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SUNY Potsdam moves to test optional policy


In an effort to move to a more holistic admissions process that examines students’ individual abilities and focus on more reliable measures of student success, SUNY Potsdam is moving to an SAT/ACT optional policy. “At Potsdam student success is our first priority. Test scores are not always effective measurements of a student’s potential at SUNY Potsdam, and it doesn’t really fit the creative and interdisciplinary culture here,” said Tom Nesbitt, director of admissions. The change is from an admission policy that only looks at students within a matrix of numbers to a personal approach that views students from many angles. It will take effect with those entering SUNY Potsdam for the 2010-2011 academic year. “The test optional policy falls in line with SUNY Potsdam’s philosophy of personal attention and a handcrafted education,” said Dr. John F. Schwaller, SUNY Potsdam president. “It is a natural step in recognizing the importance of considering the whole student in making admissions decisions and not relying solely upon arbitrary and often flawed tests. The new policy will allow SUNY Potsdam admissions counselors the opportunity to select students who are the best fit for Potsdam and the types of opportunities we offer.” The current method only considers a student’s high school grade point average and their SAT or ACT score. The new policy will look at a variety of information including GPA, academic rigor of coursework taken, essays, letters of recommendation, resumes and interviews. In addition, most students will have an option of supplying their SAT or ACT scores as part of the decision-making process. Potsdam is among the first comprehensive SUNY colleges to make the move to a test optional policy. More than 750 colleges and universities around the country have implemented similar policies, including many first-rate colleges such as Eastman School of Music, Drew University, Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, Union College, Providence College and Middlebury College. “Our research has shown that high school students who have taken a rigorous curriculum, regardless of test scores, have been some of our most successful at SUNY Potsdam,” said Nesbitt. “The new policy will position us for future shifts in the prospective student population and should lead to increased quality in our student body.” The decision to move to a test optional policy has been in the works for almost four years. The proposal has been thoroughly discussed through the campus governance structure and approved by the Faculty Senate in December 2007. President Schwaller approved the proposal and conveyed that action to SUNY System governance, from which the College has been awaiting action before implementing it. For more information about admission to SUNY Potsdam, please call (315) 267-2180.

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