Daily, we see announcements about another college going test-optional. The current count is 1,200+ colleges that are test-optional for the fall 2020 application cycle. What does this mean for you?
Test-Blind: This means that colleges will not use test scores when they evaluate the application. Example: California State University system will be test blind for the fall 2020 application cycle.
Test-Optional: Colleges will see and consider test scores if they are submitted. If a student does not include test scores, they will not be penalized in the admission review cycle this fall. Example: The University of California will be test-optional for the 2020 & 2021 application cycle.
Seniors: If you have not tested, due to the spring exam dates being canceled, you have the opportunity to test this fall. Both SAT and ACT have added test dates to the schedule. College Board opened the test date in May, I've heard that some dates have filled. ACT will open for scheduling at the end of July, they added new test dates and also a Sunday test date into the schedule. If you are a strong test taker, I recommend moving forward with the SAT or ACT. If your scores are strong, include them! If you are not happy with those scores, then do not include them in the applications. If you are a STEM major, you still have the option of SAT II's. UC "prefers" a Math Level 2 and a science SAT II for Engineering and some science majors.
Juniors: I recommend strong test-takers to move forward with plans for exams this year. If you prepped this summer, register for the fall exams. If you are taking Algebra 2 as a junior, consider taking the mid-year or spring exams. You should take the PSAT in October, as planned. This exam is scheduled at your high school.
Sophomores: I would suggest that we observe the fall exams, see how the College Board and ACT deal with the virus, and potential test dates. In early spring, we can also evaluate what colleges are saying about future exams. If more colleges go test-blind than we need to consider your possible college list to determine if you will eventually take these exams. If your high school will allow it, sign up for the PSAT given in October at your high school.
Freshmen: Too early to determine test plans for colleges. I suggest we hold off and see what happens to the next admission cycle.
Want to know which colleges are test-optional? Fair Test is the best site for latest test-optional policy.
College Board: SAT Exams
ACT: ACT Exams
Good luck with your final weeks of school. We know that the virus has disrupted your plans for Proms/Senior Ball, a graduation ceremony, and the party celebrations with your family and friends. Congratulations on working hard, earning your high school diploma, and continuing to work through the current virus challenge.
Some of my past students have spent summers doing the following types of activities:
1. Become an entrepreneur - some have started small businesses including dog & vacation care, private sports or music lessons, custom woodworking, childcare, developed iPhone applications and dessert businesses.
2. Mentor others - I've had many students use their own talent to mentor and coach younger students.
3. Summer Camps/Courses - some students have attended academic enrichment programs confirming college major directions, new skill development or gained independence from spending several weeks away from home.
4. Provide care to family members - some students have taken care of the elderly, younger siblings, they have become the day time care provider while both parents may be working.
5. Conduct research - a few years ago a student was able to use a family connection to gain the opportunity to do brain research at the UC Davis Research Lab. She spent 3 days a week on campus involved with grad students conducting research about brain development and brain damage recovery. Students can create their own research projects.
6. Career exploration - any student can conduct informational interviews to gain insight into careers, paths chosen, lessons learned and exciting new future opportunities in various career fields.
7. Community Service - there are many opportunities for students to get involved with an organization, help people in need, volunteer at the library or local senior center. There are endless opportunities to get involved.
8. Design your future - I hope students gain the perspective that they are in charge of their future. By taking charge - they can develop their path to success. For example - thinking about being a computer science major? Then try programming this summer or creating a new application for your phone. Thinking about being a business major? Get a part-time job and see what working is really all about, or start your own venture and learn real-time about profit and loss. Love English? Start a blog, share your writing with friends, enter writing contests. Future Engineer? Design and build something! Some of my favorite engineers have designed go-karts, hover crafts, custom projects for clients. Love children? Work at a childcare center this summer, volunteer to help parents in your neighborhood by creating a workshop they can attend. Film lover? Write a script, film and edit the project, share with friends, neighbors and others.
Get out and do something!
Insights for parents and students about college admissions.