Canisius Sets a New Standard

Buffalo, NY - Canisius President Steve K. Stoute announced today that the college will adopt a test-free policy for undergraduate admissions, beginning with students applying for admissions in fall 2024. The new policy removes all consideration of standardized tests (SAT and ACT) in the evaluation of admission to the college.

Canisius is the first in the Western New York region and one of only two Jesuit institutions to offer test-free admissions.

“Canisius University is where leaders are made and leadership in the modern world means responding to our most pressing challenges with non-standard answers,” said Stoute. “A test-free admissions policy will free us to empower students to express who they really are: unique individuals with diverse interests, backgrounds and talents, in the admissions process.  It is these students who comprise the vibrant learning community at Canisius.”

The test-free admissions policy supports the college’s renewed commitment to justice. Standardized tests unfairly advantage students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, who can afford tutors, preparation courses and other resources, and further disadvantage students from underrepresented and underfunded communities, as well as students with cognitive disabilities. Standardized tests can even discourage talented students from applying to college, thereby excluding many from the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.     
“Standardized tests are just one of many factors Canisius historically utilized in the admissions process but they may be among the least valuable predictors of success,” said Stoute. “This new policy will eliminate a barrier to a high-quality Canisius education for students from all backgrounds. As a Jesuit college, ours is a faith that does justice and this change will support our commitment to transform our society by inspiring a new generation of leaders who will not accept the status quo but will go out and redefine their field, think boldly, and act according to their principles.”
Moving to test-free admissions is the next step for Canisius, which became test optional in March 2020, as a result of the pandemic. The college has since conducted extensive research evaluating the use of standardized tests in admissions, looking at student performance both in high school and at Canisius.  

The research pointed overwhelmingly to the work students did in high school as a strong predictor of success at Canisius, whereas their standardized test scores were less predictive. Annual research by the College Board indicates the same, that high school performance is the single greatest indicator of a student’s performance in college.
Since Canisius adopted a test optional admissions policy, applications increased 18 percent. The admittance pool increased 12 percent, including an increase of students of color from 37 percent to 44 percent.  

“Over the past two years, we have enrolled the most diverse classes in Canisius history,” said Stoute. “Thirty-three percent of students identified as students of color in fall 2021, and 32 percent in fall 2022.” In addition, the college’s out of state students reached an all-time high, and the average high school GPA improved for the incoming class.

The change in the college’s admissions policy supports the theme of Stoute’s presidency, RISE - Renew. Inspire. Serve. Empower. Stoute has expressed that Canisius will: Renew its commitment to justice; Inspire a new generation of leaders; Serve every person encountered with love; and Empower others to do the same.  In doing so, says Stoute, “we will fulfill our mission at Canisius and together we will RISE.”

Canisius University is one of 27 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the United States, and the premier private college in Western New York. Canisius prepares leaders – intelligent, caring, faithful individuals – able to promote excellence in their professions, their communities and their service to humanity.