Are College Admissions Policy Changes Good for Students—or the Colleges Themselves?

Last week Vanderbilt announced that it would be "superscoring" the ACT effective immediately. Three days ago, Cornell quietly updated its standardized testing policy by eliminating the requirement of Subject Tests for its largest undergraduate school, the College of Arts & Sciences. And after months of Georgetown whispering that it would accept AP scores in lieu of Subject Tests, it has finally made it official on its website.

What took these colleges so long to make these changes official? Most high school seniors have gone through hell and back to meet these ridiculously high expectations only to find out weeks before "early" deadlines that they did not have to go through another round of testing. Some might say that these colleges are trying to be more accommodating. I wish it was that simple.

When it comes to colleges, they want the highest test scores possible. Superscoring the ACT for Vanderbilt will now allow them to boast even higher ACT score averages. Its 33-35 average wasn't enough.
 
Dropping the Subject Test requirement for Cornell's Arts and Sciences will be a boon for applications. I can name a dozen students I personally know that weren't planning to apply to Cornell because they hadn't taken Subject Tests yet or simply didn't have high enough scores on the ones they did take. Cornell will benefit from this in application totals.
And Georgetown has held the tightest grip of any college in the country on what it expects from applicants. Historically, it has been the only college to request three Subject Tests for admission. Is the longstanding dean of admission finally understanding the plight of our kids? I hope so. 
 

Here's the thing about college's changing their admissions policies...

They are doing it because they feel the pressure from educators, parents, and people like me that they are causing unnecessary stress and unreachable expectations for our high school students. We must continue to push colleges to look at their admissions policies and adjust them accordingly for this new generation of kids. We cannot let another teenager feel so hopeless about their college prospects that they have a mental breakdown or worse yet, take their own life. 
 
If Advanced Placement exams are not required for admission, remove that question from every application.
 
If colleges are trying to put students in their best light, let them send the test scores they want to send to colleges instead of being forced to share all of their scores. Georgetown, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and Barnard, I'm talking to you.
 
And if colleges really want to reverse the current climate of students feeling like they have to go above and beyond, they need to take a hard look at what they are asking students to do and the messages they are sending to our youth. 
Be the force of change. I say that to students who just can't take another demand on their plates. I say that to parents who are watching their kids stay up into the wee hours of the night to complete homework, prepare for standardized tests, and write essay after essay for their college applications. I say that to deans of admission and college presidents who have the power to affect mental health in our children. 
 
While I am pleased by some of the "eleventh hour" changes that a few colleges have made, it feels too little too late for the Class of 2020. Let this be the beginning of sweeping changes that benefit the younger generation rather than a college's bottomline. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids.