WATERVILLE — Officials at Colby College announced Monday that applicants will no longer be required to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of the admissions process beginning with the Class of 2023.
The change is designed to increase access for disadvantaged students, lessen anxiety over the college admissions process and place more of an emphasis on applicants’ overall achievements as opposed to test scores, said Matt Proto, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Colby.
“It’s hard to see any disadvantages,” Proto said. “From our perspective, we’re hoping this will contribute to attracting incredibly talented students from a multitude of backgrounds to the college – students that can make an impact on the college and the college on them because of their experiences and level of intellect both in and out of the classroom. Sometimes that’s not picked up on in a test score.”
The new policy is also one way Proto said Colby is hoping to broaden access and diversify its student body.
In December, as part of its “Colby Commitment” initiative, the college announced that families who make $60,000 or less per year in household income would not be expected to contribute to their student’s tuition.
Proto said students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds often don’t have the same opportunities to take standardized tests as their more affluent peers. For example, they may only have the chance to take the SAT – which costs $64.50 with the essay portion – just once while other students could take the test multiple times to get a better score.
In 2017, the college launched DavisConnects, a program designed to ensure all students have the chance to experience travel, research and internship opportunities, regardless of their economic backgrounds.
Colby College does not have an application fee, and while students are no longer required to submit standardized test scores, Proto said those who wish to still have that option.
“We want students to present their very best selves, so we want them to have the choice to submit or not,” he said.
Applications will continue to be evaluated holistically, with admissions officials looking at students in the context of their personal and educational environment and evaluating their commitment to an intellectual lifestyle, positive impact on their community and what they’ve done to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
Colby’s liberal arts peers, Bates College and Bowdoin College, have for years made test scores optional in the admissions process, but Proto said that did not factor into the new policy at Colby.
“There have been many national and regional studies of schools that both require test scores and those who don’t,” he said. “In many ways we do think it’s a very positive thing that three of the best institutions in the country have made this decision, although it was a decision solely based on Colby.”
Colby currently enrolls about 2,000 students, including about 200 students from Maine who are the recipients of about $7 million in grant-based financial aid.
The school had 12,313 applicants for the Class of 2022, about 13 percent of whom were accepted. The median SAT score for those enrolled, as of Aug. 1, was 1430 and the median ACT score was 32, Proto said.
Miller Library towers above the Colby College campus in Waterville, Maine.