As frequent readers of this blog know, we’ve touched on the important topic of test-optional schools many times (see, for instance, here and here). These are schools to which you can submit your standardized test scores if you’d like BUT where it isn’t an admissions requirement. The key word in “test-optional schools” is “optional”, of course, but what if colleges took things a step further and declared themselves to be “test-blind”, meaning that prospective students are not allowed to submit their standardized test scores? Well, dear readers, this is no longer a thought experiment. Look no further than Amherst, Massachusetts’ Hampshire College to see “test-blind” admissions in action! In other words, if you’re thinking of sending your SAT or ACT scores to Hampshire, STOP. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200. Test scores aren’t accepted!
As this article from Inside Higher Ed points out, “its policy results in U.S. News & World Report refusing to rank it”, but (like the honey badger) Hampshire College don’t care. As is written on the college’s website, “Academic records, history of civic engagement, recommendation letters, and students’ ability to represent themselves in essays trump anything the tests could tell us.” That quote comes from a June 2014 article that highlights the college’s “commitment to authentic assessment”, but what have the results been a little over a year since the policy’s enactment?
Along these lines, the IHE article states, “The numbers have Hampshire officials celebrating – despite a significant decline in the number of applicants. The enrolled class is larger, and the yield is up significantly, as is enrollment of minority and first-generation students.” You can glean as much from the college’s own website, in particular from a recent news release on the subject – “We are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria” and “How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results…” are but a small sample of quotes that you can expect to find in the summary of the college’s first test-blind year, which by all accounts was a great success.
There has been a great deal of social media buzz about the test-optional trend that seems to be rearing its head in the world of higher education, but what of test-blind colleges and universities? Time will tell if Hampshire College will continue to stand alone in the enactment of this policy or whether the momentum is just beginning, with others soon to follow. If I were a betting blogger, my money would be on the latter…