University of Maryland admission officials discussed a new admission process involving optional test scores during the SGA’s virtual meeting Wednesday night.

In 2020, the university decided to implement optional test scores due to many standardized tests being canceled due to the pandemic. 

And now, not only has the admissions office decided to continue this policy into the 2022 and 2023 semesters, but it will also conduct a research study about admitted students’ performance once enrolled to determine whether this will be a permanent change, according to Shannon Gundy, the university’s undergraduate admissions director, and Barbara Gill, associate vice president for enrollment management. 

“We’re gonna have this really important opportunity to do some real important self-reflecting in addition to this research study,” said Gill. 

North Hill representative Gabrielle Coleman asked how the study will consider test scores in the context of financial disparities. 

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“There has been a lot of research saying that [with] standardized testing, the more money you have, the better you do on the test,” Coleman said. “Unfortunately, marginalized students tend to not have that kind of money.”

Gundy explained the admissions office is aware of the disparities and considers all factors when determining admissions, including how students take advantage of the opportunities available to them. 

“We are always concerned about ensuring that we’re not doing anything to provide financial barriers to students who are interested in applying for admission to the university,” she said.

Peter Marston, a computer, mathematics and natural sciences representative, commented on the increase in out-of-state applicants and asked about how the university considers the out-of-state students’ and international students’ applications in relation to in-state applicants. 

Gundy explained that the admissions office has a group of individuals dedicated to the international student applications and ensuring their applications are assessed within context.

The use of the Common Application in addition to the Coalition application — which the university joined during the pandemic — will allow for easier access for students applying to the university because students already use the platform for a lot of other college applications, Gundy said. 

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The university will continue its use of the Coalition application because of the organization’s dedication to making college affordable.

“The reason that we joined the Coalition, initially, is that members of the Coalition are institutions that are committed to making colleges affordable to students,” Gundy said.

Gundy explained the admissions office uses a holistic review process, taking high school transcripts, essays and, of course, standardized test scores when determining whether to admit an applicant.

She also emphasized the importance of racial diversity at the university and specified that race is not a single determining factor in the admission process.

“What we have found, and what studies have found across the nation, is that if you have racial diversity in the classroom, everybody benefits,” she said.