Prepping for the SAT/ACT is no easy task. It involves months of consistent, committed study that often requires working with an experienced tutor.
Conventional wisdom says that students should take the SAT/ACT exams sometime during their junior year of high school. Parents typically pick a testing date based on this advice and then race to enroll their student in a prep class, or private tutoring sessions, four to six weeks before the test date.
But it’s not the best strategy.
SAT scores came out today from the March test (the first of the redesigned SAT). Of course, juniors got a glimpse of what the new test would be like in October, when they took the redesigned PSAT. Now my students are racing to find out what their scores mean. College Board came up with an online SAT Score Converter, which can also be found on the app store.
I used to kick-off my first SAT session with an old problem that you may be familiar with:
A baseball and a bat together cost $1.10. The bat costs a dollar more than the baseball. How much does the baseball cost?
What is the best SAT prep plan for my student?
It’s a question that parents of high school juniors (and, in some cases, parents of sophomores) should be asking right now. The answer to the question, like the SAT itself, isn’t straight forward, and, in my opinion, depends entirely on the abilities, educational background, and goals of each student.
It’s that time of the year again when US News and World Report releases its annual rankings for national colleges and universities. The 2015 rankings, released yesterday, illustrate the usual shuffle among the Ivy League and Ivy League-ish institutions at the top: Princeton, Harvard, and Yale remained on top; MIT edged ahead of Duke while Columbia, Stanford, and University of Chicago now are tied at 4th place. Essentially, nothing has changed, and in this article I will use the current metrics of college rankings to investigate why this is so and how it impacts college admissions.
Undergraduate Academic Reputation
A whopping 22.5 percent of the rankings are based on the subjective opinions of both high school counselors and administrators at peer institutions. The weight of this metric largely reflects the enormous marketing budgets colleges now need to stay competitive in the rankings. According to a 2011 Noel-Levitz poll, private universities spent a median of $2,185 marketing dollars per new student. This expense is an indicator that top colleges don’t just have to be good; they have to make sure everyone knows it. This is easier for Ivy League schools who have garnered impervious auras that remain intact no matter the cheating scandals or grade inflation that may occur there; whereas “ranking climbers” like Washington University in St. Louis have used exorbitant fundraising campaigns in years past to attain similar stature.
A life without Facebook might seem incomprehensible to some, but high school seniors applying to college would be wise to consider it, if only temporarily. As cited in the Huffington Post, more than 80 percent of college admissions officers use Facebook and other social media sites to get a second look at an applicant. Unless the applicant’s a recruited athlete, whose Facebook or Twitter profile might get a coach’s cursory glance at any point of high school, now is the time when a student’s Facebook profile may come under scrutiny.
Of course, deleting a social media account may seem like overkill. Why not just delete any potentially negative content? Or even change the account name so that the profile is harder to find? These steps may be sufficient, but I wouldn’t take the chance. After all, if admissions officers find the hopeful college applicant on Facebook, they won’t necessarily encounter the best representation of the student, nor the one so thoughtfully put together in the application; they may see a much more limited side, one that tends to encourage flash judgments, rather than careful review.