Mixed Report on Test-Optional Admissions

Monday, July 19, 2021

Colleges find significant gains in enrollment of minority and low-income students, but also difficulties in predicting yield.

new survey of colleges that have gone test optional finds that "solid pluralities of respondents believe that test-optional is improving access broadly for low income, underrepresented, and first generation students."

But the survey -- conducted by Maguire Associates -- also found that "institutions looking to grow first-year enrollment have largely been successful, but many are struggling to contain their discount rate."

Maguire Associates advises colleges on enrollment strategies, but the survey -- which received 250 replies -- was not restricted to its clients. Most survey respondents were the senior person in charge of enrollment at their college, but it also had some responses from more junior people and from presidents, provosts and chief financial officers. A majority of the survey's respondents were from private colleges, but it included 104 public institutions. (The public colleges tended to be larger.) Only a few community colleges, most of which do not require the SAT or ACT for admissions, participated.

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Story by Scott Jaschik