College Board's Statement
By Caleb Kaufman
On Wednesday April 21st, I reached out directly via email to the College Board's Executive Director of Media Relations, Zack Goldberg, requesting an interview. An hour later I was directed by Mr. Goldberg to the Director of Media Relations, Jerome White. Mr. White emailed me back and asked when I wanted to speak with him. I replied and said that sometime in the upcoming week would be ideal.
By April 23rd, I still had not heard back from Mr. White, so I emailed him again asking about his availability for the upcoming week. Mr. White had still not responded to me by April 26th so I emailed once more. This time I told him that my deadline was coming up and I needed to find a time in the week when we could speak. Mr. White promptly responded within an hour of me sending him the message. He wrote "Hi Caleb, I will be in touch shortly!" Mr. White did not contact me for the next two days.
Over that time, I attempted to reach him by telephone. I called every College Board regional office phone number and oddly, all of them sent my call to India. And as nice as the Indian receptionists were, they had no contact information for any College Board employee in the US. Eventually, after sleuthing around the internet for an hour, I found the direct phone number of Zack Goldberg (which was not listed on any College Board affiliated website).
The next morning I called Mr. Goldberg in an attempt to get in contact with Mr. White. Having dialed him directly, Mr. Goldberg answered and proceeded to assure me that he would have Mr. White reach out to me in a few hours. This time, he did. On April 28th, Mr. White emailed and asked me what statements he needed to respond to and a time when we could speak. I sent him a number of times I could speak by phone as well as two statements. I emailed Mr. White the following questions:
"Is the College Board hoarding money in the Cayman Islands and not using it to help students like your mission statement says?"
"Is the College Board’s Student Search program allowing selective colleges to artificially lower their acceptance rates to look better on college rankings?"
This was not my full list of questions, as I planned to discuss others on the call. However, we did not.
I called Mr. White on April 30th, using a number he left in our previous email. He picked up and told me that I needed to wait because he was working on a response to my statements. I told him that I was still interested in interviewing him and that I wanted to schedule a time to speak with him. He told me "we're working on that" and the call ended.
On May 4th, Mr. White emailed me a full statement. I emailed him directly afterwards telling him I would still like to interview him. I didn't get a response. The statement below is all I could get from the College Board after its Media Relations department agreed to be interviewed by me. Two weeks of constant emailing and calling got me no closer to that interview.
For a nonprofit that is attempting to "clear a path for all students to own their future," they really dislike talking to students.
The following is a statement by the College Board's Director of Media Relations, Jerome White.
Attributable to College Board
The College Board is a not-for-profit membership organization comprised of more than 6,000 colleges, schools, and districts. Each year, we help clear a path for more than seven million students to own their own future. For us, success is measured by the opportunities we deliver to students. With our members and partner organizations we’re committed to further delivering opportunities – and having a positive impact at scale, supporting more students from underrepresented populations and students in isolated communities.
Our revenue is reinvested into fee waivers and in programs that expand educational opportunities for all students. Being a self-sustaining organization means we have the capacity to make big investments when we see an opportunity to serve students. Free personalized practice on Khan Academy; helping expand the College Advising Corps; developing CBOS in response to clear research on best practices for students and parents.
Colleges use Search to find and connect with prospective students, and students who participate in Search are more likely to go to—and finish—college. Search is not part of any college rankings system.
The Search program is free for students, and voluntary. They must opt-in, and can opt-out at any time. We have always been careful to protect student privacy, which is why colleges, universities, and scholarship organizations must adhere to strict guidelines.
We know Search helps more students get into college. New research shows that students who opt-in are 12% more likely to enroll in a four-year college compared to identical students who do not participate. (Howell, Hurwitz, & Smith, 2018).
The probability of a student sending their SAT score to an institution goes up 23% when that college can contact a student through Search, and that rate increases dramatically for underrepresented students. (Howell, Hurwitz, & Smith, 2019)
· 46% for African American students;
· 49% for First-Generation students;
· 42% for Low-income students.
College admissions officers who are working to increase the number of low-income and underrepresented students on their campuses tell us that they could not do their job without Search.
· In a typical year, more than 60% of the students who attend Harvard University were among the names found through Search. That percentage is even higher—over 80%-- for minority students at Harvard.
· Vanderbilt University has used Search to increase the number of Pell Grant recipients and more students from urban and rural areas. They have been able to move Pell students from 6% to 15% and African American students from 5% to almost 13% -- highest of all AAU institutions in the United States.
95% of the students who participate in Student Search are contacted by colleges by spring of their senior year.
This year students report feeling anxiety about the disruption to the college application process; many students have had fewer opportunities to visit colleges or interact with college reps in person, and only 18% of juniors met with counselors or teachers in the second half of the year, compared to 41% last year. Choosing to participate in Student Search Service gives them one more way to connect and learn more about colleges they’re interested in. [Hobson’s survey and Niche Survey]
The College Board is intensifying its efforts to ensure the connection between students and colleges:
· In response to the pandemic, the College Board is offering guidance and flexibility to make it easier for schools and test centers to administer the SAT Suite of Assessments safely for students this fall. This includes additional test dates for SAT and PSAT/NMSQT.
· We’re expanding our virtual engagement with students to help connect them to colleges and college opportunity, even if they’re not able to test this year due to covid-19 cancellations. Over 300,000 students nationwide have indicated they want to hear from colleges as they start their college planning journey by opting-into Search on our website.
· We’re offering colleges more flexibility for when and how they reach out to students by making student information in Search available earlier than in years’ past.
· In September, we expanded our National Recognition Programs. Institutions can now connect with students who have received awards as part of our African American Recognition Program, Indigenous Recognition Program, and Rural and Small Town Recognition Program, in addition to those students who’ve been granted honors through our existing Hispanic Recognition Program.