You have to ask yourself “What motivates my child?” You then have to answer it honestly. A discussion of economics may help - if you haven’t discussed what it costs to run your home, what your child will have to earn when he/she is grown up if he/she wants to live in a manner similar to the way you live, is key. It’s important to let your kid know he or she is NOT living with you forever, and a middle-class lifestyle is hard to achieve without a good college education. It’s not impossible- people who work in the skilled trades (auto repair, plumbing, construction), especially those who run their own businesses, can make as much as professionals with college degrees, but people like that work like crazy to get to that position. If your child chooses the skilled trades, more power to him or her, but they have to be realistic about the physical and mental demands of those jobs.
But I digress. If college is the way for your child, a discussion of what funds you can provide for college is also in order- you should get the message across that your child will need either a scholarship, admissions to an elite college (e.g. Ivy Leagues such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or similar colleges) where admissions are “need blind,” or admission to a “public Ivy” such as UC Berkeley, University of Michigan, etc.) if he/she wants to have the best shot at his or her dream job/career, a good transcript from a prestigious college is the best “way in” to elite corporations (if your kid wants to be a Wall Street type with tons of money, a hot car, nice place to live, and a hot wife/husband), prestigious nonprofits (if your kid is more of a green “save the world” type who doesn’t care so much about money), and elite government jobs (if your kid wants to be in public service as a future world leader).
These schools all require high SAT/ACT scores to have a real chance at admission. There are some exceptions, but unless your kid is an amazing artist, athlete, or you have massively important connections in politics or industry, your kid isn’t getting in without at least a really good, if not amazing, SAT score. Even the service academies (West Point, Annapolis, etc.), where your kid should go if he wants to be a military officer, aren’t likely to take anyone with a low SAT or ACT score (they’d probably suggest your child enlist and try for Officer Candidate School).
Again, a high SAT score is one of the best ways to obtain an opportunity to get the education a person needs to be taken seriously in our society. A degree from Harvard opens many more doors than a degree from your local community college. SAT scores are a huge part of the process that decides who ends up at Local Community College, and who ends up at Prestigious Ivy University.
You can sympathize with your child if he/she complains “But the SAT and ACT are biased and flawed!” by agreeing those tests are far from perfect, but they ARE a necessary part of college admissions. I’m sure you’ve let your child know he/she has to be nice to teachers, even if the teachers are jerks, until he or she is out of school. There’s no good reason to antagonize anyone who grades your work, or whose recommendation you’ll need for college applications. Basically, the same logic applies to standardized testing. Yes, the SAT sucks and doesn’t measure college readiness particularly well.
While some colleges have done away with the SAT requirement, most haven’t, and there’s nothing you or your child can do about it. Since you can’t change the SAT requirement, you have to comply with it. And the SAT deserves some credit- it does measure basic high-school level math, grammar, reading, and writing ability, so studying for the SAT isn’t a complete waste of time. It’s better to arrive at college knowing your math and grammar, as well as how to write effectively, than to have to learn those things at college. Your child won’t want to have to catch up from behind.
The sooner your child accepts he or she needs to do well on the SAT to get ahead in life, the better. You may want to present those ideas to your child in a different way, but you have to let the kid know that’s the way college admissions are at this time, and often the way life is in general. We often have to meet stupid requirements to get things we want. We can work to change those requirements, but we often won’t be able to change them before the rules apply to US. So your child will have just “suck it up and deal,” as kids said when I was in college.
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Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.