Hollins Makes Test-Optional Admission Policy Permanent

Hollins Sign

Hollins University faculty have approved the permanent adoption of a test-optional admission policy for domestic students. ACT and SAT scores will no longer be required when applying for admission.

“Hollins strongly endorses a student-centered, holistic approach to admission,” said Ashley Browning, Hollins’ vice president for enrollment management. She noted that if a prospective first-year student chooses to submit ACT or SAT scores, Hollins will continue to consider them as part of the student’s total application. However, “the absence of standardized test scores will not disadvantage any domestic student’s application for admission.”

Michael Gettings, dean of academic success at Hollins, stated that the case for a test-optional admission policy is strong. “Students of color and students with fewer resources, both low-income and first-generation, tend to be disadvantaged by standardized test requirements, either because of the cost of the test, lack of access to test prep services, lower-resource schools, or other factors.  National data indicates that students from these groups earn lower SAT scores, and are thus disproportionately represented among groups with lower scores.”

Gettings explained that even though few students have to date entered Hollins without test scores, “our analysis indicates that students with lower test scores historically perform well, with respect to Hollins GPA and graduation rates, nearly the same as the overall student population.”

Hollins assesses many aspects of a student’s application to determine their academic preparedness for the university. This includes the high school transcript; course rigor; Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate and other advanced coursework; GPA; class rank; required essay; and recommendations.  “These are all good indicators that allow the Office of Admission to judge academic readiness,” said Gettings, “and again, our data indicate that these are predictors of academic success at Hollins.”

Browning added that Hollins’ decision reflects a broader trend in higher education. “Many schools have gone test-optional during the global pandemic, and many are making that change permanent in order to make the application process more equitable for students from all backgrounds.”

Last August, Hollins joined more than 500 college and university members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling in confirming that students would not be penalized for the absence of a standardized test score for admission in Fall 2021. The policy was intended to alleviate uncertainty for students and families as they weighed concerns about the safety of going to test centers or the feasibility of testing from home due to COVID-19.