By Elaine Sigal
Life has changed so much for those wonderful young people who are now applying to college; very little is the same since I applied and probably you applied. I woke up in the morning and took the SAT’s; in the afternoon, I took three achievement tests. Preparation? Never. No one even thought about preparation back in the days when the dinosaurs roamed the halls. Get help understanding the system? What system? You applied to three colleges and hoped that you were accepted. Life has changed!
Students now take the PSAT’s in 10th and 11th grade. They prepare for these tests. They then take the SAT’s in the spring of 11th grade and again in the fall of 12th grade. The new rule is that students can take the SAT as many times as they want and only send the scores from one testing date, but…colleges have responded to this new policy enacted by College Board by saying that they can and might request all the scores. College Board will then send all the scores regardless of what the student wishes. The SAT Subject Tests are also given on the same dates as the SAT’s but students cannot take both the SAT and the Subject Tests on the same day. The ACT, another accepted version of standardized testing, is offered on different dates.
How do parents know what to do? How many tests should a student take? What type of preparation is needed? To how many schools should my child apply? Why is this so complicated? Do we go and visit the schools before my child applies or after he/she is accepted? What about financial advice? Are there any scholarships available? Should he/she consider community college for a year or two and then transfer to a larger school? Help! Am I the only parent out there who doesn’t know what to do and when to do it? I was not educated in this country, help!
The entire application process can begin as early as 9th grade. Parents and students should go to https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/DownloadForms.aspx and see what will be expected of the student senior year. Why wait for surprises? Find out early what he/she will need. It might help to shape your child’s high school years.
High School 101
Meet with your children’s guidance counselor early and often. Call with any questions or seek outside advice if you feel that you need more.
Email me and I will send you the matrix I have designed for applying to colleges. How do you know what schools are right for your children? How do they know what is right for them?
Email me any questions and I will post the question with the answer for you. Find someone with whom you can verify what the “rumor mill” tells you. First hand information from a professional is always better than hearing third hand from a parent.