We constantly run into parents asking us questions like
- Should we count AskDrCallahan math courses as honors?
- Should we enroll in honors courses in high school?
- How can we get an athletic scholarship?
- Do colleges prefer higher grades or harder courses?
What Do Colleges Care About? These questions from parents make sense, but let us turn it around from the college side. What does the college want? Practically there are only two things colleges care about:
- Students who can pay. Forget all the pomp and circumstance, colleges and universities are businesses and they get paid by having students show up. So, as long as you have money and meet their basic requirements, you are in. As one college dean puts it, “We need butts in seats to pay the bills.”
- Students who make the school look better. In order to attack more attention to get students who have sources to pay on their own, schools will make great efforts to attract some students who improve their statistics. And, the biggest statistics used is average ACT/SAT scores. So to attract these students, schools provide scholarships.
So, to say more succinctly, colleges do not care much at all about those things parents worry about. They care about money and scores. The only scores most colleges will ever consider are ACT and SAT scores. Will they look at GPA? Sure. But slight differences in high school GPA are of little value. However, a slight difference in SAT and ACT scores are a huge value – to both you and the college.
So What to Do?
So, if you are preparing for college, you need to do these things: 1. Find the college you prefer. Which admissions test do they prefer? (Most schools will accepts either the SAT or the ACT, but you need to check.) 2. Prepare to do well on the test. Test early and often and get help from an SAT/ACT Coach. 3. Go to the actual school and department where you plan to study and talk to the faculty. What else do they want to see? Doing this little bit of work is worth hours, months, and years of all that stuff most parents waste their time doing. It is the basics. Do them well and you succeed.
The Facts about Scholarships
I am sure you have heard of the millions of sources of scholarships out there. It is true. But, let us first look at the money. The bulk of scholarships comes not from the schools themselves, and most are merit based scholarships. Many have a simple metric. For example, see Baylor’s chart showing test scores as they translate to dollars. This kind of chart is common, even when they are not published.
|SAT* Score||ACT Score||Amount divided over 8 undergraduate semesters||Amount per academic year|
|Below 1300||29 and below||$137,920|
Almost every school has test scores as a major component (dominant component) in their scholarship dollars.
I am often shocked that parents will think nothing of paying for a batting coach for their kids or paying for piano training in hopes of a scholarship, but think paying for ACT/SAT test prep coaching is too costly. But many parents get it, and for years have been asking us to coach their students as they prep for these tests. We have always had to say no because we did not have the capacity. There are many national companies doing coaching and test prep, but we really never felt they were offering a good enough service to recommend them. But, a few months ago we finally found a partner who we really trust. It is Higher Test Scores Prep run by Lauren Gaggioli. Lauren is passionate about helping kids prepare. To here her story, listen to this podcast: Online Coaching Business Startup | Lauren Gaggioli of Higher Scores Test Prep. If you are interested in a college SAT/ACT coach, Lauren provides a 10% discount to AskDrCallahan customers. Just go to her website and enter discount code “ASK10”.