The College Board is corrupt. As a society, we have allowed a single organization to control the entirety of the college admissions process, and consequently we have an unfair, unequitable system.
The College Board was founded in 1900 with the purpose of simplifying and expanding access to college. It was and continues to be a private non-profit organization, with its public purpose status justifying its tax exemption. It houses nearly all of the necessary tests one needs to take to get into college: the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT, and the AP.
Despite being a non-profit, the College Board charges exorbitant fees for its tests. As their website or any Gregory School student can confirm, each AP Test costs $92, meaning that for high-achieving students seeking to take several tests, the cost can total upwards of $500. When the college application period rolls around, in order to send each individual score to a college, one must pay $15 or $25 for a rush order. SAT tests, meanwhile, are priced at $57 per session (with the recommended essay component).
These costs add up quickly for the average student. In fact, considering all of the various testing fees, as well as the $50 price tag on most college applications, the $500 standardized testing sessions parents may purchase for a “guaranteed improved score,” and, of course, the $50,000 minimum cost of a university education, there is nothing cheap in 2016 about attending college.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, nineteen of the College Board’s executives make more than $300,000 a year. Previous CEO Gaston Caperton earned $1.3 million in 2009 alone.
Of course, few students are going to stop attending college. In fact, data released by the College Board reveals each year the number of students participating in their various services only increases. Their customer base is large and willing to pay, even as the quality of their services declines. Despite its standard $57 price tag, scheduled SAT tests are often cancelled, and scores are even more frequently cancelled. The grading of tests is constantly delayed far past the promised 4-6 weeks.
Originally an acronym for “Scholastic Aptitude Test,” today the word “SAT” does not actually stand for anything. Study after study supports the ineffectiveness of the SAT in measuring the academic “potential” of students that it claims to assess. The most recent study performed by researchers at Bates College noted that consistently high grades proved a far more accurate predictor of college readiness.
Many experts have argued that a student’s success on the SAT demonstrates only his or her potential for performing well on the SAT and nothing more. Even “prep experts” like Princeton Review President and founder John Katzman admit that SAT scores are poor predictors of a student’s success in college or in later life.
Still, students dedicate hours a week to SAT and AP preparation. Lengthy preparation is followed by sitting down in a large auditorium and bubbling in answers to multiple choice questions, and praying to get a score high enough and arbitrarily “good enough” to earn a ticket into college.
The truth is that no student with any sense of self-preservation is about to boycott The College Board. Instead, we grudgingly complain and go right back to playing their game.
We are the only ones losing.
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