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Should Parents Force ACT Retest When Big Merit Bucks are on the Line?

Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3002 replies1109 discussionsCC Admissions Expert Posts: 4,111 Senior Member
Question:My son is one point away from the qualifying ACT score to get a full scholarship at his number one school, but says he’s “spent” and doesn’t want to retake the ACT. He isn’t even willing to try the SAT (they have a scholarship equivalent score for the SAT as well but he has never taken it). We are trying to encourage him to take one of the tests one more time. This is worth thousands of dollars to us in scholarship money. He says there isn’t even time — but the application isn’t due until December, so there’s still time, right? What do you advise?


See https://www.collegeconfidential.com/articles/should-parents-force-act-retest-when-big-merit-bucks-are-on-the-line
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Replies to: Should Parents Force ACT Retest When Big Merit Bucks are on the Line?

  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone 3002 replies1109 discussionsCC Admissions Expert Posts: 4,111 Senior Member
    @chercheur--Thanks for sharing your story ... and its happy ending.

    Perhaps "the worst parents in the world" are actually those who are so afraid of being called the worst parents in the world that they don't lay down the law when they should be. And this extends into areas that go far beyond test scores and tuition. Some of the current problems in this country wouldn't be solved entirely but could be mitigated if more parents were willing to pay attention ... and to say "Do this!" or "You can't do this!" when appropriate!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76109 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,772 Senior Member
    edited September 2018
    May depend on what the parents and the student agreed to in the money talk.

    Some parents do things like offer unspent college money for professional school education or similar, so that could create an additional incentive for the student to try for better scholarships even if the college is already affordable. Of course, if the college is only affordable with the better scholarships, that should be incentive enough for the student to try for the better scholarships.

    On the other hand, if the parents had said that "any college is ok" or "any college under $_____ is ok", the student may not have much incentive to try for better scholarships if the college already falls within the stated price limit.

    (Some people may call it "skin in the game" or lack thereof.)
    edited September 2018
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 21933 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 21,947 Senior Member
    Perhaps the student should be given the choice of taking the ACT again or finding another school that is affordable to the family. My daughter brought her ACT school up to get the next level of scholarship from her school, but not enough to bring it to the highest level for the state merit award. At the time, the difference was about $700/yr so not a big deal. During her time in school, that state award almost doubled, so the amount wasn't $700 but almost $4000. We didn't know that at the time, but later did wish she'd taken the ACT one more time.

    We sure would have liked that extra $4000.

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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26529 replies172 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,701 Senior Member
    The Dean's answer is excellent, but I would add one point: a tax-free merit scholarship is the easiest money that kid will ever 'earn'. I'd guilt him/her into it, and bribe 'em if I had to. :D
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  • chercheurchercheur 1247 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,256 Senior Member
    edited September 2018

    If it's truly a full-ride, then some of the merit scholarship(s) will be taxable. I was surprised at the amount my student owed in taxes but at the same time felt fortunate to have such a problem. :)
    edited September 2018
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  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom 1925 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,934 Senior Member
    I wouldn't force a retest, but I would tall my son the difference between what he qualifies for now and what he could get with one more point will be taken out as student loans. Those will be his responsibility to pay back. If he retakes, and doesn't gain the extra point, you can renegotiate at that point, with the understanding that he made an attempt.

    With our oldest, we gave her the option of summer jobs to earn her part of the "family contribution" or student loans. We set what we were willing to pay based on declining the loans, but she ultimately chose to take them for 4 semesters - and is now paying them off on her own. They do need to have some skin in the game.
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  • SouthernHopeSouthernHope 2052 replies207 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,259 Senior Member
    this is so odd because it's exactly what my colleague went through with his son last year....and we were talking thousands and thousands of dollars (and multiple tens of thousands over 4 years) if his kid could get one more point.

    In my colleague's case, it turned out as badly as it could. His son refused to take the test again. And his parents agreed to spend the extra money.
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  • bopperbopper 13872 replies98 discussionsForum Champion CWRU Posts: 13,970 Forum Champion
    Sometimes I say: "What would future you want?" When it is next spring and you are choosing between colleges, do you want to be able to pick (college with merit) because we can afford it? Or do you want to have to pay $40000 in loans? Or will you be happy you go to East State College because it is affordable? Will you next spring think "geez why didn't I take the ACT again...it was only 3 hours of my life" and I could be going to (college with merit).?
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  • mountainmomof3mountainmomof3 601 replies15 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 616 Member
    I think there is a difference between asking a kid who has only tested once to try for one more point versus asking a kid who has already tried multiple times. Sometimes that extra point is just not possible.

    We have known many families where the kid took the test once - without much prep - and refused to prep and take again even when thousands were at stake. One family just paid the extra. One kid now has that money in the form of further student loans. And the most recent kid will likely not get any merit if he even gets in at all to his dream schools because his scores are in the 25-50% range for these OOS, competitive schools he wants to attend. This extremely bright kid did not review any math at all and was truly hurt by this. I don't care how smart you are, if you haven't seen the math in question for a couple of years, you really should review it. Luckily, he has an awesome in-state option that his parents can easily afford.

    For us, we asked our kids to prep and try a couple of times for what we considered a reasonable score based on earlier GT testing and practice test scores. S19 was one and done with both ACT and SAT -- but he prepped hard so he could finish the testing process as soon as possible. We will see with S20. We are covering their undergrad and feel that test prep and testing is their side of the bargain. We are all on the same team and need to work together. But this is a conversation that needs to start early in the process -- not fall of senior year.
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  • BurgermeisterBurgermeister 358 replies6 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 364 Member
    More laps, more sit ups, more SAT. My three sons saved me $450,000, to date. Only 40 extra hours of prep and test time each go round; and minor compared to their time on the athletics field.
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  • MassmommMassmomm 3821 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,899 Senior Member
    I'd insist on a retake or tell him to find a more affordable school. There is no point in throwing away thousands of dollars when you have such an easy shot. And unlike the SAT, you really can study for the ACT.
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  • suraydavusuraydavu 17 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    Ask him to tell you how he feels, and let him talk as long as he needs to. You can say something like "Tell me how you're feeling about it. I'm here to listen as long as you need me."
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  • hokiemama24hokiemama24 27 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 30 Junior Member
    @Sally_Rubenstone This line in your article stood out for me as a parent of a first timer preparing to take the college entrance tests this fall. " Some of the answers can be found right in the test itself if the student is familiar with the testing format, and above all, is able to move through the section quickly and complete it." Where is the best place to learn these little tricks of the trade like identifying the answers by simply knowing the testing format alone?! TIA!
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