A follow-up to the post below on the recently released study of test optional admissions policies: Dean of Admissions Martha Allman recently participated in a Q&A with Maria Henson ’82 of The Deacon Blog. I encourage you to read her thoughts on Wake Forest’s role in the study and what being “test optional” has help us accomplish.
The results of a first of its kind comprehensive study of the academic performance in college of students admitted under test optional admission policies was released today by William Hiss, former dean of admissions at Bates College. In the report, entitled “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions,” Mr. Hiss notes that what was sought was the answer to the fundamental question related to test optional policies: “Are college admissions decisions reliable for students who are admitted without SAT or ACT scores?”
Unequivocally, the answer is yes. No statistical difference was found in the grade point averages or graduation rates between students who submitted standardized test scores and those who did not. Also interesting, the study found that students with lower scores but strong high school grades performed better in college than students with higher scores but lower grades. The study tracked the performance of over 120,000 students at 33 colleges and universities over an eight year period.
NPR aired a terrific piece on the study this morning – you can listen to it in its entirety on their webpage. The story notes that, to date, all colleges and universities had was “school specific” or “anecdotal” evidence that students admitted under test optional policies were performing just as well as their submitting peers. Here at Wake Forest, we graduated a higher percentage of students in 2013 – the first graduating class admitted under our test optional policy – with honors (cum laude/magna cum laude/summa cum laude) than we had in over a dozen years. We know so many of our students, submitters and non-submitters alike, are performing exceptionally well.
The study is an affirmation of what our Admissions Committee believes wholeheartedly – an exemplary high school record is a wonderful predictor of success in college. The applications on my desk are full of essays and responses to our seven “In Brief” prompts, interview evaluations, transcripts, and recommendations which describe and summarize your high school experiences. While reading the study, I found myself reflecting on how much work we put into the review of each application to ensure that the students we admit will be successful once here. Assembling our class takes a great deal of effort. Mr. Hiss’s study confirms what we surmised back in 2008 – it is worth it.
As you may be aware, weather forecasts for Winston-Salem and surrounding areas indicate the possibility of heavy snowfall beginning Wednesday, February 12. Please monitor the university website at www.wfu.edu for weather related closings. If the Wake Forest University Reynolda campus is closed due to weather, the Admissions Office will also be closed. If the Admissions Office is closed, all information sessions and tours are canceled.
If you would like to cancel or reschedule your reservation, please refer to the confirmation email for instructions or call the Admissions Office at 336.758.5201.
I have learned from conversations with prospective students that viewing TED and TEDx talks both live and online is common practice for many of you, so this may be right up your alley. The third annual TEDxWakeForestU will be held in Wait Chapel on Saturday, February 22. This year’s theme is “Daring to Endeavor.” For information on how you can attend or view videos of the event online as well as a list of speakers, visit the TEDxWakeForestU official website.
Twice this week I’ve put down my pen and the application in front of me and walked downstairs to our auditorium to give an information session, a fifty minute talk about Wake Forest and our application process. During each of these sessions I was greeted almost exclusively by juniors.
Gone were the seniors, applications perhaps already submitted or almost so. Visiting less frequently are those who occasionally contort their faces after I describe the courses we hope to see on a transcript or the fact that, for the most part, competitive applicants will present senior schedules with at least five core academic courses. I feel for these students, I truly do. Their “academic die,” outside of their first semester grades (very important, mind you), is cast by the time they visit us in the late fall and early winter.
Not so for the juniors who will soon visit us in droves. Our information session crowds will pick up quickly around the President’s Day holiday and then swell throughout the Spring Break weeks of March and April. Almost exclusively juniors in high school, you come to us as unfinished works. Many of you will have not yet developed your senior year schedules. Thus, I hope you will take note of the fact that we and many other highly competitive colleges and universities want to see students taking full advantage of the rigorous courses available to you. IB, AP, “400 Level” or “Advanced” – however it is that your school denotes its most rigorous course offerings – we hope to see them on your transcript. These are the courses you will want to sign up for when you meet your high school counselors later this spring.
I implore you to resist that urge to no longer take a foreign language and sign up for a fourth or fifth year of study. Feel you are a weak mathematics student yet are at the level where AP Calculus or AP Statistics is available to you? Stretch yourself. Take an upper level science course. Pop culture, your parents, the media – so many preach that your junior year is the most difficult and important year of high school. I do not doubt that some of you receive pressure to pull back a little. I am here to tell you that they are all wrong. Your senior year is the most important year of high school. Colleges and universities want to see where the previous three years of preparation has led you. Show us that you are prepared for the extraordinary rigor of college study by taking on a challenging senior year curriculum.
As I understand it, many who are slated to visit over the next few days may not make it here at all – there’s a whale of a storm bearing down on much of the northern tier of states with more ice and snow to come. Some of you may already be snowed in with school canceled for the day and perhaps even the week. Sounds like a good time to bundle up with your favorite hot drink and a good book to me. If you are curious about the weather our way, take a look at our Hearn Plaza Webcam and see for yourself what you may be in for when you come down. Information on setting up a campus visit can be found on our Upcoming Admissions Events webpage. We look forward to welcoming you soon.
From The Forest is a blog maintained by members of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee at Wake Forest University. We look forward to sharing our thoughts with you.