SAT vs. ACT: Which Test is Right for You?

1. Which of the following should students focus on when preparing to apply for college?

  • A. SAT scores
  • B. ACT scores
  • C. Neither
  • D. It depends on the student!
Photo Credit: CaCollegePrep.com

ACT and/or SAT. It depends on the student.

When it comes to college admissions, many parents and students wonder if it’s best to focus on achieving a high ACT score or whether they should turn their focus to the SAT test. The answer is, D. It depends on the student. When it comes to the ACT vs. SAT, there are several factors to consider. Just make sure you check the requirements of all the schools you plan to apply to as some require one over the other.

Format: When it comes to the ACT vs. SAT, one distinguishing characteristic is the format. As the Princeton Review explains, “ACT questions are often easier to understand on a first read. On the SAT, you may need to spend time figuring out what you’re being asked before you can start solving the problem.” Generally, the SAT tests logic, while the ACT tests knowledge. One way to find out which format might be better for your student is to have them take the practice tests during their sophomore year of high school; they cover very similar material in a similar style and are good indicators of how well your student will do on the SAT test or what they might receive as an ACT score.

Length: As New York Times columnist Michelle Slatalla asks, “How long can you sit without fidgeting?” The ACT is nearly an hour shorter than the SAT, so if your student has a hard time sitting still for long periods of time, it might be better for them to pass on the SAT test and focus on getting a higher ACT score. She goes on to share that those that have trouble processing information “may do better on the ACT…the SAT is more nuanced, puzzle like, trickier.”

Achievement: Every student is learns at a different pace and level. Some are more academically driven in class whereas others have better reasoning and logic skills. The SAT, traditionally a logic and reasoning based test, is suited for students with strong reasoning skills regardless of how well they do in class. The ACT however, being an academic test, is more catered towards academically driven students who tend to receive high marks on school exams.

Gender: For some reason, gender seems to play a role in the ACT vs. SAT debate as well. Slatalla explains, “Boys as a group do better on the SAT, according to data published by both testing companies.” Although this doesn’t mean every boy should take the SAT test and every girl should focus on achieving a higher ACT score, it is another factor to consider.

Ultimately, choosing the ACT vs. SAT really depends on the student. Peterson’s explains, “The vast majority of students perform comparably on both tests…however, if you’re short on time and money and want to put your efforts towards test prep for only one of the tests, your best bet is to take a few practice exams.”

Want to know more about whether your student should take the SAT test or focus on a higher ACT score? Westface College Planning can provide helpful resources when it comes to college admissions, financial aid and more. Contact us or reserve your seat for our next Tackling the Runaway Costs of College workshop!

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding       workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: CaCollegeprep.com

 


Keeping Community College in Mind

While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list.

While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list.

With high school graduation approaching, students are beginning to craft plans for their futures. While researching all your college options, you should keep community college high on your list. With the cost of higher education rising to exorbitant levels in the past few years, community college can be a great way to save money. However, there are many other reasons as to why going to a community college first could be the right step for your college career. Here are four reasons to consider attending a community college.

Find Your Career and Major: The current price of a state four-year institution is nearly triple that of a community college. Going to community college first can also give you the ability to figure out what you field you want to go into. Its common for college students to switch majors in the first two years of college, adding to the cost of tuition by having to take additional courses and/or delaying graduation in order to fulfill requirements for the new major. You can take general education classes at a community college and save a considerable amount of money while you are deciding which field will work best for you. By attending community college, it’s ok to not know which career one plans on pursuing after college. Students have the opportunity to figure out the right path for themselves, a virtue for many.

Save Money: Another way to save some cash by going to community college is living at home instead of living in the dorms. Though living at the dorms can be a great experience by giving you a taste of freedom, it’s expensive. You normally have a flat fee for the dorm cost each year and will most likely have to purchase a meal plan. If you live at home and go to community college, you get to save on these two expenses and eliminate a considerable amount of post college debt.

An Easier Transition: Besides the fact that the price of community college is much cheaper than a state school or private university, you’ll be saving more than just money. Going to a community college can be an easier transition from high school. Many students who attend university after high school have trouble keeping up with the academic pace and larger class sizes made up of hundreds of students. Most community campuses are small compared to universities, which mean that class sizes are typically smaller, providing more one-on-one time with professors and a more intimate learning environment.

Flexible Hours: If you’re a person who is looking to get your degree in addition to tackling a full time job, then community college is a great alternative to a four-year institution. Most community colleges offer a wider range of class times and because class sizes are smaller they are able to offer flexibility in their class schedules. This could be a great option for those who have a busy schedule outside of school.

College is a time for change and figuring out what you want to do, but you don’t have to waste money doing it. Making an informed decision with your money is the best strategy. Practicing fiscal responsibility now will ensure that you’re in a better position to take advantage of opportunities later.

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding      workshop or webinar.

 Photo Credit: Eric E Johnson

 


Preparing for College: Your Freshman Year

 

Photo Credit: Edsortium.com

70% of High School graduates plan to attend college

Today, a record 20 million are expected to attend college this fall – that’s 70% of all high school graduates. This means that for students aspiring to attend elite colleges, competition is higher than ever. Ambitious high school students know how to prepare during their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Unfortunately, however, most seem to be completely in the dark on how to prepare during their freshman years.

The first year of high school is universally acknowledged as the easiest, but that doesn’t give you license to coast. Most high schools do not allow freshmen to take Advanced Placement, Accelerated, or Honors classes, so don’t worry if your GPA freshman year is unweighted. Instead, use your easy course load to keep your GPA up, and use the inevitable free time left over to participate in school activities like sports and extracurriculars.

Although colleges always look at a student’s GPA and SAT score first, extracurricular activities are important as well. Look into what your school’s strengths are and get involved with those activities in particular. For example, some schools have a strong Key Club (a club dedicated to community service), or Robotics Club. School involvement is a fundamental aspect on your college applications. Students are encouraged to start their own club in a subject that they are passionate about to demonstrate leadership skills and enhance their high school experience.

Freshman year is also an ideal year to complete the necessary community service hours in order to graduate. Make sure not to procrastinate on this – in order to go to college, you need to graduate first. Look into nonprofit organizations that reflect what you’re passionate about, or your future career goals. For example, if you’re interested in the medical profession, volunteer in a hospital (but those spots go fast, so apply as soon as possible). A good place to start is www.volunteermatch.org. Remember, this is important not only for college applications – if you plan on applying for a job or an internship later, you can put this volunteering job on your resumé.

If you’re thinking about preparing for the SAT 1 Reasoning Test freshman year, don’t. The test is designed for juniors and seniors. If you start prepping now, you’ll forget everything by the time the test actually does roll around. Don’t waste time and energy on preparing for the SAT freshman year, instead find what you’re passionate about and explore your extracurricular options.

Another looming fear when it comes to college is the rising costs of tuition. How can your family begin preparing now? Come to my next College Funding Workshop! I’ll provide steps you can take right now to start planning ahead.

Remember not to overburden yourself by worrying too much about college. You have three years to go, and if all you’re focused on is getting into college the entire time, you’ll not only regret it, but also stress yourself out.

This Money for College blog was written by Beatrice Schultz of Westface College Planning. For more Money for College tips, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar.

Photo Credit: Edsortium.com


Does what you HAVE matter more than who you ARE?

Mother’s Day, 2012

For many years, Doug and I told our son that if he didn’t have a college degree and a successful career, hot chicks weren’t going to date him; basically we were telling him that an achievement mattered more than who he is. We researched pay grades and scoffed at his desire for a career in the military, wondering, How would he be able to afford to live on this measly salary?

We pushed him in directions he excelled, like athletics, sales or public relations, but none of those things interested him. Instead Trace went to an Automotive Trade School because he kind of liked working on cars. Once he got there, he discovered that kind of liking something didn’t mean he wanted to do it the rest of his life, so he enlisted in the Marines. He is currently in Boot Camp (Recruit Training), working harder than ever before, and looking at his future with a high level of excitement.

He will work it out, supporting himself on the salary he will earn, which will be yet another Life Lesson to make him into the responsible and mature young man he aims to be.

Am I HAPPY that this is the direction in which my precious, only child has gone????? Oh, HELL No!

Am I HAPPY that my son will live life well, doing what he has wanted to do since he was just three years old?

YUPPPP


The ‘Why’ of GiveTeens20.org

My son and his friends graduated from High School in June, 2011.

During the years before graduation, I‘d ask Trace’s friends about their post-high school plans. Not surprisingly, some had chosen a path and others were still waiting for that directional lightning bolt to hit.

 

 

I began volunteer teaching at the local High School in 2006, working with the students to analyze their:

  • Vocational Interests (what you do when nobody is telling you what to do) and their
  • Non-Negotiables (what you will not live with, and what you will not live without). (See ‘Self Awareness’ link at GiveTeens20.org)

Once a path (or 2 or 3) have been chosen, interview a person working in the career that you are interested in. Ask them:

  • What made you choose this career path?
  • How did you get here? (Education/Experience)
  • What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone who wants your job?

GiveTeens20® is a tool that will help determine directional options for your future AND provide filmed interviews for your research.

Take the time to assess yourself then pick some possible career fields. Click around the Interviews and see what it is going to take to operate within those fields.

Do not let anybody tell you that you won’t be able to do something that you have a desire to do.

You just have to go for it!