BW has made changes to its admission policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the limited access to SAT and ACT testing.
For Fall 2020 enrollment, BW is now allowing students with a GPA below 3.0 to submit a test-optional application, even without a graded writing sample.
Previously, only students with a 3.0 GPA or higher could apply test-optional, as long as they included a graded writing sample.
An example of a graded writing sample would be an essay a student wrote for an English class.
Scott Schulz, vice president for enrollment management, said that because the standardized tests are simply no longer available for the time being, BW had to evaluate its policies.
“It seemed that we would be really closing the door on students.” said Schulz. “That didn’t seem to be in the best interest of BW or those students. And so, as a result, we had to rethink some of those policies.”
Students with a 3.0 GPA or higher are still encouraged to apply for a merit scholarship, said Schulz.
“If you want to apply test optional with a 3.0 or higher, you would still submit your graded writing sample, which is what is used to look at qualifications for a merit scholarship,” said Schulz.
While students with a GPA below 3.0 are not in a position to qualify for a merit scholarship, they are encouraged to apply for other financial awards, said Schulz.
“Just because you don’t qualify for a merit scholarship doesn’t mean that after a holistic review, you won’t qualify for anything,” said Schulz. “There’s still additional awards, special awards and certainly need-based financial aid.”
Schulz said that students applying without a graded writing sample can still be evaluated based on the admission essay they submit with their application.
BW is “not watering down its admission requirements” through the new test-optional policy, said Schulz.
The changes in policy will not impact how the remaining components of the application will be evaluated.
Grades and the types of classes students take will still be the main components of the fall 2020 enrollment process, said Schulz.
“I would say that we’re still weighting those different factors in a similar way,” said Schulz. “Extracurriculars, leadership opportunities, those are all valuable—but they’re not going to be as valuable as your core academic performance.”
Because it is late in the admission cycle, the number of applications BW expects to receive for the fall 2020 semester is not impacted by the policy change.
“I would say it’s not really something that’s necessarily going to lead to enrollment growth beyond what we were already projecting, so much so as protects the ongoing cycle that we’re already in, so that the students who would have planned to apply to BW at this point in the cycle can continue to do so,” said Schulz.
The future of the policy beyond 2020 is uncertain.
“The admission staff will just kind of see how this goes over these next few months,” said Schulz. “And then make a determination as well about what it might mean as we head into the 2021 cycle and whether or not this type of approach might be something we want to continue.”