College Planning Specialists

June 15, 2007

SAT Test Preparation Options Part 2: Traditional vs Non Traditional

Filed under: SAT Testing — deansguide @ 5:17 am

In the first article on the subject of SAT Test Preparation options, we reviewed the positives and negatives of Self Help books and SAT Prep Classroom Courses. In this installment, we will take a look at Private SAT Tutors (Traditional) and Online SAT Prep Products and Courses (Non Traditional). Our source for this information is the fine website ePrep.com and SAT expert Karl Schellscheidt holder of a law degree from University of Pennsylvania and a BSE from Princeton.

1. Private SAT Tutors: $100 to $300 per hour with overall cost from roughly $5,000 to $15,000. Not for the faint of heart!

Pro-Highest quality teaching talent, personalized curriculum to meet each student’s needs, and the tutor often becomes a coach who inspires motivation and excitement in the student. Families received constant feedback on the student’s progress; this provides a control mechanism that none of the other methods of SAT preparation addresses.

Con-Extremely expensive costs involved are a major obstacle for most family budgets. Often a search for a qualified tutor can be more time consuming than imagined. Many areas do not have access to this resource.

Conclusion: This is the best most effective method of preparation, for students of all ability levels, assuming the tutor is qualified. That is true if the financial resources exist.

2. Online SAT Prep Products and Courses: Students can purchase these options for between $30 and $1,000.

Pro-Affordability makes this option accessible to everyone. A wide range of products and services are available. Diagnostics and programs that help students who have constantly changing levels of expertise. The number one factor is convenience. Students can schedule their prep studies anytime without worry-their schedule is catered to rather than someone else’s schedule.

Con-Students are on their own with little consultation. Many courses are simple online delivered self help books. Many variations of product make it difficult to choose the correct products or services. No personal contact make this truly a individual experience which is often not well suited to many student’s needs.

Conclusion: This method of preparation works well for busy students who have average computer skills or better. It is the fastest growing method of preparation today.

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June 14, 2007

SAT Test Preparation Options: It’s Your Choice; How Serious are You?

Filed under: Preparing for College — deansguide @ 4:51 pm

The SAT Test is by far the most pressure packed and important test a high school student will take in their preparation to attend the college of their choice. In order to excel at this test, students MUST prepare and prepare thoroughly. There a number of options available to students to help them prepare for this life altering event; according to ePrep, here are a few:

*Self Help Books: These books run anywhere from $15 to $30 and they include practice tests, answer keys, and explanation evaluations.

Pro-Affordability of materials and quick acquisition.

Con-These texts are often very boring and they require intuition on the student’s part due to the single answers given and the lack of depth in evaluations and explanations of the material.

ePrep concludes that “Self Help books are best suited for students who are extremely talented academically and extremely independent and motivated.”

*Classroom Prep Courses: Cost varies from $800 to $2,500.

Pro-Students study and take practice exams under very similar conditions as the actual SAT test is administered under. Instructors are often “dynamic” and student questions can be answered on the spot. Also, parent feedback is encouraged.

Con-According to Karl Schellscheidt, SAT Expert and BSE Princeton University, classroom prep course run into the following problems:

“Courses are expensive. . . they are often only offered in densely populated areas. . . classes are over crowded to maximize profitability. . . and instructor quality is unregulated.”

Schellscheidt’s conclusion is classroom prep courses are best suited for below average students. From “educational and time management” point of view, these courses are not suited to the average, above average, or advanced students.

In our next post, we will examine two more traditional and non traditional methods of preparing for the all important SAT Test. For more information please contact us.

June 12, 2007

A.P. Classes: Are These Courses as Important as Your Guidance Counselor Claims?

Filed under: Colleges,High Schools — deansguide @ 11:42 pm

AP courses, the most advanced college prep classes available at the high school level, may have unforeseen detrimental effects upon a student’s ability to gain entrance into a top flight university. Often thought of as invaluable tools in the quest to impress discerning university admissions officers, AP classes are being evaluated differently by high schools than they are by universities.

The biggest pitfall remains the over scheduling of AP courses during a high school students curriculum. The majority of intelligent high school kids can and do excel in college level AP courses. The problems arise when students take 3-4-5 AP courses during a particular semester. More often than not one of these classes is far too difficult for the student; consequently the student dedicates huge chunks of time to one course. This time disparity usually leads to suffering grades in all a student’s course work.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon your point of view, grades remain the driving force behind college admissions. The real catch and pitfall is that MOST colleges do not accept “weight” GPA’s when considering a student for admission. The high school gives added credit for difficulty but the colleges do not consider the difficulty level of AP course work when factoring in GPA for admissions according to Ron Caruthers of College Planning Specialists.

Caruthers goes on to state that high school admissions councilors are telling only half the truth when they advise their students to load up on AP course work. High schools do weight AP course grades much higher than normal high school classes; often an AP course “B” grade is counted as an “A” by many high schools. Unfortunately colleges count all grades equally meaning an “A” is an “A” and a “B” is a “B.”

Caruthers states that the reason for this disparity is that “most high schools are ranked by the number of students taking AP courses. . . ” consequently it is to the high schools’ advantage to push students to take AP courses regardless of the effects it may have on those students.

What is the right answer in regards to AP course work for your student? As a rule of thumb, have a student take as many AP courses as they can without hurting their GPA. It is a tough call as AP courses have benefits, challenging curriculum-time management-higher expectations, but remember that in the college admissions game-GPA is king.

June 11, 2007

Top 10 “Everyday” Questions Every Student Must Understand When Choosing a College

Filed under: Uncategorized — deansguide @ 7:23 pm

In past articles, College Planning Specialist has focussed on providing information, contact resources, as well as college ratings in order to help families wade through the mountain of admissions data. It is equally important that families and students ask and answer the “everyday” questions about college life. The following is not only a practical outline of questions a family might wish to consider but it is also can act as a barometer to gauge your child’s interest in a particular institution.

1. Correct Major: your child is interested in exploring? More often than not kids may not realize that their intended focus does not match what the school of their choice offers.

2. College Visits: have you visited the college of interest while it is in session? The best time to make judgements about campus life is while school is in session.

3. Location: does the location fit your intended lifestyle? City campus or country setting? Is there things to do that fit your child’s wants and needs?

4. Compatibility: do the kids look like the kind of kids my child would enjoy? Do the guys and girls look happy with their choice?

5. Class Structure: what do classes look like? Are they huge with hundreds of kids sitting in the same lecture or are they small with more hands on teaching? Which environment will my student prefer?

6. Internship: will the university help my student acquire an internship while they are still in school? Will they help in job placement once my student has graduated and is beginning his real world job search?

7. Graduation Time: what is the average time frame for a student to graduate? Do most graduate in 4 years or does it take longer?

8. Grad School Placement: does the institution provide help getting my child into graduate school if that is what he/she wants to pursue?

9. University Connections: does the university have any affiliations with other institutions? Does the school provide opportunities to study abroad?

10. Do We Fit In: possibly the most important question: Can your child see themselves attending a particular school, performing well, and being happy?

Many of these questions can be overlooked during the selection process. By reviewing and answering this list, your family can help avoid uncertainty and ultimately the wrong choice

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