College Board: Education or Corporation?

By Bikram Bains
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College Board is a multimillion dollar company that plays a huge role in the college admissions process, especially when it comes to test scores. The power it holds over students and its greed became evident when it refused to postpone AP exams this spring or even provide refunds, effectively forcing students to take the exam. This situation has put their practices under the scrutiny of the nation and has started a conversation on whether College Board should continue to be supported by the school system.

 

The College Board and its assets are worth a total of around 1 billion dollars, have earned a revenue of $44 million just from the SAT and PSAT in 2013, and its CEO earns over $700,000 a year according to the Washington Post. Their revenue and almost 7 figure salaries sound appalling, when taking into account that they identify as a nonprofit organization. The amount of money that goes through College Board has come into question recently, especially since they refused to refund any AP tests this spring, forcing many students to take tests, for which they may have not been ready. In addition, the College Board’s online test did not take into account students who didn't have access to readily available technology or the internet. While College Board brands itself as an educational institution, its behavior is more along the lines of a corporation.

 

College Board’s greed comes at the cost of something greater than money: equality. While a low income student may be able to qualify for a discounted SAT, they cannot afford test preparation classes that their peers might take. The test prep industry is worth about a billion dollars, which goes to show the demand of these services. These tutoring services have separated students not by intelligence, but by economic standing. Instead of a standardized test that shows a student’s aptitude for learning, the SAT is a test that shows a student’s aptitude for the SAT. This view is reflected by PrepScholar: “With parental pressure and monetary support, these students are more likely to enroll in prep programs and get the added benefits of this instruction on top of their already high-quality high school education. The cards are stacked in favor of these types of students even if they are of average intelligence.”

 

The biggest problem with College Board is not the fact that they take advantage of millions of high schoolers, but the fact that they are given the opportunity to do so. College Board essentially has a monopoly over the standardized tests that colleges use to assess a student’s aptitude for learning. This means that they have disproportional control over the college admissions process. If there were more companies who had standardized tests available, then a boycott would be effective in changing College Board’s policies. The ACT is a good alternative to the SAT, however, the underlying inequality is a problem in both tests. Despite the existence of the ACT, there are no alternatives to AP or SAT subject tests, which gives College Board no incentive to change.

 

However, some colleges are now taking a stand against College Board. In recent years, colleges and universities have taken a more holistic approach to the admissions process, looking at all the qualities of the student, rather than just test scores. UC’s no longer require the SAT, and several other colleges have followed their lead. Although this might be due to the fact that there is a pandemic, at least it is a start. This decision has received tremendous support from students and parents. By no longer humoring a broken system, we can fix it.