We all know the college admissions game comes down to more than just numbers, but having a competitive GPA and SAT/ACT score is the best way to get your foot in the door. So, we’ve put together a long list of the most competitive and most popular schools in each state and the average SAT and ACT scores for incoming freshmen at each school.
If you’re a junior who has just received your PSAT scores, you can use this list to see what kind of schools you’d have a decent shot at if you performed similarly on your SAT. If you’re not pleased with your options, don’t fret. Every year, tons of our students improve hundreds of points beyond their junior year PSAT. And, with our new 150 point or 200 point packages, you can feel confident that once you’re done with prep, your new score will elevate the kinds of colleges you are looking at.
Given the recent cancellations of SAT and ACT test dates through June, more than two dozen colleges all over the country have decided to go test optional for next year’s application cycle. This means that official test scores will no longer be a required part of the application. Though not an exhaustive list, these colleges include Williams, Amherst, the University of California system, Tulane, Vassar, Pomona, Davidson, Haverford, and Rhodes. This leaves many students and parents with questions, so we’ll try to answer them as best we can.
Does optional really mean optional?
For most students, no, probably not. Test-optional is not the same as test-blind (test blind means that scores are not considered AT ALL). What this means is that schools that are test optional will still evaluate test scores for students who send them. Students whose test scores are strong and “match” their grades in school will be at an advantage against a student who doesn’t send scores at all.
Another point to consider is that US News and World Report rankings take into account average SAT and ACT scores for incoming students. Competitive schools take these rankings seriously. As such, schools benefit from having high scoring students in their class. So, sending your scores will be a huge asset to your application regardless of test optional policies.
Some schools, including Davidson, Haverford and Rhodes college are using this opportunity to test out a three year pilot program of test optional admissions. For these institutions, it is more likely that test scores may play a lesser role as these schools have reasons beyond COVID-19 to see if test optional admissions really works for them.
Does this mean my student doesn’t need to take the SAT at all?
No, unless your student is dead set on attending a college with a long history (read: many, many years and successful admissions cycles) of test optional or test blind admissions, your student should still take the SAT or ACT.
The CollegeBoard has cancelled the SAT until the August 29th exam. Then, they will open a test administration every month through the end of 2020. If social distancing is still in effect in August, they plan to allow for virtual administrations.
The ACT has not yet made an announcement on the June administration. The ACT also offers a mid-July test date that may go as planned. We expect that the ACT will follow the CollegeBoard’s lead if summer test dates are cancelled and allow for more frequent testing throughout the fall.
Regardless of testing policy, the SAT and ACT have always been and still are a way for your student to stand out. If your student has been prepping for either test, they should take it as soon as the possibility arises.
Without the testing requirement, will it be easier to get into selective colleges?
No, probably not. The reality of the situation is that the admissions offices at most colleges are not equipped to evaluate thousands of applicants without the context of test scores. Think about it: the intended purpose of standardized tests is to have some sort of standard metric with which to compare students. Grades just don’t suffice. Schools offer different curricula, varying rigor, and even unique grading scales.
To evaluate students across the country without test scores would mean that admissions officers have a depth of knowledge on every applicant’s high school. This includes international students, which make up a significant portion of the class at top schools, and homeschooled students.
We expect that top schools will still make a large majority of their decisions using test scores. There might be some exceptions: recruited athletes, students who have a truly exceptional skill, or students from uniquely diverse backgrounds.
My student has an SAT score they are really proud of, what does this mean for them?
Your student should move forward as they would under normal conditions. Your students’ test scores will still serve them well in the college admissions process.
I have or plan to take the SAT/ACT, but what about SAT subject tests? Do I need to take those?
Just like the SAT/ACT, these subject tests serve as a way to stand out and show that you know your stuff. This is especially true if your school doesn’t offer AP classes and instead has “honors” or “advanced” courses. By virtue of not having an AP score, admissions officers won’t be able to evaluate the rigor of honors or advanced courses without some other metric: SAT subject test scores.
For students with their sights set on selective schools, we urge you to still take these subject tests.
All current Streamline clients can schedule a free one-hour college counseling consultation. If you have any questions about how to proceed in this unusual time, please feel free to give us a call at 410-366-0479.
Private tutoring industry in South Korea account for more than 12 percent of total household expenditures… is the US catching up?
As the demands of high school and the competition in college admissions continue to increase, it’s no surprise that the tutoring industry in the United States is growing. And with increased demand comes increased access. Long thought of as something only reserved for the “nobility,” tutoring is becoming more accessible to the average American family.
So who is getting tutored in the United States?
It is no surprise that, historically, tutoring has been reserved for those economically advantaged. This has had ripple effects, resulting in incredible economic inequality at the nation’s top schools. It’s no surprise that standardized tests come under fire as a roadblock for low-income students. You can read more about that here.
However, the tutoring industry is on the rise, which means more and more Americans are accessing the transformative power of one-on-one education. In fact, between 2001 and 2011, the tutoring industry grew tenfold, reaching a size of $5 billion. Tutoring now ranges anywhere from remedial help for young students to intense SAT prep for students destined for the Ivy League. And with technological innovation comes new opportunities to hop on a Skype call in a moment’s notice when math homework gets hard. This increased accessibility to tutoring does mean that prices have become more variable to match the different services offered; prices can range anywhere from $15 an hour to hundreds of dollars an hour depending on location and type. It is estimated that 43% of high school students have sought out math tutoring alone!
But what about the tutoring industry in other countries?
If you look to other countries, the US actually seems behind in its mainstream adoption of supplemental education. Tutoring is a $102 billion a year industry globally. In China and South Korea, the tutoring industry is enormous. In South Korea, a country 6 times smaller than the United States, the industry is estimated at almost $14 Billion annually (3 x the size of the industry in the US).
Though clearly very popular, the tutoring industry in Asia is fiercely debated because of its economic costs to families. In South Korea and China, there is growing unease because of the side effects of private tutoring. For example, private education costs in South Korea can account for more than 12 percent of total household expenditures. Many have tied this immense economic burden to the ever shrinking birth rate. The problem poses so much of a threat that successive governments have tried to rein in the tutoring industry by capping rates.
In India, adult tutoring has popped up as a bustling business. Professional coaching and linguistic tutoring has taken the country by storm, with most services offered via online platforms.
This is all to say, we don’t see the industry boom slowing down anytime soon. One-on-one tutoring obviously offers a great deal of benefits— it allows students to grow in a comfortable, positive setting, where they don’t have to worry about being judged by peers. What we do hope to see, though, is more programs like SmartyScholars, our non-profit, which is dedicated to offering transformative tutoring services to deserving students free of charge.
We firmly believe our tutoring team is the best tutoring team in all of Baltimore, and that’s largely because of who we hire and how we train. Our tutors scored 98th percentile or higher, underwent an intense hiring process, and completed rigorous training. Our tutors have a long history of tremendous results.
This blog is the first of a series that will outline all of the traits we see in our tutors, and why these traits lead to productive sessions and positive results.
Today, we’re going to focus on our “student centric” approach to tutoring.
When we say “student centric,” we are referring to the fact that each session is curated to a student’s unique needs and abilities. Now, you might be thinking, well all tutoring is one-on-one, so shouldn’t it be inherently “student centric?”
While one-on-one tutoring does, of course, mean there is some level of individual attention that wouldn’t be present in a classroom, not all individual attention is created equal.
Some tutors have a “tutor centric” approach to tutoring. This means they direct the session’s focus to what they themselves are good at explaining, playing to their own strengths instead of the student’s weaknesses. The likely explanation for this “tutor centric” approach is not that it’s beneficial to the student— it’s more likely a safeguard for the tutor who might not feel comfortable explaining more convoluted or advanced topics. Some tutors might downplay the importance of some topics or skills, and emphasize the importance of others (the ones they feel more equipped to explain).
Take quadratic expressions, for example. This is an Algebra 2 concept that many students really struggle with. This concept is tested on every SAT, and usually more than once. If a tutor really struggles explaining these questions, they might downplay their importance, focus the student’s attention elsewhere, or just avoid the topic all together. Obviously, this “tutor centric” approach fails to cater to the student’s needs and will certainly not maximize score gains. Worst of all, the student likely won’t realize it’s happening until they get to the SAT and have never seen the topic.
With Streamline, you don’t have to worry about that. Our tutoring approach is wholly “student centric.” In training, our tutors go through every recent SAT and ACT, as well as a master test we’ve created of all the hardest SAT and ACT questions. We don’t send our tutors into sessions until we know they not only have the knowledge of each and every concept, but also the vocabulary and pedagogical skills to effectively communicate them.
If you’ve been to any of our offices, you might’ve realized we have an open floor plan. This is so, if any of our tutors do get stuck on a question (hey, it happens to the best of us!), they have another expert tutor feet away who can jump in.
If you’re a great tutor, you’re not concerned with what you’re good at— you’re concerned with what your student is bad at.
If you’re a great tutor, you’re not worried about making a mistake— you’re worried about why your student is making their mistakes.
In short, a great tutor focuses only on the student in front of them, and curates a session that fits the student’s needs, and the student’s needs only.
Motivation is an internal process of goal-directed behavior. Sometimes it’s induced by drive, other times by need, but motivation is really just a desire for change. Motivation is important to most aspects of human behavior. It leads us to engage with the world around us in an adaptive, solution-oriented way. Motivation has a lot to do with the way students engage with their school work (and their standardized test prep!).
Why does motivation matter?
Psychologists have found that when students are motivated, they learn better and remember more of what they learn.
People are generally motivated in an attempt to achieve two different goals:
Mastery goals: To develop their competence
Performance goals: To perform well in comparison to others
Studies show that mastery goals facilitate long-term learning and performance goals help short-term learning. Furthermore, studies show that extrinsic rewards can improve learning because of modulation of the hippocampal function, the part of the brain that regulates motivation, emotion, learning, and memory.
So why is getting motivated so hard?
Psychologists have identified three things that make getting motivated difficult.
“I have to”
When a student feels they are forced to do something, they feel an unwillingness to do the task. Sometimes, a student might not even do something they want to do because they feel like they have to do it.
However, this can be resolved if students change the way they think about the task. Understand that everything you do in life is an active choice that you have made. You choose to do the task because you know it will help you learn something new, get a good grade, get into college, and make your parents proud.
“I can’t do this”
Many students are unmotivated because they feel like they’ll fail if they attempt something or they don’t know how to begin. They may figure it’s better to save the time and work and not do it at all.
However, students can overcome this by realizing that putting in the time and effort will yield results. Students must learn to recognize that encountering difficulties is necessary for growth and progress. Accept the challenge, ask for help when necessary, and reap the benefits of hard work and commitment.
Some students find themselves unmotivated because they think everything they’re learning about is boring! If this sounds like you, you need to use your passion to keep you motivated. Keep this passion and your dreams in the back of your mind as you do the school work that you are uninterested in.
No matter what you want to do as a career, you need school to get you there. Even if you’re convinced that your dream job doesn’t require a college degree, a college degree is a safety net and you’ll thank yourself later.
Staying motivated is something we all struggle with, and shouldn’t itself be discouraging. Understand why you’re lacking motivation, so you know what to do to overcome it.
Most of us are aware that the SAT and ACT are important for college admissions purposes, and many students prepare for the SAT just to get the score they need to get into their choice college. However, the tests also emphasize some skills that can be utilized in the real world, and taking prep seriously can have long lasting effects that go beyond your SAT score or college acceptances!
We’ve put together a list of real-world skills that the SAT or ACT can teach you.
Critical thinking skills
As students attend college and then enter the real world, critical thinking or problem solving skills are crucial to helping them become engaged and successful members of their community. Whether it’s figuring out who to vote for, or learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, critical thinking skills allow students to analyze information and use it to make wise decisions.
With such strict time limits, the SAT and ACT teach students to use their time wisely. Time management becomes especially important in the real world as college students have to manage their classes, studying, extracurriculars, social lives, and more. Good time management skills means that students can take on these tasks and succeed.
Writing well is important no matter what field a person enters. Whether it is writing a research report or writing an email to a boss, using proper grammar and sophisticated language are important skills that the SAT and ACT develop.
Perhaps one of the most important math skills that is transferable to the real world is percentages. Knowing how to quickly and easily figure out percentages means you won’t have to spend 10 minutes fumbling in order to figure out what to tip the waiter.
A Stronger Work Ethic
Most people don’t enjoy doing long assignments on the weekend, sitting through a long meeting, or staying at work past 6. But occasionally it’s bound to happen in your adult years. All the time and strenuous work you put into studying for the SAT or ACT means that you are developing a strong work ethic.
Most high school students that engage in standardized test prep will spend more time studying for the SATs or ACTs than any other test they’ve ever taken. This is good practice not only for college, but also for post-graduate work. Does your student want a graduate degree? Then they’ll have to study for the MCAT, LSAT, GRE or GMAT. Does your student want to be a financial professional? Then they’ll have to study for the CFA, CPA, or CAIA. Does your student want to be a working professional in any field? They’ll probably have to work one long-term projects that challenge them (and, at times, bore them), but are necessary for success.
All in all, the comprehensive prep for SAT and ACT can do more for your student and their future than just the score itself!
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