With news of the Long Island SAT cheating scandal being featured everywhere, people are reminded of the increasing pressures facing students and college applicants today, and the lengths that some are willing to go to get into their top-choice colleges.
Having tutored and worked with thousands of students applying to college (counting more than a few Great Neck kids as his clients), A-List Education founder and President, Scott Farber, was asked by numerous media outlets to comment on the events that took place. He tells The Daily Beast,“College admission is enormously stressful and competitive. These kids work incredibly hard: getting good grades in their classes, improving their SAT scores, and excelling in their extracurricular activities. Sometimes the pressure gets to be too much and one or two go off the deep end.”
While cheating is never excusable, with the college admissions environment more competitive than ever, it’s not surprising that students are feeling the pressure. According to U.S. Census figures released by the Pew Research Center, more kids than ever want to attend America’s colleges. About 11.5 million young adults—or nearly 40 percent of the nation’s 18 to 24 year olds—were enrolled in two- or four-year colleges as of October 2008 (the latest data available). There is more competition to get top spots at selective colleges than ever before.
This whole scandal brings up another fundamental issue about college entrance exams and the entire admissions process. In the words of Mr. Farber, “The real issue for standardized tests and the college application process is the fundamentally unequal access to resources. We work with schools, educational non-profits, and community-based organizations across the country in an effort to level the playing field. This country cannot succeed if we continue to relegate students to second-class status simply because they don’t have the same opportunities.”