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Freshmen get $300 to retake SAT

Oct. 9, 2008

By Liz Foreman and Ashley Corinne Killough
Asst. City Editor and Staff Writer

Baylor offered the class of 2012 a $300 Baylor Bookstore credit and potential scholarship incentives to retake the SAT in June, after they were already accepted and enrolled.

An e-mail sent in June to incoming freshmen stated that students who chose to retest would automatically receive a $300 credit to the bookstore.

If a student scored 50 points or higher on the retest, they received an additional $1,000 a year to their scholarship package.

They had the option of retesting on June 7, a national testing day, or taking the Baylor Residual SAT on campus at another designated time in June or during orientation.

The Baylor Residual SAT was unique in that a student's score could only be used at Baylor and could not be transferred to other universities.

If the student's SAT score improved enough to qualify them for a higher merit-based scholarship , the student would receive that scholarship instead of just the $1000 award, according to the e-mail.

Of the 861 students who retested this summer, 151 students improved their score by at least 50 points and received the $1,000 scholarships.

By May 1, the deposit deadline for the entering freshman class, the average SAT score fell at around 1200, said Dub Oliver, vice president of Student Life. After the residual scores were measured this summer, the average improved to 1210.

The 2007 entering freshman class had an SAT average of 1219, the highest ever in Baylor's history, and the 2006 entering class had an average of 1213.

High school seniors have always had the option of retaking the SAT to increase their score and receive more financial aid, Oliver said.

In past years, however, the window for retesting was shorter. According to the admissions Web site, the original cut-off date for retesting was February 15, 2008.

Jackie Diaz, assistant vice president for student financial services, said that as Baylor began accelerating the application process to offer financial aid awards earlier, students sent in their most recent SAT scores, which they might have taken during their junior year of high school and may not be an accurate assessment of their knowledge upon enrollment.

"We decided it would be a good opportunity, given that many of these students had tested early," she said. "Certainly there's a lot of information they're going to gain in their junior and senior year of high school, so we allowed these students to retest."

Because the students, this year's freshmen class, had already graduated from high school when the e-mail was sent in June, Diaz said the $300 incentive was offered to encourage them to take advantage of the testing.

White Oak sophomore Emanuel Gawrieh, a Brooks College CL and member of the Student Advisory Board, said he found out about the residual SAT testing after confronting Student Life in regards to Baylor's one-point drop from No. 75 to 76 in the 2008 U.S. News and World Report.

"I found out that one main reason for Baylor's drop in rank is because we accepted so many students this year with lower SAT scores," Gawrieh said.

Dr. Reagan Ramsower, vice president for finance, said that while the university had to recruit more students with a middle-ranking academic index to meet their enrollment goal, they also recruited more high-ranking students than ever before.

"The university set out to recruit 3,000 students from the beginning," he said. "We recruited more students with a high academic index than ever in Baylor's history."

Diaz said that while the main motivation for offering a retest was to provide more scholarship opportunities, she acknowledged that the increased SAT average will help boost Baylor's academic profile.

"People do pay attention to test scores," Ramsower said. "The university does benefit from higher average scores, and students benefited from book credits. It's a win-win situation."

Gawrieh said he doesn't believe the retesting incentives honor the integrity of Baylor 2012, saying Baylor was simply paying for higher scores and rankings.

"We're at a Christian institution where morals and values are supposed to be all that it's about. That was stretched and left behind in this decision," Gawrieh said. "I know someone who had to work all summer just to pay for books, but the entire freshman class had a chance to sit for a few hours and get paid for it."

Diaz said Baylor will continue to allow incoming freshman to retake the SAT but is unsure at this point if they will offer the $300 incentive.

Baylor's e-mail to the freshmen

From: Baylor Financial Aid [mailto:Financial_Aid@baylor.edu]

Sent: Tue 6/10/2008 5:33 PM

Subject: Baylor Residual SAT

If you were not able to take the SAT at your local testing center on June 7th, we have a new opportunity for you to test or retest. Baylor is pleased to now be able to offer the Baylor Residual SAT to new Baylor students who still want to take advantage of these scholarship opportunities:

$300 Book Scholarship - Just for taking the Residual SAT.

AND

$1,000 Merit Scholarship Increase - If you improve your SAT composite score by 50 points over your previously reported score, you will receive a $1,000 Merit-based Baylor Scholarship.

OR

Higher Level Gold Scholarship - If your SAT composite score improves and qualifies you for a higher level merit-based Baylor Gold Scholarship, we will award the higher scholarship.The Baylor Residual SAT will be offered at noon on campus several times during the month of June at Baylor Sciences Building located at the corner of Bagby Avenue and Speight Avenue (next to the Student Life Center).

To take the Baylor Residual SAT, please go to baylor.edu/irt/SummerSAT. If you decide to take the Baylor Residual SAT while you are here for Orientation, you should select the day prior to or the day after your 2-day Orientation Session since the time commitment for the test would conflict with your Orientation schedule.

If you have additional questions please contact Financial Aid by phone at 254-710-2611 or by email at financial_aid@baylor.edu.

Sic'Em Bears!

Academic Scholarships & Financial Aid

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Read the New York Times article here:
Baylor, Creating Uproar, Rewards Freshmen Who Retake SAT
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