Each year, a multitude of high school seniors prepare themselves for a choice that will dictate the next several years of their lives- the college admissions decision. However, the black-and-white perception that most individuals have regarding the acceptance or denial to these universities may be completely mistaken. The American non-profit organization, College Board, and its relationship to colleges nationwide may be at the root of this issue. According to the article appearing in the Nov. 6, 2019 issue of the Wall Street Journal “Universities Buy SAT-Takers’ Names and Boost Exclusivity,” for years College Board has been selling the names and personal information of students that take the Standardized Aptitude Test (SAT) to numerous universities, many of them private institutions. The catch is, these universities are paying for students’ names so that they can reach out to a larger, more diverse group of students- only to deny them admission into their university. This process increases the number of applicants at universities nationwide, while also increasing denial rates. While this procedure may help to promote the rankings of these universities, it also proves to be disheartening for the students involved
The SAT is a very popular test, and its relevance to high school students is what has made the College Board such a familiar name as well. As the application deadlines near for most universities, students eagerly view the acceptance rates at their desired universities. The seemingly unattainable standards that most universities have established may be linked to the increase in their denial rates. In order to increase their likelihood of getting into these “prestigious” universities, many students repetitively take standardized tests such as the SAT or the ACT in order to further promote their likelihood of being admitted. The College Board website indicates that with the essay portion, the SAT costs $64.50, and without the essay portion, the SAT costs $49.50 for a singular test. These staggering prices only begin to indicate the extensive profit that the College Board is making from students’ desires to succeed. On top of these already high financial returns, according to the article, the “non-profit” College Board is able to sell each individual test taker’s name to any university for 42 cents each. Although this value may seem small, it becomes ridiculously larger when taken into account the fact that in the graduating class of 2018, more than two million students took this test
The College Board has claimed that they set specific limitations on what universities are able to do after receiving the names of test takers. Seeing as millions of names are given to universities per year, the schools tend to reach out to larger pools of students in an effort to increase the number of applicants in any given year. By doing this, the colleges are able to deny more students, and thus increase their national rankings, their reputations of exclusivity and their sense of diversity seeing as their applicants could come from anywhere in the nation. College Board sends a wide variety of personal information regarding students to universities- a situation which many test takers are completely oblivious to. From academic interests to name, ethnicity, test scores, and location in the nation, colleges are given essentially every component that constitutes the student’s general application requirements. One specific factor that is given to universities by the College Board is especially concerning- socioeconomic class. By informing universities about a student’s financial standings, the College Board creates and enables an unequal bias due to family income. Universities receiving student names may gravitate towards sending information more often to students whom they know can afford their specific university, because they know that if a university that is within their price range contacts a student, the student is more likely to apply. SAT scores have also been found to have a relationship to family income seeing as factors such as family support and accessibility to tutoring can be influenced by income
The College Board’s behind-the-scenes relationship with universities nationwide should be addressed and discussed much more frequently. Not only do these relationships create false expectations for students who are applying to colleges, but they also encourage a continuous cycle of financial return for universities and the College Board at the expense of students and their families. This relationship should be further publicized and deemed unacceptable. The admission of students to universities should be based primarily on merit, and the economic enterprise created by the relationship between the College Board and universities nationwide should officially cease to exist.