“I think you are going to have a new business opportunity shooting High School kids’ head shots” I told my photographer friend Pat.
“Well my daughter won’t even allow me to take her picture for the senior year book. She wants her picture to look like all the others.” Pat replied.
Interestingly, Pat’s daughter – and mine will have to discern just how much “personality” they want to show colleges on a standardized format. As of March 2013, admission to the SATs will require a headshot of the applicant and their photo. Moreover, this photo will be sent on to colleges along with the scores. In the words of the College Board- the organization that administers the SAT –
“By providing your photograph, you help us to ensure the integrity of the test administration for all students. Your photo will become part of your Admission Ticket, and will be available to your high school and to colleges where you send scores.”
Ostensibly this photo ID has been required since 2012 for admission to the exam to ward off cheating on the exam after several people were arrested on criminal charges for impersonating SAT applicants for a fee. At the time, there has been was some small debate over the enforced requirement of a photo concerning access to cameras etc. However, what seems to have gotten less press is that the photo now is literally part of the package that colleges have access to use in their admission process. In fact, there has been so little debate over this that my daughter’s well informed High School counselor was unaware of the new protocol when she spoke to our small break out group last month regarding the college admissions process.
Surely this new policy is rife with opportunities for discrimination in the college admission process. Can any of us deny that a picture predisposes us to opinions? There are many studies on this subject. Moreover, it is ironic that such diversity is being introduced in a format which has been developed to rule variables out – a STANDARDIZED TEST. Aside from the issues that many teenagers (and grown ups too) have with regard to having their pictures taken, many people do not have access to technologies to ensure that they have taken the best possible picture to represent themselves in the college admission process.
I can only give you a glimmer of how daunting and complicated the process was for our family:
- I warned my daughter of change in policy in December. I advised her to think about how she wanted to approach this.
- After weeks of nagging, I realized that we just need to register or we would be locked out of the March SAT. My daughter suggested that I look on Facebook for pictures. She was clear that it was not her priority and hated having her picture taken.
- I reviewed the pictures and they did not meet the requirements by College Board. Green duct tape mustaches were out. Mud camo from survival/tracking camp was out. A tiny face on a rugby team picture was out 1. Because you could not really see her 2. Because it can’t include other people. Blowing bubbles would probably be out.
- After much complaining, I asked my daughter to stop working on her Junior Research paper ,register (already) and allow me to take a quick picture- after 20 minutes of total frustration, we settled on the picture where she threw up her hands in exasperation (and I don't think that hands are allowed either)-a picture which will be sent to all of the schools that she applies.
We are a lucky family to have the money and computer to register for the SAT, the very good camera to take the picture, the mother who nags and assists. What about the others?