Applying to college can be one of the most stressful events of a high school student’s life — and directly affects their parents’ well-being, too. Often the culminating experience of high school for an increasing number of Americans, it can feel like a referendum on ability and worth. That’s a lot of pressure.
And then there are the standardized tests.
The popularity of tests like the SAT and ACT have increased exponentially since they were first offered in 1926 and 1958, respectively, profiting off colleges’ and universities’ search for metrics by which to measure students’ candidacies. But their growth started to encounter pushback and uncertainty in the nineties, amidst questions about what exactly the tests were measuring.
These doubts about the efficacy — and fairness — of the SAT and tests like it have led a growing number of colleges and universities to abandon standardized testing as a central part of their admission policy: 50 percent of the top 100 liberal arts colleges and 50 percent of colleges in the Northeast are now test optional. The University of Chicago, too, is going test optional this year, and Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, called for a now-underway look into the value of standardized tests in the admission process.
For any of the students (or adults) who have struggled with these notoriously stressful tests, this news will be welcome. The process of seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds submitting themselves to institutions of higher ed for judgement can be a harrowing one, especially when, on the huge scale of college admissions, the question of what “success” and “potential” look like can feel so arbitrary.
So, for those applying to school now (or with children doing so) and looking to manage the stress of the process, check out the test-optional colleges and universities below.
Liberal Arts Colleges
1) Bard College
2) Bates College
3) Bowdoin College
4) Bryn Mawr College
5) College of the Holy Cross
6) Connecticut College
7) Franklin and Marshall College
8) Hampshire College
9) Hobart and William Smith Colleges
10) Ithaca College
11) Manhattanville College
12) Mount Holyoke College
13) Muhlenberg College
14) Providence College
15) Pitzer College (for students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher or who are in the top 10 percent of their class)
16) Sarah Lawrence College
17) Skidmore College
18) Smith College (for US citizens/permanent residents)
19) Trinity College
20) Whitman College
1) Brandeis University
2) Clark University
3) Drake University
4) Fairfield University
5) The George Washington University
6) Hofstra University
7) James Madison University
8) Lawrence University
9) Loyola University Maryland
10) The New School
11) New York University (test flexible — there are a wide variety of exams that suffice for admittance)
12) Temple University
13) University of Chicago
14) University of Evansville
15) University of Iowa
16) University of Rochester (test flexible — there are a wide variety of exams that suffice for admittance)
17) University of Texas, Austin (for students in the top 8 percent of their classes)
18) Wake Forest University
19) Wesleyan University (for students attending US/Canadian high schools)
20) Worcester Polytechnic Institute