Interview with Jeremy Lowe, Associate Director of Admission at American University

Tell me about the panel that American University is participating in at NACAC this year?

For our panel at NACAC, American University partnered with University of Rochester and University of Southern California to compare different testing policies. All three schools have different approaches. American University is test optional, University of Rochester is test flexible, and USC requires test scores from all applicants. Our goal was to speak about the different types of testing policies out there and share why each school has chosen this strategy with the NACAC community. 
This is American University's seventh year as test optional university, though the policy has been embraced most fully in the last four or five years. We started with a pilot program, put quite a few restrictions on it in an effort to suppress number of test-optional applicants. We looked at the data of how these students perform when they are on campus, and found that they were doing well academically and being retained. Once we got to that point we were comfortable running the program without earlier deadlines.

Why did American University decide to go test-optional?

Each school has a different reason for going test-optional. We wanted to allow the applicant to have more choice about how they present themselves to the committee. When you remove testing from the picture, it forces us as a committee to consider these applicants in more a holistic manner. We’re looking at these other qualitative aspects that we’ve always embraced. It gives us an opportunity to find out if these students align with the ideals of the university through the review process. It also gives us an opportunity to increase diversity within our applicant pool. Going test-optional opened up the pathways to underserved students who don’t have SAT/ACT scores within our ranges.