I posted this in the thread about which schools are going TO, but am moving this because as @skieurope correctly pointed out this type of post was leading that thread off topic.
It’s interesting to see the TO trend at BS quickly unfold. A couple of weeks ago it didn’t look like any were going that direction, and then the dam broke. And I think everyone wonders what that means.
I think there has been a shift in the college attitudes since this started happening in that world (maybe 3 months ago? I dont remember exactly). At first the attitude seemed to be that they were TO, but it still hurt you to not have a test. I spoke with someone who was told on a Zoom call by an admissions person at Brown shortly after their decision that a more accurate description would be “test preferred”. I haven’t seen or heard that anywhere since, but I don’t know if things really changed or if they just got their messaging under tighter control.
The vast majority of colleges eventually fell in line and went TO for this cycle. They seem to fall into 2 camps. Some, like Brown and Princeton for example, gave off pretty clear vibes that they weren’t happy about it and that even though they weren’t requiring it, it was to your benefit to submit. Tulane pretty much said that unless USNWR changes their ranking criteria that they wouldn’t take more than 25% of the class without a test. Others seemed to embrace the idea and made the changes for a 2 year cycle or even permanent.
There are a couple of differences between BS and colleges going into this.
First, I think the pre-pandemic trend has been away from testing and that has been stronger at the college level from what I can see. There are a lot more people firmly opposed to testing at that level. Some very selective schools like Bowdoin have been TO for a very long time. Others, like Rochester, announced that they were going TO before the pandemic hit. I think part of why BS seems to be behind on this trend is the demographic of kids applying. By and large, even the FA kids (like mine) have parents that REALLY care about education at the BS level. Otherwise why are you even considering it? So you don’t have the large percentage of kids who are completely outgunned when it comes to the testing prep and home support.
Another difference is that the way it is being administered in the current Covid world. D21 has had 3 ACT tests canceled, and a 4th where they changed the testing center to a rural (not near any hotels) location 2 hours away. She had to get up at 4:00 a.m. for that test, and she is lucky she even got a score at all. Many kids have shown up at testing centers that were never notified by ACT that the location closed, I had a buddy drive his boy 2 hours to a location shown on his admission ticket only to find a note taped to the door, and about 100 really angry people in the parking lot.
The home SSAT seems to alleviate this for the vast majority of kids who want to take it. So I’m actually surprised by these changes. I think it is a bit like the college situation, no one wants to be seen as the heartless place that makes you risk your life to take a test, so there is a bit of a FOMO effect making it a race to go TO even without great evidence that it is necessary.
Cate was the first to take it a step further that I can see. They are test blind this year. Their website says test scores will not be considered.
It will be interesting to see what TO really will mean everywhere else. How optional is optional? Thoughts?