The Changing Role of SATs and ACTs

Like many high school seniors last spring, Georgia native Jaydon Dennis applied to many colleges in the hopes of gaining admission. One decision he had that past senior didn’t have to worry about is whether to include his SAT score on the application. 

 “I liked the schools that requested test scores because I felt like my scores reflected my intellect more than my GPA did,” says Dennis. He chose to send his scores to certain schools but refrained from sending his scores to others due to the fees required to do so. 

There are many factors that go into whether or not one decides to submit their scores, or will make a point to apply to colleges that do not require test scores. 

Rising high school seniors from all over the country are just beginning their journey through the lengthy college admissions process. Between essays, recommendation letters and resumes, applying to college is not an easy task. Many students have already completed the first step of this journey by taking the SAT and ACT. 

As some schools move to become test-optional, colleges have been putting a larger emphasis on the different areas of a student’s application. As standardized testing is appearing to play a smaller role in the admissions process, many are left questioning the future and importance of the ACT and SAT. 

Wade LaFontaine is the Senior Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Georgia. UGA has refrained from continuing to be test-optional after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as LaFontaine explains, these scores are still pertinent in the admissions process. 

“Standardized test scores are supplemental to our review, but do add some context to the student’s performance,” says LaFontaine, “It allows us to understand that the student is not only great in the classroom but a good test taker as well.” 

Although many universities continue to require test scores, others have become test-optional. Rumors about the motives behind test-optional schools are common. Many believe that they are using this as a tactic to increase applications to bring in more money to the institution.

Although every university has its own reasons for putting certain policies in place, it is important to remember that “test-optional” does not necessarily guarantee an increase in applications. 

“During Covid, we were test-optional. It was the first time in history since we’ve started requiring tests that even if someone had an SAT or ACT score, they weren’t required to submit it,” says LaFontaine, “Even being test-optional, there wasn’t as much of an increase as you think there would be without having a test be required.”

Not every college is prioritizing financial gains during the admissions process. The University of Georgia is an example of an institution that values quality over quantity. 

“We want the best applications, not the most,” says LaFontaine. “We don’t want to be seen as a state adding extra applications for application fees to increase revenue. Our goal is to provide education to as many students as possible, but to also make sure that they’re successful.” 

Some colleges argue that they are test-optional because they believe that it is more important to see what students accomplish during their high school career as opposed to a single test. 

Just because a school requires test scores doesn’t mean that they haven’t developed a similar mindset. “Our university will be in a good position to have amazingly high achieving students with or without test scores,” LaFontaine says.

The SATs and ACTs aren’t everything they once were when it comes to college applications. However, the likelihood of these tests disappearing for good is still a long shot and extremely unlikely to happen anytime soon.    

“While schools may become more test-optional, ACT and SAT would be likely to adjust,” says LaFontaine. “Any business that is a business of that magnitude that has a national reputation will likely find a way to continue to be part of the higher education landscape.”

Underneath the Fedora

A passionate professor with valuable experiences to share, Dr. Joe Dennis is leading an impressive career in the journalism field. Raised in Chicago, Dennis has spent the last 22 years in Georgia with his wife and three children. Recieving his PhD from the University of Georgia, Joe taught at that university for a couple of years. He currently teaches at Piedmont University where he can be found on campus wearing his iconic fedora.

Joe currently owns over 15 fedoras, and has been a collector since 2011. Aside from making a fashion statement, these hats have a unique connection to his culture.

Originally working as a disk jockey, Dennis proudly wore a hoop earring during his late-teens/early twenties. When he made a pivotal career switch by deciding to further his education, he wanted to change it up as he worked to receive his masters and doctorate degrees.

“The earring didn’t make much sense anymore. I thought, ‘I need something that defines me.’ Bruno Mars was popular around then, and he rocks the fedora. I came to learn that he’s Phillipino. I thought, ‘That’s it! I’m going to wear a fedora.'”

Joe’s heritage played a significant role in his upbringing. His mother and sister immigrated from the Philippines and did not leave their culture behind.

“The Phillipino side of my family dominated my family life growing up,” says Joe. He was raised to value family over everything and spent much of his time at family gatherings growing up.

“There are always these new family members you’re meeting,” he says, “I grew up around a lot of my Phillipino relatives.”

Dennis continues to stay in touch with his heritage by making traditional Phillipino dishes. He shares these dishes with his children and has introduced them to a series of meals. He truly values his culture and wants it to be a part of his children’s lives as well.

“We try to go to Chicago for certain holidays so that my kids can be around that extended Phillipino family,” he says.

Journalists spend much of their time working and talking with people, and can have a profound impact on someone’s life. Dennis believes that the morals instilled in him from a young age have helped him in this career. After writing about a man who was living in unbearable conditions due to his landlord, a whole series on slumlords was created. “Part of how I was raised was to always be thinking about how decisions impact people,” Dennis says, “I have always had a heart to look out for people that have been forgotten.”

Ansley Schnelle

My name is Ansley Schnelle and I’m from Colorado. I am an avid golfer and can often be found on the golf course. From a young age I have always been interested in writing. Over time, this interest has developed into a passion.

I am headed into my senior year and I am both a staff writer and editor for my school newspaper. I am at this journalism camp because I am eager to improve my writing skills. I also plan on majoring in journalism in college and I want to become as familiar as I can with this field.

When I am older, I wish to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. I truly value learning about those around me and enjoy hearing about their life experiences. Everybody has a story to tell, and I cannot wait to be able to share those findings with others.