Brandeis to pilot test-flexible admissions option
Program is 'an evolutionary change,' particularly suited to university's distinctive status
Brandeis University announced that it will pilot a test-flexible admissions process, giving undergraduate applicants for fall 2014 the option to submit applications either with a combination of advanced placement, SAT subject tests or International Baccalaureate exams, or with an enhanced academic portfolio.
“Brandeis’ admissions team takes an individualized, holistic view when evaluating applicants for admission. Our experience shows that the rigor of a student’s program and overall academic performance are the best indicators of a student’s ability to take on challenges and excel academically,” said Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment.
“This is an evolutionary change, since we already strive to de-emphasize the role of standardized tests in our admissions decisions through the careful evaluation of high school program and grades, recommendation letters, interview reports, and other ‘non-cognitive’ factors,” he added.
Applicants choosing the combination of subject tests will be asked to submit scores in science or math, English, history, languages, arts or social sciences, and one test of the student’s choice from a discipline other than the first two chosen. Applicants may alternatively choose an academic portfolio option that includes one sample of analytical writing and an additional academic teacher evaluation.
As part of the pilot program, Brandeis will collect standardized test scores from students who choose the test-flexible option after they matriculate to facilitate ongoing review of the pilot program. After two years, the policy and its results will be reviewed and a formal proposal to maintain, expand, narrow, or discontinue the program will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate.
Flagel notes that the program is particularly suited to the distinctive Brandeis status as a research university with the collaborative ethos and scale of a small liberal arts college, offering students control over how their application will be evaluated while maintaining exceptionally high academic standards.
“This institution’s historical commitment to high intellectual standards, strong moral conscience and inviolable integrity embodied by our namesake, Justice Louis Brandeis, includes a tradition of pluralism and a belief that education is enhanced through the diversity of our student body. Our robust application pool this year, which increased more than 13 percent, makes this an ideal time to launch a pilot,” noted Flagel.
At the inception of Brandeis University in 1948, even before the first faculty was hired and the first students enrolled, a crucial decision was made to name the new university for Louis Brandeis. As Albert Einstein remarked at the time, “Brandeis is a name that cannot be merely adopted. It is one that must be achieved."
The Jewish community’s contribution to American higher education has at its core both the highest ethical ideals of the Jewish tradition and the deepest principles of American democracy. The founders of Brandeis retained memories, personal and familial, of exclusion and oppression, and of emigration in search of freedom and opportunity. The university they established is nonsectarian, imposing no religious requirements or tests on students or faculty. More than that, it embraced the pluralism of American society, at a time when discrimination and quotas still restricted access to higher education for various minorities and for women.
“Building on these values, we can take a prominent national leadership role in modeling best practices in the use of standardized tests, aligning admissions practices with our university’s legacy. With competition for admission to Brandeis at an all-time high, we must do all we can to be sure we are admitting the most qualified possible class. I am confident that this new model will continue our tradition of admitting academically gifted and motivated students with a passion for changing the world."