The College Board has just announced that only college-bound students can take the new SAT on March 5. No longer can professional tutors come in, take the test, and apply what they see to their for-profit businesses. The fact that the students-only policy has sent dozens of high stakes test prep corporations into a tail spin amuses some people. For me, it’s just another sad reminder of how corruption and crisis dance on the razor’s edge of economic disparity in this country. Here’s why.
I’ll never forget that day. He had just told me about picking through garbage cans to feed his mother and himself. Trying to keep his grades up was hardest when he could only study until 6pm because their electricity was often turned off due to nonpayment of another bill.
I’d been volunteering at a youth center in a rundown part of Los Angeles, and these stories were all too common.
On this particular day, however, one thing truly struck me—that same young man of 17, Raul, reached into the tattered pocket of his second-hand jeans and pulled out a smart phone.
The ubiquitous nature of such devices, even among the neediest teens in our communities, makes this a thrilling time for those of us bringing educational technology solutions to the market. With every click, a teen is empowered to choose or reject options that are presented. Will they embrace this curriculum or that? One teacher or another? Suddenly instead of being relegated to digging for scraps, every beggar can potentially become a guest at the table of opportunity.
The 2015-2016 school year will go down in history as a perfect storm of transitions—a very exciting time in the world of college admissions. While most high school seniors impatiently await regular admissions and deferment correspondence (“not the dreaded wait list…nooo!”) college counselors are anxiously awaiting further developments in admissions upheavals like the new SAT, federal student aid application changes, and the newest squall in the applications world, the Coalition App for Access, Affordability and Success.
According to venture capital database CB Insights, more than $1.87 billion was invested in ed-tech technology in 2014. Naturally, the ed-tech arena has been a great, untapped frontier – averitable gold rush of Johnny-come-latelys to the education world, eager to pan for gold in “them thar hills”.
As CEO at GATE College System dot com, I know from the inside track that admissions counseling from a qualified, educator is the key to narrowing the playing field for an applicant with minimal access to personalized guidance at his or her secondary institution.
I am not entirely convinced that corporations, tech experts, and others who lack experience on the front lines of secondary education are qualified to lower the bridge to access. Let’s hope that the right solutions from the right professionals with the right intentions make their ways onto smart phones for the sake of students like Raul whose lifeline to a better future can be, in these days of ed tech, as near as their own tattered pockets.
The mobile app we now offer on iOS and Android, Passport to the New SAT, is sold at the reasonable price of $24.99 to those who can afford it. It was created by a team of Ivy League-level professional educators with over 100 years of combined experience in classrooms and tutoring agencies from New York to our home offices in Los Angeles.
For students who need the support but struggle to help feed and shelter their families, we are presently accepting applications from appropriate 501(c)(3) organizations. We are committed to providing 100% free access for disadvantaged teens who could use the help.
Here’s why test prep and the road to college admissions must change: these are students, not customers. Lives are at stake. We in America can and must do better than becoming a corporatocracy where the sole access to success is a pay to play endeavor.
I don’t know about you, but I am grateful that educational technology allows the right information to reach the right students … in the palm of their hands … no matter where or how they live.