DePaul: ACT, SAT Score Submission Now Optional For Applicants

After five years of deliberation, DePaul University has decided to make submission of ACT or SAT scores optional, starting with the 2012 admission cycle, making it likely the largest private non-profit school to do so.

The decision reflects the school's mission to serve their diverse student body, including many first-generation college students, Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president of enrollment management, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

DePaul's incoming 2010 applicant pool had 16,000 submissions for 2,500 spots. The average ACT composite was 25.4, and the average SAT math and verbal score was 1165, the Sun-Times reports. Of the incoming class, 52 percent fall into one of those categories -- first generation students, students from low-income households, students in underrepresented ethnic groups and Chicago residents. About four percent of the 2010 freshmen class fell into all four categories.

The new application policy could provide a compensatory advantage for students in these underrepresented groups. National and state data show a consistent correlation between high incomes and high standardized test scores, but have had little correlation with student performance at DePaul over the last ten years, Carla Cortes, the university's enrollment management special project leader, told the Sun-Times.

Students can still submit their test scores with their applications if they choose. Otherwise they have the option of answering four essay questions about goal-setting, community involvement and personal challenges, NBC Chicago reports.

The supplemental questions have been a part of the application for three years, and are "designed to help us uncover the characteristics of the spirt, heart, mind and soul,” Boeckenstedt said, according to the Sun-Times.

Many other campuses have also moved toward making ACT and SAT scores optional in recent years, including Smith College, Wake Forest University and American University. Notably, after Wake Forest dropped the requirement, their student body's diversity improved as the percentage of undergraduate minority students increased from 18 to 23 percent. At least 775 schools nationwide, as of late last year, were test-optional.

Flickr photo by abertogp123.