Preparing for College

No SAT Submission for Bowdoin Applicant?

Question: I'm an upcoming high school senior and my SAT and ACT scores are not stellar. They're slightly below average to average. Despite my scores not being great, I hold many leadership roles at my high school. I am also the founder of a non profit and worked over the summer as an intern for top magazines and non profits and I own my own major company. My GPA is 3.5 (unweighted). Do you think it would be possible to be accepted to Bowdoin if I don't submit my SAT/ACT scores?

If your test scores are "Average" by national standards (and not merely by Bowdoin standards) then you'd most likely be doing yourself a big disservice by submitting them to Bowdoin when you apply. Your safest bet is to take advantage of Bowdoin's test-optional policy and hope for the best.

However, you also need to realize that test-optional colleges tend to use this policy to their own advantage. It allows them to admit the applicants that they want the most (e.g., recruited athletes, underrepresented minority students, VIP and legacy cases) without being hindered by too-low tests. But when it comes to more typical, "unhooked" candidates, then those students who don't submit SAT's or ACT's may not fare as well as comparable candidates with strong scores who do. If, of course, you have other qualities that Bowdoin seeks (e.g., you come from a state or country or even from a high school that rarely sends students to Bowdoin or you're from a first-generation-to-college family) then your lack of test scores probably won't stand in your way.

As I've often said before, withholding scores from test-optional colleges is a lot like withholding a photo from an online dating site. That is, if your profile sounds too super to pass up, the omission won't hurt you, but if you sound good but just not great, then it might.

But, in your case, if your SAT's are truly at or below the national average, then you're better off applying without them. And, if Bowdoin is definitely your top choice, an Early Decision application might work in your favor, too. In addition, if you have 4's or 5's on any AP tests, send those scores as well. A battery of impressive AP's may help the Bowdoin admission folks "forget" that you didn't send SAT's or ACT's as well.