Test Prep: Why it matters enormously

By General Education Advice

Some transition points in life are HUGE. High school to college is one of those. As I tell students in our SAT-ACT Mastery seminar, the transition between 4th and 5th grade was something but nothing compared to (1) moving away from home (2) meeting an entirely new set of people (3) working in an entirely different way (4) living in a new place (5) living away from one’s parents (6) being in control of your day to day life without adults directing you and (7) the shock of so much newness all at once.

Consider even that marriage – a bigger life event – usually involves two adults gradually merging their lives and either living or practically living with one another by the time the event occurs. Indeed, other than having children, I think the college transition is the biggest life event that most people go through.

And, as I also lecture, the vast differences between colleges are rarely emphasized enough. “College” is often viewed as an amorphous singular concept whereas in reality going to Clemson is so different than going to Emerson and going to UCONN is so different than going to Wesleyan that students need to be educated on how much their lives can change based on this giant transition.

Why wouldn’t you do everything possible to ensure control of this major change? And what can high school juniors do now? Shift their GPA? Sure, a bit and at the margins. A 92 GPA can become a 94 or a 3.5 can become a 3.7. Do something much different in extracurriculars? Maybe. But they likely won’t do anything new only perhaps advance in their activity by becoming Captain of the team or a lead in the play. All great stuff but for anyone who understands college admission, nothing that dramatic.

What can change? A student shifts his PSAT or SAT from 1100 to 1300. That changes college choice – a HUGE life transition – enormously.