Dickinson Goes Test Blind for 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle


Anoushka Ghosh '24, Guest Writer

 To ease some of the stress being experienced by potential applicants, Dickinson has announced its decision to go test-blind for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Dickinson is one of the first liberal-arts colleges to make this decision and this policy will be pertinent to all applicants.It is no secret that the first semester of senior year is a stressful time for students, specifically because of the long-awaited college application process. However, this year it has become even more stressful due to the extenuating circumstances caused by COVID-19.

Dickinson has been a test-optional institution since 1994, meaning that applicants have not been required to submit  their standardized scores to be considered with their application. By going test-blind for all applicants for spring and fall 2021, the college has decided that no scores will be reviewed for any candidate. This is also applicable to scholarship consideration.

Since Dickinson has previously followed the test-optional policy, the admissions office’s process for evaluating applicants will remain unchanged.  Applicants will be holistically evaluated based on their high school record, including rigor of courses and performance level,  recommendations from teachers and counselors, and their  application and essay. Applicants will not have to submit any additional information as a substitute for standardized testing, but connecting with their regional counselor for a meeting or interview can strengthen their application as a whole. If an applicant wants to add their standardized testing scores to their applications they will be able to highlight this information in an interview or meeting with their regional advisor. 

Another concern of applicants is about how Advanced Placement will be evaluated with this new policy. Under this new decision, AP and IB courses will not be a part of the evaluation but are still eligible for  college credit.

Catherine McDonald Davenport, the vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions, said that this decision “made logical sense” and gave an insight into the process that was taken to finalize this decision as quickly as possible., The proposal was first developed by the enrollment office within a week, Dickinson’s senior leadership and faculty committees approved it. Davenport has also mentioned that this policy will be re-analyzed based on whether there are positive or negative impacts, similar to how they regularly evaluate their test-optional policy.

2020 has been a year filled with uncertainty, also affecting students and standardized testing. On September 3rd,  President Margee Ensign sent out an email to students, faculty, and alumni about this decision saying that the move was for “health, equity and fairness reasons.”. The first idea she explained was that many students were not being able to sit for either the SAT or ACT. 

According to President Ensign, many students, parents, and college counselors reported that this issue was creating more anxiety for students, in addition to college applications. As test centers began re-opening, students believed it would give them a second chance, but such re-openings came with more complications. There were new worries about how to keep students safe from the global pandemic along with the complications that ensued after it was revealed that there would be limited seating, which could negatively impact already marginalized applicants. 

“I think it was a good decision,” Morgan Williams ‘24 said. “The tests are stressful enough without having to now worry about putting your health at risk by taking them.”

Naima Ezekiel ‘24 agreed with this sentiment in a message to The Dickinsonian, saying, “It is a step in the right to make higher education more accessible to disadvantaged groups!”

By transitioning from test-optional to test-blind, Dickinson has made a clear stance on standardized testing. This tumultuous decision was taken in order to protect the safety of potential students and make the application process as equal and fair as possible.