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Canisius sets a new standard: First in WNY to offer SAT, ACT-free admissions


Tue, Nov 15th 2022 07:00 am

Canisius President Steve K. Stoute on Monday announced the college will adopt a test-free policy for undergraduate admissions, beginning with students applying for admissions in fall 2024. The new policy removes all consideration of standardized tests (SAT and ACT) in the evaluation of admission to the college.

Canisius is the first in the Western New York region and one of only two Jesuit institutions to offer test-free admissions.

“Canisius College is where leaders are made, and leadership in the modern world means responding to our most pressing challenges with nonstandard answers,” Stoute said. “A test-free admissions policy will free us to empower students to express who they really are: unique individuals with diverse interests, backgrounds and talents, in the admissions process. It is these students who comprise the vibrant learning community at Canisius.”

A press release said, “The test-free admissions policy supports the college’s renewed commitment to justice. Standardized tests unfairly advantage students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, who can afford tutors, preparation courses and other resources, and further disadvantage students from underrepresented and underfunded communities, as well as students with cognitive disabilities. Standardized tests can even discourage talented students from applying to college, thereby excluding many from the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

Stoute said, “Standardized tests are just one of many factors Canisius historically utilized in the admissions process, but they may be among the least-valuable predictors of success. This new policy will eliminate a barrier to a high-quality Canisius education for students from all backgrounds. As a Jesuit college, ours is a faith that does justice, and this change will support our commitment to transform our society by inspiring a new generation of leaders who will not accept the status quo, but will go out and redefine their field, think boldly, and act according to their principles.”

Moving to test-free admissions is the next step for Canisius, which became test-optional in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

The college explained it has since conducted extensive research evaluating the use of standardized tests in admissions, looking at student performance both in high school and at Canisius: “The research pointed overwhelmingly to the work students did in high school as a strong predictor of success at Canisius, whereas their standardized test scores were less predictive. Annual research by the college board indicates the same – that high school performance is the single greatest indicator of a student’s performance in college.”

Since Canisius adopted a test-optional admissions policy, applications increased 18%. The admittance pool increased 12%, including an increase of students of color from 37% to 44%.

“Over the past two years, we have enrolled the most diverse classes in Canisius history,” Stoute said. “Thirty-three percent of students identified as students of color in fall 2021, and 32% in fall 2022.”

In addition, the college’s out-of-state students reached an all-time high, and the average high school grade-point average improved for the incoming class.

The change in the college’s admissions policy supports the theme of Stoute’s presidency, “RISE – Renew. Inspire. Serve. Empower.” Stoute has said that Canisius will: renew its commitment to justice; inspire a new generation of leaders; serve every person encountered with love; and empower others to do the same. In doing so, Stoute said, “We will fulfill our mission at Canisius and, together we will RISE.”

Canisius College is one of 27 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the U.S.

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