BY EMILY CHAIET
Malala Yousafzai won a Nobel Peace Prize at age 17 for defending women and children education rights. She is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate and was was named one of “Time Magazine’s” 100 most influential people in 2013, but if she wants to get into Stanford, she’s going to have to take the SAT’s first.
SAT’s and ACT’s have always played an integral role in the college admission process, yet too much weight is placed on an exam that does not show every student’s ability to succeed in college. There are so many extraordinary students who are deterred from applying to their dream school simply because their SAT score does not meet the requirement, even if their GPA does.
A high GPA shows a student’s commitment to education and the hard work they have put forth in school. On the contrary, most of the time, a high SAT score shows that a student is a naturally gifted genius or that they have the affluence to afford hours of SAT tutoring. Aren’t colleges looking for diligent students? How can one test, provided just once a month for seven months of a year, possibly show a student’s dedication to learning?
The weight of standardized tests is also a financial burden to students and a disadvantage to those of low-income families. More affluent students have an advantage over those who don’t come from money. They can afford to spend thousands of dollars on SAT and ACT tutoring, not to improve their critical thinking skills, but to learn the tricks to get them a high score on the standardized test of their choosing. The standardized test have become just another way for companies such as College Board and ACT to take money from students desperate to get into a good college.
The cost of these standardized tests quickly adds up. Not only do students have to pay more than $20 each time they take an SAT or ACT, they also have to pay a fee to send their scores to the universities of their choosing. On top of this, many students will spend thousands of dollars on tutors due to the importance of these exams. A 2009 report from Eduventures calculated that about 2 million students spend $2.5 billion a year on test preparation and tutoring. Therefore, students with low incomes tend to have lower scores, for they cannot afford the absurd price of SAT and ACT tutoring.
However, some universities have realized the benefit of making test scores optional on their applications. About 850 schools and counting do not require test scores, and this has led them to attract a strong and diverse pool of applicants. It encourages minority students and low-income students to apply to that university. After making test scores optional, Wake Forest University saw an immense change in diversity in their student population. Since making test optional in 2009, their percentage of non-white students has shot up from 18 percent to a now 30 percent.
I believe that every university should allow sending test scores to be optional. There are so many academically talented students who are penalized by their test scores in the college admissions process, whether it be because they cannot afford tutoring and preparation books, or because they are not strong test takers. The truth is not all students can get a 36 on their ACT while maintaining straight A’s and participating in thousands of extracurricular activities. Yes, the SAT and ACT test do display student’s knowledge, yet weighting them the same as a student’s grades is unfair.
If earning a Nobel Peace Prize at age 17 isn’t enough to get an acceptance into college, then something is clearly wrong with the college admissions system. Yousafzai’s humanitarian work and passion for education should be enough to get her into any university, even without the inclusion of standardized testing scores.