August 20, 2019 | 81° F

College admissions need SATs, ACTs


The SATs — and, occasionally, the ACTs — rear their heads in the lives of every college-bound high school student. It's a challenge each of us must overcome in order to get into a good school, graduate and go out into a successful life in the workforce. Because the SATs, ACTs and college careers seem to many of us inextricably intertwined, it is somewhat shocking when a school decides these standardized tests are no longer required. DePaul University is the latest in a lengthening line of colleges who decided to make ACT and SAT scores optional for applicants. While these tests do have flaws, we do not think making them optional is the best way to get around that.

The major problem with tests like the SATs and ACTs is they are biased toward students from high-income families. It is these people who can afford the expensive prep classes and specialized tutors necessary for conquering the formidable tests. Students with less disposable income do not have access to these resources, and their scores often suffer for it. What this means however, is not that colleges should abandon standardized tests as measures of academic achievement. Rather, it means the tests themselves must be overhauled, and high school teachers need to work more actively with their students so the tutors and prep classes become extraneous.

For students who apply to DePaul and opt out of reporting their scores, the application asks them to answer a few supplemental questions about things like goals and community. It is true that leadership roles and community involvement are important aspects of college life, but one cannot allow these facets to completely supplant the academic aspect. College is first and foremost a level of schooling. Extracurricular activities should enrich students' academic experiences, not replace them as the main focus.

There is a dangerous trend these days in college applications, which tends toward an over-emphasis on community involvement and a de-emphasis on academic achievement. Make no mistake: We here at The Daily Targum encourage all students to be engaged in their communities, and we recognize the value of such engagement. However, we think that when it comes to college, academic achievement and community involvement must be considered together. One cannot be allowed to entirely usurp the other's spot. If that occurs, the students lose out.


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