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The following, copied from The Daily Report from the Chronicle of Higher
Education, seems to be yet another instance of how the gates of academic can
widen -- or narrow -- given the market for incoming students and the need to
attract more of them to fill seats in schools with "higher rankings."

Gene Kerstiens

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A glance at the October 30 issue of "The New Republic":
The real reason colleges drop SAT requirements

Colleges are eliminating SAT scores as admissions requirements
to increase their positions in the "U.S. News & World Report"
rankings, writes Marcia Yablon, a reporter-researcher at "The
New Republic." "It's the dirty little secret of competitive
college admissions: Make the SAT optional, and your "U.S. News"
ranking ... will almost certainly rise," she writes. Ms. Yablon
explains that by not requiring students to submit their SAT
scores, colleges can better their ranking in a number of ways.
Only students with strong scores will submit them, "leading to
an increase of as much as 100 points in a college's lowest
scores." Also, more students will apply if SAT scores are not
mandatory, continues Ms. Yablon, "and thus a lower percentage
will be admitted, which boosts a college's 'selectivity'
rating." In addition, "the overall high-school grade-point
average (and class rank) of incoming freshmen will also go up,
as more students with high G.P.A.'s but low SAT's apply." Citing
many examples of colleges that have recently benefited from the
practice, such as Bowdoin, Dickinson, and Muhlenberg Colleges,
Ms. Yablon writes that the "recent trend toward dropping the SAT
requirement among small liberal-arts colleges provides ample
evidence of a rankings cause and effect." She also distinguishes
the trend from one at large state universities, where the test
is made "voluntary so that it's harder to prove that they're
letting in minority students with lower scores -- and thereby
practicing potentially unconstitutional affirmative action." The
article is not available online, but information about the
magazine may be found at http://www.thenewrepublic.com
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