Just like Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake claim, “Better Days” are comin’, but in this case, the better days are about standardized testing. The College Board announced this week that they would discontinue subject tests as part of their suite of testing; they will also discontinue offering the essay section of the SAT. After years of colleges’ dwindling interest in subject tests and the University of California’s not requiring the essay section of the SAT or ACT, the handwriting was on the wall, and so this decision is not a huge surprise.
But what will replace these assessments, and how will students, particularly those interested in science, technology, engineering, and math-related majors distinguish themselves?
An emphasis on other forms of assessment, including AP and IB test scores, and perhaps more uniform transcripts accompanied by more robust high school profiles are ways that colleges can better assess students. More and more, though, colleges have been utilizing a holistic review process for applicants. This includes evaluating grades, curriculum and courses (first and foremost) in conjunction with the depth of activities, talents, unique circumstances, and now, increasingly, character. Many colleges have already instituted ways to recognize and measure character, including curiosity, conscientiousness, diligence, empathy, kindness, and integrity. Admission teams and interviewers are being trained to assess character, and we may actually see more attention to this aspect of an application in the form of supplemental essays.
Some resources on character on which we rely? Harvard’s Making Caring Common, Angela Duckworth’s Character Lab, and the Character Collaborative, a consortium of colleges and schools dedicated to including character in the holistic review of applicants.
Rossbach and O’Connor has always placed an emphasis on our student’s academic growth and character development. We look for teaching moments, and we focus on our students’ values in every aspect of the application, from the essay to a description of activities, from the choice of recommenders to the messages relayed in interviews. Our goal is to know your child well so that all of his college choices are best-fit, in every way.