JACKSON, Mississippi – Applicants to Millsaps College will not be required to submit standardized test scores for admission to the upcoming application cycle.
Millsaps opted to forego standardized test scores largely because of COVID-19. As the pandemic surged across the Southeast, testing facilities closed nationwide, preventing most incoming students from completing the standardized tests that have become a right of passage in America. The college will instead consider high school grades, course selection, extracurricular activities, an admission essay, and community recommendations during the admission process. The decision was announced Tuesday amid weeks of nationwide discussion to develop safety protocols for reopening schools during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has added unfortunate obstacles to the lives of our prospective students and their families,” said Vice President of Enrollment Beth Clarke told WAPT yesterday. “Limited access to testing sites across the country and day-of testing cancellations have added an additional layer of difficulty. We want to do everything we can to reduce anxiety and increase access to Millsaps.”
The removal of the standardized test score requirement will certainly ease the anxiety of incoming Freshman, but the change in policy will be a great benefit to first-generation and underrepresented students. Studies have shown that standardized tests “reinforce the socioeconomic achievement gap”. In other words, the practice makes it easier for kids with money to get an education.
Standardized testing is prohibitive to underprivileged students for several reasons. First, each test must be proctored. Remember those teachers who roamed around the classroom during year-end testing? That’s a proctor, and they cost money – which means these tests aren’t cheap. Standardized tests are also administered at specific testing facilities (often a college campus) and at rigidly scheduled times, which can be a massive obstacle for students without reliable and flexible transportation. Additionally, some facilities also require students to take (and pay for) foundation classes to prepare for the tests.
“Millsaps is committed to providing a rigorous residential liberal arts experience to all students, and our move to test-optional reinforces this mission”, Clarke said in the interview.
According to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, over half of all American four-year colleges will forego required standardized test scores for the fall 2021 admission cycle .