PURCHASE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — While most teenagers are hitting the beach or pool this summer, others are stuck preparing for college entrance exams.
But one SUNY school in Westchester is trying to change that by getting rid of the dreaded ACT and SAT.
The sign outside of one high school said ‘have a great summer’ but that’s not really happening for Ryan Kelly.
“One study session is like three hours, practice tests take about four, then there is work that I have to do in between the times that I study, so it’s quite a bit of time,” Ryan Kelly said.
The 16-year-old straight A student is heading into his junior year and taking an ACT prep course with a tutor to pump up his scores for college.
His mother told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare she knows people spending more than $6,000 on classes for their kids.
“The costs are huge, but also we’re hoping that he does well early, and then we don’t have to continue it into his junior year and senior year,” Karen Kelly said.
Purchase College, Vice President Dennis Craig said the SUNY school in Westchester finds that the test, “can be a tremendous distraction.”
That’s one reason the school is eliminating mandatory ACT or SAT scores for admissions as of this fall.
“The strength of a student’s high school record, the grade point average, the rigor of their curriculum of the courses that they’ve chosen have all been proven by science, by studies to be much better indicators of success,” Craig said.
The growing trend is called ‘test optional.’
It’s designed to encourage creativity as well as attract a more racially and economically diverse student body.
Purchase joins more than 900 colleges nationwide that focus more on the arts and humanities rather than engineering, science, and math.
At Purchase, all applicants will provide an essay, video, poem, or portfolio of their work instead of test scores.
“It gives a chance to show personality, a chance to actually allow students to be more than just a couple of figures,” senior Demetrius McCray said.
McCray said he took twelve SAT practice exams and welcomes the change, even though it’s too late for him.
“It’s a lot of money, it’s a lot of time, it’s a lot of stress,” he said.
For Kelly and other teens it’s still a summer of hitting the books.
Purchase is the second SUNY school to go ‘test optional’ but other local colleges like Sarah Lawrence, Hofstra, St. John’s, and NYU are doing it in some of their programs as well.