"At Wittenberg, we want to recruit the best and brightest students, who are not only well rounded with impressive academic records, but who are also leaders in their communities, committed to service and actively engaged in the world around them," Swartz said. "Simply stated, we want students who reflect the values and mission of Wittenberg."
In making the decision to allow applicants to decide whether or not to submit test scores, Swartz said he is confident that more accurate portraits of prospective students will result.
"By giving them the option, prospective students can now choose what materials best demonstrate their strengths and indicate their readiness for Wittenberg's dynamic educational environment," he said.
At the same time, the decision also facilitates a number of enrollment objectives outlined in Distinctively Wittenberg: A Vision for Excellence, the university's strategic plan. In addition to attracting students with a passion for learning, the plan calls for students who reflect the diversity of the world.
"The time has come for us to move beyond the convention and convenience of requiring standardized tests scores," said Wittenberg President Mark H. Erickson.
"As we continue to extend our admission outreach nationally and internationally to broader and more diverse audiences, it has also become clear that this requirement is inconsistent with Wittenberg's mission," Erickson added. "A true liberal arts education requires engagement from a wide range of viewpoints and experiences. Our new test-optional alternative will assist us in attracting students with unique and varied talents from diverse backgrounds, including those with non-traditional records of outstanding achievement."
In making submission of test scores optional, Wittenberg now joins with other selective colleges, including Bates College and Bowdoin College, both in Maine, Dickinson College and Gettysburg College, both in Pennsylvania, and Middlebury College in Vermont, among others. A recent report in USA Today indicated that colleges that have chosen the test-optional avenue have benefited significantly from their decision, including increased applicant pools and greater diversity among applicants. Wittenberg again expects to exceed 3,000 applications for admission in the 2008-09 academic year, and Swartz believes more will matriculate now that the test-optional approach is available.
"By allowing students to choose whether they wish to send us their ACT or SAT scores, we are confident that more students from all backgrounds will consider Wittenberg for college because they will see a school committed to knowing and educating the whole person, rather than one that evaluates ability based on standardized tests," he said.
"We have also confirmed the national findings within our own student body that such scores, which have repeatedly come under fire by many in higher education for the cultural and socioeconomic biases, do not always accurately predict students' academic success at Wittenberg," Swartz continued. "In actuality, our move in this direction will only enrich what already makes us 'Distinctively Wittenberg.'"
Written By: Karen Gerboth
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