Julie Williams Speaks out against the College Board

Underclassmen are running around like chickens with their heads chopped off; alarm clocks are buzzing at 6:50 a.m. and students are having nightmares about CRNs. Forget the holidays, registration is in the air!

My original plan for this piece was simply to refute the last staff editorial concerning the registration process published in The Lamron. I do believe that credits brought into Geneseo from Advanced Placement tests and other college courses should determine registration date.

Also, students in the Geneseo Honors Program register before other students for valid reasons; the practice should be upheld. There are, however, more complex underlying issues regarding affluence and opportunity (or lack thereof) that drive the entire college application process and cannot be ignored while exploring upper-level academic institutions.

First, the easy part: I surely speak for most AP students who voluntarily subjected themselves to thousands of pages of textbook reading, to countless confusing multiple choice questions and finally to the whims of some anal, nitpicky essay grader when I say I deserve something extra for all of that labor.

In order to be considered for the Geneseo Honors Program, one must possess a 95 average in high school and achieve at least a 1350 on the SAT. This program is obviously selective, and if a student can get in and more importantly, stay in (and take the 21 extra required credits), I think they deserve priority registration.

If the school does not determine registration by academic merit, how else would it be done? Alphabetically? By birthday? That would not be fair, nor would it motivate students to work harder in their classes.

By bickering over credit technicalities and a few random SAT questions, we are ignoring the root of the problem. The College Board, the company that produces the AP and SAT tests, is a monopoly that, contrary to its cute blue and white acorn slogan, has no interest whatsoever in "inspiring minds." Colleges and universities have always been elitist, but this greedy for-profit corporation has brought affluence and higher education together in ways that are unacceptable.

So why is this unfair? Why don't all schools have AP and International Baccalaureate programs? It is most certainly not in the high school's best interest to deprive their brightest students, but it is most certainly impossible for many school districts to foot the AP bill.

I paid $86 for every AP test I took my senior year, up from $80 my sophomore year. Some schools pay for their students to take the tests but, in many schools, not only can the district not afford to pay for the exams, the students themselves cannot afford to take the test. Who can blame them? Expecting a family to sacrifice almost $100 for any test is ludicrous.

The SAT is even nastier. At $45 a pop, the initial cost is not as daunting as the AP, but the associated costs are disgusting. The ability to write competently will do nothing to prepare AP students for the labyrinth-like essay rubrics and independent study will only get a high school junior so far on a four-hour SAT. Both the AP and SAT are designed to be just convoluted enough that a student cannot go into the test with only knowledge and intelligence.

The solution? Take a review class! For anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, parents can prep their kids as early as sixth grade for standardized tests. How does a naturally intelligent student without a spare $500 stand a chance? In addition, The College Board Web site encourages students to take the test a second, and even a third time. $45 times three. When it is time to send scores to colleges, surprise! More fees.

The College Board is turning the college application process into something sellable to the highest bidder. The worst part: there are no alternatives. Mad at the system? Refuse to take APs and the SAT, see how far that gets you. The company knows this, and profits from it immensely.

If Geneseo takes weight from AP credits, they must also take weight from SAT and ACT scores because none of it is fair. I thought we had all left The College Board behind when we matriculated but apparently, being the cockroach of an organization that it is, it is refusing to die.