By Li-Kay Teng
“An Open Letter on Stress and Academics.” ThinkTank Learning, ThinkTank Learning, 10 Mar.
High school students are always complaining about lacking the upper-hand in college acceptances due to their inability to afford extracurricular SAT tuition. This may just seem like typical “teenager problems” comparable to relationships, breakups, yada-yada-yada. However, should this issue just be ignored? What we close an eye to is the fact that the SAT system is flawed, in the sense that it does not present an equal playing field to students of all social classes. This is a blossoming problem; but if this cannot be fixed, the whole plant should be weeded out as a whole — if the inequalities within the SAT system cannot be solved, SAT testing needs to go.
Lomas, a student from Buffalo, N.Y., shared on CNBC that he spent 25 hours a week at a job that paid $9 an hour last summer to help pay for school. Lomas is one of the 80% of students in the U.S. who are spending their leisure time working odd jobs to help their parents with the school fees — but how much more can they really do? Besides finding balance between school hours, homework, extracurriculars, sports games, social events and sleep, students are left with barely any time to earn the extra cash needed for outside-of-school tuition. Cooper Aspergen, an editor of The Oracle, agrees that because students of lower-classes are not able to pay for extra SAT tuition, “socioeconomically underprivileged students face an unjust disadvantage” and are “unfairly forced to dial down on their college aspirations” as a result. If you throw two football teams of equal strength into a match, but with one team starting off with a 28-point lead, are the chances of either team winning still 50-50? The futures of these students should not be determined by the current financial situation of their families; instead, they should be competing on an equal playing field with students of upper-class families, and create a fair case of “may the best man win”, allowing them to steer their future with the fuel of hard work.
This does not suggest that SAT tuitions should be discontinued and prep books should no longer be sold; instead, high schools could incorporate SAT prep as an in-school class that is inclusive of the school fees. Students will then have the choice to enroll themselves in the class, dependent on their post-graduation plans, and receive tuition for no extra costs, to boost them to the level of preparation equal to the other rich kids who can only complain about tuition other students are wishing for. These in-school classes are already an option for high schoolers planning to sit for the AP exam, so what is the harm in doing the same for the SATs?
If such initiatives will not receive support across the board, though, then SAT testing should go. Apparently, the College Board and I may not see eye to eye, as according to the same article by Cooper Aspergen, “the College Board’s defense of its administration of the SAT lies in evidence that the test accurately indicates a student’s performance at the college level.” Is this really the only way colleges can determine students’ suitability for its courses? This claim is refuted, as the same article continues by stating that “Princeton University researchers have found that other academic factors, such as class rank, serve as more precise predictors.” As the SATs are biased, and clearly do not best represent students’ knowledge and skills as well as they claim to, what is the point of letting it stand in between students’ dreams, hopes and futures?
When it comes to the future of students, when it comes to the possibilities in their hands, when it comes to the world they will create, the circumstances should be working with them every step of the way.
- “An Open Letter on Stress and Academics.” ThinkTank Learning, ThinkTank Learning, 10 Mar. 2015, ttlearning.com/blog/an-open-letter-on-stress-and-academics/.
- Aspegren, Cooper. “Standardized Tests Tend to Favor Upper-Class Students.” College Admissions, edited by Dedria Bryfonski, Greenhaven Press, 2015. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010919229/OVIC?u=60iskl&xid=c1eae9b4. Accessed 28 Feb. 2018. Originally published as “SAT Is Unfair to Disadvantaged Students,” The Oracle, 10 Dec. 2012.
- Langfield, Amy. “80% Of College Students Chipping in for Education.” CNBC, CNBC, 9 Aug. 2013, www.cnbc.com/id/100952906.