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GoForth Journal

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Replies to: GoForth Journal

  • ScreenName48105ScreenName48105 495 replies22 threads Member
    @GoForth, I truly understand your quandary. My suggestion -- only because it just happened to work for us by chance -- is to do early action at one or two schools that are financial and admission safeties. Chances are, by the time the meat of the auditions start, you will have one affordable acceptance in hand. It'll make a big difference in how you and your son will approach the rest of the auditions.

    My son applied early action to Berklee in November; he literally decided to apply a few days prior because their application process is super easy with no essays to write, no picky pre-screens, etc. Berklee's has a solid jazz program and its acceptance rate is pretty high; he chose it as an admissions safety. His audition was mid-December and he had a decision, including scholarships and FA, a week later. It unexpectedly ended up being his financial safety as well.

    In terms of choosing an admissions safety, keep an eye on this year's graduating class among his music friends and see where they're getting in. It's really hard to compare yourself to youtube videos but, chances are, your son will have a much better feel for how he compares to other kids that he plays with on a regular basis. Those kids are also a great source of information when they're in school next year.

    IMO, for academic merit, his test scores will matter most, much more than ranking. Also, consider also taking the PSAT/SAT's to be considered for National Merit scholarships.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    I thought the PSAT was only taken at one time in the junior year. I don't know the rules - can PSAT still be taken?
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2822 replies67 threads Senior Member
    No, the PSAT should have been taken by him in the fall of Junior year, and you'd have the results by now and would know if he'll qualify for National Merit. I suspect, from the ACT scores you post, that test taking is not as much a strength for him as his actual classes. Sometimes, I've heard, students will do better on the SAT than the ACT and vice versa. On the other hand, if he did do well on the PSAT he would be required to subsequently take the SAT to qualify for NMF.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    I thought the PSAT was already in the past and that it was not going to lead to NMF or even MNSF. Yes, test taking is not as strong as his long-term daily performance. He often overthinks the questions, but has been learning about that. He hasn't had any tutoring on the ACT so far, so there would be room for improvement.
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  • SpiritManagerSpiritManager 2822 replies67 threads Senior Member
    GoForth - is your son a Junior? If so, yes, he would have already taken the PSAT and that's the end of that one...
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    Yes, Junior right now.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    Here is the raw data. S just got his ACT scores for the first time.

    Composite 26

    Science 25
    Math 31
    Reading 22
    English 26

    Writing 23

    ELA 24
    STEM 28
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threads Junior Member
    Is your son planning on retaking the ACT?

    Did you say he was planning on applying mainly at conservatories, mainly universities, or a good mix?
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    edited February 2016
    He will likely retake Sept 10 and Oct 22. I did a forum search of the questions about ACTs in this range and whether to focus energy on raising the score or on doing pre-screens and auditions and was pretty satisfied with the discussions. S is probably in a boat like @ScreenName48105 from mid 2015.

    Now, the projections for his score and this actual number are a few points away from each other, so who knows what will happen in the next sittings, but I think the impacts are roughly as follows, compared to say getting a 30, as far as I would guess:
    1) UNT auto-scholarhip drops from $8,000 to $6,000
    2) Frost school stamps scholarship might not care, but 28-32 is the main range of ACTs at the U
    3) Temple U auto-full-tuition for 32 ACT is rather farther away
    4) Merit at USC Thorton probably not so good
    Academic merit in general would take a hit, so may think a bit more about lower-academically-ranked schools or those with music merit, assuming S' skills in that category are truly legit.

    While still in the Edit time window, I will add that we are not going to focus on this until the very busy junior year is over, then we will decide how to approach. It is at least good to have 'a' score at this point.
    edited February 2016
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    I wanted to say more:
    Around June this year, S and I will take some time to design his list of colleges around the scores that he has, with his fairly singular goal of making himself the best bassist he can be - through whatever combination of professor, student body, and city we can guess would be beneficial at a final total price that we would guess ends up being affordable. That may be vague, but it really is OK whether it is conservatory or university - a lot of optional details can be overlooked to achieve the main goal.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    And just to round out the academic picture, S' GPA and class rank are still quite solid with rank 1 and GPA 4.3W and 3.9x UW. So a place that looks more at GPA would be good too.
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  • rockinmomabrockinmomab 224 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Maybe have him take SAT instead of ACT. My sons ACT scores were similar but he did really well on SAT. Most students usually do better on one or the other.
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threads Junior Member
    edited February 2016
    @ GoForth Your last comment is exactly why I asked about the possibility of a retake. Your son's ACT does not seem to match his rank / gpa.

    So, it could leave admissions with the question of is the mismatch because your HS is not very "challenging" (which would mean they probably wouldn't put too much weight on his GPA or rank) or did he score lower than expected on the ACT for some reason. If the latter, they would then want to figure out if he is just not a great standardized test taker or if he had a poor sitting. If a poor sitting was the likely reason, they'd expect him to try again. At least that's how it's all been explained to me! I like the idea of taking the SAT, too. I wish I would have had D do that. She was always an extremely high scorer on ISATs (like top 1 or 2%) so we really thought she would be a 30+ on her first practice ACT sophomore year. Not so. It took some work to get her score up by her Junior year.

    I think you probably have more options available to you (your S) with his focus, so you can probably tailor your list a little better than we could. So, I'm sure you will do the research and come out just fine! Best wishes!
    edited February 2016
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  • rockinmomabrockinmomab 224 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Good point about GPA and class rank. In my son's high school the #1 spot weighted GPA was over 5.5 so they may not take his GPA and class rank as competitive. It would be nice if there wasn't so much discrepancy in GPAs and Class Rank across the US. Makes it much more difficult for schools to compare apples to apples but it's what we are up against :(. Definitely consider going the SAT route. I bet you will find he will do much better. There are I believe at least 2 opportunities if not 3 for him to take it before he would have to retake ACT. My son hated the ACT.
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  • dbandmomdbandmom 200 replies20 threads Junior Member
    edited February 2016
    Yep! My D is hanging on to the top 10% by the skin of her teeth with a 5.49! However (from what I've heard) the only perfect unweighted GPA's (straight A's) are those who do not take honors / APs. Even our 35-36 ACT & National Merit winners (and we have quite a few) have gotten B's in their honors / AP classes....because they are brutal! My D's friends that graduated last year said college has been a breeze so far compared to HS! I hope so. My D is burned out!

    But I think that is why ACT / SAT is usually the biggest factor for many colleges. It's the best way to compare apples! However, I do think that there are some people who just don't test well and that's really crappy and unfair for them. My D missed out on some scholarships and opportunities because her ACT did not match her GPA. Her counselor told me she has the lowest ACT of all the students in the top 10% (but it's still pretty good). I don't know the answer!
    edited February 2016
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    As far as the nice algorithm presented by @dbandmom, in #53, would AP test results also count as an item that is more standardized across regions? There will be a couple of those this year - AP Chem and APUSH. Would that figure into the answer to the overall question of whether the standardized test taking skills are not great or whether the high school is not very challenging.

    I hear the idea of the SAT. Will look at that.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    I would also like to note that advice in the past has been to not spend too much time on standardized test score recovery (as long as it meets minimums), and spend time on the audition prep.
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  • GoForthGoForth 815 replies29 threads Member
    BTW, I just found this at USC, a superscoring that would seem to favor SAT over ACT (?):

    "For students who take the SAT more than once, USC records the highest scores for each section – Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing -- even if achieved at different sittings. For students taking the ACT, USC will record the highest composite score."
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  • indeestudiosindeestudios 137 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I'll second giving the SAT a try. S did far better on it than the ACT. He also has a discrepancy between grades/class rank and test scores. He is accurate but slow on large standardized tests, and has trouble finishing. I don't think this is uncommon for some musicians, being very auditory learners.

    We knew that no matter how much prep, S was unlikely to raise his scores up to academic merit money levels unless we went through a long eval process then fought for time accommodations, so aside from some practice tests focusing purely on speed, S spent his time building chops and selected schools where his test scores were solidly in the middle 50%, (or test optional schools/conservatories). This eliminated only a couple of schools of high interest, but we had to narrow down the list anyway.

    You have some time. I'd recommend taking a May/June SAT then decide which test to focus on for re-takes in Sept/Oct. Good luck!
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  • rockinmomabrockinmomab 224 replies1 threads Junior Member
    edited February 2016
    @GoForth I think SAT is the more popular test and you don't have to send every school every score. You decide when and what to send schools from your son's College Board account. I would say that SAT scores won't matter that much but you are looking for academic merit $$ at universities, so it will play a role at some of the schools you are looking at for your son.
    edited February 2016
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