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Press Releases

Friday, December 1, 2006

SU Becomes First in USM With SAT Optional Policy

SALISBURY, MD---The University System of Maryland Board of Regents has approved Salisbury University’s proposal for a five-year pilot study to make submission of SAT and ACT scores optional for certain applicants.

“I’m grateful for Board of Regents’ support of this pilot study,” said Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach.  “Its purpose is to recruit motivated students who have made a commitment to academic excellence. This policy aligns closely with our mission that values a diverse student body with unique talents and abilities.   Many colleges have implemented similar policies and we believe this will benefit academic and campus life.”

Under the proposal, prospective students with a high school grade point average of 3.5 or higher will have the option to submit SAT and ACT scores when applying to SU. Salisbury will be the first USM institution to make SAT and ACT results optional when considering such students’ admission.

In the past, reliance on standardized tests as a significant factor for admission has excluded some excellent, talented students from consideration, said Jane Dané, dean of enrollment management, who wrote the proposal.   In response, SU’s admissions process has evolved in recent years into a more holistic approach, admitting high-achieving students while reducing the importance of standardized tests.  Admissions routinely are based on students’ academic achievement, talents, skills and community service, she said.

Based on a review of SU freshman academic performance, the level of coursework taken, such as advanced placement classes, coupled with the grade point average are found to be stronger predictors of academic success than the SAT. Students with more challenging courses and higher grades, despite lower SAT scores, had a higher rate of college success. Conversely, students with higher SAT scores and lower high school grades succeeded at a lower rate in college.

SU expects this new policy will attract an even more diverse pool of highly motivated, civic-minded students with distinct talents in academics, the arts, leadership and other fields of achievement. Students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores will be encouraged to provide additional information to demonstrate their strengths in these areas.

Part of a national trend, other colleges in the region have recently adopted a test-optional approach for admissions. They include Drew University (NJ), George Mason University (VA) and Gettysburg College (PA).  Three of SU’s performance peers—Humboldt State University (CA), Sonoma State University (CA) and Western Oregon University—and one doctoral-granting peer, University of Northern Iowa, offer a similar admissions program.

One quarter of the Top 100 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, are now test score optional.

SU’s core values are excellence, student-centeredness, learning, community, civic engagement and diversity.  The University believes the policy will more closely align the admissions process with these core values and better support its mission of providing a superior learning community to students who show exceptional promise and motivation.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at

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