The Collegian
Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Enrollment management makes standardized testing optional in lieu of COVID-19 cancellations

<p>Carpets throughout the Queally Center for Admission and Career Services supports the University of Richmond’s red and blue colors.</p>

Carpets throughout the Queally Center for Admission and Career Services supports the University of Richmond’s red and blue colors.

The University of Richmond will make submitting standardized test scores optional for fall 2020 undergraduate applicants, who would enter as first-year students in fall 2021.

The decision was announced on April 21, following announcements that all SATs and ACTs would be postponed until August and until June, respectively.

The proposal came from the Office of Enrollment Management, Faculty Senate’s Undergraduate Admission Committee, President’s Cabinet, deans and members of the Board of Trustees, said Stephanie Dupaul, vice president for enrollment management.

“Over two-thirds of high school students take these exams in the spring of their junior year and now will not be able to do so," Dupaul said. "While they may be able to test in the fall, their college search process has been crunched into a very small window of time. Many of them are going to have to decide where they want to apply before they have test scores in hand and without physically visiting campuses."

The temporary change may relieve some of the stress applicants are feeling, she said.

Applicants will be considered on a holistic standard, based on GPA, essays, extracurricular activities and rigor of curriculum, Dupaul said. Enrollment Management will still review all materials within applications and will accept test scores from the SAT, ACT, Classical Learning Test, AP and IB, she said.

“If testing is submitted, it will be considered as one of the factors in our holistic review process," she said. “Some students will opt not to submit a test score; in that case, we will consider everything else that is submitted.”

Dupaul said she did not anticipate a change in acceptance rate.

In order to connect with high school students, Enrollment Management has been expanding its virtual connections, Dupaul said.

These virtual connections include a digital tour and "Spider Chats," one-on-one chats between prospective and current students. They will continue in the fall in an effort to limit visitors to campus, Dupaul said. These virtual connections may lead to fewer in-person admission events, Dupaul said.

“We will continue to expand the virtual tools we have been developing to help students get to know UR," Dupaul said. "But I’ll miss the looks on prospective students’ faces the first time they walk into D-hall, or that 'wow' moment when they walk through the commons.” 

Junior Kevin Villagomez, an undergraduate admissions office intern, said the optional test score policy was wonderful.

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It would allow a lot of students to apply to UR who wouldn't have been able to otherwise, Villagomez said. 

"It really advantages a lot of students that come from inner cities like mine," he said.

Villagomez said this new policy would help attract more applicants, which he thought could affect acceptance rates, he said.

"I think our acceptance rate can go down," Villagomez said. "And it's going to be one of the most diverse classes and also going to be one of the most competitive as well because it's going to be based [on] who people are as individuals and not what they are on paper."

First-year Jake Holm, student ambassador with undergraduate admissions, agreed that the optional score policy would diversify the classes. 

"[The new policy will] garner more applicants, as many are hesitant to apply to selective schools based purely off of not being in the average standardized test score range, despite having strong credentials in the other categories," he said. 

Holm feels that the new policy will help eliminate some anxiety during this especially stressful time, he said.

"I don’t think it would be fair to make applicants worry over a standardized test during such an anxiety-inducing period — the last thing people need is to be extra stressed," he said.

Contact visual editor Ben Wasserstein at ben.wasserstein@richmond.edu.

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