Gaston Caperton, a former two-term governor of West Virginia, is the eighth president of the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association founded in 1900 that consists of 5,000 of the nation's leading schools, colleges, and universities. Among its best-known programs are the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and the SAT®.
Since his appointment in 1999, Caperton has transformed the College Board into a resolutely mission-driven, values-oriented organization that takes bold steps to connect greater numbers of students to college success and opportunity while raising educational standards. In his successful effort to expand equity within programs that foster academic excellence, he has more than doubled the size of the College Board's staff, modernized its management structure, and established collegeboard.com, the nation's predominant comprehensive Web site serving nearly 4 million students a year as they plan their paths to college.
Question: Is it a positive development that elite universities are seeing more applications for fewer spots?
Caperton: Well, I think first of all that if we didn’t have electronic applications that you wouldn’t see quite that same kind of growth. I think, second of all, is that, I see that as a good sign because those institutions are recognized as being institutions of great excellence, worldwide excellence, so if more and more students think of themselves as world class scholars, it’s great that there’s that many kids that want to go to the very best schools. When I talked to parents and students, what I emphasize is there’s so many great schools in America, and as a minister told me once when I was quite young, and he was talking about the people that came to him for advice, he said, I told him that [there’s not this] college or university you’d go to that you can learn all they have to teach you. So, I believe that we have a great number of great institutions in this country and your future then depend upon going to the very best, that people can get a great education, and if you look at people that are successful in this country, not all of them have gone, certainly many of them haven’t gone to what we would consider the most elite schools in this country.