Some of our college counseling work is depressing as we see our fellow Connecticut parent-neighbors suffer over how they are going to pay for college.
Over the last few years, I’ve become delighted knowing that we have the key to help our clients pay for college.
Not too long ago, my dread of looking self-serving kept me quiet about urging students to engage in test prep. But the evidence is so overwhelming that the investment in test prep – our class is $595 – pays off enormously for some clients – literally $10-$100,000 that it would be a disservice not to tell other parents.
Colleges are in competition with one another. The biggest competition is not on athletic fields but rather in attracting top students. Like it or not, there is a perception that there is a correlation between the college’s median test scores and the college’s strength of student body. I’m not debating the validity of the correlation. I’m merely describing perception. One glance at US News & World Report’s rankings will illustrate a near lock-step correlation between rank of school and median test scores.
I will use “Kevin’s” story to illustrate a common paradigm. When students are accepted to colleges that have test range scores lower than our clients’ scores, then our clients have suddenly shifted the power dynamic. The college is now vying to ensure the student accepts their admission invitations.
Kevin’s PSATs were 520 verbal; 590 math. He took our SAT Mastery Seminar and followed with individual tutoring. Ultimately, his SAT scores were 610 reading, 690 math. He attended a strong public school in Shoreline, Connecticut, had solid, and similarly had activities that were solid but nothing too exceptional.
Kayla was admitted to several schools but I will focus on three that demonstrate my anecdotal observation about tests scores and merit aid. This is not literal but we’ll call School A – Top 50 school; School B – Top 75 school; and School C – Top 100 School.
Kevin’s SAT scores were basically in line with School A. School A offered no merit aid.
Kayla’s scores were about 10% higher than School B. School B offered Kayla $10,000/year.
Kayla’s scores were about 20% higher than School C. School C offered Kayla $24,000 year.