By Alina Saratova
Starting with the college graduating class of 2025, Harvey Mudd College will no longer require SAT Subject Test scores. Once a school that prided itself for the homogeneity of its student body because courses could be planned “with less concern for a wide variety of student backgrounds,” Mudd has transitioned into a more diverse school for students of all backgrounds. It is the school’s hope that this will break down a barrier for low income and disabled students so that they are not discouraged from applying.
With AP tests, SAT, SAT Subject Tests, Student Answer Service, fees for sending test scores, and more, the College Board rakes in a lot of money. Even so, these are not the College Board’s only sources of income. The section where you checked off in your test booklet that lets the College Board “connect you with potential colleges and programs” is a green light for the College Board to sell students’ information, such as name, address, birth date, Social Security Number, and test scores, to companies for 47 cents per person. The most expensive package costs $17,750 per company interested. Unwittingly, you are giving them permission to make even more of a profit off of you. The College Board’s most avid buyers include military recruitment programs who target underperforming students and offer them alternatives such as forgoing college and enrolling in one of the military branches. In 2019, the College Board’s total revenue was $840 million. On top of all this, the College Board is considered a non-profit under government qualifications, which means that it gets away with not paying taxes. Their profits are unharmed and protected.
In the 2019-2020 school year, College Board rolled out an initiative that forces students to sign up for AP tests (taken first or second week of May) by November 15, tricking high school seniors who are unsure of their admissions status into thinking that they’re better off registering — and paying — for AP tests. For reference, Harvey Mudd’s Early Decision 1 results come out on December 15, which is a month past the due date of signing up for AP tests. In November, students are not very likely to know if they will be attending a college that accepts AP credit, so they sign up, just in case. Harvey Mudd does not accept any AP scores, but other colleges might so it would be in the best interest of the student to take the AP test so they can possibly skip a college class. By performing this maneuver, the College Board would probably bring in a significantly larger amount of money this year than before. Signing up early in the year is also frustrating for students who are unsure if they want to take the AP exam so early in the course. The College Board prides itself on raising test participation, but does not show any significant score average increase. In the end, it gets more money, but also a larger percentage of students who do not have any interest in taking the AP tests.
All of these factors have brought the College Board a number of lawsuits, yet it is not worried about legal action because it makes so much more money than it would lose. Ultimately, the College Board does not care about students’ education, but rather about its own income.