Test-Optional Admission Decisions at Bloomfield College

You’ve seen it before.

A well-spoken, brilliant high school student, sitting in your office, with fantastic GPA, but lousy SAT scores.

You want to accept her, but your hands are tied and your heart is broken. Again.

Without those supporting scores, there’s nothing you can do, but wish her luck elsewhere.

Our guest this week on the Enrollment Growth University was Adam Castro, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Bloomfield College. Adam has been working with Bloomfield College to challenge and change the current standardized test score-backed admissions process.

He shared with us the need he saw at this minority-majority private institution and how he was able to get faculty buy in for such a big admissions shake up.

Here are the highlights from our interview.

The Problem with Standardized Test Admission Requirements

Bloomfield College is a missional college, committed to granting access to underrepresented student populations.

While they are proud of what they’re able to offer these students, it hasn’t come without its challenges, one of which is a barrier in regards to standardized testing.

Many of the students coming from the high schools Bloomfield connects with are from low-income families, who just can’t afford test prep or private tutoring, hindering the students’ ability to do well on their SAT and ACT scores.

Adam literally turned down hundreds of students with fantastic high school credentials, but low (or no) standardized test scores, who seemed more ready and capable than many better-tested applicants.

It was these situations that drove him to investigate how Bloomfield could change its admissions criteria.

A Better Correlator to Predict Academic Performance?

After several years of weighing up the benefits of test-based admissions vs test-optional, Adam finally came to the conclusion that there were too many variables in the high school environments of these students that affected his ability to evaluate whether or not a student was college ready using a test-based process.

Adam and the admissions team found that the majority students who were consistently getting B’s or higher in their core college prep and honors coursework in high school were able to translate that success and performance into their first term in college.

They then began comparing the students’ high school GPA’s with their first term GPA’s and found they were nearly identical and were able to be maintained at that same level.

That’s when Adam realized that maybe all the weight being given to standardized test scores wasn’t entirely fair or even an accurate indicator of college readiness.

The Enrollment & Academic Benefits of a Test-Optional Admissions Policy

Even though it’s still early days, Adam is already seeing big changes with the Fall 2018 admissions cycle–most specifically, he’s seeing more engaged students than ever before.

For starters, Bloomfield has had a higher attendance rate for open houses and campus tours than ever, and even receiving more than normal early deposits with higher FAFSA submission rates.

Their goal was to increase applications by 10% with the new test-optional process and they have been excited to see that number is now closer to 20%, with 20% of the total applicant pool opting to not submit their scores, and nearly half giving the college the option to weigh their scores as part of the process (depending on how beneficial the scores are for acceptance).

It’s even getting great responses from high school counselors and parents, who find a sense of relief when they discover that their child doesn’t have to suffer the unnecessary burden of getting good scores to be considered for a private, four-year institution.

And, on a more personal level, Adam and the other faculty have found relief in eliminating those heartbreaking rejections of students who seem more than capable of excelling in college, but don’t have the standardized test scores to support the enrollment decision.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Adam Castro from Bloomfield College. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Enrollment Growth University.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.