SAT scores for incoming classes at the University of Richmond have dropped significantly in recent years. For the graduated class of 2006, the following range, 1240-1390, reflects the middle half of the class.
This data was taken from The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2006 Edition, and confirmed by America's Best Colleges, U.S. News & World Report, 2005 Edition. SAT scores for the current sophomore class were 1170-1360 using the same scale. These figures show a substantial drop in test scores during the past seven years.
When I applied to the University of Richmond, my SAT score placed me somewhere around the 40th percentile based on scores for the class of 2006. If I were to apply today, my SAT score of 1990 (this score reflects all three parts of the current SAT format) would place me just shy of the 75th percentile based on the rising sophomore classes' rankings of 1770-2020.
The University of Richmond is a different school today than it was when I applied four years ago.
Before I continue, I do want to point out that SAT scores are not the sole measure of one's academic ability. In fact, I have no doubt that this year's rising sophomore class is as bright and shows as much promise as any that has come before it. However, SAT scores do serve as a benchmark by which colleges are compared against one another and SAT scores do factor in to how a school is perceived by high school seniors, ranking services and employers.
In an effort to understand why scores are lower, I decided to look at colleges with academic profiles similar to the University of Richmond to see if the trend is widespread. The chart details my findings (See below).
The left hand column shows SAT scores for either the class of 2006 or the class of 2007, depending on data provided by the respective colleges' admissions offices.
Information was taken from The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2006 Edition. The column on the right highlights SAT scores for the class of 2013. These scores were taken from a Fortune Magazine article titled America's Best Colleges that was published in August of this year.
With the University of Richmond being the sole exception, all represented colleges either maintained or raised the entering students' SAT profile. Three years ago, the University of Richmond could have proudly stated that it competed directly with high profile schools such as the University of Virginia, Washington and Lee University and Boston College. I fear that may no longer be the case. The proof is in the numbers.
Dismayed by my findings, my attention turned to investigating what could have prompted the drop in test scores. Immediately, I thought of applications. Surely, the economic downturn must have impacted the number of students who see the university as a viable choice for an education.
It turns out that the university has seen a dramatic change in its number of applicants, but not in the way that you might be thinking. Statistics show that Richmond's class of 2013 received nearly 2,000 more applications than the class of 2006.
Clearly, high school students continue to recognize what all Richmond students and alumni already know; the University of Richmond is a great place to get an education. This begs the question - if the university is receiving more applications, then why are SAT scores for incoming classes falling?
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I hope the administration takes the necessary measures to correct this disturbing trend. Based on competing schools' ability to maintain their academic standards over this same time period, it is inexplicable as to why the University of Richmond has seen such a significant drop in testing scores.
If asked whether testing scores for the current sophomore class would be higher or lower than their own class, I would venture to guess that nearly all members of the class of 2006 would have guessed higher. With everything that the University of Richmond has to offer, I certainly would.
The university should be devoting its vast resources to maintaining and improving its academic standing. Anything less is a disservice to parents, students and alumni.
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