Friday, November 14, 2014

There is a College for Everyone!

The SATs can sometimes feel like a dominating force in a high schooler's life. For many students, preparation begins Freshman year with the PSATs, a practice test designed to give underclassmen an idea of what to expect when they take the real thing. Even though the PSAT is said to be more difficult than the actual SAT, a result of low scores can send even a good student into a panic about not getting into a good college. There's no doubt that standardized tests can be stressful, especially when the future of your education is on the line, but earning below-average scores does not mean exclusion from every academic institution. Here are a few suggestions for students applying to college with lower SAT scores:

  • Of course, you can always re-take the SATs, and in fact, students are encouraged do so at least once. The ACT is also a viable alternative to the standard SAT, and colleges will accept scores from either test. To learn about the differences between the two, click here:
  • Most colleges have what is known as a "holistic admission process," meaning they consider all of your strengths and weaknesses when reviewing your application, not just your test scores. A strong academic record and application essay, excellent letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and a solid in-person interview are all factors that admissions offices take into consideration.
  • With regards to extracurricular activities, it is generally preferred that students have one or two that they focus on; too many might detract from their schoolwork and thus lower their GPA. These activities can be anything, from participation in sports, the Arts (Fine or Performing), community volunteering, various competitions, or entrepreneurship. Colleges want to see what makes you unique, so don't hesitate to think outside the box!
  • Many students don't know what they want to study before they get to college, but for those that do, selecting a major well-suited to your strengths is another way to bolster your chances of admission. For example: If a student excels in Math and Science, a university might be interested to see that he plans on studying Engineering. 
  • Don't make the mistake of thinking that every school in the U.S. requires test scores for admission! On the contrary, there are hundreds of colleges and universities where the SAT and ACT are optional for some or all of their applicants. To learn more, check out this list from
  • Oftentimes, poor test taking is a result of unpreparedness and text anxiety. Assuage at least some of those worries by enlisting the help of a test prep instructor. The SAT is not like any other test; learning HOW to take it is just as important as being familiar with the material it covers.

A below-average SAT score might seem like the end of the world for some students, but it isn't, and doesn't need to be. Talk to you child and do some research together about the different options that are available. It's important to remember that a student is not a statistic, and ultimately, schools want to accept bright, well-rounded individuals who are serious about their education. However this manifests itself in your student is not always consistent with their test scores, so remember: there is an admission process, and a college, for everyone.