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College Board: Beware this Non-profit’s Disregard for Students

What the CollegeBoard logo should be. (Brickwars Forum)

What the CollegeBoard logo should be. (Brickwars Forum)

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The College Board. The organization that administers AP tests, SATS, and a variety of other tests. If you are a student who has applied to college or plans to apply for college in the future, chances are you will have dealt or will have to deal with the College Board and that is bad news for students. The non-profit organization, founded in 1900, mission statement claims that “The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity.”, according to their website. Their mission statement may be stretching the truth about being a not-for-profit organization.

 

A cursory glance at what the College Board charges for tests and other services can truly make someone wonder if there is a profit motive within the organization. I have no problem against people making a profit in America. Capitalism without excessive regulation is a huge reason on why America is the greatest country in the world. I have a problem with it when an organization tries to turn a profit under the disguise of being a non-profit organization and at the exploitation of students. A student who plans to to apply for a competitive college will often be required to take the SAT several times and take AP classes and tests.

 

This is not a cheap endeavor. With the price of AP tests set at $93 dollars and each SAT attempt costing $57 dollars (without any add ons of course, which only cost more), a student could easily see a bill of an upwards of a thousand dollars. The College Board also charges $11.50 a score report. Students doing all they can to get into a good college can easily find themselves with a bill more than a thousand dollars from the college board. This doesn’t even include the fact that they haven’t even applied to college yet! It’s a monopoly that takes advantage of students with their wide range of “services”.

The AP program was started in the 1950s as a good idea. Let students take harder classes while getting potential college credit at the same time. While the AP program has expanded to include the majority of high schools across the country, it has come under criticism by a variety of critics. Dartmouth college recently made the decision to longer accept AP scores for college credit “concerned that Advanced Placement courses are not as rigorous as college courses,” according to the New York Times. Their decision to do this sparked a national conversation on the reasoning behind having AP tests and whether or not the tests are worth students taking. I’m not bashing any AP courses here at Serrano, but it’s hard to maintain a standard for all AP classes across the nation. More and more colleges are joining the trend of not accepting AP tests for credit or only accepting the highest possible score which is a 5.

For most AP tests, only a small fraction of student manage to score a 5. This makes for a very small potential amount of students who could use their tests for college credit. The college board encourages all students to take the test even though a lot of students have no business taking the test since it wouldn’t benefit them. At $93 dollars a test , it seems like a money grab. Students shouldn’t have to invest such a large amount of money into AP tests, since students rarely know where they will actually end up after high school. If AP tests were more affordable this wouldn’t be that large of an issue.

Same goes for the SAT. Each SAT test costs $57 dollars and most students will take the SAT several times to try to improve their score. Even after paying for the SATs you end up paying more fees. Each score report sent to a college you apply to costs $12 a piece. A score report is simply an electronic document that is sent to a school with your test scores on it. Why should it cost so much money for the equivalent of what is basically an email? This is only a glimpse of the problems that plague the SAT. SAT scores are often considered when deciding which student to admit to a college, but more and more colleges are now making the SAT optional or not even requiring it. A study done by Bates College concluded that SAT scores weren’t a very good indicator of how a student will do in college. Instead, “The evidence of the study clearly shows that high school GPA matters.” This is especially true with the recent security issues that have plagued the SAT.

A very recent investigation by Reuters revealed “that the U.S. college entrance exam has been compromised in Asia far more often than acknowledged.”  According to the investigation, Test Prep companies in countries like China are able to to offer students a booklet that is basically an answer key to the SAT by taking advantage of the security weaknesses with the test. The U.S. has strong copyright laws that prevents American students from being able to see the material that will be on the SAT ahead of time. A huge security flaw in Asian SATs are that test questions are recycled from US tests that have already been administered. Test Prep companies in Asia are then able to provide their clients with the the exact material they will see on the SAT thus giving them an unfair advantage on their college application resume.

Colleges tend to like to admit foreign students since they are not eligible for financial aid meaning they have to pay full price for tuition. Reuters talked to several students who now attend colleges across the United States about their experience taking the SAT. One notable example was a student attending UCLA named Xingyuan Ding from China. He took the SAT four times, but on his last attempt, his Shanghai based test prep company provided him with a booklet that contained answers to the test. He received a perfect score on the reading section. When students in other countries are able to see the answers to the SAT prior before taking it, it puts American students at a disadvantage to being accepted into their own state schools, that are already difficult enough to get into. (Especially in California)  If the College Board truly lived up to its mission statement of connecting “students to college success and opportunity,” they would take care of this is problem instead of allowing it to continue as long as it has. Even the college board “has acknowledged widespread problems with test security in Asia in recent years,” when interviewed by reuters.

It’s obvious that the College Board doesn’t truly have all student’s best interests in mind. From turning a blind eye to test security issues to charging students an exorbitant amount for services like the SAT and AP tests, to paying their president a salary of nearly a million dollars (This is a “not for profit organization”). The college board has a lot of problems that shouldn’t be ignored. If the organization lost its tax exempt status and charged students much more reasonable prices for its services, the problems would be much smaller. Students shouldn’t have to pay this greedy organization such a large wad of cash to simply apply for college. The college board should also seriously address test security issues that put American students at a disadvantage and rethink the reasoning behind the AP program. Until all this happens, all students and parents should approach the college board like you approach anything unsavory. Very Cautiously.

The official CollegeBoard logo. (Brickwars Forum)

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College Board: Beware this Non-profit’s Disregard for Students