Kansas State began providing an ACT/SAT test-optional scholarship application this week.
According to the announcement in Monday’s K-State Today, these scholarship applications are now available for fall 2021 incoming freshmen from the U.S.
Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management, led the initiative to provide the test-optional scholarship application. She said the change comes as a response to challenges high school students have faced getting these test scores since the start of the pandemic.
“A lot of students were able to take the test back in February, but they weren’t able to retake it like they normally could, and it didn’t feel like those test scores reflected their academic experience and potential,” Goos said.
Some students are unable to take a test at all and would have no scores to submit for scholarship consideration without this option.
“We knew we didn’t want that to be a barrier at K-State,” Goos said. “As an institution, we pride ourselves on accessibility and affordability, so we wanted to explore different ways that we could still provide that.”
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K-State has offered test-optional admission in the past, but accessibility to education doesn’t always become available at admission. Scholarships allow many students the opportunity to take part in college.
“I think it will have an impact on students’ ability to access our education,” Goos said. “I’m hoping that when students don’t feel like that test score is a barrier, they feel comfortable starting to apply. I’m optimistic that this will help increase our overall application.”
The test-optional application will evaluate students holistically, Goos said. Students’ academic records, extracurriculars and work experience contribute to the evaluation, but given the turbulent nature of 2020, other factors also hold weight on applications.
“We understand that it’s been a strange year,” Goos said. “If students have responsibilities with a sibling or something like that that made them unable to make many other commitments, we ask about that. That’s a strong commitment to family and leadership, so we wanted to take a look at all of that. Those are important pieces of what a student brings to the university.”
The priority date for test-optional scholarship consideration is Jan. 5, 2021. Eligible incoming freshmen must fill out the supplemental scholarship application for consideration. Students already admitted with a test score can also apply.
While Goos said the test-optional application emerged mostly because of the pandemic, however the change could mark a shift away from test scores holding so much weight on university and scholarship applications in the future.
“I think it’s important to recognize that it’s new,” Goos said. “We’re going to keep working on and improving our processes. I don’t know if it’s always going to look the way it does now, but we want to take this opportunity and see how it goes.”