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Test Optional


Replies to: Test Optional

  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 561 Member
    Thank you to the recent responders. This process is overwhelming, scary and sometimes when I read CC despite my kid having high GPA, honors classes and one A.P. with a 4 on the test I think he will get into nowhere and I often feel as if we can't afford college anyway without sacrificing retirement or healthcare fund. I know others are in the same boat and I don't mean to complain.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,855 Senior Member
    I didn't mean to cause worry by identifying schools which require test scores for merit, sorry! First of all, the NESCACs and many east coast LACs do not give merit (so Bates, Skidmore -- except for a competitive music scholarship), so students applying to those schools should understand there is not really a merit option there.

    Then, there are many schools which give some merit, but not the best merit, to test optional students -- they are using a discount to bring in students who will serve a college need -- higher test scores, often. Dickinson falls into that category and also caps its merit at somewhere over $20,000 -- generous in the scheme of things, but not 1/2 tuition. St Lawrence, at least based on our research from '15-16, requires test scores for merit.

    Schools which do not require scores for merit, at least up to 1/2 tuition, include Denison plus a slew of midwest LACs Kalamazoo, Earlham, Lawrence, Beloit, Knox. And there are schools like Wooster and Centre where scores are not going to stand in the way of strong merit.

    We are full pay without full pay resources, so my kid's list evolved to include only safety and low match schools where he would be admitted with at least 1/2 tuition merit awards. Bates came off the list, Conn Coll and others. And at the end of the day, he is beyond happy with his choice, is challenged academically, loves his classes, professors and has wonderful friends. It really does work out.
  • SwimDad99SwimDad99 Registered User Posts: 182 Junior Member
    Of the NESCACs, I read somewhere that Conn College does merit money.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 2,855 Senior Member
    @SwimDad99 There is a parent here of '21 Conn Coll student who reports they received merit aid as part of their package. Another parent, in another thread, copied Conn Coll's language about aid into a discussion, and it still seems to say there is financial aid only, other than a competitive merit award for local students, perhaps the website hasn't been updated, who knows. So the best approach seems to be raise the question directly with Conn Coll admissions for an interested student.
  • twobugstwobugs Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    Daughter received a generous financial aid package from her LAC even though she did not submit scores.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,452 Senior Member
    edited July 14
    Heard directly from a DOA at a test optional school:

    "You won't be hurt by not submitting scores, but if you do we have to consider them."

    IOW, even though [this particular school] is test optional, we recommend that you not submit scores if they're sub-par. This is a school that asks kids to submit the scores later for reporting purposes but which takes being test-optional seriously. @Dancer41 , feel free to PM me for the name of the particular school.
  • Saint68Saint68 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    This is a very interesting discussion and one I've thought about a lot (similar situation to OP). To me it's not so straightforward.

    The advice to only submit test scores if above the published average has wonky implications. Assume that all applicants take that advice:

    1. Some applicants that have test scores above the actual average of all enrolled students but below the average of enrolled students that reported their test scores will withhold them, even though those scores could put them well into the top half of all current students at the school.

    Example: A college says their reported average ACT score is 31, with a middle 50% of 30-32. HOWEVER behind the scenes perhaps only half of current students comprise that cohort. Perhaps the lower half averaged 27 and the upper half averaged 31, for a total school average of 29. Using the standard advice a kid with a 30 withholds that score even though s/he is above average for the college.

    2. Every year the average will rise and the proportion of applicants submitting scores will decline. Don't have time right now to prove this but I think it's true.

    My questions always revolved around (a) the example in #1 above - i.e. do you submit if just below published average and (b) do you submit if you're above the school's average BUT that score is still one of your weakest cards to play (like the situation OP describes).

    Good topic, thanks for posting!
  • Saint68Saint68 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    Oh and on Connecticut College, someone close to me is enrolling this Fall and received material merit aid. I'd rather not share the details of the situation but I can confirm it's true.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,452 Senior Member
    @Saint68, According to Connecticut College's Common Data Set (lines H2g and H2n) they do not award ANY non need-based aid. Your friend or relative may have received an outside award or unexpected FA, but it wasn't a merit award from Conn College.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 3,082 Senior Member
    One of the schools DS considered was switching from test required to test optonal. When they met with the CC team at the school, they reported that this caused the average SAT scores to increase by 100 (?) points, as is typical when this change is made. Based on that, it sounds like those schools do not include the scores of the students who chose not to provide them, doesn't it? I too am confused by which numbers are included in which reporting.
  • Dancer41Dancer41 Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    Thanks everyone for all of the responses - this has been helpful and I've learned a lot. I do remember my daughter's GC in an initial meeting mentioning that with test optional schools you have to make sure you know if you are looking at the average of all, or all who submitted. At least I understand now from all of the responses that it can be tricky.Hopefully what colleges say is true that if you don't submit, they don't hold it against you. I had visions of admissions sitting around trying to figure out what bad score the student got that they didn't want to report and hoping it's not worse than what she actually got! I think we'll see what her counselor says in the fall and reach out to some of the schools about requirements for merit consideration. She's lucky that all but 3 schools on her list are test optional. It's the others we will really need to worry about!!!
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,649 Senior Member
    "Daughter received a generous financial aid package from her LAC even though she did not submit scores."

    The relatively small school where my youngest ended up also offered her a very good merit based aid without our sending scores. Her school says that they won't even look at scores if you send them. In her case her SAT was pretty much at the same level as her GPA so it didn't matter which they were going to look at (we sent scores to the other schools where she applied and she got similar amounts of aid from each).

    There are a lot of LACs, and their policies seem to vary.
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,452 Senior Member
    Re post #25,
    I can't vouch for all schools but there is evidence that Bates, one of the first test-optional schools is gathering data on non-submitters and including their scores on the Common Data Set. If you look at the average scores of incoming students who submitted scores the middle 50% is substantially higher than the 50% reported on the CDS. For instance the middle 50% of ACT scores is 30-32 among submittters but only 28-32 among all incoming students as reported on the CDS. The CDS numbers are what USNews and other companies report so they include kids with weak scores. I understand that the school submits all scores because USNWR's methodology includes a large penalty for schools that don't submit over a certain percentage of scores.

    The upshot is that a school like this may look like it has weaker applicants than it does in reality, particularly if people are assuming the CDS numbers are for submitters only.

  • Saint68Saint68 Registered User Posts: 22 New Member
    @Sue22 Any chance Conn has changed this policy going forward? I do know that everyone involved was very surprised by the financial package because, "I thought Connecticut College doesn't give merit aid"...

    I could be wrong, but this was my understanding. Thanks for the note. :)
  • Sue22Sue22 Registered User Posts: 4,452 Senior Member
    edited July 17
    @Saint68, Nothing's impossible!
    I should correct myself because apparently there is a merit scholarship available to Conn College student but it"s only for students from New London and comes from a combo of federal, state and CC grants.it's likely it wasn't awarded to any CC students last year, thus the CDS info.
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