Tag Archives: PSAT

Important Tip When Registering for Standardized Tests

Openclipart Pencil

When you register for the PSAT and SAT, there is optional information you can input on your registration form, such as your date of graduation, GPA, intended major, family income and much more. The College Board, which operates the SAT, sells that information along with your test scores (I believe it is a score range, not your specific score) to interested Colleges. Per their website, over 1200 Colleges purchase this information.  Colleges can then target their marketing to a particular profile of student.

Unrestricted Stock Robot

College Board’s Student Search Service can be helpful for prospective College Students

The College Board calls this process the Student Search Service. My first reaction was that I did not want my daughter to hand out personal information to help Colleges target their marketing. On the other hand, it makes sense for MIT, a very selective College that specializes in programs like Engineering, Computer and Natural Sciences, to not send catalogs to a below average student who is interested in Psychology. While you may become sick of all the mail and wasted paper, registering for the Student Search Service is a good idea for many reasons:

  • You are put on potential Colleges’ radar, which is important to the College. Mary Smith is applying, but does not appear to have ever visited the school or made contact with an Admissions Officer. But I do see that Mary was on our mailing list, so maybe she made an informed decision and is truly interested in our College, which means she might enroll if she is accepted into our school. (Although I would not recommend applying to a College without having even had a phone conversation with an Admissions Officer, to demonstrate your interest.)
  • You learn what sorts of Colleges are interested in your credentials (GPA, Test Score) and that offer the majors you are interested in.  You may have your heart set on going to College in Washington, DC, but not have heard of Goucher, because it is nearby but not in Washington, DC.  On reading the brochure, you find out that Goucher is known for its environmental initiatives and has a nuclear magnetic resonance spectometer, which for some reason, makes you excited. BTW, that example was completely made up, although for all I know Goucher does have a NMRS (an acronym I also made up!). Keep in mind that some Colleges have extensive mail marketing programs, to increase their annual applications, which decreases their acceptance rate, thereby becoming a more selective College. A brochure from University of Chicago doesn’t mean that you are qualified to enroll at University of Chicago or that U of Chicago has programs that match your interests.
  • The marketing materials will include offers (some may offer you Scholarships, based on your credentials) and opportunities (a special campus visitors day, for example).
  • The brochures and other marketing materials can help you learn more about a College (maybe one you have never even heard of), to determine if it might suit you.
  • Those brochures can also be helpful when you are writing an essay in your application about “Why you want to attend this College?”. Lots of the same information is available online, but there often is material not seen on-line, which gives you an advantage over other students who have only gained knowledge about the College through their website.

Pixabay TestIt’s interesting to note that even Colleges that are test-optional purchase this information. This 2011 Bloomberg article discusses this practice.

© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***


Setting Realistic Expectations with Limited Knowledge – The Early College Search

How do you set realistic expectations for your eligibility at selective Colleges before you have taken Standardized Tests or otherwise demonstrated your academic abilities?

The Early College Search Question You are on top of your College Search. You (or your child) aren’t yet well into your Junior year, but you want to make sure that you are doing all the right things (academics, extracurriculars, etc.) so that you are an Eligible College Student. Or maybe you want to take advantage of a family trip to see some potential Colleges. Excellent! Now what?

Starting Early is Immensely Helpful, but Requires Strategy

Starting Early is Immensely Helpful, but Requires Strategy

The Realistic Search – Many institutions state they use a holistic approach in their admissions process, which means they are looking beyond (not instead of) test scores and grades when considering your application. BUT that doesn’t mean they don’t heavily weigh your test scores and grades when considering your application. At highly selective Colleges, RARE exceptions may be made for a phenomenal athlete, a young Yo Yo Ma, a student who has overcome amazing obstacles or contributed in a spectacular way in their community (no, I don’t mean you went to the Humane Society every week to walk dogs).

If you don’t fit into one of the exceptional categories, you need to be aware that a student that doesn’t match a school’s academic (grades, test scores) profile is less likely to be accepted into that institution. Furthermore, these so-called “reach” schools are much less likely to offer you merit aid. Long story short, be realistic and compare your academic profile to that of a typical accepted student to know whether a particular school is a “safety” “match” or “reach” school. Remember that comparing your academic profile to the typical admitted student as your sole criteria for whether you are likely to be accepted into a College is oversimplifying the Admissions process.

PARENTS: Motivating Your Student by Exposing Them to a Great Institution A great way to motivate your child to do well in High School is to expose them to a great institution that motivates them. I don’t think too many kids would walk on Stanford’s campus and not think, “Wow, I’d like to go here!”. (When my kid said that, I said “I’d like to go here too!”) Downside: if there is no way their academic record or your wallet are going to make that school possible, you may be setting them up for disappointment. On the other hand, never say never when it comes to your child getting into a “reach” school. I think you need to make an educated decision about what schools to expose to your child, as motivation.

Report Card

There are ways you can use your limited knowledge and project some answers to help you target your search.

The Early College Search Answer – You may not be far enough in your high school education to know where you GPA is heading, especially as you might choose to add some more rigorous courses (Honors, AP) into your workload as an upper classmen. And at most, you have only taken the PSAT. But there are ways you can take your limited knowledge and project some answers to help you target your search. And there are many things you should be doing now to make sure you are an Eligible College Student.

Extending Limited Knowledge – This College Board webpage provides information to help analyze your PSAT scores, including a chart to convert Sophomore year PSAT scores to likely Junior year PSAT scores, and a chart to convert Junior year PSAT scores to likely SAT Scores (see Standardized Tests and  When Do I Take Which Tests? if you are thinking “huh?”).  This information is for 2014. If you are looking for the same information for a more current year, type psat to sat conversion chart (and the year) in your internet search engine. Think about how you handle the demands of a more rigorous class and how your extracurricular activities and personal life are impacting your ability to study and apply yourself in class. If you have not been applying yourself, now is a good time to make changes and set goals. A College will be impressed if you bring up your grades after a slow start, even if your overall GPA is not stellar. See Grades and Test Scores – How do I Fix This? if you feel your academic record doesn’t reflect your abilities.

© Complete Systems, LLC dba Elligiblecollegestudent.com, All Rights Reserved
*** Elligiblecollegestudent.com is a division of Complete Systems, LLC ***