A New De-emphasis on SATs in the Ivy Leagues?

There appears to be a new trend emerging at elite universities to focus less on SAT score and more on an applicant's general academic context.

While the top Ivy League schools -- colleges like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford -- don't seem to be changing their admissions standards just yet, the trend to de-emphasize the SAT is working its way upward. Smith College, for example, known for its students' economic diversity, has switched to a system of evaluating students in the context of the opportunities available to them in high school. Dean of enrollment Audrey Smith explains that SAT scores are more a reflection of a student's family income than actual merit or potential. In fact, the College Board reports that in 2007, the median SAT score for students with incomes greater than $100,000 was 1637, while students with incomes less than $50,000 had an average score of only 1462.

This certainly makes sense when considering that students from more wealthy financial backgrounds can afford college luxuries like standardized test tutors and high-priced admissions consultants.

Common acceptance of the ACT was born out of a growing distaste for the SAT at many universities. If the trend of analyzing test scores within a greater economic context becomes more common (which I believe it will), we will in all likelihood see a de-emphasis on SAT scores in the top Ivy Leagues.

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It definitely seems like grades and SATs alone aren't enough anymore. Of course, if you have a perfect score or something they'll probably let you right in, but I think they're looking for well-rounded students and diverse background experiences, leadership, and community activism.

- John, 02/16/08 at 2:51 am

Exactly, John. Excellent comment. And this often surprises parents who expect that their son or daughter's application experience will be the same as their own. It's amazing how much more colleges want of their applicants now than just 10 years ago. And even after having all that, a student also needs luck to get into the elite Ivy Leagues. It's a tough game now.

- Brian Cavner, 02/16/08 at 9:54 am

Stanford is not an Ivy League university.

- Zack, 02/16/08 at 9:45 pm

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