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Editorials and Opinions

College industry knows perfectly well just how to make the big bucks

By Sandy Shen
Published: June 2010

At some point of our lives, most of us will spend days and weeks stressing over a Barron’s or a Princeton Review SAT book.

These same people will most likely take AP tests, along with various SAT I’s and II’s. The most dedicated of them will probably sign up for courses at Chyten or Princeton review, taking hours out of their schedules and thousands out of their wallets to prepare them for the utterly most important thing in life: college.

The college preparation industry (and yes, it is an industry at this point) salvages money out of students’ and parents of students’ innermost fears. For high school juniors and seniors, the most intimidating prospect in the near future is getting into college.

And for students all across America, shockingly not only in Newton, being ready for college and thus having the grades, AP scores, and SAT scores to be admitted into a school is very important.

For companies such as the College Board, those fears are just much too convenient.

The College Board provides various review books and tutoring programs to prepare students for tests that help determine the colleges they will be accepted into.

What’s better is that these tests, of course, they themselves create. On top of it all, students must pay to even take these tests.

The College Board has created a monopoly. In fact, I would even go as far to say they have created vertical integration, which happens to be a little something I learned while preparing for one of these tests.

I have to hand it them – whoever thought up the whole idea is an absolute genius.

I can just picture the dark, velvet-draped silhouette, smoking a cigar in front of the fireplace and chuckling about all the money in his or her bank account.

Honestly, we as consumers are getting millions of dollars per year sucked out of our pockets. Did you know that it costs $89 to take one AP test? Wtf?

Hey, I get that the rainforest is shrinking and everything, and that there is a service fee for those poor, unfortunate essay graders, but I seriously doubt my five-page test booklet racks up $89 in costs.

And what’s funnier is that $89 only goes to one test. If you are a student that takes multiple Advanced Placement classes, let’s just say you could have spent that money insteadbuying a lot of SAT and AP review books.

If you enroll in five AP classes and choose to take all of them, you have to pay $445.

And no, if you’re wondering, there is no volume discount. The price you pay is simply $89 x (number of AP tests you are taking.) How unfortunate, right?

Addtionally, SATs and SAT II’s take about $47 and $21, respectively, out of your bank account.

If you take just two APs and two SAT IIs in one year, along with the SAT I’s, your fees are already up to $267, and that doesn’t include review books or tutoring. Many students will spend an average of $2000 on tutoring, and books can cost up to $30 each
Of course, to an individual, such amounts of money will seem but a small investment for a promising future, and indeed, it probably is.

However, the problem seems to be that people are frantically preparing for a test created by the officials who are supposedly preparing us in the first place.

Phrased differently, these geniuses are “creating a problem, and then selling us a solution, in the words of Ms. Marder.

Would you be studying for the stupid SATs if it didn’t exist? Of course not.

But you can thank the College Board for all the grief you’re going to feel during that whole process.

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