Killing the Cram

Here’s an incremental proposal for reforming the college admissions process. As I see things, one of the major issues the system has to cope with is the huge advantage that wealthier kids get. Some of those advantages are things that should be encouraged: wealthier kids tend to attend better schools and to learn more because of it. But some of those advantages are things that should be discouraged: wealthier kids can take expensive SAT prep courses.

My idea is that college applicatnts should be required to disclose on their applications all test-prep courses they’ve taken (in fact, any education or private tutoring not part of their high school curriculum). Colleges would then reduce applicants scores by the advertised SAT gain of the particular course. The Princeton Review claims an average improvement of 140 points. If you take Princeton Review classes, then, the admissions department will knock 140 points off your score.

For private tutoring or courses without disclosed information, the admissions committee will make an educated guess. Especially if colleges pool information, it shouldn’t be hard to get a good ballpark figure on how much a given course of study would be expected to raise a student’s scores. Failure to disclose a prep course, of course, constitutes lying on your application, and is immediate grounds for rejection—or expulsion, if you’re caught after the fact.

Am I missing something?