More and more colleges and universities are making the SAT and ACT optional to be accepting into their institution. In a recent Fortune Magazine article, written by Sara Garcia, it was noted that the University of Chicago became the first highly selective, top-10 research institution to make the former mandatory standardized test “optional”. While reports have determined that downgrading the SAT and ACT in college admissions has helped increase diversity among institutions that do so, there is still a question of whether those students that were accepted can handle the curriculum.
Time will tell how this will happen, but it is hard not to admit that, that the entire education system is a test of a students socioeconomic status and less about their ability to learn. For the SAT/ACT, this fact is escalated as “students of color are more likely to come from families with lower amounts of wealth, which inhibit their ability to afford the high price tags of private tutors or prep courses that could help boost their scores.”
How the American educational system handles this moving forward is anyone’s guess, but for now it appears more and more high educational institutions are taking this into account.
In addition to making the SAT and ACT test optional, Sara Garcia always calls for the end of other potentially discriminatory acts within college acceptance including early decision which she says gives “preference to students who commit to attending before knowing what financial aid is available to them—which favors wealthier students over those who require greater amounts of financial aid.” Another piece Garcia argues against is favoring “students who take high numbers of advanced placement (AP) courses, or are involved in extra-curricular activities that require travel or funds, such as debate, band, or club sports, can severely limit diversity efforts.” She believes that figuring out equivalent metrics to compare students from poorer school districts should be used to create a fair comparison.
Lastly, Garcia believes that elite colleges should “stop giving preference to children of alumni, known as legacy applicants, which precludes students from disadvantaged backgrounds to remain competitive in a system that heavily rewards privilege over potential.” For obvious reasons, just because a family member attended a college or university does not mean you should attend or will succeed.
All interesting points from Garcia and most of them I can agree with. For me the issue is about the educational system as a whole. The entire system needs to change and until there are strides to improve it from a bottom up (or top down) approach, students from lower class districts will continue to suffer regardless of race, gender, or age.