Stuck at 1800 and Stressed
Like most that contact you, I am in need of some help. I have done well in school, no doubt. I am ranked #1 in my class right now but I go to a small school so my class has less than 100 students in it. I have been involved in leadership, sports (in and out of high school), volunteering, various clubs, and am currently ASB Vice President. I am graduating this year and turning in my applications soon so obviously there is not much else I can do to make it better, but my SAT scores are not good. I have studied like crazy for this test and taken it multiple times but I am frustrated because it hasn't got very much better. Overall I have about an 1800, so I was basically wondering if you think that there is a certain topic or style I should go for in my application essay, or any tips you have, so I could maybe make up for the ground I lost with my score on the
SAT. Thanks so much.
Thanks for your question. I wouldn't worry too much about your scores. As you're probably aware, not everyone tests well. Some colleges and universities have even gone so far as to make standardized test scores an optional part of the admissions application.
Even if part of your application is a little less than stellar, it’s good to remember that the Admissions Committee will be evaluating your application as a whole. I think it is awesome that you have such a strong academic record. As an applicant, you have a lot to offer these schools. My advice is to focus on the positives: your volunteer activities, high GPA, class rank, and extracurricular activities. Don’t address your one weak part—that would only draw attention to the negative.
Sure, so-so SAT scores may hurt your chances of getting into the very elite institutions, but that's not the case at other schools. As I’ve written in the past, be creative in your college search and find the school that suits your interests and goals. Read about colleges online, talk to alumni, visit the schools if at all possible, and schedule an interview or overnight visit to learn more about the colleges you are considering applying to. Lots of schools are now putting student blogs on their main page; reading these allows you to get a sense of the classes, the town, and the academic culture. All this information is really helpful when deciding where to apply.
Check out U.S. News and World Report for its annual list of college rankings, and be sure to talk to your high school guidance counselor; s/he could also have some recommendations based on your interests.
Don’t get hung up on a low test score. You have a lot going for you. The ball is in your court!
To contact Tasha, email firstname.lastname@example.org.