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Weight of SAT..

lsandinlsandin Posts: 219Registered User Junior Member
edited March 2005 in Parents Forum
Okay, hopefully those HIGH SAT'ers won't be too offended if I say a few things about what I (JUST me) feel that I have learned about the weight of the SAT score. D pretty much has everything else "going for her" with respect to academics i.e. 4.8 weighted GPA, valedictorian of class, hardest courses available to her, etc. She could not have done better in that regard. However, SAT was <only> 1400. Noticed that her <low> SAT score must be the main factor for her not having been selected for any of the scholar programs at the schools to which she has applied.. her ec's were good, too.. lots of leadership, community service, letters for 4 years in two sports, etc.. so what could the difference be but those selected have higher SAT's.. We have followed each schools boards as scholars were selected and they always seem to be different only in SAT scores (with the exception of only VERY few). SO, looking back at D's hs "career" we have concluded that our biggest mistake was her not taking courses to improve her SAT score and perhaps taking it only once (she did take the ACT - scored a 32). She also scored in the 700's on three SAT II's. She said she had enough testing and was done. Looking back she regrets not trying it one more time.. because her choice of college will be contingent on monies received and her top choices have not offered her anything to date. She is waiting to hear about admittance from four other schools but each has already notified merit recipients. Just wondering if anyone else has noticed this and also wanted to let younger kids parents know how WE feel the SAT score has weighed in OUR college experience. Should also note that D's reccomendations were from teachers who knew her really well and we are sure would have given her great reccs. Her essays were good (at least we thought so - subjective though so can't say much there). SAT's of merit people in the schools she applied to almost always were 1500+. I just don't think (MY opionion) that SAT's should carry so much weight in scholar programs..We really thought that as long as SAT's were good that they would look at everything before choosing scholars... but then again what do I know. I would like to hear opionions on this - we really thought she had a shot at some of those programs and are very disheartened to see that SAT's appear to carry so much weight. I would also like to hear from anyone who feels that we are wrong in our assumption.
Post edited by lsandin on

Replies to: Weight of SAT..

  • ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
    Two things: One, I agree that SATs are weighted too heavily in most decision processes. Two, I think you're giving up too soon. There are many college-based financial aid awards still to be made, are there not?

    The best of luck to you and yours.
  • lsandinlsandin Posts: 219Registered User Junior Member
    Our EFC is high. The financial aid awards that she has gotten so far have been loans only.. not even work study with the exception of one who gave a small grant. She has gotten scholarships to her safeties though and for that we are truly grateful. Willing to pay as much as we can but unfortunately can't cover some of these schools cost without taking on substantial debt.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    What matters is where she applied. "SAT's of merit people in the schools she applied to almost always were 1500+. "

    What that means, then, is that such schools may be match schools for her, but are unlikely to give her merit aid. The students getting merit aid at such schools are likely to have what your D has going for her plus sky high scores. Thus, they are likely to be able to get acceptances from even better colleges. The colleges offering them merit aid are doing so to lure them away from HPYS, where the unhooked candidates who get acceptances have stellar ECs, grades, curriculum, class ranks and SAT scores.

    I don't know where your D applied to, but on CC, I see plenty of students with grades, ECs and 1500+ scores who were turned down for merit aid at Vandy, Emory and UNC, Duke.
  • texastaximomtexastaximom Posts: 1,080Registered User Senior Member
    Merit aid is such a strange business. Some of my observations which are completely unscientific and are based off what has happened in our household and in those of some of our friends:

    If you qualify for more in need-based aid, then you will get that instead. It will be "merit based" in that the percentage of free money is much higher than the loans for the better student. Example, my son did not qualify for the merit scholarship at Washington and Lee, but his aid package had more free money than the scholarship would have provided. You don't get to call yourself a thus and such scholar, but the money is there.

    The 75% SAT mark is the "sweet spot" for many merit awards. If you are more like the average applicant, or give the appearance that you are overqualified (this seems to be a problem for kids with very high stats--it's hard for them to convince some schools that they will in all likelihood attend) you fall out of the running.

    Some schools only do need-based, and they have just a very few merit awards ( a smattering of full, 3/4, 1/2), or several that are not very high (2K to 5K) with maybe research opportunities tacked on, or the ability to live in a special dorm. Examples of the latter would be William and Mary, or Claremont McKenna. Those schools seem to attract plenty of the highest qualified applicants and so they don't feel they need to woo them away, and there is little distinction between whose stats are highest since they have so many with wonderful applications.

    Some schools have a combo 1-2, which is merit aid (7.5 and 13K seem to be common awards) coupled with grants if there is more demonstrated need.
  • idleridler Posts: 519Registered User Member
    Yeah, I think it matters more than we like to admit. It's the one thing that's standardized and (maybe absurdly) specific. Add in the huge and increasing numbers that selection and admission committees have to wrangle, and it's easy to see that outweighing all the shortcomings, at least in the world of college decision-making. I hope she gets the aid needed, but anyway she sounds like a terrific student, and once this little period in her life is over, the sat will be ancient history.
  • cangelcangel Posts: 4,127Registered User Senior Member
    The child of one of my daughter's teachers reportedly took the ACT 4 times in order to get a 36, she did, purely as a merit aid play.

    I'm not sure which schools you are talking about, but most of the schools DD applied to for merit aid either were completely numbers driven - X score = X scholars program with $Y, or had an average for their top scholars with a list of scholarships, so that you could extrapolate back to your score, what the ballpark number was.

    I'm sorry for your D's situation, and think your point is well taken for the juniors/junior parents out there. If a child needs to go the merit aid route rather than need-based, then I think the parent needs to become involved in researching which schools give merit aid, what the pattern of giving for the school is, emphasizing to the child what the floor SAT/ACT score has to be, perhaps bringing them back to reality about finances. It is another version of safety/match/reach, but with an overlay of financial concern. I know we want our kids to make decisions, it is ultimately their decision, but most 16 year olds, including my daughter, had no clue and no interest in delving into it this deeply. I know that if I had not become involved, and we really, really needed the merit money, that she probably would have ended up in honors college at State U, where she would have qualified by ability without any planning.

    Just as Northstarmom has said, the child has to drop down a rung to go for merit aid, regardless of what their achievement level is, they (and the GC) may be totally unaware of those colleges. No one is going to CARE as much as you, the parent. And, yes, SAT scores are really important for this, make or break for some schools, and in other cases, necessary if your child doesn't have some other very strong hook.

    Lsandin, I wish good things for your daughter. Congratulations on her success. Thank you for sharing your story, for the sake of the juniors. Maybe it will let some kids know they need more planning and researching more widely.
  • lsandinlsandin Posts: 219Registered User Junior Member
    LOL! Cangel.. I have a feeling it is the junior PARENTS who will be doing a little more planning and researching.. my D certainly has not gotten as involved as I would like in that arena! She is so busy with school, sports, working and extra-curriculars she really doesn't have the time to get involved in this part of the process (though she did do her research on the schools that she decided to apply to with regard to major, size, location, etc). Once those decisions were made and applications done she hasn't really talked much about things..when we received aid letters and scholarship info and I wanted to discuss them she said she wanted to wait until everything was in (APRIL 1 seems an eternity away, LOL) before looking everything over because she doesn't want to get her mind set on a particular place to find out financial considerations later come into play and will perhaps take that place out of the running. Smart child I have, huh? I have looked everything over at least five times from each of the three places she has been accepted and although a few minor questions remain have a pretty good idea of what we are looking at in terms of her being able to attend each one and what she will be giving up choosing one place over another. It doesn't help that there are two or three of the schools that she applied to that she hasn't been able to visit because we really don't want to spend the money on airline tix, etc if, when we get the award package, the school won't make that final list. There is one school she is considering that we really like right now and seems feasible that she is going to visit in April (Rice - Owl Weekend).. so I guess, like the rest of you, we wait. Fortunately, it appears that I am the only one stressed..she's too busy. Plus, I hate to say it but she isn't the one worrying about paying the bills and trying to get D into a great school that suits her without having to sell the house, LOL!
  • xiggixiggi Posts: 22,883Registered User Senior Member
    Lsandin, it is much harder to pinpoint the reasons behind rejections than acceptances. The competitive nature of admissions and distribution of financial aid leaves many candidates wanting.

    You could take your daughter's r
  • chocoholicchocoholic Posts: 2,995Registered User Senior Member
    I have to say from our experience that merit scholarships are completely unpredictable, so don't look back on the SAT prep with regrets, Isandin.

    With 4.3 weighted gpa, hardest courseload, 1590 SATs, and 2 fabulous ECs, my D has only gotten merit aid from her safeties. Her match schools gave nada. And when I hear from others who got merit from those same schools, they seem to be right in the same ballpark. It's a guessing game, and I have given up. Perhaps those students who were given awards had out-of-this-world nationally-recognized achievements.

    Also, the # of merit awards is far less than the number of amazing applicants. It is probably a tough decision for the Committees that make these decisions. But I know how you feel. It is disappointing not to get any money.

    I just don't want people running out to prep even more for that 1550 score, when it still does not guarantee anything.
  • mootmommootmom Posts: 4,162Registered User Senior Member
    Ditto what chocoholic said: while I wouldn't discourage prepping for one's best shot(s) at SATs (which I will encourage, or maybe even require, my younger S to do), nothing is guaranteed in terms of merit aid.

    My older S is waiting to hear from a number of schools now. He has a 4.3 wgpa, massively advanced courseload, 1560 SATs, 800/800/760 SAT IIs, 10 APs (all scores of 5), state-wide and national leadership in his community service work for 5 years, fine essays, great interviews, in-depth and highly insightful recs... and he hasn't heard anything about merit aid from any of the schools he's applied to. What mystifies me the most is that he has not heard Word One from any of his 3 UC schools. Friends of his with lesser "resumes" were invited to interview for Regents and Chancellors Scholarships, but he never heard anything from any of them. (And yes, he's checked that all his apps are complete and under review everywhere.)

    Nothing is certain, or predictable in any way, in the world of merit aid, I am convinced of it. So yes, as xiggi suggests, it may be worth doing some prep work for best SAT success, but as chocoholic suggests, doing well in the SATs even with stellar everything else is no guarantee that schools will offer merit awards.
  • chocoholicchocoholic Posts: 2,995Registered User Senior Member
    Mootmom
    This is so weird isn't it....my D too knows of others in her school that were invited to first round interviews for merit scholarships, who were in the second and third deciles, for gpa, and had 1400 in their SAT. And we also know their level of involvement in activities. ..... it's really inexplicable how this all works.

    Fortunately, D is able to move on, and focus on the next task on hand. I on the other hand may turn to drinking.
  • editrixeditrix Posts: 222Registered User Junior Member
    lsandin, I think you've raised an important point. I've definitely noticed a strong correlation between high SATs and good merit aid. True, even perfect SATs don't always guarantee merit aid, but scores that are average or lower for the particular school will probably sink a student's chances for those scholarships.

    There's a cynical theory that the main reason some schools give merit aid at all is to improve their admissions profile--since getting high-SAT kids to enroll by giving them lots of money can achieve that fairly quickly. (I don't know if it's true, but last year I heard rumors that there was a de facto cut-off of 1500 for the merit scholarships at Washington U. in St. Louis.)
  • arizonamomarizonamom Posts: 1,359Registered User Senior Member
    In reality boys tend to get more merit then females and the region of the country you apply from has an impact. At one school my S applied last year and was offered a ton more merit then my D this year. The coach explained that this particular school needs to attract more males.
  • jamimomjamimom Posts: 3,278Registered User Senior Member
    When people ask about merit awards, I tell them to look at the percentage of such awards given, and then estimate at what percent range of the SAT1, their kid is in. Info all available in the USN&WR Ultimate Guide. It is true that schools "buy" top SAT scores. However, I have often told the story of my son's friend from a few years back with absolute top SATs and grades (she was sal) from a rigorous school, most difficult curriculum. Her parents could not figure out who the heck was getting the awards if she did not as her EC and resume were truly stellar. She was number 42 on the list, and 25 got the awards at BC. That same year, I happened to know another young lady who got one of them. She was not quite as top drawer stats wise, and though her ECs were excellent, again, not as as impressive. But she came from a part of the country where not that many kids end up at BC, whereas the first girl was from a Catholic school in Westchester where nearly a quarter of the kids apply to BC. They could run a train for BC kids from NY to Boston. So it is highly unlikely that unless the kid has another top hook that if he is one of many in a stack, regionally and is likely to come to BC anyways that they are going to offer him $$$ to come.
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