top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

SATs are out. Published 'research' is in, but it's pay to play

Test scores are out. Everyone's got an A average. The "community service" trip to Mexico and the start-your-own-charity gambit are ho-hum.


Ambitious parents are paying to get a published "research" project on their teenagers' college applications, report Daniel Golden and Kunal Purohit for ProPublica and the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Photo: Artem Podrez/Pexels

High-priced college counselors link high schoolers to services that provide online mentors to guide the work and sites to publish it.


"A new industry is extracting fees from well-heeled families to enable their teenage children to conduct and publish research that colleges may regard as a credential," they write. "At least 20 online research programs for high schoolers have sprung up in the U.S. and abroad in recent years, along with a bevy of journals that publish the work."


"Sophia," who wrote a "marketing study" about how great Chick-fil-A is, said "having a publication is kind of a given” for college applicants. It doesn't matter that her paper was just an unreviewed "preprint" on the website of a new online journal for high school research, she told reporters. “It’s just important that there’s a link out there.” Some projects really are scholarly work, they write. But many are "dubious."


Admissions officers give a boost to applicants who've published research, but "often lack the time and expertise to evaluate" its quality, write Golden and Purohit. They also have time keeping track of the shifting array of new journals, many with very similar names.


Colleges made SAT and ACT scores optional -- or dropped them entirely -- in the name of "equity." Critics of testing said affluent families can pay for test prep and tutoring to raise their children's scores. Actually, high schools in lower-income neighborhoods have been offering free test prep and free retakes of college admissions tests for many years. But that doesn't make up for years of low expectations.


Publishing research takes money, write Golden and Purohit.

Many families that are already paying thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for advice on essay writing and extracurricular activities pay thousands more for research help. Scholar Launch charges $3,500 for “junior” research programs and between $4,500 and $8,800 for advanced research, according to its website.

Graduate students are paid well to help students choose a research topic, they write. They "may pitch in with writing, editing and scientific analysis." If the paper is good, it's hard to say who did the work.


"College admissions consultant Jillian Nataupsky estimated that one-third of her clients undertake virtual research," Golden and Purhot reported. It's a "great option" now for students who want to stand out, she said. But “it’s becoming a little more commonplace," and soon will lose its value as a differentiator.

1,381 views7 comments

7 comentários


Richard Rider
Richard Rider
25 de mai. de 2023

ACHIEVEMENT scores (such as SAT or ACT scores) should be the primary (but not the only) criteria for competitive college admission. Courses taken and passed rely on equity grading and dubious standards. Colleges can't know the value of such grades -- or courses taken. Instead, more and more colleges are using any admission criteria that does NOT reflect achievement. This is particularly apparent in the STEM fields where high school kids are woefully unprepared to handle college level skillsets.

Curtir
Convidado:
25 de mai. de 2023
Respondendo a

It should be a combination of test scores and grades. If one has A's in math but a 650 on the SAT math section, then one can probably succeed in some majors but probably should avoid physics or engineering. However, having an 800 on the SAT math but having B's and C's in high school is a good sign that the student will drop our or not show up to class.

Curtir

Convidado:
22 de mai. de 2023

American universities focus on two things: Political ideology and finances.


They will accept anyone as long as it funds the growing university administration. They'll label it as 'equity in accessibility.' One student will get a full ride as thousands go into debt for the rest of their lives.

Curtir

Convidado:
22 de mai. de 2023

A Republican candidate for president who can pull oneself away from saying "woke" every other word should propose requiring all students who apply to any university that receives federal funding to take either the SAT or ACT and that all scores for those applying, those admitted, and broken down by demographic groups must be reported to the federal government. The university should not be required to use the scores for admission but to justify to the feds that the university is not discriminating on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity.

Curtir

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
22 de mai. de 2023

American university admissions are moving in a bad direction. Better are the baccalaureate student examinations of Europe, and the common university admission tests of East Asia, which might be well supplemented by continuous assessment of the sort long established in North America; the rest of this fraud is garbage, and these consultants are to be deplored.

Curtir

Convidado:
22 de mai. de 2023

It's worse than just pay to play. Even free "opportunities" mean that the student is spending the summer researching instead of working for pay. So they're designed to weed out lower income kids. Except that the universities now fund a "Questbridge" program for poor but bright kids --- THAT requires high scores.


Curtir
bottom of page