These last few months have been particularly difficult for our rising seniors. Because of the pandemic, most have had significantly fewer opportunities to take the SAT and ACT, which has made hitting their “target” scores more challenging. It seems grossly unfair that students who have prepared for months on end might not have the benefit of reporting scores that accurately reflect their potential. So, in addition to continuing to take the tests (as a back-up for regular decision deadlines and because many schools are accepting scores even after early application deadlines), what can seniors do?
To me, the most fascinating revelation from the court case that for now has banned the University of California from using SAT and ACT scores in this admission cycle is how the UC schools, which had already gone “test-optional,” were evaluating applicants under a “test-optional” admissions model.¹ Without the court case, the specifics of the evaluation process would likely have remained a secret (as is the case at the vast majority of colleges). As the case revealed, although the UC schools were “test-optional,” applicants who submitted test scores had a large – but secret – advantage.
“Youth is wasted on the young.” So true. If we had the wisdom of our past mistakes in advance of making them, we would be less likely to have made those mistakes in the first place when we were younger. But, while we cannot personally go back in time and undo our mistakes, we can make better decisions going forward and, equally or more importantly, guide our children so that they can hopefully learn from our experiences without making the same mistakes themselves.
“I believe that luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky” – Oprah Winfrey. Oftentimes it is hard to get students to appraise the impact of how their actions today create their future success.
During these unprecedented times — when fears are heightened and the norm is anything but normal — it is difficult for any of us to be at our best. With multiple stressors related to Covid (mental health concerns, financial hardship, and the responsibilities of raising our children and often educating them at home), there are positive actions we can take to enable us to thrive and to help our children flourish.