Admissions continues to innovate

The University of Utah has sent admissions decisions to all applicants who submitted an application by the early action deadline of Dec. 1, 2020.

Newly admitted students will receive a celebratory acceptance package in the mail and are encouraged to share their excitement on social media using #NewToTheU. On Friday, Jan. 15, admitted students received an interactive and congratulatory text message, followed by an email, which prompted them to check their admissions status online.

This was a historic year in the Office of Admissions with the decision to go test-optional, launching a two-year pilot study to make the submission of the SAT or ACT optional for applicants beginning in the fall of 2021. Students who do not earn a GPA that is directly comparable to other high school students, such as those who have a GED, are home-schooled or those from non-accredited high schools, are still required to submit a standardized test score.

Moving to a test-optional admissions policy changed the dynamic with which admissions counselors read applications this year. In place of standardized tests, they focused more heavily on high school performance and academic rigor.

“Due to COVID-19, ACT and SAT tests were limited or canceled altogether, so we hope this new policy helped alleviate some of the stress with the application,” said John Marfield, executive director of admissions. “Many students feel their grades and academic rigor in school are a much better indication of their ability to succeed in college. The new focus of our review emphasizes their long-term work in high school over high stakes testing.”

Although notifications went live the afternoon of Jan. 15, the university has a second early action deadline on Feb. 1. All applicants who apply by the February deadline will be automatically considered for merit scholarships and receive their admissions decision on March 1.

“We extended our merit scholarship deadline this year to accommodate all of the uncertainties with COVID-19,” Marfield said. “We wanted our students and families to have as much time as possible to fill out their applications.”

The Office of Admissions made the decision last summer to adopt a test-optional policy for admissions as well as merit scholarship consideration.