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Test Optional & Football

fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
edited December 2015 in Athletic Recruits
Does anybody have experience applying as a Test Optional applicant? For someone with not great grades but ok test scores, is there a rule of thumb when to submit, in light of athletic recruitment?

A few coaches have been suggesting I apply as Test Optional, but I'm surprised by the advice This seems to be a feature more at D3s

One coach told me my ACT is a point below the 25-75 percentile range (in other words, their general average), so I probably shouldn't submit the ACT. I've now been more aware to ask D3 coaches about their Test Optional and if I should submit. I'm surprised how many say not to submit, even in cases where my ACT is within the 25-75 range.

To understand my surprise, my GPA and rigor of coursework is ok but not great, at least for these colleges I'm talking to had football not been in the picture. At the same time, my high school is highly ranked, so maybe the lower level transcript is understood. However, I'd guess my transcript is the weakest part of my application, even tough unfortunately it counts for a lot.

The argument the coaches give is that the ACT is one more piece of data showing not top academic performance.

However, the colleges' websites say that without the ACT, they put more weight on everything else. I don't want them to weigh my transcript more.

Naturally, I want to trust the coaches. Though test optional is brand new at some of these colleges. I guess in general, I don't fully understand the sway D3 coaches have in admissions. It seems to vary. If anything, if I have to rely on myself largely, I want to understand the role of test optional so I'm making a good decision

Mathematically, it also seems that the average is artificially high if these colleges are citing that as many as 30% do not submit a score, likely those on the low end. Won't that raise the mean ACT each year if the bottom 25%, is in effect missing data? For example, if the average ACT range is 28-31, and people with < 27 don't submit, then the next year 28 will be below average if that's the lowest getting submitted. Then the average would increase?
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Replies to: Test Optional &amp; Football

  • sgopal2sgopal2 Registered User Posts: 3,336 Senior Member
    A score that is one point below the 25-75th percentile is not considered within the average. In fact it means your scores are near the low end of accepted applicants.

    Football has a system of bands that I'm not fully understanding.

    We need more details: what is your GPA, Scores, AI. What schools are you looking at?
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    The Test Optional scores in football recruitment are by and large D3s. Or at least those are the places where it's come up. No D1 or D2 that's test optional has had high 25-75 ACT range, and at the D1 levelI'd also be more trusting that the coach such substantial pull.

    My ACT was 26 but is now 28. My GPA is 3.0 but is increasing to somewhere between 3.1 and 3.2 given how senior year has been going. I can give you the complete list of Test Optional D3s: it's rather finite.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    I would be very interested in seeing how this works for you. D has good course rigor and decent grades, but weak math SAT's. So, she thought about applying to good, test optional colleges. However, several coaches told her that as an athlete she could not apply test optional, since the NCAA requires SAT or ACT scores.
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    @TheGFG Yes, NCAA does require SAT or ACT, that's a good point, but I believe that's just for NCAA eligibility with the NCAA organization itself. That is very different than and separately from the college admissions process. She is to send her SAT scores to the NCAA organization and they will declare her NCAA eligible presumably. That's a pre-req for a D1 to look at her for athletics. In their admissions process, if they are test optional, they should not need her score.

    Marist, for example, is a D1 that is test optional. I'm no longer recruiting at Marist, but the coach told me I could apply there as test optional when I was. Same with a friend who still is recruiting there.

    However, by and large, my issue has been with D3 colleges. Most of the D1s and D2s that are test optional, perhaps with the exception of Marist, are not overly difficult to get into academically. For example, a D1 like Sacred Heart I'd imagine she'd be ok if the rest of her SAT is ok.

    In contrast, there are some test optional D3s where the average SAT is around low 2000s. For example, Bates and Wesleyan. But many others slightly below like Union, Trinity, and Franklin & Marshall. Also at D3, NCAA doesn't matter.

    My rule of thumb has been not to submit if the coach is very confident I shouldn't be submitting. I did question a coach or two when the school's website made it seem my test scores were within the 25-75 percentile range. With some of the D3s, the level of support I feel hasn't always been made 100% clear, so I do feel I should be looking out for myself too. By and large, I want to trust the coach's knowledge and not show disrespect, especially when I know my scores are not high for that college.

    My only confusion is at a place like Bates where both the GPA and ACT/SAT expectations are high.

    My case is the reverse of your daughter's. My test scores are strong, sometimes just a 1 or 2 below the average, but my GPA isn't very strong. The whole point of test optional is to give more emphasis to the rest of the application, and I feel my ACT actually makes me look good. I think the college reasons that if it's not in the 25-75 range then it's just another piece of bad data.

    As an idea, it confuses me. I imagine the Test Optional inflates the 25-75 range.

    I hope this clarifies more than confuses that you should be ok for Division 1 at least where NCAA matters. And given that your daughter has good GPA then she should definitely look into test optional places like Marist and Union where her GPA will probably more than enough presuming the athletics are a good fit
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    What you have explained above fits what we were told by just one school, and it was a D1 LAC! The D3 coaches, like from Wesleyan, insisted she could not apply test optional. However, since Wes is newly test optional, he may not be completely certain yet how to best get athletes in so just has everyone test.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 6,047 Senior Member
    @TheGFG, What sport? Most D3 sports don't fall under the NCAA. The one exception I can think of is women's crew. The coach may be getting pressure from admissions to get as much info as possible for a pre-read or s/he may be new to test-optional school coaching and may be working from prior knowledge of what admissions wanted at a non test-optional school or at the TO school before it went TO.

    My experience with recruiting at test-optional schools, Bates in particular, is that coaches want their recruits to put in the strongest application possible, whether that's with or without testing.

    A comment heard from an admissions officer at an alumni admissions event, "We don't require you to submit scores, and it won't hurt your application if you don't, but if you submit them we have to consider them." IOW, not submitting won't damage your chances but submitting low scores will. My sense is that schools that have been TO for a long time, such as Bates and Bowdoin, are used to getting applications without scores and aren't phased by them, but (and my evidence here is purely anecdotal) some of the schools that have more recently gone TO may still be a bit suspicious of applications lacking them and look for TO applicants to have slightly more solid GPAs and AP's to prove their academic chops.

    @fbislife, I would trust Mark Harriman to give you straight information. He's been at Bates for a very long time and has a good relationship with admissions.
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    @Sue22 I must have been unclear, I fully trust the coaches at Bates. I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I just meant I didn't understand personally how it all works because my test scores are just at the cusp of the 25-75 percentiles whereas my GPA is much worse. I more meant out of curiosity I was wondering how Test Optional works behind the scenes, not questioning the coach's use of it.

    It was 2 or 3 other colleges where I was legit in the 25-75 range, and I wasn't sure if the coach was aware of the 25-75 range when he told me the advice of not to submit. So I had questioned only those cases. In fact, one coach gave me a range that was much different from what the website had or the admissions officers were telling us at a college fair, and in general I had the sense that coach didn't have a strong relation with admissions and that I'd need to be looking out for myself a lot
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,461 Senior Member
    Remember that a D3 can 'play up' in one sport, and then the NCAA rules do apply. It's hockey for a lot of schools, lacrosse for others. At Hopkins athletes don't have to follow the NCAA rules, except the lacrosse players have to do the NCAA clearinghouse forms.

    Crew is different as all the levels compete at the same events. Fencing? Others? The coaches will know.
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    After visiting, D decided Wes was probably not her top choice so she risked bringing her academic credentials into question by asking the coach about applying test optional as an athlete. The coach wrote back that he wanted her to sit for the tests because it would "give her more options." Maybe he was talking generally for her best interests, but I read the note and took it that he wanted to see scores.
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    @TheGFG From my experiences, coaches seem to prefer if they don't have to use Test Optional.

    At one school in particular, my initial score I was told not to report. I was getting limited support from the coaches with admissions but was not on their most preferred list. Then I retested and got my score up by a reasonable amount, and the coach not only told me to report but that I'd effectively have his full support. The score increase was good, but it was mainly that I was initially just a hair below the range in which they want people to report and then entered comfortably into it

    In general, I just have had the vibe that coaches have been happier with me when I can report a good score. It seems to have put less pressure that the rest of my package has to be as strong from the athletics to the GPA
  • TheGFGTheGFG Registered User Posts: 6,219 Senior Member
    That makes perfect sense. I am just trying to figure out what to do if my D can't report a good enough score. She just can't do standardized math tests. Her transcript math level is decent, though, since she is in calculus as a junior.
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    @TheGFG I wouldn't stress over it. If she's a good athlete and has a good GPA, it should be ok at the Test Optional schools. It'll probably only be a problem if she's not strong enough athletically, wants to go Ivy, or is interested in one of the few elite non-test optional D3s like Williams.

    In the meantime, she has a lot of time. I'm guessing she's not a senior. She should probably take the ACT as well. If you can afford it, you should probably invest in some good SAT-ACT prep. If you lived in my area I'd recommend some people to you. I got my scores up by soooo many points!
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,461 Senior Member
    No D1 or D2 that's test optional has had high 25-75 ACT range, and at the D1 levelI'd also be more trusting that the coach such substantial pull.

    Admission to a D1 or D2 school can be test optional, but you are going to have to report that score for the clearinghouse. The minimum score for the clearinghouse is pretty low, but you still have to take the test, so that part is not optional at all.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,933 Senior Member
    @TheGFG For what it's worth, my son has been applying as a recruit at test optional D3 LACs, though not at the Wesleyan/Bowdoin/Bates level (Wes etc. are NESCACs which operate under their own tip/slot format, as I understand it, so are a separate beast no matter what). He did have recruiting discussions with a few "lesser" NESCACs, but did not continue the conversation with those schools. At those "lesser" test-optional NESCACs, the coaches said athletes often applied test optional, but we got the sense that those kids (like mine), had lopsided gpa/rigor on the one hand and scores on the other. The coaches emphasized that their players, once admitted as test optional, made Academic all conference, Dean's list etc. -- the point being, the test optional kids were not academic slouches, just not great standardized test takers.

    Also, I believe even the test optional schools require the kids to report the score after they enroll, so the scores are received, ultimately, but are not part of the admissions decision. Someone who has been through this already though, can correct me, as we are now in my student's senior year as he works completes his process as a test optional candidate.

    Good luck to your daughter.
  • fbislifefbislife Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    @Midwestmomofboys Just curious, how'd it pan out for your children with the test optional?

    I am curious about your last point: if someone ever has to report.

    My guess is no because Test Optional allows for someone to never have even taken the SAT or ACT.

    However, it really skews the admissions profile of a college, as I wrote in my initial posting. By definition, test optional inflates the 25th percentile, and say the 50th percentile comes off as looking like the 25th. Thus, I didn't understand the advice to use the 25th percentile to assess if it'd make sense to report because that seemed awfully high if it's the 25th percentile conditional on all test takers
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