College Board: The Monopoly in Disguise

By: Young Kim

In hopes of standing out to colleges, students have been known to take AP (advanced placement) courses in order to bolster their resume. Students may also take other standardized testing such as the SAT (scholastic assessment test) and the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) as additional supplements. In a society where education is highly valued, these opportunities are considered extremely important to many families. Yet while education is valued as the utmost importance there is a major flaw within the American education system. A system that should be created in order to allow better opportunities for the youth is controlled by one major company: College Board. 

While College Board labels itself as a not-for-profit organization, they can only be described as a monopoly in a very lucrative industry. College Board reported that in 2019, over 2 million students took the SAT while over 1 million students took around 4 million AP tests. While these numbers may show the progression of students wanting to gain a higher education, it is impossible to not account for the millions of dollars of profit gained. Before the 2020-2021 school year, the cost of taking 1 AP course test was $94 (now $95) with the SAT costing $49 and $65 with an essay, which many colleges require in applications. According to Forbes, these prices have allowed College Board to amass over $1 billion in revenue in addition to $100 million in untaxed surplus and another $400 million invested within hedge funds. With these funds, David Coleman, the chief executive of College Board, has a salary of around $2 million a year.  

The College Board has been criticized in the past for making the prices of testing too high, allowing a distinguished advantage for the wealthy. This was evident in last year’s AP testing which was announced to be taken online. In summary, the most important tests of the year were allowed to be tested within the student homes, where there was no supervision and an almost too easy method for cheaters to get away with no work. In addition, test takers with a better internet service had the security of expecting everything to work to its fullest capabilities while those with minimal internet access had to constantly fear not being able to enter their test within the allotted time. Besides the obvious discrepancies with wealth playing a key role in the scores, many students suffered when the College Board servers crashed due to the sheer number of people who attempted to input their test. These students were crushed with not being able to turn in their tests with College Board advising them to retake again in June. While COVID-19 did make drastic changes only a few months before the tests, many were upset with College Board’s solution as well as their lack of communication. With the inherent problems following an online formatted test, families have racked up a $500 million lawsuit against the College Board. 

Students all over the nation are beginning to understand the consequences of giving the future of their college life over to a corporation that puts profits before the wellbeing of the test takers. For solutions, the College Board should either be disbanded into smaller corporations for each aspect of testing or testing should be gotten rid of entirely. With a system clearly favoring those fortunate enough to have a stable testing and learning environment, College Board has failed to uphold its moral duties of a not-for-profit organization. 

Student education should not be made into a lucrative business. It should be either equally accessible to all or taken away as a whole. There is a disconnect between the well thought out intentions of furthering an education and only giving an education to those that can afford it. The dark consequences of the education monopoly is clearly evident, but the question remains: what replaces a system that has been integrated into thousands of highschools all over the nation?