Davison House is one of the dormitories at Vassar College.

Two public colleges in New York have permanently adopted test-optional admissions, eliminating the requirement for students to submit SAT or ACT scores.

SUNY Vassar and Schenectady County Community College will no longer require standardized test scores for applicants. They say this will increase access, support holistic review of applications, and address inequities in admissions.

“By making test scores optional, we are able to consider each applicant’s unique strengths and recognize the potential of diverse candidates for success at Vassar,” said President Elizabeth Bradley at Vassar College. “This policy supports our commitment to student access and success.”

Schenectady County Community College President Phillis Coronato said the change falls in line with the college’s mission and values, including access, diversity and equity. “Test scores will no longer be used as a barrier to admission at SCCC,” Coronato said.

Around 1,000 four-year colleges have adopted test-optional policies, particularly private colleges. A smaller but growing number of public institutions have also made scores optional, especially in recent years amid debates over equity, access and alternative admissions criteria.

Supporters argue it promotes fair consideration of applicants while reducing barriers to admission. Critics counter that scores provide an objective measure to inform important admissions decisions, especially at selective colleges.

Reservations aside, the trend is clear and likely to continue expanding in the U.S. and beyond. By diversifying admissions criteria and focusing on students’ talents, experiences, potential and motivation instead of or in addition to scores, colleges can tap into a wider range of gifted candidates and attend to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in authentic ways.

Standardized test scores will remain an option for applicants who choose to submit them at the two colleges, but they will no longer be required. Applicants need only demonstrate their potential for success in a holistic, multifaceted manner. With tests scores surviving and thriving no longer a prerequisite, their admissions fortunes now truly rest in their own hands.

The news is meaningful not only for students but educators, policy experts, researchers and advocates at a time of broader debates around admissions equity in higher education. With fair, ethical access as the North Star, new frontiers can be reached to support success for students of all backgrounds. But it will demand courage, hard work and resolve from colleges and the field alike to get there. By following the lead of Vassar and Schenectady, progress can be made more swiftly and surely toward that goal.

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