Equal Opportunity Education

Some say public education is the great equalizer but in a world where high school diplomas are fast becoming obsolete, simply finishing twelfth grade will not open the doors it used to.

According to the Census Bureau, those with a high school diploma make an average of $1.2 million over their lifetime versus $2.5 million with a master’s degree. For all American children to have equal opportunities higher education is a necessity. For all American children, no matter their socioeconomic standing, to enjoy the benefits of such higher education, it must be free.

It is unfair and contrary to American ideals to deny education to a student because they can’t afford costs associated with school. However, publically funding all colleges, universities and vocational schools in the country while covering tuition for every child in the United States is nearly impossible.

According to The College Board, the average price of a four-year public university is $11, 528 while the average price to attend private college is $26,273. This of course does not adequately display the outliers. Some colleges and universities do not charge this much while other tuition costs reach upwards of $50,000.

With many other issues occupying the federal government at the moment, it is difficult to see action subsidizing higher education in the near future. In spite of this, steps should be taken by the government, as well as the greater community, to make college admissions less discriminatory.

Perhaps the first and easiest of these steps would be to do away with standardized college entrance exams. While these tests were originally implemented to put all students on a level playing field, they have become outdated. The college admissions process is much different today than it was in 1901 when the SAT was introduced.

Today SAT and ACT tests are taken by more than 1 million students each year. Although they are widely available, not all students have the same opportunities regarding these assessments. Students with means, bent on improving their scores are able to take the tests multiple times, purchase test prep books and buy expensive courses and tutoring sessions.

These students will increase their scores because of the extra practice procured.
It is obvious that students with higher scores will have a better chance of being admitted to a selective college or university. Students without the means to spend a large amount of money on these tests are at a disadvantage.

If you factor in the cost of taking tests, visiting campuses and applying to a variety of schools, the price of getting into college adds up before even mentioning tuition.
There is no doubt that at one time taking the SAT was a good measure of a student’s ability. But now, with the tools available if you are willing to pay, it is extremely easy to simply study for the test and beat the system.

Once the testing ordeal is complete it does not necessarily reflect the ability or prognosis of the prospective student. The idea that you are able to look at a number and determine the potential of an individual is ludicrous.

It is widely accepted that while test scores are a guideline for colleges and universities to rank applicants, they are not a determining factor during the admissions process.
Any admissions officer at any college or university will tell you that when considering whom to admit they reflect on the applicant and application holistically.

If this is true, the testing guideline should be eliminated and admission should be based upon the student’s writing, recommendations and grades. While of course each student has experienced a different learning process and many students are given vastly different opportunities, this is not a bad thing. Diversity is a trait prized among institutions of higher education.

Eliminating college entrance exams would create a more level playing field for applicants of all backgrounds. This would be one step toward re-working the landscape of higher education in America.

Basing admission upon a number generated by comparing students across the country is impersonal and ineffective. It isn’t test-scores that write novels or run governments. Test scores can’t have discussions of current issues or teach the next generation of pupils. It is the people behind the numbers that do these things; all students wishing to pursue higher education should be judged as such.