Canisius Becomes First College in WNY to Offer Test-Free Admissions
On Nov. 14, President Steve K. Stoute announced that Canisius will begin offering test-free admissions to incoming students, beginning with applicants in the fall of 2024. This will terminate the weight of standardized tests (such as the SAT and ACT) in a student’s application and evaluation. While Canisius converted to test-optional following the pandemic, the admissions process will no longer offer the option to submit test scores.
According to a release from Canisius College, “Canisius is the first in the Western New York region and one of only two Jesuit institutions to offer test-free admissions.” President Stoute made it clear that “We’re proud to be the first institution in the region to take this step.”
The president highlighted the importance of allowing what Canisius has to offer to become more attainable through this change, reflecting that, “Throughout the decades, because I’ve met alums going back to the sixties, they talk about the transformative power of a Canisius education. And for us, this decision is about making that accessible to more young people who could benefit from it for themselves, for their families, for their communities, for generations to come.”
He cites the pressure of standardized tests in addressing the mental health crisis among students, adding unnecessary stress to an already-stressful process for high school students.
“That crisis doesn’t start when you show up here. It starts well before you come to college, and the pressure of preparing for tests … Historically, the thinking is so much of your future, it’s on how you perform on this test over the next few hours … And so why should that prevent a young person from having access to what we offer here at Canisius? I don’t think it should,” he said.
Dr. Danielle Ianni, vice president for enrollment management, describes the factors in ultimately making this innovative decision. “There is no correlation between a standardized test score and a student’s ability to succeed in college. There are other factors, such as GPA, high school course selection and non-cognitive variables that are more accurate predictors of success,” she said adding, “We also took a deep look at our values, standards and process and feel strongly that this is the right thing to do.”
President Stoute echoed this thought, stating “This is yet another example of Canisius College, articulating our values, knowing what those values are, being committed to them and acting accordingly.”
“This generation cares deeply about social causes. Environmental justice, economic inequality, social, racial injustice, political polarization … When we look through the data and look through the lens of what these tests have done over time, it’s a matter of social justice. And so when we think about it in that context, I think it becomes very clear,” said Stoute.
The enrollment/application process has not only been updated in its removal of test scores, but new factors have been added. Dr. Ianni describes additions to applications that she is “most excited for.”
“Students can upload a portfolio, YouTube or Twitch channel, media kits, an additional letter of recommendation, an interview with an admissions counselor, alumni or faculty or submit an essay of their choice. Students are leaders today in many different ways and we need to update the review process to take that into account.”
President Stoute feels that these more personal application features will only benefit the students, both at Canisius and beyond.
“Getting to know you, your passions, your interests, your pursuits, your aspirations… those things will allow us to better support our students. In the classroom in a curricular way, but also cocurricular, extracurricular. And that’s critically important to our students’ ability to be successful at Canisius, but also when they leave here,” he said.
There is much confidence in this decision to do away with factoring a student’s standardized test score into their application to Canisius. Dr. Ianni stressed that “Standardized admissions tests really only measure how well students take those specific tests. There are other predictors, such as high school GPA, that are much stronger indicators of success in college.”
President Stoute credits the Canisius community for leading the way in making this progressive change and emphasizes what this step says about that leadership.
“My sincere hope is that we will not be the only ones for very long, but that’s what it takes, it takes someone, it takes a leader to step out there and do it and prove that it works and something different is possible. And Canisius College is doing that. We are being the leaders that we make here at Canisius.”