OPINION: College Board gatekeeps higher ed


Ella Adams, Opinion Editor

Last fall, App State reported its largest ever incoming freshman class of 3,906 students. That’s about a 31% increase from 2011. The mountain school is growing quickly and becoming a more competitive university. The average GPA of last year’s freshmen was about 3.98. App State isn’t the only one becoming harder to get into. Any high school senior or college student will tell you how tricky the college admissions process is. One of the major obstacles to admissions is the College Board. The billion-dollar organization monopolizes higher education and has an iron grip on the admissions process. The College Board makes admissions more confusing, expensive and difficult. It serves to gatekeep higher education. 

The main obstacle the College Board puts in place is the SAT. The test costs $55, but it’s not the initial exam fee that makes the SAT so pricey. To change or cancel your registration will cost you $25. To receive your scores by phone will cost you an additional $15 per call. To receive scores from previous tests will cost you $31, and the fees go on. Paying to take the SAT once is expensive, but the SAT is not designed to be a one-and-done test. The exam is not a test of how well you know the material, it’s a test of how well you know the test. SAT prep books run at about $30, and tutoring can be extremely expensive. SAT scores are reflective of how much money is spent preparing for and taking the test multiple times. Students who have the money and resources have an advantage over students who don’t have those same privileges. 

For a not-for-profit organization, the College Board rakes in an outstanding amount of money. According to 2019 tax filings, the College Board made $1.1 billion. Between the cost of the SAT and associated fees as well as the revenue from the PSAT and Advanced Placement exams, the College Board is an extremely profitable organization. The College Board is free to charge outrageous amounts for its exams, and people will pay it. A college degree is an extremely valuable asset in today’s economy. Students are willing to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars throughout their high school careers on exams, fees and test prep. AP exams cost $96 and the SAT costs $55. Three attempts of each exam would cost $453. This is not including any test prep or fees. According to its mission statement, “the College Board’s mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. We are a not-for-profit membership organization committed to excellence and equity in education.” If the College Board is so “committed” to equity, success and opportunity, it would make exams more accessible.

Getting into college and obtaining a degree is a monumental milestone in many people’s lives. The monopolization of the admissions process and raking in the revenue from students’ failure all while doing it under the guise of a “not-for-profit membership organization committed to excellence and equity in education” is at best unethical and at worst a scam.

Many universities no longer require standardized test scores for admissions. App State is not requiring test scores for first-year students applying for a 2021 or 2022 term, due to COVID-19. This is a step in the right direction. Access to higher education should not be controlled and gatekept by a barely not-for-profit organization that swindles students out of hundreds of dollars for a biased test that reduces their entire academic experience to a statistic.