Thursday, October 13, 2011

SAT Scandal Raises Questions About High School Pressure

Sam Eshaghoff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Emory University, was arrested for allegedly accepting cash payments to take the SAT for six students at his alma mater, Great Neck North High School – one of the top-rated high schools in the nation.

Great Neck North officials said they were appalled and reminded the public that all cheaters will face serious consequences while applauding the decision to hold the accused students legally accountable.

Having graduated from a top-rated, overly competitive, private high school only two years ago, I sympathize with the six accused Great Neck North students. While the media will undoubtedly portray these students as slackers who tried to cheat their way into top colleges, I will know the truth: These students just could not take the pressure any longer and cracked.

I have met a large number of students at the University of Southern California who were only one of fifteen students who somehow managed to graduate from an overcrowded public high school and attend a non-community college. I always hear about how few kids even consider going to college an option at these kinds of schools. It never gets any easier to hide my surprise when I hear about these stories.

Understand, in my graduating high school class of 140 students, 139 went to non-community colleges and universities, with about 40 of them ending up at ‘ranked’ top 20 schools. Sophomore year on, I had at least one daily conversation with teachers and advisors about what schools I wanted to attend. Not going to college was never an option.

In order to get into one of the colleges I talked about wanting to attend on a daily basis, though, I needed to do well on the dreaded SAT exam. Hours upon days upon weeks were devoted to SAT practice exams and classes. I never needed to truly understand the material on the test, but at least know it well enough to get the answers right on the standardized exam.

At the beginning of junior year, the U.S. News & World Report annual college rankings became my bible. I had the top-30 schools memorized back and forth. More importantly, I knew the scores I needed to get in.

Read More: SAT Scandal Raises Questions About High School Pressure | Neon Tommy

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