DePaul made news when it implemented a test-optional admission pilot program in 2012. After four years of collecting data and monitoring outcomes, DePaul officially declared the program permanent with the unanimous support of Faculty Council at its May 4, 2016, meeting.
“The way we introduced this innovation says a lot about DePaul,” explains David Kalsbeek, senior vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing. “We partnered with faculty in the design and launch of the pilot, in monitoring it each year, and evaluating it at the end of the pilot period. The faculty’s unqualified support for adopting this policy permanently was no surprise because of the collaborative approach taken from the outset.”
While there was initial concern by some that test-optional would lower the academic quality of the freshman class, institutional research indicates that, on the whole, there is little difference in the academic performance between test-submitters and test-optional students. Both groups have an average GPA at DePaul above a 3.0. There is no statistical difference in credits earned or retention, both important indicators of a student’s likelihood of graduating.
DePaul provided momentum for the growing movement toward holistic admission assessments when it introduced test-optional admission. Since that time, another 79 institutions have followed suit. Now, over 200 of U.S.News and World Reports “Top Tier” institutions offer a test-optional alternative.
While DePaul is one of the largest universities to offer test-optional admission, only a relatively small percentage of students choose it. About 8 percent of the applications for DePaul’s 2015 class were test optional and only about 6 percent of the class, or 158 students, entered DePaul without having a test score considered in their admission decision.
“At the end of the day, test-optional admission is not about skewing our academic profile or inflating our application numbers,” explains Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing. “It is about finding students who perform very well in high school but might not apply due to the perception that scores are critical for success in college—despite all the research to the contrary.
“This is an important discussion in higher education, and the tide is clearly turning. More and more colleges and universities are realizing they do not need standardized test results to make good admissions decisions. I’m proud that DePaul was on the forefront of this issue.”