Things That Matter

In-Person Courses Have Been Canceled As Well As Recreational Activities, Now Students Are Protesting To Cancel SAT Exams Due To Coronavirus

Virtually every sector of the U.S. economy has taken a hit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The education sphere is no exception.

According to a recent report by the Washington Post, “an estimated 1 million high school juniors are missing the chance this spring to get their first SAT score, and many others face uncertainty about when they can take the ACT.”

Widespread exam cancellations and postponements have left many students uncertain as to what they will do come application season when many universities and colleges require the test.

Now students are calling colleges and universities to call an end to the tests altogether.

#TestOptionalNOW is the new trending hashtag that students across the nation have created in response to the uncertainty the virus has caused the tests. The hashtag along with a petition by Student Voice.imploring universities to waive the standardized testing requirements for freshmen applicants in the fall of 2021.

But many students are asking for just a temporary suspension, not just during this time of uncertainty. After all, the standardized exams have for decades been scrutinized for the inaccurate measures of intelligence and success.

The college scandal of 2019 —thanks to Aunt Becky and her wealthy cohorts— is just a recent look at how privileged people can easily change the outcome of tests and admissions only by forking money over to do so. Academic-based bribery is hardly a new scheme in the admissions process and the ways in which the system has become intricately rigged to keep out minorities is only just beginning to gain exposure. Minorities and low-income people are marginalized when it comes to admissions, test scores, and the workplace — it’s a system that continuously unbalances society.

When it comes to the SATs, an assessment test meant to categorize students solely on academic merit, this truth is no different.

The original intention behind the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) is to show where a student stands among their peers, to indicate what their next educational move should be.

The SATs date back to the mid-1920s.

Carl C. Brigham, a psychology professor at Princeton University whose early writings strongly influenced the eugenics movement and anti-immigration legislation in the United States, created the SAT for College Board in 1926. Brigham proposed and produced the test after make observations that he said proved “American education is declining and will proceed with an accelerating rate as the racial mixture becomes more and more extensive.”

According to PBS, the College Board “puts him in charge of a committee to develop a test that could be used by a wider group of schools.” And “In 1926 the SAT is administered to high school students for the first time.”

However, the wording as to why students had to take the SATs in the first place is marred with racial discrimination.

The SATs came during an immigration wave, and college boards and universities wanted to define who would be allowed in. The test doesn’t necessarily attest to who is smarter but more extensive information about the student, their race, and economic background. And yet, college admissions board do not consider this a factor in their admissions process. Proving that in a deeply flawed and unequal educational system, where segregation is still alive and well, colleges and education systems continue to fail students of color and those who are not. After all, research has shown that diversity in school’s only further benefits students, particularly in fields that are related to critical thinking and problem-solving.

The truth is that high-stakes standardized tests work in ways that reinforce racist and discriminatory systems of old. Continuing to accept notions that standardize tests are merit-based only perpetuate the race and class gaps reflected in their results.

Now the SATs will include an “adversity rating” that will allow colleges to know the school that a student came from to evaluate them in a more fair way.

The rating — 1 to 100 — would help the college board (who own the SATs) understand a student’s quality of education based on the neighborhood, the school’s economic standing, and other relevant information. So, if a student doesn’t do very well on the SATs, the rating would reveal as to the hardships that student endured. The rating does not include information about their race, but more so the economic struggles.

Some people feel that the “adversity rating” is something people could take advantage of by lying about where they live.

For example, if a parent knows that their child may not do well on the SATs they could lie about where they live to get a better adversity rating. This would help them achieve a better score.

“The idea that ‘this is a great SAT score for someone from your neighborhood, for someone of your background’ — it’s not fair to the students,” Venkates Swaminathan, a college admissions consultant told The Washington Post.

Others say the “adversity rating” will be a significant boost to go alongside affirmative action.

“Merit is all about resourcefulness,” David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said to the New York Times. “This is about finding young people who do a great deal with what they’ve been given. It helps colleges see students who may not have scored as high, but when you look at the environment that they have emerged from, it is amazing.”

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Rep. Ruben Gallego Broke Down Jared Kushner’s White Privilege In A Twitter Thread About Their Paths To Harvard

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Rep. Ruben Gallego Broke Down Jared Kushner’s White Privilege In A Twitter Thread About Their Paths To Harvard

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Jared Kushner recently made headlines for saying that Black Americans have to “want to be successful.” Kushner continued in the Fox & Friends interview saying that Trump policies are trying to help them with issues that “they’re complaining about.” Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona took to Twitter to call out Kushner and his easy, money-paved path in life after the interview aired.

Rep. Ruben Gallego has a few words about Jared Kushner’s claim that Black Americans don’t “want to be successful.”

Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, was being interviewed by Fox & Friends when he suggested that Black Americans don’t want to successful. He added that the Trump administration has created policies to help Black Americans. Specifically, the Trump administration has created policies to help Black Americans overcome things that “they’re complaining about.”

The interview was immediately slammed by Democrats and activists as being tone deaf. Furthermore, the rhetoric is reminiscent of language used against the Black community for decades to justify policies that disenfranchised and injured the Black community.

Rep. Gallego was one of Kushner’s classmates at Harvard and the two had very different paths to the prestigious school.

Rep. Gallego created a Twitter thread to show the hoops he had to jump through in order to make it to Harvard. As a Latino from a middle class family, Rep. Gallego didn’t have a lot of the same luxuries afford to him like someone of Kushner’s background. The congressman’s story about his way to the Ivy League school is something a lot of people of color can relate to.

The story is an extension and deeper dive into the college admission scandal narrative.

Rep. Gallego detailed his four years in high school with the mission of making it to Harvard. For him, that meant studying for his exams for years with free and used test preps he could get his hands on. There was a community support to make it possible for him to get materials he needed.

According to Data USA, Harvard’s student body is heavily white. The data shows that 41 percent of students are white, 13.5 percent are Asian, 8.19 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 5.35 percent Black or African-American.

Even the interviewing process was something so many other students didn’t have to contend with.

Some universities, especially ivy league schools, require prospective students to interview with alums and administrators. These interviews weigh heavily in the process and for Rep. Gallego, they were not easy to get to. He had to rely on public transportation to make it to his various interviews around Chicago.

Rep. Gallego spent four years getting ready to go to Harvard.

After four years of hard work and sacrifice, Rep. Gallego was accepted to Harvard. His path to Harvard was filled with friends and family helping him along the way, which is common in Latino communities. It is a story that many of us are familiar with but it isn’t a truly universal story, as Rep. Gallego points out about Kushner.

Kushner’s easy path to Harvard is why the congressman took issue with Kushner’s comments.

Documents show that Kushner got into Harvard after his father pledged a $2.5 million gift to be paid in annual installments of $250,000. Both of Kushner’s parents were also members of Harvard’s Committee of University Resources and donated to the school. In an interview with ProPublica, a former administrator at Kushner’s high school admitted that no one at the school believed that he got admitted on his own merit. The official said that neither his grades nor SAT scores warranted his admission into Harvard.

Rep. Gallego ended his thread asking people to donate to the Biden campaign and the United Negro College Fund.

Rep. Gallego is clearly not letting this story go by without weighing in. Kushner’s comments have set off a firestorm of frustration with people across the nation.

READ: College Admissions Scandal Mastermind Reportedly Told Parents To Lie About Ethnicity To Further Advantage Their White Children

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If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

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If You’ve Been Struggling with College During COVID, These Tips Might Help You Cope

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Covid-19 is changing the all-American college experience. There is no more late-night munchie runs at 3 a.m., house party hopping, or late-night cramming with friends in the library. The spirit has completely changed, but all for the greater good of keeping others healthy and safe.

Still, that doesn’t discredit the fact that we are losing the value of our education by it moving online. We’re no longer able to use the campus as a resource to help fuel ourselves academically or socially. We long for the day we are able to build a sense of community again.

Here’s how Covid has changed the college experience and what you can do to make it better.

The Move to Online

Credit: @gph/ Giphy

Being a college senior myself, remote learning has taken a huge toll on me. My days are lengthened with logging on to Zoom for everything, and yes- even my pair of blue-light glasses can’t keep me focused.

I find myself eagerly waiting for my professor to say “That’s it for today everyone,” and sometimes can only hang in there for half of the time. I’m constantly left feeling anxious and frustrated.

I was sure that universities would begin to understand how different students cope with a very tricky, unstable, and scary situation at hand. However, I’ve experienced the opposite. An overwhelming influx of papers, online assignments, and weekly quizzes quickly presented themselves. Not to mention more group projects. Weekends soon became “working-weekends” and with assignments piling up I truly felt like I was drowning.

It wasn’t long until I had to think for myself. How am I going to cope with the now? I needed to figure out the best plan I could to navigate something out of mine and everyone else’s control. If you too are struggling during this time whether it be financially, academically, emotionally, etc, please know you are not alone. Below are some resources that might help each day go by just a little better than the last, and hopefully give you peace of mind.

Finances:

COVID Emergency Assistance Funds

The last thing that we want to do is pay full price for online learning, especially during a pandemic. So check with your college or university about COVID Emergency Assistance/Relief Funds. This has greatly helped students access resources such as food, housing, course materials, technology, and affordable health care. In some cases, they even pay you to be at home. Additionally, FAFSA is allowing students to get even more aid granted despite if they were already given their semester disbursement- so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Visit your official college website & https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for more information.

Scholarships

Trust me, we all could use a little help in this area. Luckily, Tuition Funding Sources’s (TFS) database connects students to monthly scholarships based on needs, wants, and qualifications. They have highlighted “scholarships of the day” as well as career aptitude tests that can help your search become even more personal.

Businesses are also partnering up right now to help students around the world get the support they need to further their education. The McDonald’s® HACER ® National Scholarship assists Latino students to be front and center and attain the education they deserve. In 2019, more than $500,000 was granted to 30 students in order to help finance tuition costs. And better yet, The 2020-2021 application period just opened October 5th.

For more information on how to apply for the listed scholarships, visit https://www.tuitionfundingsources.com  or https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/community/hacer.html .

Mental Health & Well-Being:

Headspace

This app is a lifesaver. From brief wellbeing exercises to longer guided meditation, Headspace is offering free downloadable tracks that can help you ease your mind at home or on-the-go anywhere and anytime. Tune in when you need a break or to re-center yourself.  

Visit https://www.headspace.com/covid-19 to see what tracks are available now.

Podcasts

Sometimes hearing someone speak and having an honest conversation about a certain topic is really fun to engage with. It provides us another perspective other than their are own, and it’s interesting to get a glimpse at the way other people live. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to listen to an episode can help ease some stress, reminding you that others are by your side who, too, have felt the same chaos.

For a great selection of podcasts, search Spotify or Apple Podcasts to start the search on some good series.

Be Patient with Yourself

Credit: @nbc/ Giphy

Remember, this pandemic is not forever although it might feel like it right now. Do not feel like you are responsible for the frustration you are undergoing. Take some time to care for yourself and take a step back from the craziness of the world to remind yourself that things will get better.

Talk to a friend, counselor, or therapist if you find yourself in a crisis more than you can bear. Crisis Text Line offers free, 24/7 service to anyone who needs some support and wants to speak with someone. What’s nice is you have the option to either call or text, depending on what’s most comfortable and effective for you. 

Visit https://www.crisistextline.org to get free 24/7 support whenever, wherever. 

Other Tips

Zoom Party

Credit: @snl / Giphy

Get-togethers are looking a lot different right now, but you can still plan an event that will keep all of your friends together. Zoom can be a wonderful platform not only for the classroom, but to catch up with everyone. Plan a “Whine Night” where you talk about all things life or vibe to shared music. Your university should give you an unlimited personal meeting room link so you don’t have to pay a dime for the time.

Virtual Social Hours

Many universities are offering virtual social hours so students can connect to each other and get more of a sense of community as we navigate through the days. Check online on your school’s website to see what types of activities they are offering students at this time, and what events might fit your personal or career interests.  You never know who you might meet!

Find Your Hobby 

Having a go-to hobby during this time can give you something to look forward to and be an escape from all the ongoing chaos. Look into things like surfing, socially distanced yoga classes, cooking, or hiking to get you feeling joyful and inspired. Try one thing out and see if you like it, and if not who says you can’t just move to the next thing? You’ll be surprised at what you discover will be your next “thing.”


The pandemic has definitely made college life and life, in general, a whole lot harder. Know that it is completely normal to feel mad, sad, scared, or anxious about what’s to come. With these tips, my only wish is that they help you cope just a bit more as they have for me. Together we will get through this, slowly but surely.

READ: A 13-Year-Old Student Just Became A California College’s Youngest Graduate

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