May 6, 2010
As a junior parent--and no, that does not mean I'm shorter than 5'2", it means I'm the parent of a junior in high school--I have observed and choked on the unceasing mail appealing to my inability to help my teenager leave high school and go to the college of her choice. From my teen's first day as a junior we have received mail promising to prepare, advise, workshop, and test, test, test our teenager in the name of higher education. Indeed, many of the first missives were from the College Board, a name that sounds official, neutral, and all-knowing. Over time, our entire family has come to understand College Board as an entity we call the Evil Empire, a name we used to reserve for Fry's electronics, a store that assaults one's sense's and then assaults its customers, even after paying: the demand to open your bag and circle the total dollar amount of your purchase with a highlighter leaving me perplexed each time. But College Board is way beyond Fry's in its delusions of empire, and in its unbelieveable reach into homes and schools and psyches. The College Board wants you to be very scared. And they want that fear to manifest itself in slavish payments for tests and books and classes to prep you for the tests, and more tests. The College Board suffers from Overblown Self-Importance, and other psychological syndromes or diseases. Dangerous to onself and other, 5150.
In those ancient days of yore when I took the SAT, there was no prep other than taking the PSAT, which we took cold as well. My teenager does not want to hear that fact from me one more time. She has just been hit with a post-Prom series including Subject tests, AP tests, and has Star Testing to top those off next week. Isn't this too much testing when the learning should be happening uninterrupted in the classrooms? No, no! Says college board, how will you know what way to turn without another test? "Have a nice ACT, you might do way better on that, and then you could feature that on your application." College Board always wants you to remember that you can take these tests over if you don't like your score. All correspondence from the College Board is worded in an officious and omnipotent tone that belies incredible self-importance. They demand respect along with the required fear! And so it was that we found out what kind of merciless lock the College Board has on many individuals, school, and admissions officers. Even our teen's high school counselor smiled wryly at us and said," Unfortunately for now, we have to feed the monster." The monster has no incentive to tamp down its greed. Like a pregnant woman with food cravings driven by hormones, the College Board pulls in willing victims and delivers test results--each with a price tag-- to colleges who duly record them in applicants files. Over and over, ka-ching, ka-ching. My husband believes that this kind of behavior is so similar to the NCAA, the way they set rules and yet do not allow college players to accept gifts or payment for punishing seasons of sports that the NCAA profits mightily from, that really, the College Board should consider merging with the NCAA. And I have recently read in an anonymous post on a little-known blog that the College Board is doing just that, considering a merger with the NCAA. Just think of it. A greed-fest of unthinkable proportions. The first college to stop requiring College Board tests will earn my undying respect and a fat check, but I know, nobody asked me. And people wonder why teenagers are so aggitated and alienated today. You try to take all those tests and still do your homework and find time to eat, sleep, and get a bit of exercise. I dare you.