There is a raging debate in the country about the value of a college education. Partly, the rising cost of education has prompted this debate. The average cost for a public 4-year college degree is over $80,000 and for private ones are $180,000. The burden of paying for a college education, both for rich and for middle class families, has considerably increased over the past 30 years. Some families find themselves too wealthy to qualify for financial aid, but are too strapped to pay out-of-pocket for college education. This is how federal financial aid works since it is needs based. If you are in this situation, check out our blog that addresses this issue and provides a guide for action.
Plus, given globalization and the slow growth economy worldwide, competition for jobs have intensified. The rising cost of a college education increases debt levels for students, and they struggle to pay the debt for a long time.
How can we empower families to deal with the rising cost of college education? Weighing a college's value has been done using soft metrics like reputation, selectivity and alumni networks. This type of evaluation cedes all power to university admissions algorithms, committees and various pressure groups seeking favors. You may be rich enough to send your kid to the top colleges, but you are not the decision maker.
It's time to challenge the way we look at the college admissions process. We want to empower the students and their families with useful information about the value of their college education.
You are told if you are smart, you will get good grades and do really well on standardized tests. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Just because a student is smart, it does not mean she will end up with good grades. Yesterday, we had a meeting with concerned parents and their talented and smart daughter, who was barely getting by in school. She was doing well, and then suddenly her grades fell. Her parents were concerned brought her to Hillview Prep to provide her with academic and test prep support. Her father kept on insisting that his daughter is smart. We did not disagree, as after talking to her we could tell that she is a typical smart and talented girl, who has too many things on her hand. She is active both in academics and in sports, and says she is not a good test-taker, but does all her homework. She said she does not like math and is not good at it, but loves science.
Usually, when someone is good in science, they are good in math too. The problem is that students often do not know their learning style and skills they need to do well in academics and in tests. They just do things intuitively. They haven't learnt that one can be good in any subject. It all depends on learning good methods of learning. Do you know how to take control of your academic abilities? Do you know how to learn effectively?
Well, if you are smart, why are you not good at taking tests? Test taking is fundamentally a skill, just like any other skill.
We started with students hurdled in a French classroom with a TV and lots of French words and pictures from France. The room was in a trailer, away from the main building. It faced the large field.
The students knew why they were there. They were there not to learn French but for an after school HSPT class. The students were seventh graders and even a sixth grader.
For over fifty years, academic high schools nationwide have used High School Placement Test (HSPT®) to assist with admissions, scholarship selection, and curriculum placement. The HSPT is a standardized, timed test required of every 8th grade student applying to attend a Catholic high school. It contains five sections. The first two sections measure verbal and quantitative ability. The next three sections include questions related to reading comprehension, mathematics, and the components of written language. The HSPT questions are designed to test students at their curriculum level.
Hillview Prep was invited by Carden Academy to teach HSPT to a select group of students. Carden Academy of Almaden is a co-educational, non-sectarian, independent private elementary and middle school.
You need to get at least a 32 on the ACT to get into a top school.
Often we see that some very smart kids are unable to break the barrier of 32 on the ACT and fail to get near perfect scores.
Why do smart kids fail to break the barrier? In "Patterns of Underachievement in Gifted Students", Carolyn Coil, discusses three patterns of underachievement by smart kids:
1) Does well in early grades, then underachieves more as they get older
2) Sporadic up-and-down pattern
3) No effort to go beyond the minimum
The causes of underachievement can be many. We highlight a few below.
1. Not Being Prepared
Some smart students have poor discipline and do things last minute. They are smart so they can study last minute and still do well. However, in test prep, you cannot get away with it. Poor discipline leads to poor habits which affects your scores. For example, such students make a lot of silly errors because they rush through the questions. Remember, many questions are not difficult, but if you make an error the scantron will be unforgiving. It does not know whether you know the concept or not. It only sees you bubble that you have marked. Why lose points on concepts you know really well? So prepare well.
2. Poor Strategies
We suggest not to take the ACT or the SAT in spring because your school load is quite heavy, especially if you are taking APs. Ideally, take the test in the Fall and do test-prep in the Summer. We would be happy to assist with your test preparation. Just let us know. :-)
3. Lack of Test Taking Abilities
If you are not a good test taker, chances are you have not developed your test-taking abilities. Test taking is no different than learning swimming or tennis. It is the same thing. There are certain principles and strategies that you need to learn to do well on tests. Many students do not have a well rounded approach and have no consistency.
ISEE or SSAT? That is the question!
Though both tests are accepted by most private, non-parochial schools, they are different in many ways.
An overview of differences:
Below are more details on the differences between the ISEE and the SSAT.