A philosopher once noted that “he often fought reality and only lost 100% of the time.”
So it is with many myths we tell our children. Usually, the suggestions – “you can grow up to do anything you want” are well meaning and inspiration and if told to those under 10 do little harm. But sometimes I scratch my head wondering why adults are not more honest with young people. I recently had a 16 year old student tell me he wanted to be an astronaut. His math grades and test scores were sub 500. His work ethic was mediocre and he had done little in the way of activities to stand out. Most astronauts are literally rocket scientists and/or have graduated from elite math-science programs.
So it is with students who have heard the myth that test scores don’t matter. Sure, someone’s emotional well being should not depend on a test. But if your child desires to go to a competitive college, then test scores matter.
I used to feel far more self-conscious about telling parents that they should prep their children vigorously. Giant self-interest alert. But now that I have worked with Connecticut students for 18 years and have my own three children going or getting ready to attend college, I know what I do for my children so I feel less self-conscious in suggesting that others follow what I do myself.
I always note that there are exceptions… but for most competitive colleges, SAT/ACT and in some cases SAT II scores matter A LOT. I’ve commented elsewhere on the false narrative that scores do not matter that much. It is true that many lesser colleges have eliminated test scores. The reason is that these mostly lower ranked colleges are in financial peril and need both as many applicants and as many students as possible. For stronger schools – even the ones that claim test scores are optional – the tests matter.
Don’t shoot the messenger. It is what it is.