- Standardized tests
- Test-optional admissions policies
- Alternative tests to SAT/ACT
- National educational policies
- Social discrimination
- Privilege in society
- Societal trends
- Principles of Sociology
- Sociological Theory
- Sociology of Education
- Sociology of Culture
- SAT Wars: The Case for Test-Optional College Admissions (Columbia Teachers College Press: 2011)
- The Power of Privilege: Yale and America’s Elite Colleges (Stanford: 2007)
- The Decline of Privilege: the Modernization of Oxford University (Stanford: 1999), which won a national “outstanding book of 2000” award from the American Sociological Association.
- B.A., Rutgers University
- M.A., Ph.D., Harvard University
Joseph Soares is a driving force behind the national movement to rethink college admissions and adopt test-optional admissions policies. His research has shown that high school rank is actually the best predictor of college success, while performance on the standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT are closely linked to race, family income and parental educational level.
His most recent book, SAT Wars, demonstrates the far-reaching and mostly negative impact of the tests on American life and calls for nothing less than a national policy change. His 2007 book, The Power of Privilege, was instrumental to Wake Forest’s decision to become the first top-30 national university to go test-optional in admissions, broadening the definition of academic merit and encouraging applications from high-achieving students from a wide expanse of backgrounds and viewpoints.
He organized a national conference called “Rethinking Admissions” at Wake Forest in April 2009, which featured presidents, admissions deans and researchers from universities such as Berkeley, Duke, Georgia, Harvard, Howard, Ohio State, Princeton, Spelman, Texas, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Yale. He has presented at regional and national conferences of the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools, the College Board, the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
Prior to joining the Wake Forest faculty, Soares taught as a lecturer at Harvard and was an assistant and associate professor of Sociology at Yale. In 2008, he was a member of the national education policy group for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He has recently been quoted in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.
Joseph Soares on:
The best predictors for college success …
“Instead of leveling the playing field, standardized tests allow colleges to practice social discrimination in the name of academic selectivity, when, in reality, high school grades are the best predictor of future collegiate success.”
The importance of high school class rank …
“Being admitted to the university from the top 10 percent of any high school graduating class allows a youth to overcome the disadvantages of coming from a low-income family, of having parents without high school degrees and of attending a low-performing high school.”
WFU becoming more competitive since going test-optional …
“Wake Forest’s student body is now not only more racially and socio-economically diverse, the number of first-year students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school classes has increased each year – from 64 percent in 2007 prior to our decision, to 83 percent in 2011.”