The college admissions process is unfair and favors the wealthy

Elizabeth Hong, Staff Writer

High school seniors undergo the arduous college admissions process every year. This undertaking is not only extremely time-consuming, but also pricey. Students are forced to pay a number of fees just to submit applications, not to mention the costs of taking standardized tests or tutoring, which quickly add up. This causes a distinct discrepancy between students with the resources to afford such luxuries and those who cannot. 

Before even applying to schools, though, students must first take the SAT and/or ACT, standardized tests that can make or break their college dreams. Taking both with the essay exceeds $130, not to mention the added expense of retakes. This is only one of many expenses required of students who want to further their education. 

The priciest fee isn’t even the test itself but rather the preparation courses, with some costing up to $1,000. True these are optional, but doing well on the SAT and ACT can give students a huge leg up on the competition when competing for coveted admissions spots. For many, the classes are less of a choice and more of a bare minimum requirement to earning a high score. The high cost is a major disadvantage for those without adequate financial resources, making the scores unbalanced for less privileged students. 

Another added expense for students applying to college is the cost of AP exams for those enrolled in AP courses. While these courses are optional, they are heavily preferred by most colleges. The cost of a single AP exam is around $94, and some schools (including St. Pius) charge for either taking the course or test administration. Students with financial issues can apply for a fee reduction, but even so, for most students this is yet another financial burden.

Getting accepted into a college of your choice isn’t based on merit alone but also on how deep you can dig into your wallet.”

Application fees for colleges are also an expense that can be very costly. While these fees may be considered necessary because of the large amount of applications that each require so much individual time and consideration, some colleges charge extravagant prices. 

The average application fee per college is around $50, with some Ivy League colleges charging more than $75. Students can submit a waiver to forgo the fees, but those aren’t always successful. For those applying to multiple colleges, these fees add up quickly. 

The most alarming component to this expensive college admissions process is that the AP courses and standardized tests are run by “non-profit” organizations, such as the College Board who made over $1 million dollars in revenue in 2017, according to Total Registration. 

The CEOs of these companies also earn salaries upwards of $300,000 per year, with the CEO of the College Board making $1.3 million in 2017, according to his tax returns. Some ACT board members even receive compensation of more than $40,000 to attend just four meetings throughout the year. 

The college admissions process heavily favors those with more expendable wealth. Getting accepted into a college of your choice isn’t based on merit alone but also on how deep you can dig into your wallet. Suggestions for improving the system include offering free test-prep courses funded by tax dollars, lowering application fees, and cutting salaries from corporate executives and using that money to help reduce the cost of standardized tests. 

Students shouldn’t be at a disadvantage when it comes to access to higher education simply because they’re born into a family with limited financial means.