Even the SATs are Selling Your Data

Yes, the SATs are selling high school students’ data. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported The College Board, the non-profit group which owns the SAT, is selling high school students personal information like names, addresses, SAT scores, and more to universities for a mere 47 cents a person. The universities are then using this data they purchased to boost their own image and exclusivity of their university.

How? According to The WSJ article, College Board would sell students’ personal information and data to bigger universities. These universities would specifically target students who didn’t meet their standard or criteria for acceptance with tons of mail. Pamphlets, brochures, and letters all meant to entice the student to apply to their university. After sending their money and application letter, the student waits only to be ultimately rejected, which the university was planning on the whole time. This process inflates the school’s rejection rates and boosts their image of eliteness at the same time. The more “exclusive” the school the more profitable it can be. The universities and College Board also profit by students who continually retake the SATs and pour further money into preparation for it and reapply. 

College Board’s Defense: There is a vague opt-in question for all the test-takers when they begin, but how many high school students are fully aware of what it means to give up the right to your data or personal information? The question does not disclose what data is shared, how it’s used, or that their data is even being sold. College Board sells over 2 million names of students per year to different schools and scholarship programs. None of these students are aware that their data is being monetized by College Board. Of course if you ask College Board, they believe there is nothing wrong with this process. In fact they believe they are doing more good than harm, “We’re [the students’] agent,” College Board CEO, David Coleman, said to the WSJ. “They say, ‘share this data.’ And, by the way, it is overwhelmingly beneficial to them that we do.”  

That is the CEO of a non-profit group referring to themselves as agents for students. These students need to be educated or there needs to be more transparency on College Board’s end because they are not even aware they are being profited off of. These students and their data need to be more protected, or there needs to be more transparency on what opting-in details for them.