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My son took the SAT (and did well) now what?

My 10th grade son took the SAT with the expectation that he may do well on math (for super scoring schools) since he had finished the highest level required. However, he ended up with a 1550 composite. Super excited that he doesnt have to take it again but I'm not sure what else to do with this. He wants to get a phd in computer science with a focus in AI and quantum computing so he is looking at all the top engineering schools. But being only 15, its not like he is applying yet. Should we reach out to get information from the schools he likes or do we just put these scores on ice for two years. He has a 4.4 GPA also.
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Replies to: My son took the SAT (and did well) now what?

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79697 replies712 threads Senior Member
    For you, start thinking about your budget and run the Net Price Calculators on some of the schools your S is considering.

    Agree here.

    Obviously, he wants to maintain a high GPA in hard courses. Note that unweighted GPA is more useful for those outside your high school, since no one outside your high school really knows what a 4.4 weighted GPA means.

    In 11th grade, the PSAT can qualify for National Merit status which some colleges use to give large scholarships. Since he did well on the SAT, he can be expected to do well on the PSAT.
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 324 replies4 threads Member
    edited December 2019
    I would look for good high school summer programs that are local or at universities. My son did a film camp at a large university for 3 weeks after his sophomore year. Helped him cement what he wants to do and he got a taste of living on his own. It was run very well. Start soon. The better programs fill-up fast.

    Summer isn't the best time to visit schools. If you just want to see the campus and get a tour that's fine but without the student body present it's difficult to get an accurate picture of what the school is about.

    Do run the NPC for some schools to get an idea of costs. With his SAT score he won't have a tough time finding reach schools like MIT, Stanford, or Georgia Tech. The real effort is finding affordable match/safety schools that are acceptable to him.
    edited December 2019
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1612 replies25 threads Senior Member
    Good suggestions above. In addition:

    If he has already done research and identified schools, find how to get on their mailing lists to start collecting information.

    We haven’t been on trips just for college visits, but when we drove up to Boston for another purpose we toured MIT, Harvard, and Yale on the way home. It’s good to just take a couple of tours to understand what a tour is like, what questions are asked, and what questions come up when you get home that you wish were asked. That way you’re ready for the real visits.

    He’s probably done with SAT (though CMU claims testing before Junior year isn’t meaningful to them), but many top schools will require or recommend Subject Tests, so start planning which of those to take. My D who is strong in Math took it after Pre-Calc in 9th as the tested material is only through that class. If he waits until later, it may be more difficult to do well. A science or history test should be done at the end of the year for that subject - ideally the June test date. Our plan is to also get that out of the way this year with Chemistry.
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  • ADH0621ADH0621 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you. Yes, he has a list of the top 15 schools he is interested in. I'm not sure if we are missing any "value" options but they are ones that we understand have research in AI and quantum- he is heavily involved in robotics, programming and cybersecurity currently. We are still on the fence about what we will pay for. A little shocked at the price of these school- 75K mostly- and we always figured he would end up on a scholarship (he is also 6'6" and has played basketball for 10 years- but does not want to play in college). His unweighted GPA is a 4.0; he has straight A's his entire life and has taken the highest level course in every case including AP classes in 9th grade (he scored a 5).

    We *could* pay for a top college but I'm not sure it's a good use of money as he has several younger siblings and he wants a PhD (thats a lot of years). On the other hand, going to a top school is a like a closed circuit club from my observations and if he were going to to get access to programs that could really mentor him, it may be worth it. Good suggestion on the subject tests- I will look into when those. So I guess the next steps are just to sign up for info. I would love to have him meet some professors in the programs and get a real sense of it vs. a generic tour but maybe we should do that once he is accepted places. I think CMU may be a good fit - its not too far from us but I dont think he will want to retake the SAT Junior year. He has 4 AP classes planned.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 1612 replies25 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    We’re planning on prepping over the late summer for PSAT/SAT in October/November as my D has 4 AP and 2 college dual enrollment classes so we want to prep before the courseload hits.

    National Merit Finalist qualification requires a supporting SAT or ACT within a year of the PSAT test so that may impact whether to take the test again. We were planning on sitting on her 1560 from 8th grade but the NMF and CMU factors have moved us to at least one more test. Just something to keep in mind.

    I would suggest not waiting until after acceptances to visit campuses. Decisions may not come until April and commitment is usually due May 1. My younger D visited 7 schools, three of them twice, before applications, and two of them again after acceptances. It can take some time to decide what school just feels right.

    We worked with the CMU SCS undergrad program administrator to arrange a conversation with the head of the department my D is interested in while she was on campus for a summer program. Advance notice and some flexibility is required, but she can coordinate discussions.
    edited December 2019
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79697 replies712 threads Senior Member
    ADH0621 wrote: »
    We *could* pay for a top college but I'm not sure it's a good use of money as he has several younger siblings and he wants a PhD (thats a lot of years).

    Do the financial planning so that you know how much you can contribute for each, considering any fairness issues that could come up if the younger ones have a lower price limit due to the older ones spending more.

    Does your state of residency have strong public universities in the areas of interest?

    PhD programs worth attending should be funded, so there should be little or no cost to parents there. Professional schools like MD, JD, MBA, etc. can be very expensive.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7047 replies65 threads Senior Member
    going to a top school is a like a closed circuit club from my observations and if he were going to to get access to programs that could really mentor him, it may be worth it.

    Depends a bit on what you mean by a 'top program'. Harvard, for example, is not a 'top program' in this field.

    Also, although both you and your son are more than justified in your delight in his SAT score, be aware that it is a necessary but not sufficient element in the admissions process.

    And: allow him room to grow. Even from spring of junior year to autumn of senior year there is often a lot of maturing. Try to help him not get locked into 1 idea or get too attached to any 'perfect' school.
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  • RanipetgirlRanipetgirl 153 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @RichInPitt
    My daughter took the SAT as a sophomore( in October) and did very well. She applied to SCS in CMU last year. (RD). She did not know about their SAT timing requirements. She was admitted into SCS.
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  • tdy123tdy123 1001 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @ADH0621 Good advice above, particularly about Phd programs being funded (full tuition + stipend of $30-40K/year for living expenses).

    Would just add that high early SAT scores can be helpful in applying for some top summer STEM programs like RSI.

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  • ADH0621ADH0621 5 replies1 threads New Member
    -Does it matter if he goes to a summer STEM program? If so, what is RSI?
    -Thanks for info on CMU
    -"Top program", I meant computer science. Agree Harvard is not a target
    -We are in Virginia, so we have Virginia Tech as our technical school. I think its an option. I think it is ranked 13. Also have UVA and Wiliam and Mary but those are not really known for engineering.
    -Yes, understand that masters and phd will likely be funded- and he will have 9AP classes going into college so it does reduce the years of that outrageous spend.
    - We are looking at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Virginia Tech (due to being in state), Berkley, Georgia Tech (he doesnt like hot weather much so not sure on this one), Princeton. Are there others people would suggest we seriously look at?
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  • tdy123tdy123 1001 replies18 threads Senior Member
    In general, summer STEM activities help with admissions for STEM kids at highly selective universities.

    The Research Science Institute (RSI) is the top summer STEM program in the country - if not the world. It is also fully funded and free for all accepted US citizens.

    https://www.cee.org/research-science-institute

    For a kid applying to college on pure academic merit, RSI is one of the most impressive credentials they can have on their application.

    Plenty of kids with 1600 or close to it and 4.0/4.0 GPA, or close to it, can get rejected at top schools.

    Kids with those stats, plus a recommendation letter from the director of RSI (each RSI attendee can request recommendation letters to three universities of their choice) get accepted to at least one of their top three choices (HYPSM, etc.) with a success rate of over 85%.

    About as close to a sure thing as a non-legacy, non-donor, non URM, non-recruited athlete can get.

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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7047 replies65 threads Senior Member
    he will have 9AP classes going into college so it does reduce the years of that outrageous spend.

    Not necessarily. Most of the private schools cap how many credits towards graduation that they will give for APs. It is more likely to help with distribution requirements, getting into higher level classes earlier, leaving more room for extra classes (either for the joy of learning or for a double major), and (esp for engineering depts), keeping the time college to 4 years. `
    Georgia Tech (he doesnt like hot weather much so not sure on this one

    Remember that they are out of school from mid-May to late August, so there's really only a few weeks of hot weather.
    We are looking at MIT, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Virginia Tech (due to being in state), Berkley, Georgia Tech (he doesnt like hot weather much so not sure on this one), Princeton. Are there others people would suggest we seriously look at?

    Do you and your son a major favor and stop looking at those schools for now. Everybody knows them, and they are all wonderful. They are also very selective. Yes, your son has a great SAT and GPA, and is likely to be a credible candidate- but so are most of the people those places reject. Instead, focus on building the list from the ground up. starting with a safety: is Va Tech a safety for him? That is has anybody from his school with his stats been turned down by them? Can you afford your likely COA? and (crucially) if that is his ONLY choice will he (or you...) be crushed? If nobody has been turned down, you can afford it and he is reasonably content that he would be ok with that as his college outcome- CONGRATS! you have a safety.

    Then move on to the matches. Start with GaTech- what does his school Naviance say? Can you afford it? of his favorites amongst the fancy names, what are the elements that he really likes? Work up a list of solid matches- places that he (& you) would be really happy to attend.

    Dreaming is fun- and easy and addictive. It can be hard to keep your own feet on the ground, much less help your student to do so!



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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9225 replies344 threads Senior Member
    Admission to highly selective colleges involves a lot more than great test scores and a high GPA. That's the minimum required to get a serious look. He's going to have to show he has all the things top colleges look for in an applicant. Research schools, but one of your goals should be understanding what they want and how your son matches.

    Start your list by finding a couple safeties (schools where your son is sure to be accepted, are affordable without loans, and that he'd be happy to attend). Then find a few matches. After that, add the reaches.

    Plan on college taking 4 years. AP credits can be used to replace a 100-level class with a 200-level, but it won't necessarily count for credit so he can skip classes. And wanting to graduate early won't get him into classes during registration. When seats are limited they go to upperclassmen. If the underclassmen could bump those with more seniority by saying they need to graduate early everyone would say it. What's the point of allocating based on seniority if students can so easily circumvent it?
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8282 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Another word of caution about assuming that AP courses will allow your student to graduate early. Many engineering programs have prescribed course sequencing that will not allow for early graduation. My D started school as a second semester sophomore. Helps with course registration and having lots of extra room in her schedule for what she wants to take, or for a lighter load one semester, but not for graduating any earlier. I would not factor that into your costs at all....budget for 4 full years.

    As for other schools to consider, I'd add Purdue and UMD to your list to research. Not as reach-y as the other schools on your list but fantastic engineering programs with well established internship/co-op programs.

    Purdue has a great week long summer program for rising seniors called STEP. It's run by the honors engineering program and taught by the honors professors. Students who attend seem to have a higher rate of acceptance not only into Purdue, but into the Honors College, which has been fabulous for my D. Purdue's application usually opens in December of a student's junior year and is a competitive entry program.

    A cousin did a similar program at UMD last summer and loved it.

    One thing to consider with costs is if your S is going to co-op. That can really help. I will PM you....
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79697 replies712 threads Senior Member
    And wanting to graduate early won't get him into classes during registration. When seats are limited they go to upperclassmen. If the underclassmen could bump those with more seniority by saying they need to graduate early everyone would say it. What's the point of allocating based on seniority if students can so easily circumvent it?

    Some colleges prioritize students differently by class standing or level. For example, a popular lower level course may prioritize frosh/soph students, since junior/senior students presumably do not need it for their majors (either some other major, or they took it already). But upper level courses may give priority to junior/senior students whose majors require the courses.
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  • XtremeBlaze777XtremeBlaze777 116 replies14 threads Junior Member
    Try and apply for Govener's School as well. It isn't RSI but it is still competitive and very good.(http://www.doe.virginia.gov/instruction/governors_school_programs/summer_residential/)

    Have you considered safeties? Maybe George Mason since it is in-state, or is VTech your safety? Other rely gud CS/engineering programs are UIUC and UT Austin.
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  • Beyou2022Beyou2022 27 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Congrats on his great score! On csrankings.org he will be able to see how the schools stack up in the specific areas he is interested in.
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  • ADH0621ADH0621 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for the link!
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  • ADH0621ADH0621 5 replies1 threads New Member
    Can I ask a follow up question? My son did not take the essay on the SAT because we initially thought he was just going in to qualify for a math super score and as a sophomore we thought he would probably end up having to take the test again at some point. Since he did well, he doesn't want to but I see at least one school he was interested in (Berkeley) requires it. Is there any solution for this outside of taking the entire test again and doing the essay?
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