SMC Adopts Test-Optional Admissions Policy

SMC Adopts Test-Optional Admissions Policy

Faculty Votes To Remove Obstacle For Historically Underrepresented Populations

By Jason Spencer

This article appeared originally in the Fall 2020 issue of Frontiers Magazine.

Prospective students will no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission into Spartanburg Methodist College.

Seeking to craft a more equitable path to admissions, College faculty approved a test-optional admissions policy, which went into effect for fall 2020 applicants. The move follows a national trend to remove barriers that limit the access historically underrepresented populations have to higher education.

A growing body of research indicates that race and ethnicity, along with family income and parental education, can put students from historically underrepresented populations at a disadvantage when it comes to standardized testing. Such students often cannot afford tutors or taking the tests multiple times to achieve a higher score. They also are more likely to have attended under-resourced elementary and high schools.

Students traditionally underrepresented in higher education include racial and ethnic minorities, first-generation college students, and low-income students – all of whom make up a substantial portion of SMC’s student body.

And these are exactly the students Spartanburg Methodist exists to serve.

“Removing the SAT and ACT requirements from our admissions policy opens the door for more non-white, first-generation, and low-income students to gain the tools they need to build wealth that they can pass along to their children and grandchildren,” says Julie Lanford ’07, Executive Director of Admissions and Enrollment Services.

More than half of the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the country are now test-optional, according to U.S. News & World Report. SMC faculty have analyzed the last three years of incoming student data and determined that GPA is the best indicator of student success at Spartanburg Methodist College.

Under the new admissions policy, SMC will review college applicants on high school GPA only. Students can choose to submit standardized test scores if they feel those scores accurately reflect their ability; those scores will be used in continued research on the correlation between test scores and student success.

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