Time to Throw College Board Overboard
May 15, 2017
Maybe it’s because I am in the midst of APs and just took the SATs IIs but I have a bone to pick with the College Board. I detest most everything about that company and not just because the SATs are the worst thing in the world. For one, yes the SATs are one of the worst things about high school not just because they’re boring and long and eventually lead to me crying over how I’ll never get into my dream school with my scores but more because they are possibly the least accurate representation of potential and intelligence on the planet.
The SATs and their variations are less of an indicator of college readiness and more of an indicator of whether a person is relatively affluent and of the “ideal” cultural background. These tests give few accommodations to diverse backgrounds and often inspire those with the wealth or influence to do everything in their power to succeed, and by succeed I mean play the system. Families will pay more than $200 in testing fees alone, and then spend significantly more money for test prep courses and/or tutors (costs can run into the thousands) to ensure an increase in their kids’ SAT scores. Not to mention that families often take advantage of the time accommodations meant for students with learning disabilities by convincing school officials to lie or stretch the truth so their kids can be afforded a time accommodation not actually needed — yes, this actually happens.
Additionally, students for whom English is a second language or perhaps from a country/culture that differs from those writing the test could be at a severe disadvantage just because what the College Board may consider common knowledge/logic is only so for a very specific group. These tests mandate a certain type of thinking and thought process that is simply not applicable to the minds of many perfectly intelligent students and yet it’s somehow still valued as a measure of competence.
My qualms against standardized testing however are not my only ones with the company. The College Board was originally created to ease the college process for many stressed out teens but now it actually ramps up the process and even considers itself a non-profit. Under the technical definition, maybe it can be considered a non-profit and be exempt from taxes for its services to the public, but as it now rakes in roughly hundreds of millions of dollars and pays its top executives up to six fiure salaries, I’d considered it a not-so non-profit. With all the revenue flowing into the company and with all the College Board’s “dedication” towards expanding opportunity for minorities and low-income students, you would think they would be more open to providing free test preparation courses or books rather than just reduced fee tests to soothe their conscience. Basically, anything other than paying their executives at the expense of the very students they swear they benefit.
The College Board and its subsequent influence on the high school experience has in my opinion ruined the sanctity of education. There’s the unfairness of the testing, which I touched upon, but more than that is the fact that the time spent by high school students preparing for these tests is absurd. Students are told that doing well on these tests is somehow directly correlated with their success later on, and the College Board has done little to dispel this rather ridiculous belief. Therefore students spend the entire summer preparing at the cost of actually doing something worthwhile. Imagine how much more a teenager could do for both themselves and society by directing the time and brainpower spent studying for SAT (or SAT IIs) towards a summer internship or another activity they love which could then inspire a fruitful career. The College Board’s continuing influence on the college admission process is luckily dwindling as more and more schools turn away from required testing, and, hopefully as this pattern continues, the organization will either find something actually beneficial to do for society or simply fade into obscurity.