DePaul: Show ‘heart,’ not SATs

SAT or ACT scores will be optional for DePaul University applicants starting next year, but those who choose not to submit scores will be asked to write short essays demonstrating “noncognitive” traits such as leadership, commitment to service and ability to meet long-term goals. From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Admissions officers have often said that you can’t measure heart,” said Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management. “This, in some sense, is an attempt to measure that heart.”

DePaul hopes to encourage more applications from low-income and minority students with relatively high grades and low test scores.  “Heart” is a better predictor of success than SAT or ACT scores for low-income and minority students, admissions officials say. 

In 2008 the university added four short essay questions to its freshman application with hopes of assessing noncognitive traits said to lead to college success.

One question prompted applicants to describe a goal they had set for themselves and how they planned to accomplish it: “How would you compare your educational interests and goals with other students in your high school?” Another question said: “Describe a personal challenge you have faced, or a situation in which you or others were treated unfairly. How did you react to the situation and what conclusions did you draw from the experience? Were you able to turn to others for support?”

DePaul dropped those questions when it started using the Common Application, which requires a personal essay of at least 250 words. It was too much writing.  The questions will return for students who don’t submit test scores.