Test optional admissions needs improvement to compensate for rising student debt


Kevin Chen

Although test-optional admissions are a great boon for students in the wake of COVID-19, their consequences need to be dealt with.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, one area of life that was uniquely, irrevocably changed was college admissions. Due to the closing of testing centers due to COVID-19 lockdowns, colleges began waiving their testing requirements en masse, giving the class of 2021 the possibility to be admitted without sending a single test score.

This change certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. Though a seemingly common sense decision during lockdown, the ubiquity of standardized testing in education systems worldwide has been criticized at length for multiple reasons from multiple movements, including arguments that standardized testing is ineffective at measuring student achievement and discriminatory against students who are low-income, people of color, and female. But, with the requirement of standardized testing nearly gone, there’s only one question. After a year since implementation, how have they affected college admissions?

One noticeable effect is an increase in student debt. This is because colleges can charge more tuition to the increased number of students without testing, as most of them have fewer enrollment options. This causes students without test scores to borrow an average of $1,358 more than students with test scores, and it has been noted that students enrolled after the switch to test optional admissions pay less.

Although this may be a massive blow to test optional admissions, it’s important to recognize that being test optional only exacerbates underlying issues rather than directly causing them. In order to keep this boon for students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges should be aware of any flaws within test optional admissions, like alleviating the rising student debt through tuition decreases or increased financial aid.