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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

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The Fresh Perspective: College Board’s monopoly & its impact on students

In+this+weekly+blog%2C+The+Fresh+Perspective%2C+staff+reporter+Lea+Garcia-Salazar+talks+about+school+opinions.
Lea Garcia-Salazar
In this weekly blog, The Fresh Perspective, staff reporter Lea Garcia-Salazar talks about school opinions.

Every year, the non-profit organization, College Board, generates more than a billion dollars from SAT, AP, and PSAT exams combined. For decades, College Board has held a monopoly over the college admissions process, wielding immense influence over educators, institutions, and of course, the aspirations of students. 

“You’ll need to take more AP exams if you really want to stand out.” 

“Your AP exam score is way too low, you should take it again so you have better chances.” 

“You’re taking way too little AP classes. Colleges will definitely notice that on your transcript.”

Are all, unfortunately, common remarks said by high school students that are passed off as lighthearted jokes or even friendly advice. When in reality, it’s purely peer pressure and ridicule stemming from unfair societal expectations. 

But where did this AP-driven culture stem from? 

Founded in the year 1900 under the name, College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB), the non-profit’s purpose was to create a standardized entrance exam to bring order to the process of college admissions in a previously chaotic and inefficient system. 

With time, College Board’s services have evolved, in partnership with various educational institutions, and with the replacement of government-mandated tests by College Board exams. 

With the introduction of the AP exam in 1952, a pilot program that tested high school students in 11 subjects, College Board’s curriculum was implemented in classrooms across the country and now, around the globe.

College Board’s AP program is meant to be a way for academically ambitious students to do college-level coursework while earning college credit in high school. However, its original intentions have been distorted into an unfair culture of competition and prestige. Students are often bombarded with messages praising the virtues of AP courses by their peers, social media, and teachers alike as essential stepping stones to success in college and beyond. As a result, students feel an immense pressure to enroll in AP classes in fear they may fall behind or even jeopardize their chances of admission to top universities; often feeling like they’re putting their entire future on the line. 

It is also important to note the shame students often feel while opting out of AP classes. In an intense academic environment where taking these classes are equated with success, opting out of AP classes is often perceived as a sign of weakness or laziness. In many’s eyes, students who dare prioritize their mental health, pursue alternative interests, or simply follow a different academic path are frequently shamed and ridiculed by their peers.

So, what other choice do these students that want success but don’t want to be seen as lazy or stupid have? Take some Dual Credit courses? No. Those are often also looked upon for not being nearly as academically rigorous. So they take the AP classes anyway for the prestige and for the approval of others. 

Taking an AP course, if not paid for by the school, costs $97 in the U.S., $127 for international students, $145 for those taking a specialized AP Capstone course exam, and $15 for each college you wish to send your scores to confirm credit costs. While this sum may not seem daunting at first, these numbers can quickly add up to thousands without financial compensation for students. 

The large sum of money College Board brings in each year from students has especially become a major point against the organization since its original purpose of allowing access to higher education now serves as an economic roadblock for many. 

A few key factors that admissions officers look at are extracurricular activities, standardized test scores, an outstanding essay, and rigorous high school coursework. With limited access to College Board owned material such as AP classes and SAT exams, students hoping to get into good colleges are often put at a disadvantage; effectively demonstrating College Board’s monopoly over the admissions process. 

Some might argue that since the future of the SAT is becoming questionable in admissions following the move away from standardized entry testing, College Board’s influence is either weakening or barely exists. However, College Board is actively making changes to the SAT to try and keep relevance for the test, as can be seen by their digital testing initiatives and their elimination of the essay sections of the exam. The measures they’ve taken to stay afloat so far have worked. With some top universities requiring the SAT again, proving that their presence is still prominent in admissions and still affecting many many students. 

Does enrolling in AP courses make a person bad? No. Are there benefits to the program? Absolutely. However, the culture surrounding AP classes—which is driven by social pressures and the College Board’s exclusive control over the college admissions process—is the root of the issue. Students should not feel pressured or shamed into taking AP classes simply to be seen as successful by their peers. 

College Board’s growing influence means its time to reconsider and redefine success in education. Success should not be measured mostly by the number of AP classes taken or the scores achieved on standardized tests. Rather, success should be defined by a student’s individual growth, and passion. 

Furthermore, it is essential to remove the obstacles standing in the way of students’ access to higher education, such as the excessive fees of standardized testing and the scarcity of AP courses in underprivileged areas. We can guarantee that every student, regardless of background or circumstances, has the chance to follow their aspirations and realize their full potential by fighting for greater fairness and accessibility in education.

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About the Contributor
Lea Garcia-Salazar
Lea Garcia-Salazar, Staff Reporter
Lea Garcia-Salazar is a Sophomore in her first year with Wingspan. She is a member of DECA and Aid4Need. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family and friends, reading, writing, and volunteering. Lea is excited to be a part of such a fantastic group! Contact Lea: lea.garciasalazar.944@k12.friscoisd.org

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