The relevance of SAT scores does not end with college admissions. A healthy, attractive Yale female who has proven her academic achievement with an SAT score of 1500 or above can earn a cool $25,000, provided that she is also a nonsmoker. All she has to do to collect the money, according to a recent classified ad in the Yale Daily News, is donate her eggs to a loving couple.
Similar ads, usually placed by egg donation facilitation agencies, run in college newspapers across the country. Tiny Treasures LLC, a Somerville, Mass. brokerage agency that is responsible for recent ads in the News, offers specialty advertising services that place ads in college publications.
“We have found that targeting [college] populations is likely to attract young, bright and responsible women who would be ideal prospective donors,” said a representative for the agency who requested to remain anonymous.
In a process akin to that of college admissions, Tiny Treasures requires all prospective donors to mail copies of their SAT scores and college transcripts with their applications, both of which have direct bearing on the amount of compensation received. The agency suggests first-time donors receive between $2,000 and $5,000, but students who qualify as “Extraordinary Donors” — those with SAT scores above 1250, ACT scores above 28, college grade point averages above 3.5 or those who have attended Ivy League universities — receive between $5,000 and $7,000 for their services.
Compensation for egg donors varies, with donors negotiating their own fees, although the agency offers suggested rates. A classified ad in the Columbia Spectator from “a stable NYC Ivy League couple” seeks an Ivy League student, between 5-foot-7 and 5-foot-10 tall, of German, Irish, English or Eastern European descent. Compensation was listed as $25,000.
“We geneticists have done too good a job in making people believe genetics is more than it is in terms of complex social traits,” said Yale professor William Summers, who teaches “Biology of Gender and Sexuality,”. “With things like SAT scores, it is certainly going a bit much to think it is inheritable, but it shows the desperation of people who want a baby, who want the best baby they can get.”
During the egg donation process, donors’ ovaries must be stimulated — usually by self-injecting hormones over a seven- to 10-day period — to produce as many eggs as possible.
If the hormone treatments work, the eggs are vacuumed from the ovaries through the insertion of a catheter, a procedure that Summers calls “no more than an afternoon procedure.”
Recruiting for egg donors is so rampant on college campuses that The Stanford Daily reserves a classified section specifically for egg donors. One Stanford ad mentions a special need for Jewish, Asian and East Indian donors.
In 1999, the subject of egg donation raised controversy when an unnamed couple placed a half-page ad in the Yale Daily News and papers at six other top colleges offering $50,000 for a half-dozen eggs. In a letter to the editor, Deborah Friedell ’03 offered her response to the ad.
“Just as this self-titled ‘loving family’ is judicious in its choice of egg donor, demanding a woman with a specific height and standardized test score, I must be equally choosy in deciding who gets my precious, Yale-legacy eggs,” she wrote in the letter.
But Summers points out that egg donation is a path many elect, and it will probably continue to gain popularity as a viable option in the future.
“College women such as a Yale graduates are likely to delay having children because of careers and jobs,” Summers said. “Of course when you delay, fertility goes down more and more. This is something people will be relying on later in life, so they should know more about this.”