Duane Bonifer  |  Published September 15, 2019

Monmouth Makes Higher Education more Equitable

College adopts test-optional admission policy to increase access to higher education.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College will adopt a test-optional admission policy for new students who apply for admission to the national liberal arts college in fall 2020.

Monmouth officials said the policy reflects the College’s values and also helps it reach students who are underserved by higher education.

MICHELLE HOLSCHUH SIMMONS: Monmouth College has long been an institution of high opportunity, an... MICHELLE HOLSCHUH SIMMONS: “Monmouth College has long been an institution of high opportunity, and this new policy reinforces our commitment to our mission.”“Since its founding, Monmouth College has committed itself to being a place of high opportunity and high achievement for talented and ambitious young people, no matter what their backgrounds might be,” said Monmouth President Clarence R. Wyatt. “Over the last several years, many studies, including those conducted by the organizations administering the ACT and SAT, have shown that performance in a rigorous high school program is a significantly stronger indicator of success in college than a standardized test score. This has been confirmed by analysis of our own data.”

As Wyatt noted, Monmouth has long assessed high school performance, demonstration of service and leadership, and test scores as a part of a holistic consideration of candidates for admission.

“Recognizing that many worthy candidates for admission are disadvantaged by standardized test scores, our move to test optional will enable all prospective students to present themselves more fully and fairly,” he said.

A test-optional admission policy will help Monmouth continue to serve students from underrepresented groups. In the 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges, the College was ranked No. 7 in the nation among national liberal arts college in terms of social mobility, which evaluates the graduation rates of a school’s students who receive a federal Pell grant compared to those students who did not receive one. Pell grants are awarded to students from families with greater financial need.

“I am excited about the adoption a test-optional policy for admission to the College,” said trustee Jean Witty ’88, who is chair of the Board of Trustees Enrollment Management Committee. “A test-optional policy is one of many tools that can be used by the professionals on our admission staff to attract and admit a pool of students who will be able to succeed and thrive on our campus.

“Monmouth College provides an excellent educational environment for many first-generation college students, as well as students from underrepresented minority groups. In reviewing data from a field of U.S. undergraduate institutions who have adopted a test-optional admission policy, we know that these populations will be well-served in our admission pool. I look forward to seeing how our faculty and staff will work to use it to maximize the students we attract, admit, matriculate and retain.”

Helping the College’s outreach to underserved students was a major influence in gathering faculty support of a test-optional admission policy.

“Test-optional admission policies increase equitable access to higher education,” said educational studies professor Michelle Holschuh Simmons, who is a member of the College’s Faculty Senate. “Monmouth College has long been an institution of high opportunity, and this new policy reinforces our commitment to our mission.”

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