Tag: test-optional

Putting students first: Lawrence waives application fee, drops early decision deadline in admission process

Ten years after announcing it was joining a then-select few number of schools nationally that would no longer require ACT or SAT scores as a condition of admission, Lawrence University is implementing two more student-centered changes to its admission process.

Beginning with applicants for the 2016-2017 academic year, Lawrence will no longer require an application fee, dropping its long-standing $40 requirement with a submitted application.

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Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid

“While we may have appeared forward-thinking 10 years ago when we became a test-optional institution, we’ve been a little late to the party when it comes to eliminating the application fee,” said Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid. “Despite the budget implications for Lawrence, we felt it was important to simplify the process and eliminate any potential hurdle that would prevent a qualified student from considering Lawrence.”

The college also has eliminated its binding Early Decision admission process, replacing it with a non-binding Early Action process. Lawrence now has three standard admission deadlines: Nov. 1 Early Action 1; Dec.1 Early Action 2; Jan 15 Regular Decision.

“There are benefits to Lawrence to having an Early Decision option. It helps us with our enrollment planning and, because so many other selective colleges offer Early Decision, it makes us look ‘more prestigious,’” said Anselment. “But after we thought more deeply about it, and sought the advice of many in the college counseling profession, we realized that it doesn’t provide similar benefits to students.”

“With test-optional admission, no-fee applications and three non-binding admission deadlines, we hope to put students at the center of our admission process.”
— Ken Anselment

Students who apply for Early Admission to a college must make a commitment to enroll at that college if they are admitted, usually well in advance of the May 1 National Candidates Reply Date.

“We believe it is more beneficial to let the students fully consider all their options until May 1,” explained Anselment. “Admitted students who know Lawrence is the right place for them can certainly make their decisions as early as they’d like, but they will no longer need a binding agreement from Lawrence to do so.”

Ever since going test optional in 2006, about one quarter of Lawrence’s nearly 3,000 applicants have opted to forgo submitting ACT or SAT scores, letting their academic records and extra-curricular lives speak for themselves. The admission rates and scholarship opportunities for submitters and non-submitters have remained the same during the past decade as well.

“With test-optional admission, no-fee applications and three non-binding admission deadlines, we hope to put students at the center of our admission process, which is what we believe to be essential to our mission in providing a transformative college experience,” said Anselment.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Trivial Differences: Lawrence Participates in National Study on Success of Test Score Submitters vs. Non-Submitters

Lawrence University was one of 33 college and universities in the country that participated in a national study that found no significant difference in the success rates of students who submit standardized test scores for admission to colleges and those who don’t.

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Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid

Lawrence has been test optional — it does not require student to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of their application — since the start of the 2006-07 academic year.

The study, “Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions,” was conducted by Principal Investigator William C. Hiss, former vice president and dean of admissions at Bates College.

Hiss’ research found in the study of colleges with test optional admission policies there were no significant differences in either cumulative GPA or graduation rates between submitters and non-submitters.

“Since we went test-optional, about 75 percent of our applicants have submitted their standardized test results for our admission review. The rest have not,” said Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence. “The admission rates for both groups have been the same, and, more important, the achievements of the students once they arrive at Lawrence also have been similarly successful.”

The study, which examined the records of 123,000 students, found the differences between test score submitters and non-submitters were .05 point of a grade point average, 2.88 vs. 2.83, respectively, and the graduation rate for submitters was only 0.6 of one percent higher than non-submitters.

“By any standard, these are trivial differences,” Hiss said in his report.

Lawrence was one of 20 private colleges and universities in the study, which also included data from six public universities, five minority-serving institutions and two arts institutions. The schools in the study had enrollments ranging from 350 students to 50,000 and were located in 22 U.S. states and territories.

“We have long known that there are more important predictors for success in college than standardized test results,” said Anselment. “And this national study provides significant proof that that is, indeed, true.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Long-Serving Admissions Dean Looks Forward to Life without Student Applications

Having overseen the enrollment of more than 10,300 Lawrence University students — nearly 40 percent of all Lawrence alumni alive today — Steve Syverson is looking forward to reading something other than high school transcripts and lists of extracurricular activities.

After 28 years of shaping Lawrence’s student body as head of the college’s admission office, Syverson will retire at the end of June. He is the longest serving dean of admissions in the college’s history.

“When my wife Diana and I arrived at Lawrence in 1983, I envisioned a career in which I would move to a new college every five or six years,” said Syverson, vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid. “Obviously, 28 years later, it’s clear that our love for Lawrence and the Fox Cities changed those plans dramatically.”

Steve Syverson, vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, is retiring June 30 after 28 years at Lawrence.

Not only did Syverson’s career plans change, but the college underwent its own transformation, physically and demographically. Seven new buildings have been built since he joined the college. Applications during his tenure soared from 879 his first year to 2,800 this year. Lawrence’s enrollment in the fall of 1983 was 1,028 and 50 percent of the students were from Wisconsin. By 2010, enrollment had increased 48 percent to 1,520 degree-seeking students, with more than 70 percent of the freshmen coming from out-of-state.

“Steve has done exceptional work for our college and conservatory over the years, strengthening the student applicant pool and building a first-rate team of admissions staff,” said Lawrence President Jill Beck. “His financial management has been crucial to the well-functioning of the university. We have all depended upon him to help sustain a vibrant academic and artistic core at Lawrence. Steve’s sense of how to achieve balance in our entering classes, including athletes, scientists, humanists, musicians and artists, students of diverse backgrounds, social scientists and geographic diversity, has been masterful.”

The goal of attracting bright, diverse and engaged students has remained constant the past two-plus decades, but the means of attracting them has undergone radical change since Syverson started.

“When I first arrived, my correspondence was typed by a secretary on a typewriter and re-typed from scratch if I made any edits,” said Syverson, a native of California. “In the late 1980’s, I recall getting talked into purchasing a contraption called a fax machine. Today we read our applications electronically on laptops and I haven’t sent a paper version of a memo in years.”

An outspoken critic of college rankings, Syverson has established himself as a nationally respected voice on the ethical treatment of students in the admissions process and has been interviewed numerous times for stories by The New York Times, Washington Post, PBS and others on the subject. He served as vice president of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling’s (NACAC) for admissions practices from 1988-91 and is a former president of the Wisconsin ACAC.

In 2005, Lawrence joined a growing movement of selective colleges to adopt a “test optional” admissions policy and Syverson subsequently served on the national Commission on the Use of Standardized Tests in Undergraduate Admissions.

“We need to challenge the perceived importance of the SAT and ACT,” Syverson said of the decision to go test-optional. “A student’s high school record is the best predictor of success in college, so if that student has done well in high school but has weaker test scores, they can ask that we not consider their scores.”

A past president of the Fox Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Syverson plans to remain involved with the organization in retirement, as well as committing serious energy toward promoting the Certified Educational Planner, a national credential for college counselors.

“I believe strongly that every student should have access to good advice as they explore their post-secondary school options and the CEP will help families identify strong college counselors,” he said.

Ken Anselment, director of admissions at Lawrence since 2004, succeeds Syverson as dean of admissions and financial aid on July 1.