ACT tutor for Unmotivated kid

I can totally understand as it’s difficult to understand test optional strategy with these admissions. It’s just that she wants someone to be with her. She is a smart kid and I am sure she can definitely improve her score with some 1-1 tutoring more frequently. It’s hard for her to get admission being an ORM.

My D23 did Kaplan which included I believe 6-8 one-on-one sessions along with the weekly class. She did the bare minimum, not practicing beyond the class or tutoring. She had taken the SAT in the middle of Kaplan and right after and she got the exact same score, 1170 each time. (I believe her super score was 20 points higher.) I had her take the ACT and received I believe the same as your D. She is a very good student, 95% GPA, and gifted performing artist. She just had no interest in putting extra time into this. She wound up submitting her SAT/ACT to the only school that required it, FSU, and got into all but two schools of the 20+ applied to, including many top 100 schools, including FSU. Look at the percentage of applicants who submit their test schools. Most colleges barely crack 40% and there’s little difference between those that get admitted.

You needn’t be desperate. Your student placed in the 88th percentile. A 28 will work at many schools. Or can go TO.

Some just go up because some just do better it have an easier time the next test and since most superscore, you just get lucky taking it once or twice more (even without study).

Great if you can have your student spend 30 min a night online or with sample tests from the tutor.

But desperate, with a 28, you needn’t be.

Good luck.


My general approach on this is to keep in mind that once a student goes off to university they are largely on their own. They are going to need to get themselves to class and get themselves to pay attention and do their homework. If a lack of motivation is going to be an issue, it is better for it to be an issue while they are still in high school.

Also, at least in my experience the academically most demanding universities are really only a good fit for a student who can find the motivation from inside themselves to put in quite a strong effort. I have also seen students do very well at universities that you can get into either with a 28 ACT or test optional.

I would be tempted to ask whether your daughter wants to continue with the tutor.


It sounds like your child is doing just fine. I am unclear what the concern is about.


At your public universities, you don’t have to put your ethnic background on your application at many places.

I think test optional will be fine. Why do you think she has to take the SAT or ACT?

What is your home state?

Here is your chances thread from March. And schools you wondered about…as well as LOTS of suggestions. Maybe read that thread again…

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Define East Coast

UMaine - 24-30

URI 25-30

UVM is 28 on the 25th percentile - that means 25% get in underneath

Delaware 26 -31

College of Charleston 24-30

UNCW - 24 - 29

James Madison - 23 - 29

UCONN 27-33

Many SUNYs, Pennsylvania State Schools, UNH, and other publics will be available even if you use your ACT - which you don’t need to. Also schools like WVU and Ohio U, etc.

Your ethnic status is likely not of any concern.

Your student may not be UGA or UNC or UVA but they’ll have plenty of opportunities at fine schools.


I am also in the camp for test optional. Your child may be burnt out and just not have it in them to do more. I would let it go. If she wants to retest, she can ask.

If you see signs of your child lacking motivation in other areas, you might want to get an evaluation. Not suggesting ADHD or any other problem. Just don’t focus on a symptom if there is a deeper issue since once in college they are more on their own.


I have an ACT 34/4.0 kid that is a college senior. My 2nd kid that is picking a college right now didn’t get the standardized test practice he did due to covid and when it rolled around she just did not care. She did work with a tutor briefly and she drove him nuts because she’d score super high on random individual sections but it kind of fell apart when she’d do them all together. But otherwise looks fairly academically similar on paper. Both graduated high school with a bunch of college credit.

She mostly applied test option and did as well with merit and acceptances if not better than my older kid. I honestly would just let it go. I regret spending time and energy and money on it.


More importantly, what is HER goal? Both in terms of ACT, college, life in general beyond high school, etc.


her goal seems to be not to bother with the ACT, which I think most of us agree is not a bad one


Thank you all for quick responses. @thumper1 , I have read my previous post but not all colleges suits us due to personal reasons. It’s hard for me to explain in this thread. I am looking for colleges like UMass, UDel, UCONN, GWU, UGA, American, IU, Purdue, Villanova, UT-Austin, Fordham, NEU, George Mason, CMU, UPitt, Temple, and few others. in addition to our state schools. I know lot of them are reach , some are hard target. Of course our state schools are safety for us but we’re planning move to east coast due to various reasons and I don’t want to get much detailed into it. I am from Midwest (don’t want to name the state)

@compmom, I can understand your concern. She was pretty good student till the end of 10th grade, did pretty well. Took 2 APs in 10th but she lost that motivation this year. Not sure it’s because of lack of confidence, lost motivation, kind of gave up or something else. We talked to the pediatrician and went for some counseling sessions too. She doesn’t share any information and the counselor said she can’t help much. I found that weird as the counselor is someone who should be able get the information. Due to some breaks in between because of schedule conflicts, my D said she doesn’t want to go to the counselor and doesn’t need one. We had to give up on that.

@KaylaMidwest, unfortunately my daughter’s AP scores are not great so far.

@worriedmomucb , Till recently she was talking about going to law school after graduation. She is interested in Government, politics etc but she is very introvert kid and not sure if that’s the right field. All her ECs are mostly focused on her area of interest. Recently she found even Economics is interesting with AP Macro/Micro so planning to do a combination of Economics/Pol. Science/Public Policy. Recently when we went to visit American, she said she liked their CLEP program. Also she like GWU’s Economics, Philosophy and Government in their business school.

I am just trying to see if she can get little bit in 32-33 range, so she has better chances to get into her dream school. Till recently, GWU was her dream school but after the visit, she said may be little bit more city and willing to apply and consider it if she doesn’t have other better choices. We’re planning to take her to college visits towards east coast this Summer.

All I am trying to see if we can keep her in the 75th percentile range for the above schools so she will have a better chance. She said our state school is her last option so I am trying help her to have a better chance in out of state schools. I understand it may be expensive but I am ok with that. When I calculated our EFC, I do see, we get some decent need based aid as my older one is in college. Based on the EFC, we can definitely afford most of the schools in our list.

I appreciate any suggestions.

Here is my very strong suggestion. Ditch the “dream school” thing. She needs to find a variety of colleges that she would be happy to attend…not just a dream school and some other stragglers. She needs a couple of sure things for admission, a couple of likely schools for admission, and if she wants, a couple of reachy schools. All need to be affordable for your family.

At this point in her junior year, it sounds like she is not interested in the ACT or SAT…so at the very least, I would drop that discussion. Test optional is a reality…and she might change her mind if she isn’t being asked about this or forced to do it when she doesn’t want to.

I’m saying this assuming she is a high school junior…is that correct?

Might she limit her college options? Maybe…but there WILL be a college for her out there. There are plenty from which to choose.

These are all going to be pricey so I’m also assuming cost is not an issue. Is that correct? If your current state public university is a sure thing and affordable (even when you are no longer a resident), then fine.


Law school will require high stakes standardized testing (LSAT). But that is years down the road.

But the motivation must come from within, not from an external source like a parent.


@ucbalumnus , law school was her interest. There is no pressure from parents. Actually we’re concerned that if her personality suits that field. We’re all from STEM/IT background.

Suggestion - lay off your kid. She’s burnt out. The year is late in school. She’s done. Maybe you can revisit in Summer.

Maybe she can take the test site unseen - my kid had an 8 point swing in English - sometimes one sitting is more difficult than another - yes, he had a 32 and a 24 on the same subject. You should need one or two points total - to get your superscore to the next leve (if you’re at 28 even, you need two points…if you’re at 28.25, you need one point (on the four sections) to go to 29.

But each time you bring it up, you’re pushing her back.

I showed above - many of the schools above are in range with a 28 - which is a very good score.

American and GW will be more about demonstrated interest than the test. IU will be a given as will George Mason. CMU is likely not right for her…but it’s ok.

At IU, for example, you’re above the 25% - oh, and only 59% even submitted.

Kids have spells - maybe something is wrong at school or the student is depressed or classwork is boring, etc.

Law is mainly reading and writing - so it needs to come from them - and frankly just because someone says they want to do something at 16 has zero basis to they actually will. And where she goes - whether Indiana or Western Carolina won’t matter for law school attendance. Just look at the colleges kids go to Harvard Law from - 174 of them.

So relax. She has a 28. She’ll likely come around on her own. But the 28 is a high score!!

You wanting to push it, seeking strategies to push it - is going too far.

I was you - and I wish I knew better. Now I do :slight_smile:

Good luck.

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@tsbna44 , you’re totally mistaken me. This is all just preparation and I am definitely going to take her opinion on what she wants to do before signing up on anything. I am just gathering information. I totally agree Law school is heavy reading and writing. We very well know that she’s not good at both but still we’re ok with that hoping that she will learn and work hard if she’s really interested. I am not at all putting any pressure on her. I will definitely ask her, also all this enquiry is for Summer only if she’s interested. Anyways thanks for your suggestions.

ahhhhhh - sorry - yes, i’m mistaken.

I guess I’d say - you offered her tutoring but it’s fair to say, if you don’t do the necessary in between exercises, why would I pay?

And then let it go. Til she’s come around to it - and she likely will with some down time.

Sorry about the misinterpretation.

Even at a 28, good schools are already in the mix - and if she likes GW but it’s too urban, look at Charleston.

But college prep and app time is far more stressful to these kids than it needs to be. I don’t get it - it’s not that hard…but it is :slight_smile:

Good luck.

@tsbna44 , no problem!

I totally understand that application process is very challenging. We’re experienced with our older kid. She is actually much more motivated and stron academically but still it was tough and it’s going to be much more tough with D24.

Thank you so much for your time and suggestions.

A counselor would not handle diagnosing ADHD or learning challenges, though some might bring up the possibility. Sometimes, in 10th or 11th grade, kids who have compensated up until that point, begin to hit the higher work load and certain issues can emerge. I am not into pathologizing. Only encouraging you to look a little deeper if the apparent motivation issues continue in other areas.

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