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Test scores will remain factor in admissions; BU won’t follow DePaul’s in making ACT optional

Standardized tests are just one of the many stresses high school students face when applying to college, but for some students that is all about to change.

Beginning in the fall of 2012, DePaul University will implement an admissions policy that makes standardized tests optional for incoming freshmen. Instead, students will only be required to answer a series of open-ended essay questions.

Vice President of Student Affairs Alan Galsky said this is a policy Bradley has also looked at.

“We have talked about that from time to time, especially since it is a school a lot closer to home to compare to,” he said. “We understand the philosophy, but we haven’t gone further.”

The Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul’s president, said the new policy is a result of several years of tracking student success at DePaul.

“We learned that the combination of their high school GPA and their extracurricular accomplishments are better predictors of college success than SAT or ACT scores,” Holtschneider said in an article by the university’s student newspaper, The DePaulia. “We also learned that this approach better helped us identify non-traditional students who would do very well here.”

Galsky said he understands DePaul’s reasoning but still thinks ACT scores are a measurement that should still be considered in the admissions process.

“The ACT is a measure of ability but not a measure of success,” he said. “As a university we would like to know the full measure of the candidate and that is one reason why we continue to use the score.”

Even though Bradley will continue to use standardized test scores, Galsky said it isn’t the final predictor of which prospective students are accepted into the university.

“We look at each application carefully,” he said. “We take in account GPA and activities but looking at ACT scores can be very helpful. They allow us to be fairly sure [candidates] have the academic environment that will help them be successful.”

Public Relations major Camille Ivy-O’Donnell, a Student Admissions Representative, said she agrees with Bradley’s current policy because eliminating ACT scores would cause a change in the admissions process.

Jon Boeckenstedt, the associate vice president for Enrollment Policy and Planning at DePaul, told The Depaulia the change is also aimed to accommodate students who don’t fall within the average ACT scores of accepted students.

According to Bradley records, the average ACT scores between incoming freshmen from 2007 to 2010 is a 25. Galsky said average ACT scores of freshmen haven’t changed much over the past few years.

“The ACT scores of freshmen have stayed fairly consistent between 24 and 26 for seven or eight years, maybe longer,” he said. “When I first started we were nowhere near those numbers.  These particular ACT scores make us a selective private school.”

Galsky said there would have to be large changes in the way the admission process works before the desired ACT score increases.

“We would have to see significant change in strategies by which how we attract students or if our number of interested students get much larger if there were to be a one to two point increase in average in ACT scores,” he said.