Ithaca College adds Early Action and makes standardized tests optional for applicants

05/10/2012

Contributed by Eric Maguire

The Office of Admission at Ithaca College announced two important policy changes today that will impact applicants for the fall 2013 entering class. Collectively, these policies will provide high school students with greater options when applying to Ithaca College. At the same time, the changes will help the College broaden its applicant pool and better organize the application review process.

Early Action

Applicants to Ithaca College currently have two options to consider when applying.   They may apply as an Early Decision candidate by November 1 and receive an admission decision by December 15. This option is attractive to applicants who consider Ithaca College to be their first choice institution. Under this program, applicants agree to enroll at the College (if admitted) and benefit from an earlier time line and a slightly higher admit rate than in Regular Decision.

For those who are less sure of their college preference, we encourage their application in Regular Decision. The Regular Decision application deadline is February 1 and students are notified of our admission decision by April 1. The challenge with Regular Decision is that some students will apply in the fall, but may not receive an admission decision for several months.

In order to be more responsive to applicants, we are now offering students a third option. Beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2013, we will offer an Early Action round of admission. Students who complete their application to Ithaca College by December 1 and select Early Action on their Common Application will be notified of an admission decision by February 1. As with Regular Decision, students admitted in Early Action will have until May 1 to submit their enrollment deposit.

It is our hope that the addition of an Early Action option improves our responsiveness to students, allowing them to know if Ithaca College presents a realistic opportunity with as much time as possible to fully consider their collegiate options. This new option will also benefit the College by encouraging applications earlier in the admission process, helping to distribute the growing applicant pool over a greater period of time and allowing our counselors more time to consider each applicant.

It is important to note that, due to the timing of the audition and interview process, Early Action will not be offered to applicants in Music or Theatre. It is also important to note that Early Action applicants will not benefit from the slightly higher admission rates of Early Decision.

Standardized Test Option

In addition to Early Action, applicants to Ithaca College this fall may appreciate one other option available for the first time. Students applying for the 2013 entering class will have the option to either submit SAT or ACT scores as part of their admission file or withhold them altogether from consideration.

By adopting this standardized test option, Ithaca College joins a growing cohort of selective schools that have chosen to reduce the impact of standardized testing in the admission process. We are instituting this policy because it is consistent with the College’s holistic review process, in which applicants are considered based on all information submitted rather than solely test scores and high school GPA. Director of Admission Gerard Turbide notes, “We have always reviewed applicants holistically to assess each student’s potential for success at Ithaca College. From the coursework they choose, to the leadership positions they hold, and the many and varied talents that they bring, we want to develop a complete picture of every student. None of that is captured in a standardized test score.”

In addition, research on our past applicant pools and the performance of IC students demonstrates that a student’s standardized test score adds little predictive accuracy in understanding his or her subsequent success at Ithaca College, beyond the information contained in high school GPA, class rank, and curricular strength. In this respect, our own research confirms findings from studies conducted at many other colleges and universities. 

The policy change will help the College broaden its applicant pool (which reached a record 13,810 in 2012), as students with strong academic achievement in high school but low standardized test scores will be more likely to apply. Using the experience of other institutions as a guide, it is also anticipated that the applicant pool will become more diverse, as underrepresented students tend to take greater advantage of test-optional policies.

Eric Maguire, Vice President for Enrollment and Communication, states, “We believe this policy change will allow us to craft our class of enrolled students from a larger and more diverse applicant pool, while focusing less on standardized test scores that contribute only marginally to our prediction of student success.”

Ithaca College President Tom Rochon, who approved the adoption of the standardized test option, is well-positioned to consider the benefits of the new policy. Dr. Rochon has extensive experience in standardized testing, having served as the executive director of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) program at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Reflecting on the policy change, President Rochon noted, “Test scores serve a vital function in very large universities where admissions decisions are made based primarily on a formula derived from test scores and GPA. At Ithaca College, we are fortunate to be able to delve deeply into the characteristics of each individual applicant, making reliance on test scores optional in our desire to craft the best possible class of incoming students.”

Details about the standardized test option will appear shortly on the Undergraduate Admission section of the Ithaca College website. In the meantime, below is a brief FAQ on the policy details.

What if I believe my standardized test scores are an accurate reflection of my capability?

The policy change places the decision of standardized test score submission in the hands of students. If an applicant believes standardized test scores are reflective of his/her ability, the student should feel free to submit them for consideration. Based upon the experiences of institutions that have previously made such a transition, we anticipate that 70-80% of applicants will continue to submit standardized test scores.

Does this mean I don’t have to take the SAT or ACT?

For admission to Ithaca College, no, a student is not required to take a standardized test. However, we wish to note that many outside scholarship opportunities, such as those available through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, are tied to SAT score. So while Ithaca College will not require submission of a standardized test score, other opportunities and organizations might.

Are any students excluded from this option?

Yes. Home-schooled students and students who attend a high school that provides descriptive report cards (rather than alphanumeric grades) must submit standardized test scores. In addition, international students whose first language is not English will still be required to submit results of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

Are applicants required to submit anything in lieu of standardized test scores?

No. As always, students may submit additional information, such as writing samples and other creative work. These additions to the application will be considered, but are not required for students who choose to exclude their standardized test score from consideration.

Are students who elect to exclude their standardized test scores still eligible for merit-based scholarships?

Yes. Applicants who choose to withhold SAT or ACT scores will receive full consideration for merit-based scholarships. It is important to note, however, that merit-based scholarships are highly competitive regardless of one’s decision to submit standardized test scores.

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