Your College Concierge

Your College Concierge

How To Interpret PSAT Scores

For those of you who have high school students who took PSAT last October, you can expect to see your child’s score reports on your College Board Accounts in mid-December. 

Here is a quick guide to finding and interpreting your PSAT score:

1. To access scores online, you will need to have your child’s College Board ID/PW. You will also need a ‘cheat code’ to help you understand what the heck their score report actually means. So we created one.

2. Here’s what usually happens next: once you have taken the PSAT, schools will begin treating you as if your college admissions process has officially begun (particularly if you are in 11th grade)!
Within a few weeks,  you’ll become inundated with college literature. You’ll receive emails or printed brochures with bright, shining pictures of bucolic landscapes and beautiful, happy students of all types will entice you to fall in love with their school.
Don’t. There are nearly 4000 2-year, 4-year and vocational schools out there (in other words, there is a seat for every student that wants one).
Don’t fall for a school’s marketing until you have first fully explored your academic interests, post-high school plans and your budget. The key to having a meaningful and affordable post high school education is planning for that prior to falling in love with one destination or path.
3. You might then wonder, “how will the PSAT affect my college admissions chances?”
It won’t (with one possible exception).
Other than National Merit Scholarship opportunities – which only apply to a select number of 11th graders, the PSAT doesn’t count towards college admissions. Period. It’s a practice test and nothing more. Colleges will not ask for, nor will they care about, your PSAT score. (They will be used by the colleges for marketing purposes; see also number 2 above).
The PSAT merely serves as an early indicator of test performance. Parents and students should view PSAT results as the minimum possible SAT score, since results will improve with time, maturity, and practice. And more practice. That said, about 15,000 students may become semifinalists for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship (after completing additional requirements). This is determined state-by-state, which is explained in the video above.
4. So, now what? You should educate yourself on the college admissions process.
For many, December means Holidays. For many 10th and all 11th graders (and the parents who love them), December also marks the beginning of the college journey!
For years this has been something you’ve looked at as a crossroads in the distant future. Now, ready or not, it’s about to get real!
Life after high school–more specifically college, both applying and PAYING for it–will very soon become a central part of your regular dining table discussion (and kitchen discussion, and carpool discussion, etc.). Here’s a snapshot of what your dinner conversation might sound like soon:
CONCERNED PARENT: Have you thought about where you want to apply to college and when you would like to take the SAT or ACT?
FRUSTRATED STUDENT: Do we have to talk about this now?
CONCERNED PARENT: Well, yes! We need to make plans to visit schools, sign you up for testing, arrange for tutoring, and meet your counselor. So?
FRUSTRATED STUDENT: May I please be excused?
We know that right now this entire process seems daunting. You might be feeling anxious just reading about it. There’s so much misinformation, dates, deadlines and unsolicited advice from everywhere. What should be an exciting experience can throw even the most balanced and relaxed family into a minor tizzy.
In fact, I received a call just today from a woman who is a very cool mom and whose daughter is a superstar, but she’s freaking out (the daughter is) because of the pressure of college admissions. This is not ok. I spent some time helping this mom sort through myths and helping her reassure her child that she will have great and affordable opportunities.
We strive every day to dial back the pressure and to provide the right information, personalized coaching and support to help families with all kinds of children and economic circumstances. We want to help you navigate the process, identify the right path for your child, keep your sanity AND your savings.
The college process is fueled by a higher ed industry that is creating and perpetuating the mania. We never want to add to this pressure. Our goal is intentionally designed to alleviate it.
That’s said, getting started with a little accurate information can go a long way to keeping the process in perspective. It all starts with the right strategy: choosing colleges that are right for your child to apply to can mean that your child will be choosing among a number of different options (and scholarships) that will make college much more affordable than you may think.
It’s a personalized strategy. You see, the right schools for your neighbor’s kid, or your best friend’s kid, or your niece and nephew may not be the right schools for your child, and I’m not just talking about academic qualifications. Perhaps State U was right for your first child, but maybe your second offspring just doesn’t fit into that same round hole. Or vice versa.
So if you’re an 11th grade parent fixated on the upcoming holiday, you may be distracted enough to avoid the collegiate storm that awaits. But with the release of the PSAT scores, winter is coming!
Let us give you the right planning and guidance for your family, help you get ahead of that storm and stack the odds in your favor. It’s easier than ever to work with us individually. You can use our college planning academy: you can book a counseling session right now and take advantage of our tools by giving Your College Concierge a try. Or, email us to schedule an appointment where we can discuss your family’s goals in more detail. We don’t bite. In fact, we’re quite friendly and we give away delicious chocolate (shameless bribe).

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