restrictive early action, we’re not going to see your first semester senior year grades. Um, but we will see what courses you’re taking. Um, those will be on the transcript, but again, at the end of your school year, when you graduate that final transcript will be sent into the admissions office.
And we’re not looking for like a major change in GPA. We just want to make sure that you, your senior rightest wasn’t too intense, honestly. Um, but yeah, with restrictive early action, we’re not going to see your senior year grades. We’re going to look at freshman year through junior year.
Okay, our next question is I’m a Jew. I’m a rising junior for schools like Boston university. Do you think they’ll stay test optional? Um, so I’ve done a little bit of work with Boston university and I [00:45:00] think for certain majors they will stay test optional. Um, but I think there, there will be other majors such as like engineering, some of the pre-med programs, um, that are gonna, you know, go back to requiring testing.
Um, those are, those are my predictions.
Our next question is how does submitting AP exam scores impact our applications? So that’s a great question. So if you know you, uh, across the board, typically right now, because of how competitive college admissions has become, a lot of universities are only taking fours and fives. Um, and for specific APS like AP physics, um, a lot of universities will only accept a five.
So, um, when you first apply, you know, if you took APS your sophomore year at the end of junior year, those scores are sent after you’re [00:46:00] admitted. So those scores don’t play any role in the actual admissions process. What happens is from an academic advising standpoint, once you’ve deposited at a school that summer, the, your academic advisor is looking at your AP scores, um, and determining, you know, your placement and some of the courses, um, you know, so like if you’ve taken, um, AP bio and you got a five, you know, that might get you out of the intro level bio course.
Um, and that might just count as like an elective credit, if that’s not your major. Um, so in the admissions process, they don’t play any role. It more has to play with your placement once you’re already at the universal.
Okay. Our next question is when and where did Sunni announced that they were test-optional? I have not been able to find any information about it, but also just where, where should a student go to find information on whether or not a school is tested, um, go to that specific school. So if there’s a specific SUNY school that you’re interested in, [00:47:00] um, what you want to do is look on their website under admissions.
A lot of admissions offices have like a meet your counselor. Um, so you know, you have counselors who recruit in specific areas. So if you can find a counselor who recruits in your specific area, you want to email them. And if not, you can always just email the general admissions office. Um, and they’ll forward it to the correct person.
We always do that. Um, and just say, you know, I know that, you know, SUNY schools are test-optional, I’d like a little bit more information on. Um, so it was really like at the, at the start of COVID when a lot of schools, especially for like the late applicants who are regular decision were like making test optional a thing.
Um, so that’s, that’s when it started, but you’re going to want to contact your, the specific SUNY school that you’re interested in for more information. Okay. Our next question is, even though there’s no panelization for, for no [00:48:00] scores, would it make admissions harder for the students since it is harder to tell, I guess, tell various things about no short answer is no.
Really what happens is we just, if you’re submitting without test scores, we’re assuming, okay, this is the student’s best application. Um, so you know, we’re going to look at. You know, if, if you know, 10% was going towards test scores, we’re going to redistribute that 10% between your transcript, your GPA, your essay, your supplemental essays, your, um, reference checks, like it just gets redistributed without.
Um, so if you’re not submitting test scores, but you know, you’re like maybe a qualified candidate, you know, it is going to be harder, but the reverse is also true. If you have, you know, above average test scores, but your GPA and the rest of your application doesn’t look that great if they cancel each other out.
It’s exactly the same. [00:49:00] Okay. Our next question is with submitting a three for AP scores hurt you. Even if that AP has nothing to do with your major, it won’t hurt you. Um, but before you send them, you want to make sure that the university accepts that. Because, you know, a lot of them, like I said, a lot of universities in the United States right now, we’re only taking fours and fives.
Um, and that’s simply because of how competitive college admissions has become at the community college level. There might be a number of universities that are still taking threes for AP. Um, but like, it’s not gonna hurt you in any way. When you say taking three, do you mean taking it as in terms of like that counting towards college credit or do you mean accepting, like accepting that student?
So again, APS don’t play, your AP score has no role in [00:50:00] your college admissions. It only plays a factor in your placement after you have decided to attend that institution. So when I’m talking about a three, I’m talking about APS are scored by the. National AP examination board on a scale of one to five, one being the lowest and five being the highest.
So when I say universities are only taking fours and fives, that means when you sit for the AP examination, if your score off that examination is below a four, a lot of universities are not accepting anything below a four right now. That makes sense. Okay. Our next question is how many hours would you recommend for community service?
What is a good amount? I would say, you know, a lot of institutions actually have this on their website, so, um, that’s definitely something to look out. It varies by. Institution. Um, most of my [00:51:00] experience comes from, you know, small and medium sized schools like Emmanuel and Babson college. And so typically we want to see at least like 30 hours, um, of community service.
So, you know, nothing extensive. We, you know, cause you also have to remember the primary reason or the primary things that we’re looking at are your college readiness. So, you know, if maybe you’ve got like 10 hours of community service, but you’ve got a solid transcript and you’ve got a solid GPA, you’ll be fine.
I wouldn’t stress about extra community service hours, but I highly recommend you check out the website of the colleges you’re interested in as they might have specific requirements, um, for community service.
Our next question is what schools for a test optional before COVID. Um, I don’t have a list because a 4,000 schools in the United States, 2000 where test optional, um, I mean a simple Google search, you know, test [00:52:00] optional schools before COVID is going to give you a pretty extensive list. Um, and even that list that I had that was shown in the presentation, that’s literally like a small portion of just what we could fit in the presentation.
Um, but that list is, is, uh, pretty extensive. So, you know, if there are specific universities you’re interested in just Google is, you know, is X university test-optional and it’ll, it’ll come up, but I don’t have like the 2000 off the top of my head.
Our next question is how can I still show him an excellent student without test scores? That’s going to be your, and your, uh, your transcript and your grades. Um, and so this is really where, you know, being. Uh, competitive applicant means not just having the grades and the, uh, transcript, but it also means like having an essay that makes you stand out, um, and having, maybe doing an [00:53:00] interview, you know, admissions officers, we read a lot of applications in a short period of time.
You know, the people who I’ve interviewed, you know, those notes are in your application. And I, you know, I pull those notes all the time, like, oh, so-and-so, you know, really great interview, like, you know, definitely interested in XYZ, like really big on like community service or softball or soccer or whatever it might be.
Um, so to do that, you want to make sure that you’re taking competitive and rigorous courses. You want to make sure that you’re keeping your GPA up. Um, and I always always recommend doing an interview because you would be surprised at how few students actually interview, um, in the admissions process.
Okay, our next question is, do colleges take dual enrollment classes? Uh, a lot of colleges take dual enrollment classes. Yes. There are certain [00:54:00] restrictions. And when I say that, what I mean is if you’re taking a dual enrollment course, there’s a difference between your school offering dual enrollment through a university or like a community college and actually taking the college level course at a university.
So. If you’re taking a course from, you know, uh, you know, X community college, when you apply for admission, you have to get that transcript from X community college as well. Um, so for it to count, we have to have the transcript from that other college or university where you did the dual enrollment. It can’t just be on your high school transcript.
You won’t get credit for that. Um, and the other thing to keep in mind too, is that for certain classes, um, a lot of universities will only take, you know, a, B or above. So that’s something to consider as well. I think some state schools actually will take a C plus or higher or a C or [00:55:00] higher. Um, but again, that’s definitely something to ask the specific, uh, university that you’re interested in and say, you know, I’m doing dual enrollment, what’s the minimum, you know, grade that I have to get in order for it to count for college.
Okay, our next question is what are good extracurriculars to do during the summer to help increase chances of admissions as a rising senior? Or is it too late? It’s not too late. I would say, do whatever is going to highlight who you are. Like, that’s the thing is like within those, you know, four to seven or eight minutes that we’re reading your application, we want to know who you are.
We want to know what you’re about. We want to know what excites you. We want to know what you’re passionate about, because that gives us an indication of what you’re going to contribute to the university and how you’ll fit in. And, you know, whether you’ll contribute to our diverse classes. Um, so, you know, if you’re somebody who is like really passionate about guitar, start a band, [00:56:00] some are going into senior year, like that’s so cool.
Or if you’re somebody who is like really passionate, you know, about animals, um, you know, start like a cool Instagram account about, you know, Animal funny animal videos or, you know, start a dog walking service, like do whatever’s going to make you excited because we’re going to, we can tell, we will see that in your application.
We can totally tell the difference between the student who is just doing all of these things because they feel like they have to do all these things to be a good candidate versus a student who is passionate about something and has like, maybe just discovered that passion the summer before their senior year.
It’s never too late. Okay. Our next question is will all universities have an optional interview? No. Some universities, uh, will require the interview, um, as part of the admissions process. And part of that being now that we have utilized this virtual [00:57:00] environment. Um, so what you’re going to see is that maybe moving out of COVID, there might be some universities that go back to test-optional or that go back to requiring academic testing, but now they’re requiring an interim.
Um, but right now there are certain schools and universities that require an interview and that’s something to ask the admissions office of the school. You’re interested in.
Our next question is if you qualify for the ELC program, do you have to apply to multiple UC schools or what does the ELC program guarantee students? Um, the ELC program is something that’s specific to California, correct? I think so. Yeah. Yeah. Um, uh, I want to say, uh, to be completely honest, I’m not a hundred percent sure.
Um, so I would say if there’s a specific university that you’re interested in, ask them [00:58:00] that question. Yeah. I, I have been trying to find, uh, what exactly that means. And to be honest, I’m not sure. Okay, our next question is, um, are interviews in person or are some online, some are online. Um, one of the benefits of doing an in-person interview is that you’re also going to get to see the campus.
Um, and that can be huge, but like if you’re international or maybe you’re on the other side of the country, a virtual interview is still definitely a great option. Okay. And I think this’ll probably be our last question, but our last question is what’s your favorite thing to read on it? Candidates application?
Um, my favorite thing to read is the essay, um, specifically, because I think a lot of students really [00:59:00] undercut the potential of their college essay. And this is going to be like one piece of advice I give to anybody who’s preparing their college essay or thinking about. The most, like, it doesn’t have to be a tragedy.
It doesn’t have to be, you know, I did a three month mission trip in, you know, Zimbabwe. Like it doesn’t have to be anything like that. The best college essay I’ve ever read was about a student’s 15 minute walk to CVS. It was well-written, it was intriguing. It was creative and it was completely different.
I read that three years ago and I still remember it to this day. So for me, I think reading the essay is really where we get that core narrative of like who this student is and what they’re about. Um, and I usually start with the essay because having that information, I can then go in and read their transcript.
You know, if you submit test scores, I’ll look at those. I look at their references, you know, did you do an interview? Have you visited campus? Have you submitted [01:00:00] questions before? Um, so that essay for a lot of us can really be the breaking off point. So for me, that’s definitely my favorite thing to read an application.
Awesome. I think that’s a great place to end. All right. So thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and Ariana, thank you so much for presenting. Absolutely. Um, and hopefully many of you will join CollegeAdvisor. That’s why we’re here. If you’ve got more questions, definitely consider signing up and talking to me or another one of our advisors, but thanks for having me.
Yeah. All right. So this is the end of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful and here is a. A calendar with the rest of our June testing series. So Arianne is actually also presenting again on Monday. Thank you for that. Um, and we have more programming through the end of next week. All right.
Have a great night, everyone.