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SUNY Potsdam hopes to continue not requiring SATs

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: SUNY Potsdam hopes to continue not requiring SATs
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For many students, the most stressful part of high school is taking the SAT. But some colleges are starting to move away from dependence on the test. It's a move that SUNY Potsdam recently made and as our Barry Wygel tells us, it's a move they do not regret.

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- With the number of tests students now take skyrocketing in recent years, SUNY Potsdam and other colleges are saying there is one test you don't need to bother with.

"We have a policy that is more holistic when it comes to admitting students," said Bruce Brydges, associate vice president of enrollment management and institutional effectiveness at SUNY Potsdam.

Instead of basing acceptance mainly on SATs and ACTs, admissions officials look at everything, including high school GPA, writing samples and interviews.

"We're genuinely feeling that this has been a positive thing for us and for the campus," said Brydges.

One of the greatest benefits of going test optional, Potsdam says, is an increase in the diversity of the student population. Leaders say that leads to a richer and fuller learning experience for everyone.

"Our freshman cohort of students last year, 24 percent of them were minority students compared to nine percent in 2007. We are much richer for that. I think our students are better for that experience," said Brydges.

In the other statistics Potsdam has studied, leaders say they have only seen positive results.

"We had a 17 percent increase in applications overall. We accepted 12 percent more students and we actually enrolled nine percent more students," said Brydges.

Those numbers contrast with other colleges, which have seen declining enrollment in recent years. Now that a three year pilot program is done, SUNY Potsdam officials will make a presentation to SUNY leaders in Albany, who will decide whether to make the change permanent.

"The research speaks for itself," said Brydges.

And university leaders hope the change will continue to enrich the campus community for years to come.

SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Delhi and Empire State College are currently the only SUNY schools that do not require SAT scores. Potsdam does still take SAT scores into account when awarding merit scholarships.

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