College advice needed

shaunMarch 26, 2011

Hey gang, I am reaching out to those who are further along. My son has a few years to go but one of my friends is already nagging me about signing up my son for SAT courses. She says that if my son takes the PSAT test and does really well, he could get into some very good schools. With big scholarships. Is this true? Should I start looking into this?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Students who take the PSAT (usually fall of jr year but often times fall of soph year also) are automatically considered for national merit scholarships. If you choose, colleges can see your scores and the soft recruiting starts as early as that fall after the test. I would not prep for the PSAT, but would strongly suggest prepping for the SATs. Not necessarily to increase knowledge, but to give your son a better understanding of what to expect on the test.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 10:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Jo certainly knows more about it than I do, but I would also suggest prepping. Just going into the test more confident and less stressed from knowing what to expect can help a great deal.

At my kids' school many of the kids take the SATs each year starting in 7th grade. I'm not sure how they chose who takes it and who doesn't, but you can certainly opt out. My son didn't do any prep for it, but I think it will help him be less nervous when he's in high school taking the same tests.

I'm not a big fan of standardized tests in general, having just taken the GREs, but I understand why it's important to do well. Maybe instead of a formal class, there's an online program that he can work at on his own time.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 12:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Am is probably referring to the Johns Hopkins talent search (Duke for those who live in the southern states). If I remember correctly, if you score above a 95 on your state standardized tests in 6th grade, you can take the SAT's as a 7th grader. My son did that and took the SAT in a separate room with other 12 year olds. about 8 years ago.
But we're off track here. Good for you Shaun to start thinking about it now. Never too early.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One thing to consider also is that most schools will accept either the SAT or the ACT. I took both in high school and I scored very high for the ACT and not as high for the SAT. I found the ACT was more suited for my style of testing so it might be worthwhile to try both out.

As for scholarships, it's very difficult to get merit-based ones at top schools. There are many, many kids who have perfect GPA's, high test scores and extreme extracurricular activities vying for those spots. If you aren't looking at top-10 schools, then there are definitely merit scholarships available at others.

Beyond scholarships, having good test scores does help for admission and once you get in, it can be surprisingly affordable even if the price tag is insane.

I went to the University of Chicago and it was around $50,000 a year. I received no merit scholarships but I did receive grants, and in the end I received a $200,000 private school education for about $15,000. A lot of people are scared off from these schools due to the price but it was actually cheaper for me than if I had gone to my local university.

So the bottom line is that even if you aren't able to get scholarships, having high test scores is definitely beneficial and it would be to your advantage. I would just caution you to be careful about taking it multiple times unless you are fully prepared because schools can often see all of your performances, and some even average them instead of taking the highest.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 9:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yup yup yup to what everyone said already....

The National Merit Finalist/Semi-Finalist designation itself doesn't carry that much 'scholarship' money with it - about $2,000/year. But it is such a prestigious award that lots of schools are willing to offer from full tuition to full rides (tuition plus room, board, other costs) at the very least to snag bragging rights in landing these kids. I think there are only 1,500 students a year that get NMF status, so it's a big deal.

The link at the bottom of my post is the easiest one to read - and may be outdated - but it gives you an idea of what is out there.

From this website: "...the question becomes, should students study hard for what most people consider just a preliminary SAT? YES! Besides the prestige you will have around the office water cooler when you brag about your progeny, scoring high enough on the PSAT to become a Scholar, a Finalist or a Semi-Finalist can equal big money at some schools - public and private."

So I would follow your friend's advice insofar as to see how you kid does on these standardized tests, and if he shows some promise, go ahead and prep (lots of free/inexpensive resources). Regardless, prepping for the one-time only (fall junior year) PSAT can only help, and not hurt, getting ready for the SAT which can be taken several times.

Adding to chi83 (wow, UofC - congrats!) - some schools are leaning away from using SAT/ACT as a measure, and looking more 'holistically' at a given student. Just something to think about after this current bubble of high college application/attendance bursts. Also, almost all the privates will 'super score' your SATs - taking the best of each section across as many sittings as you want. I've run into only one that said 'send all your scores, we want to see an applicant take the SAT/ACT just TWICE - any more than than, we frown upon'. Places like the U of Califs take only one, best 'sitting' and don't super score. I'm digressing from your question, but wanted to expand.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Schools that offer money for NMF and NMSF

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 7:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Shaun, for some reason I am under assumption that you are in FL, if so, look into Bright Futures scholarship requirements and keep that in mind for your son whole HS career. My son was NMF and got offers to FL state schools for everything paid including free computer and half a year abroad study program. He chose a school with smaller package, but better fit for him. He did not take any prep classes, in fact was not even interested going to college. When he aced the PSAT, the test which scores count toward NMF, we convinced him to take his SAT and do his best and he got high enough, not perfect, score to qualify for NMF.
So it really depend on your son if he needs the prep or not. Also, SAT can be taken several times, if the first scores are not to your liking. Only the highest count toward acceptance.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow thanks for all the suggestions, advice and link, I appreciate it!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks Jessy.

I also wanted to add that while many schools only require the highest scores, most high school transcripts will provide ALL scores for any standardized testing that you complete. Mine did and there isn't really anything you can do to hide it. While technically only the highest score should count, it's a little naive to think they aren't going to look. One really high score among a sea of mediocre to poor scores will raise a red flag, while consistently high performances will help you, even if it's unofficially. Very few schools use formulas for acceptance (GPA + highest test score + extracurricular activities = some base value and anything over X is accepted) so EVERYTHING factors into it whether they mention it or not, including multiple test taking.

I think it's a good strategy to take it every year from Sophomore through Senior years IF you are prepared. Everyone has good and bad days, and every year the tests change, so it's good to experiment a bit. My best scores were my junior year.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 12:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess it varies then from state to state or maybe even county to county. My son's HS transcript did not include any SAT scores. When he took SAT he told that company which colleges to send his scores to. They only sent the scores from that test. So I guess Shaun needs to find out how it works in her son's HS. Best is to talk to guidance counselor to find out how it is done and what is best way to proceed.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 1:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it depends upon how your child does with standardized tests generally -- both in terms of scores and whether he finds them particularly stressful.

Thing One happens to be a really, really good standardized test-taker. He did not take any prep class. And he did become a National Merit Scholar, which jessyf describes perfectly: only $2000 scholarship money (i.e. $500/year, if you keep your grades up), but good bragging rights -- oops, I mean, resume value. It's also true that the fanciest schools don't offer merit scholarships anyway, so it won't matter for those schools how high your scores are in terms of money, but it will for admission (for better or worse).

The thing about those courses: if your kid already scores high, they aren't worth it. They are worth it for kids who just somehow can't seem to score as anywhere near as well as their school performance predicts they should (backwards, I know -- the tests are supposed to predict performance), or to overcome great anxiety.

If your child really wants that class, I'd give it to him, but if he doesn't, I wouldn't push it. You might also consult the counselor.

Also, consider the schools he wants to apply to. If his scores on the PSAT, combined with his grades, are plenty high enough for his first choices, then there is no need for that course.

That SAT for 7th graders? Yeah, Thing One did that, too. I think it's just a money-maker for the testers: they give it to kids who have scored high on standardized tests throughout school, and then when they score high on the SAT, they try to sign them up for a for-profit summer program. I'm not saying it's a scam -- for all I know, it's a fine program -- but I think that's the whole purpose for that exam.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 1:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Congrats Gellchom!

It's more than bragging rights. It's the potential of full rides, all (or most) expenses paid, four years of college. I think if a student has close enough scores to reach NMF or even NMSF (see the list I linked), its worth the few hundred or one thousand in lessons to push him/her over the cut-off (varies by state) - which is a drop in the bucket compared to four years of tuition. If a family can afford more, then the student has a wider range of schools from which to pick. But there are great opportunities for families who don't want to or can't pay the sticker prices.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 11:36AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Weird "guy food" that's actually delicious?
You know what kind of food I mean? Not the kind of...
Apologies to St. Patrick
Not even the corned beef was done the traditional way....
Leftover Biscuits
I made a Mother's Day lunch that was wonderful (if...
Pet Peeve
Over at the Kitchen Table, there is a Pet Peeve thread....
What happened to my soup?
Made a homemade chicken soup....carrots, onion, celery,...
Sponsored Products
Table Top Wooden Cornhole Set - TOPG-1
$19.98 | Hayneedle
University of South Carolina 16" Wide Pendant Light
Lamps Plus
University of South Carolina Lamp Shade 13.5x13.5x10 (Spider)
$69.99 | Lamps Plus
6' Thermoplastic Coated Standard Expanded Picnic Table
Powell Shelburne Cherry 2-piece Nested Tables
Oil Rubbed Bronze Table Lamp: Hydra 26-35 in. Adjustable Bronze Table Lamp 20122
Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™