40 COLLEGE HUNTING TIPS from parents who’ve Been There. Done That
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32. Make sure your child visits and applies to safety schools he likes. But don’t apply to safeties too far below his profile or he will be rejected. The school will presume that he will not attend and may not offer admittance because it will affect its yield.
33. Don’t make any firm decisions about which colleges to apply to until you get your child’s SAT or ACT scores. Then, if you live in Westchester and want to ensure a better chance of success, select colleges where your child is in the top 75 percent of the college’s average SAT scores. Since Westchester boasts some of the best schools in the country, students applying from our area have to compete against one another.
34. You don’t have to visit every college before applying. Your child can always apply, then visit if he is accepted.
35. If you know a student at a college your teen is interested in, try to arrange a visit for an upclose and personal view of student life.
36. Encourage your child to make overnight visits to the colleges that accept him before he makes a final decision. It’s the best way to get a true feel for the kids and the campus. Overnights can be arranged through the admissions office.
37. As a parent, do some soul searching to make sure that you’re not pushing your child toward what you want to see him do.
38. If you do apply for financial aid and your child is accepted, know that you can re-plead your case for aid to get the package enhanced.
39. Remember that selecting a college is not irreversible. If the college your child chooses turns out to be a bad fit, he can always transfer in sophomore or junior year. In Harvard Schmarvard, author Jay Mathews says that a third of undergraduates transfer colleges at least once and most universities welcome transfers.
40. Most important of all, try to maintain some perspective about your child: he is not his SAT scores. In the end, he will be accepted by some schools and rejected by others, but to get through this stressful time, he will need to know more than ever that you love him no matter what.
An Early Love of Learning is The Real Secret Behind a 1600 Perfect Score
By Renee Cho
1600 Perfect Score: The 7 Secrets of Acing the SAT (Harper Collins, $25.95), on sale this month, is really a misnomer for the new book by Tom Fischgrund, Ph.D., president of Management Recruiters of Atlanta. Though it sounds like another test prep book to help high achievers attain perfection, it’s actually an enlightening and interesting study of the profiles, habits and families of students who scored a perfect 1600 on their SATs. It contains information that can help all parents guide their children, beginning at an early age, to perform better not only in school or on the SATs, but in life. Dr. Fischgrund, a former educator, conceived the Perfect Score Study, a comprehensive survey of students who received perfect 800s on both the verbal and math sections of the SAT. With the cooperation of the College Board, the author interviewed 160 1600-scorers and spoke to many of their parents as well. He also conducted a survey of a control group of average students. He hoped to learn who the perfect score students were as individuals, how they studied and what made them successful. What he discovered was that acing the SATS requires a lifelong approach to learning. And while 90 percent of the students were not pushed by their parents to be overachievers, almost all agreed their parents had motivated them to learn when they were young and had given them the tools to motivate themselves in high school. The lessons derived from the study, Dr. Fischgrund writes, "are really applicable to all parents — regardless of a child’s academic potential." Dr. Fischgrund found that perfect score students are not grinds buried in books, but rather kids who achieve a balance in life between "studying and socializing, between reading and sports, between seeking the advice of friends and seeking the counsel of parents." They share traits Dr. Fischgrund calls the Seven Secrets of Perfect Score (PS) Students…
1. They’re self-confident, self-effacing and self-motivated. Their parents usually set high expectations for them from the start. By believing in their children, these parents helped them have strong self-esteem. But the parents were careful not to offer too much praise for too little accomplishment, enabling their children to have a healthy understanding of their limitations. PS students also said that their parents provided just the right amount of assistance during elementary school, and allowed them to become self-reliant when they entered high school. Parents were then supportive of their self-motivated high school students and continued to provide intellectual stimulation. 2. They are intellectually curious and excited about learning new and different things. PS students’ parents helped their children develop creativity by providing creative outlets and being role models for creativity. They cultivated curiosity by encouraging children to question assumptions and take sensible risks. Most PS students said their parents provided them with resources throughout their lives, taking them to the library weekly, reading to them regularly, getting educational materials if schoolwork was not challenging enough, and exposing them to culture. 3. They read quickly and voraciously, following their interests wherever they lead. PS students spent an average of 14 hours a week reading, while average students spent only 8 hours doing so. PS parents looked for early signs that their children were ready to read regardless of age, and worked with them. Parents also spent time with their child figuring out what the child wanted to read about, they read to their preschoolers aloud, and they listened as their older children read to them. These parents refused to dumb down conversation and vocabulary for their children. PS students also spent less time watching TV than average students. 4. They develop a core group of passions, pursue them eagerly and excel within them. PS parents allowed their children to develop their passions naturally, but supported that passion through conversation and a commitment of time, such as shuttling them to sports practices or dance classes. 5. They’re proactive; they create their own luck. PS students studied more for the SATs and took the test prep more seriously than did average students. They have a conscious awareness of how they learn best and what they must do to reach their full potential. 6. They develop a social network of friends and family that gives them critical support. PS students are socially adept and rely on friends for emotional support. By high school, most PS students’ parents faded into the background of their social lives. Family stability, however, proved to be one of the strongest factors in determining SAT scores: 89 percent of PS students came from intact families, compared to 69 percent of average students who scored 1000-1200. PS students’ parents gave their children the experience of a normal childhood and served as role models and support systems. 7. Their real goal isn’t to ace the SATs, but to succeed in life. Most PS students have some sense of self-identity and where they want their lives to go. They know what’s most important and feel life has a purpose — although they may not yet know the specifics of what that is.
The author also includes the PS students’ top 10 tips on taking the SAT, ranked in order of importance. • Read everything. • Buy an SAT book and take practice tests. • Relax, it’s only a test. • Memorize vocabulary. • The night before the test, don’t study, but do get a good night’s sleep. • Pace yourself. • Identify and focus on weaknesses. • Double-check your work. • Study early, preferably a year before taking the SAT. • Take a prep course.
Dr. Fischgrund concludes that the well-rounded student who is happy in school and in life learns for the sheer joy of it, not to get a perfect SAT score or to get into a good college. Parents who are able to imbue their children with the love of learning at an early age and have taught them how to learn have given them a good start. Success now rests in their hands.