MUNCI — Ball State University has joined the national list of colleges and universities that treat applicants for admission as "more than a score."
The university announced this week that it had become Indiana's largest and first four-year public university to become "test optional" — whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores will be up to each prospective student.
Reaction on Ball State's Facebook page ranged from skeptical — "the message screams 'We'll take anyone,' " "way to lower the standards," "more students more money" — to supportive — "my daughter shuts down during these types of tests," "you do better on them if you come from a more affluent background," and "I was homeschooled … and didn't take the ACT or SAT … and had to attend a community college … before Ball State would take me."
"Our research shows high school grade point averages are the strongest predictor for student success," Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns said in a news release.
Ball State also cited research across the country showing that after public universities become test-optional they see "applications increase 11 percent, an increase in graduation rates, and more diversity within the student population."
"Ball State's move is very significant because it's a major public university in the heartland," Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman at FairTest, told The Star Press.
"Higher education in the 21st century is very competitive … and colleges pay attention to what their peers and competitors are doing," he said. "A well-known school like Ball State going test-optional … sets a model that others can follow."
None of the other Mid-American Conference Schools — Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, University at Buffalo, Western Michigan — has become test-optional.
Purdue University is not considering following in Ball State's footsteps.