The University Prep partnership between the College Board and a National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) exposes the hypocrisy of the College Board’s rhetoric about the SAT being a fair way to democratize and expand access to higher education.
In reality, this exclusive and unprecedented arrangement – open only to students whose families can pay $4,500 for a fast-lane test prep course in the comfort of an Amherst College summer camp – grants privilege to a small, test-score aristocracy.
While summer camps on college campuses for “gifted” students are nothing new, students in this program can the buy exclusive access to the SAT, which never has been offered outside the school year. This is a very expensive test-prep camp that is open only to students who, in many if not most cases, were pre-selected for gifted and talented programs by standardized tests such as the ETS’s ERB exams (which, like the SAT, correlate highly with family incomes).
Participation in this program sends the message to these youths – and the entire nation – that they are special and deserve exclusive treatment in the form of an additional opportunity to take the SAT. These students are flying first class to the land of elite universities in August, while everyone else must fly economy in October.
How this program makes for a level playing field for a fair measure of one’s academic merit is a mystery.
By Joseph A. Soares, Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University