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It's going to be hard

I've posted this visualization a few times, but never embedded it in a blog post.

Now's the time.  Teresa Watanabe of the LA Times tweeted this today.


So, for the foreseeable future, no one will need an ACT or SAT to gain admission to the UC or Cal State system campuses.  And in fact, testing won't help you get in, either.  For lots of students, there will be no need to test. Consider:

  • In 2018, about 275,000 students enrolled in California public four-year, and private, not-for-profit four year institutions (I'm using 2018 as it's the last good year prior to 2020's COVID-affected enrollment numbers).
  • Just under 250,000 of them came from California. 
  • California exported about 40,000 students to other states. About 90% of them (roughly 36,000) went to the types of colleges that might require the SAT or ACT (four-year public and private not-for-profits).
What this means: Fewer students testing in California.  Neighboring and western test-optional-friendly states like Oregon, Washington, and Arizona will likely see fewer tests as well.  This will probably mean fewer test dates, or fewer test centers.  Maybe reductions in school day SATs as well.

In short, taking the test could end up being more trouble than it's worth.  This will send some ripples through private colleges in California too.  They'll have to compete for students, but more important, they'll have to convince students that yes, Berkeley can make a good admissions decision without the SAT, but we need it.  Good luck.

And then there are those colleges that enroll a lot of students from California.  They'll have to make the same argument, and they'll be adding an extra step in the admission process.  Some will be able to get away with it, of course, if they choose to do so.  Others might find it risky.

If you use Higher Ed Data Stories in your work and you're not a high school counselor, you can support the visualizations and web hosting fees by buying me a beer at this link.  (Please, no high school counselors, and no repeat supporters.)

There are just two views below.  The first is a map that shows all the colleges who have California in their top five feeder states.  Orange marks are public, blue marks are private institutions.  The number shows the rank (a 3 means California is the third most represented state in the freshman class).  The size of the mark indicates how many freshmen enrolled in 2018.  Just hover for details.  If you want to just show the 1st most important, or the 2nd and 3rd, use the slider to limit that view.  

The second view is a bar series.  The bars from left are: The rank of California in the freshman class, the total number of freshmen, and the number from California in 2018.  For instance, at Oberlin, California was the #1 state in the freshmen class of 696, with 97 freshmen from California.

Think about what happens to a lot of those California apps if you go back to requiring tests.  And ask yourself if you feel lucky.

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