BY ANNA JENSEN
Drake University has made an admissions change for the 2016-17 school year that gives more leeway to prospective students during their application process.
Before starting the application for Drake, prospects are now able to choose if they want to apply the standard way — by submitting an ACT or SAT scores — or with a new test-flexible option, which entails an interview with the admissions counselor assigned to your state in lieu of submitting scores.
The change was implemented because the applications process is an individual assessment of students’ success in high school and how they plan to continue that in college. The Drake Admissions office believes that it should be the students’ choice how they best represent themselves and their successes.
“It really isn’t a process of keeping students out,” said Laura Linn, director of admission. “It’s about letting them in and finding the potential in each student that makes them right for Drake.”
Since this process is new for admissions this year, only 10 percent of prospective students have opted to do interviews instead.
The number is low, according to Linn, because students are still accustomed to the norm and the prospective students may think the interview could harm their chances of acceptance.
“We ask the student to apply using the method that best demonstrates their academic potential,” Linn said. “There are no positives and negatives of either because the process is the same. Everybody is submitting high school transcripts, everyone is submitting a letter of recommendation and everyone is writing an essay. The option for test-flexible admission is just one part of the whole.”
The students who did engage in the interview process felt that it was beneficial for both the university and themselves.
“I chose to do the interview because my ACT score was not exactly where I wanted it to be,” prospective student Courtney McCuddin said. “When things like the ACT don’t turn out the way you intend (and then) a school like Drake with a million opportunities pops up on your radar with an alternative to just being seen as a number — it’s a chance I just couldn’t pass up.”
Prospective student Chase Garner found the face-to-face process very important for counselors to be able to fully understand a student and their accomplishments.
“It’s seeing the person and getting to hear their story and hear the passion in their voice rather than just reading it off of a piece of paper,” Garner said.
Many students who opt to interview believe they have more to offer than the number their ACT or SAT score indicated.
“The biggest reason I (chose to interview) was because I felt that my test scores and GPA didn’t reflect who I was,” Garner said. “I felt that the interview gave the school a better picture of who I was, rather than a piece of paper with a bunch of letter grades describing who I was in the school system.”
While the interview is an alternative for those with low test scores, other students chose to interview for other reasons.
“I am heading down the neuroscience/pre-med track, and I know that interviews will be a part of everything from applying to internships, medical school, residencies and jobs,” Travis Kerr said, a prospective student.
Kerr called himself a non-traditional student because he graduated in 2009 and was in the Army for five years after high school. His test scores were from seven years ago.
“I have grown a lot as a person and student in that time frame, all of which would not have been showcased in a traditional application,” Kerr said.
There are certain restrictions on test-flexible admissions regarding major, GPA and scholarship opportunities. Pre-pharmacy students, who make up a large majority, must submit their test scores, as well as home-schooled students, pre-occupational therapy, pre-athletic training and National Alumni Scholarship applicants.
Overall, the process has opened up a new way of thinking of admission to Drake.
“I am a big believer in trying to take the stress out of the admissions process for students in general,” Linn said.