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ACT score of 20, stellar everything else. How much will this matter to "average" LAC's?


Replies to: ACT score of 20, stellar everything else. How much will this matter to "average" LAC's?

  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 24,492 Forum Champion
    edited July 2015
    Unless you can improve on the score, I agree that test option is the way to go. I've put the list below.
    one more time (sorted by state).
  • dec51995dec51995 Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    Update: I worked with my nephew on ACT this week, via Skype. It is not simply an issue of slow reading, and the scores appear to be accurate; he scored a point lower on the two sections of a practice test I assigned to him.

    I understand the rationale for attempting SAT, but, as I've stated before, the SAT is a minimum 2-hour drive. He took an ACT prep class at his school this year and took the test in April, so both the test and the strategies are familiar to him. I think it's a bad idea to attempt to coach for two different tests this late in the game. I know the old SAT wouldn't be good for him because of the trickier math (greater emphasis on problem-solving and no guessing option for the grid-in section) and the sentence completions, which has vocab demands that he won't be able to meet. The new SAT is a complete wildcard as no one yet knows exactly what's on it or how to prep for it. SAT is a no-go, period.

    I know where the test optional schools can be found. Identification is not the issue. The concern is that test optional schools are less likely to meet 100% of need. We want to avoid being gapped if possible, because he should qualify for lots of need based aid. Thank you all for your ideas. If anyone else has an idea that is not:

    Test Optional Schools
    Taking the SAT

    shoot them my way. One last call to parents and/or students with a similar profile and how kids/you fared with schools where the average ACT was 4-8 points higher than what you achieved would be most helpful! Anyone, anyone?
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 29,442 Senior Member
    Is there any reason why he hasn't been formally screened for LD/processing speed? This is the last year when he can get that done on the school district's dime, and be formally assigned to help through the Resources Office. If no one in the school district is qualified, surely someone in the Area Education Agency is.

    My concern would be that he'll flounder in college given that he's been attending a school that doesn't evaluate kids like him, and where he can take lab science courses that don't have lab sections. Granted, the small rural districts do tend to have issues along those lines, but it would be a shame for him to wipe out in college just because of a reading issue for which accommodations may be readily available.
  • dec51995dec51995 Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    @Happymomof1: Wow--you're right. The problem is, I don't think my suggesting that to his mom would go over very well. :( I'm concerned that he might flounder, too, but his high school doesn't seem to think he's deficient. This is where a good guidance counselor would be invaluable. I asked his mom about enlisting the help of one, but she said their guidance counselor is clueless.

    I, also, am concerned about him flaming out in college. But how do you suggest to a sibling that her son with a 3.8 might have a learning disability? It's most definitely NOT what she will want to hear right now--her position is that he's just a bad test taker. She's getting really overwhelmed by the college process and I'm supposed to be making it easier.

    As far as college readiness, I looked up the ACT benchmarks for college readiness, and read some of the discussion surrounding it. My nephew does not meet 3 out of the 4, but the validity of the benchmarks has been called into question. Otherwise, I would feel more comfortable gently suggesting he be evaluated. I'm afraid if I raise an alarm here, I will be considered a Nervous Nelly. And if he gets into the colleges he applies to, my sister might never forgive me for heaping more stress onto an already stressful situation. I'm treading as lightly as can an aunt who has gotten herself involved in the college application process can, but this situation is already awkward.

    BTW, when all is said and done, I'll post his admission results so the next person with a similar profile has more information. For posterity, as they say.
  • MidwestmomofboysMidwestmomofboys Registered User Posts: 3,959 Senior Member
    I posted something similar some time ago-- essentially, are test optional schools "really" test optional for the regular kid. And was met with a chorus of "Yes!!!!"

    My kid is a very strong student, works very hard, but not a great standardized test taker. He brings lots to the table, but test scores aren't part of the package. He is looking almost exclusively at test optional schools, including Lawrence University, Knox, and Kalamazoo which offer merit aid and do NOT use test scores in awarding merit aid. Also, Denison, where there is anecdotal evidence that they do not require test scores for merit aid.

    Other test optional schools we have not spent as much time on -- Gustavus Adolphus, Beloit, Earlham, so I am not familiar with their merit aid packages and whether test scores are required.

    Good luck to him (and you), hang in there.

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 29,442 Senior Member
    Didn't you say that you and your sister are both teachers? Try reminding her that much as low classroom grades and stellar standardized test scores can be an indicator for ADD, high classroom grades and low standardized test scores can be an indicator for processing differences and issues in the dyslexia family. The smarter the kid, the later this kind of thing gets identified. I know lots of people who weren't diagnosed until they were in college - one was halfway through her PhD program.

    If the family has the money to send the kid to a nice cozy LAC where where most of the course grades will be based on longer writing projects, that is one thing. But if he's likely to end up at BigStateU, most of the exams he'll take for at least the first year or so will be multiple choice and strictly time limited. At bare minimum, he needs to have strong test-taking strategies in order to do well in that environment.
  • Pennylane2011Pennylane2011 Registered User Posts: 2,716 Senior Member
    edited July 2015
    I agree that telling people their child may have a learning difference, when they don't want to hear it, doesn't go over well. As far as the school identifying it- the schools only have to do as much as it takes for the student to pass the grade equivalent exams and not be behind in school. They are not as concerned with the above average student. So they would not have a reason to test him. As the OP knows, being a teacher, one can have a learning difference and be above average.

    My concern is that finances might limit this student more than his scores. I could see him doing well in a small supportive private college, but these don't tend to be the ones that meet full need. Certainly there are students like him in college, but they may not be receiving full financial aid.

    I understand that he is in a rural area where people are not as focused on the big name college. I hope he finds some affordable ones. Because I do know students who have elected to attend a CC to save money and who have successfully gone on to colleges, I am not as adverse to them as some people on this forum are. After about 2 years of credit, some colleges do not consider scores. This could open some choices for him.

    I still think the test optional colleges are a possibility.
  • MomOnALaptopMomOnALaptop Registered User Posts: 270 Junior Member
    edited July 2015
    You may already have done this, but since he wants to go into the ministry, why not look at Christian schools? There are some that seem to be LAC-like. I've run into the names of Wheaton and Hope, which I think is also CTCL, and I think both are test optional. There are probably more in that vein too. We're not Christian so I don't know what those are like or what else is out there, but other people might have good suggestions that way.

    Basically I'd think he'd want to play to his strengths, e.g. the things that make him seem like an interesting candidate and a clear "fit," and that'd be one thing for some schools. Just focusing on golf as the EC of note might not be the way to go. Being able to look at courses and find things that truly excite him so he can write about why he wants to be at that school would help his chances, I'd think, and also mean he really would be more of a "fit." Christian schools might have classes on old and new testament, etc, which he'd be keen to take, as well as other things that'd prepare him for the ministry. Just a thought.

    I definitely agree that he should be tested so he can get accommodations in college as well, if mom can be helped to understand that a 3.8 kid can most definitely have LDs, which is pretty likely to be why he's "just a bad test taker." Otherwise it could really be a challenge.
  • AlbionGirlAlbionGirl Registered User Posts: 895 Member
    I wonder if this site might be helpful. It allows you to search colleges by state, inputting your SAT or ACT score, and allows you to see how likely you are to be accepted.

  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 36,882 Senior Member
    A 2 hour drive, even for 7 am arrival, just doesn't seem like a major stumbling block if it gets him closer to the range for some of the school's he likes. He should try a practice test and see how it goes. His 20 WILL hurt him at schools that require scores, no doubt. I think you are overthinking the test optional situation -- he is lucky some schools have it.
  • albclemomalbclemom Registered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
    edited July 2015
    @post #49 - We are in a similar situation with our nephew - parents have resisted in the past any psycho ed testing for their rising senior as to (in their view) not stick him with a negative label in their school district. But they now see that his difficulty with quantitative reasoning and executive functioning may make most college curricula too difficult to complete, even if he could get in. He has a 22 ACT and a 1040 SAT, but scores are lopsided (470 MA and 570 CR). He has a 3.25 GPA in a college preparatory school, but with no AP courses.

    We have convinced them to seek psycho ed testing as a means of determining best college/major fit. It makes sense to test him to make sure he gets accommodation if necessary to successfully complete college, especially considering the financial sacrifice they will make. They are contacting their local school district to perform the testing, at no cost.

    We are using a good resource to help select schools for him - The K&W Guide to College Programs and Services for students with learning disabilities.
  • albclemomalbclemom Registered User Posts: 235 Junior Member
    Minnesota schools with ACT scores where a 20 is at the 25th percentile:
    Minnesota State U - Morehead
    Augsburg College

    21 ACT
    Winona State U

    22 ACT
    Saint Catherine University
This discussion has been closed.