Desperate Mom! Please help!

<p>I need help/advice regarding my daughter’s college search. She is a junior in a public but very competitive high school in New Jersey (always sends kids to top schools) and just got her march SAT results. The score is really bad, specially her CR (480, M 630, W 570, 8/12 in essay). This is the first time she takes the SAT’s and her PSAT’s were better, I don’t know what happened. When she took the PSAT’s sophomore year she was around the 90th percentile, and went downhill from there. She took a test prep class btw. Her grades on the other hand have gotten better even as she takes more challenging classes:
Freshman: wGPA 3.852 w/ honors geometry, French 3 for language
Sophmore: wGPA 4.02 w/ honors algebra II/trigonometry and honors English, French 4 for language (she took the biology SAT and got 570, she wasn’t in AP bio)
Junior: wGPA 4.125 (first half of the year) w/ honors English, honors precalculus, and AP Chemistry, switched to Spanish 5, got into AP English but decided not to take it.
Courses for Senior year: AP Physics B, AP Calculus AB, AP Spanish, AP Environmental Science, Honors English (also got into AP but decided not to take it)
EC: Costume Crew Head starting this year (costume crew all 3 years) and the school productions always win awards both acting, crew and directing; Key Club, Yearbook, Darfur; has volunteered in the Animal shelter summer camp as a counselor for 5 years (including 2009) and this year she will be the head counselor, in charge of a group of about 20.
She has somewhat of an interesting story: I am a single mom, Hispanic, and dropped out of college when she was born (I was 20 yrs old) only to return when she was 1 year. She was born in US but in order for me to go to college (I’m a professional engineer now) we returned to my country in Central America, Costa Rica, and as a result up until coming back to the US at age 7 her language was Spanish. So she started 1st grade not knowing a word of English. She has never met her father (he’s Russian), and we have moved a lot over the years, mostly in Florida and New Jersey.
Now reading the posts in this forum can be depressing because there are so many outstanding students all wanting to go to the Ivy’s, but that’s not what’s important to me or her (even if she had a chance, which is not likely at all). I just didn’t come all the way over here to have her go to a mediocre school. She took the SAT’s just a week after the end of the school production; she was trying to catch up with school and very sleep deprived.
So I have two questions: 1. Should she take it again in May? She wants to concentrate on her grades and AP exam, but I think waiting until October, so close to applications even if she studies and practices all summer (which she says she will) is not a good idea. She is going to take the Chem SAT, Math II and Spanish. And will try to learn Italian over the summer. (her dad spoke 6 languages)
2. She wants to stay in the northeast mid Atlantic region (maybe as far west as Pittsburgh), and go to a small to medium size school. She doesn’t care about name, but wants it to be a challenging school. She is undecided as to her major but is leaning towards the natural sciences (took marine biology this year and loved it, same with biology last year, loves animals). Any schools we should be looking at?
I know is hard to believe but she writes very well, her research projects and essays are always excellent, so her application essay is going to be a plus. And her teachers love her.
Thanks everyone for your help.</p>

<p>First of all, you may want to put this in the college search forum, where people may be more helpful.</p>

<p>Your daughter has a good point in not wanting to take the SATs again in May. Why not take the SAT IIs then and the SAT I in October, and November if needed? She may also want to consider the ACT.</p>

<p>There are plenty of great schools here that aren't Ivies. What field is she interested in? Liberal arts colleges may be more up her alley, and some of them are SAT-optional.</p>

<p>Thanks! I'll post it there as well. She is leaning towards natural sciences.</p>

<p>RE SATs: She most definitely most take them in May. If she thinks work is a problem now, she will be laughing October of next year at how easy life was back in silly junior year (where piles of college applications and visits were not an issue). Needless to say, she should take her SAT IIs in June (her classes should either have just ended then or she should be somewhere in exam/review week. Either way, she'll have just reviewed for all her classes and will be good to take the SAT IIs, which are basically like finals).</p>

<p>And if she was sleep deprived the day of the SAT in March, she needs to get her priorities straight. A) that's a little absurd that she was staying up late doing homework Friday night (and it's probably not true), and B) SATs take far more priority than a week or day's worth of school assignments. For the May test, she should get a decent sleep schedule on Wednesday and Thursday night, and should probably go to bed at like 8 Friday night. Honestly, getting enough sleep is perhaps the most significant controllable way to do better on your SATs.</p>

<p>Most people experience a small drop from their PSAT score to their first SAT score, because the SAT is a harder test. If she dropped a lot (probably about over 50 points total), there were likely external factors (test-taking conditions, being sick).</p>

<p>Other than that: I'm not sure why she didn't take AP English rather than Honors, and why she decided to quite French right before it got to the AP levels (although I suspect there might be a relation to these two things here...). The targeted minority factor is going to help a lot for college. Her SATs, however, are a big concern. Being a targeted minority is about the same advantage for college admissions as an SAT score of 100-150 points higher, and getting into the high-tiered liberal arts colleges or the top state schools takes an SAT score of high 2000s to 2200 (this part I'm not sure about, someone can correct me here). She could use a 100-point jump in her SATs.</p>

<p>try the can do better on the ACT vs SAt (and vice versa)</p>

<p>Rather than rushing to retake the exam, you might want to get recommendations for a good local one-on-one SAT tutor who is particularly strong in the CR section, and who can give your daughter a sample test and begin to deconstruct the specific issues she might have. If her sample test score is much, much higher (in line with her PSAT score) then perhaps it was as simple as losing her place in the bubble-in sheet. If she needs targeted help in certain aspects, some one-on-one time will probably get her there faster.</p>

<p>My D got about six hours of tutoring for the ACT -- which also involved another three hours a week of home time for each hour of tutoring time -- and scored a very nice increase. The tutor figured out that she was never going to get more than nice respectable scores in math, so she spent her time honing the reading and writing sections, which D proceeded to do really, really well on. It didn't take a huge amount of time, and didn't cost a lot.</p>

<p>And, if your daughter hasn't already reviewed the sample exams for the subject tests she's going to take, she definitely should do so. If she has so-so scores on all her testing, that's somewhat more of a challenge.</p>

<p>Thanks! A few things: she did sleep well the night before and ok that week, but theater productions are time consuming, and the last day (the saturday before SAT) they stay really late cleaning up and organizing the costume shop.
I spoke to the test prep company and once we get the report they will try to help, see where we go from there.
She will study and practice for the SAT II's which is her argument for not taking the sat in may.
She hated her french teacher, that's why she switched to spanish (not a good reason to me but I'm just the mom), and will take AP Spanish next year.
I think she was intimidated by AP classes until she took AP CHem this year. Now is going to take 4 AP's senior year.</p>

<p>She should retake the SAT when she is PREPARED to take it. In other words, if she took it in March and isn't happy with the results, taking it again two months later WITHOUT substantial additional prep, is not likely to change her scores significantly. I don't usually recommend the Oct SAT for seniors since they will be busy with school and applications, but it seems like the better choice if she has time to prep this summer. I agree with your D that it makes sense for her to prep this spring for her AP and SAT subject tests. IMO, it's too much to prep for the SAT, AP Chem and Math subject test at the same time, and she runs the risk of doing mediocre in all of them.</p>

<p>I agree with you about the foreign language, and would have recommended her staying with French rather than taking and testing in her native language which to me does not show as much academic rigor as learning a new language.</p>

<p>I'm going to leave your thread on this forum since you ask some questions about Admissions, but please start a separate thread on the College Search and Selection forum to ask for suggestions on which schools she should consider. Also, if you haven't already, look at the subforum for Hispanic students as you may find information and resources there, start with the sticky thread at the top.</p>

<p>Thank you!
At first when she told me she wanted to switch to spanish, I was completely opposed. As soon as the class started I realized how serious the class is and that it is not an easy class, even for a native speaker. Keep in mind that even if a student is hispanic, their command of the language might not be the same as someone living and studing in a spanish speaking country. It usually happens that children come to the US and forget their native language, or are only barely able to speak it. But still it takes a lot of explaining to get this point across, and french would have definitely been better.
I already started a thread in College Search with the same post.
I do have another question but am not sure here is the right place to ask, but here it is: Let's say she studies over the summer, realistically how much higher can her score get? What is the most a student can improve on their scores?
Thanks again.</p>

<p>It depends, really, on a lot of factors. But if she is as bright as she sounds, she could probably get 1900+.</p>

<p>You can also look at SAT optional schools.
Optional</a> List | FairTest</p>