How K-12 schools are switching gears on college prep as test-optional admissions grow

by Jeremy

As more colleges remove SAT and ACT score requirements from the application process, the School District of University City in Missouri sees how its students can still stand out. That may mean allowing high-schoolers to take virtual courses so their schedule is more open for a college-level class or offering more field trips to expand the kind of experiences students can have during their day.

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“All those little tweaks can help students look a little different on paper,” said Robert Dillon, director of innovative learning for the district. “Initially, for equity reasons, schools started to close that experience gap. But now they’re seeing the secondary benefit, that that can be a part of the college process.”

Over two-thirds of four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., from the University of California at Berkeley to Harvard College, won’t require prospective students to submit an SAT or ACT score for the fall 2022 admission process.

These scores have long been considered one of the tent poles in the college admissions process, where students sit for hours filling in multiple-choice questions in hopes of achieving a score that pops their application to the top of the pile. But now, K-12 school officials are looking at how they can support high-schoolers applications in other ways, so they still catch the eye of admissions directors.

For some, that may mean offering more help with writing skills. In contrast, others may encourage students to build online portfolios — professional-looking portals that can be submitted along with a college application in a single click.

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