Before SAT Prep…Make a College List

College List

Getting started
You are ready to start your child in an SAT Preparation program to get her the score she needs to be accepted at the best colleges. But don’t skip the most important step! The best way to design a truly effective SAT Prep Program is to start by determining your child’s target score. And the best way to do this is to make her college list.

What are the best colleges for her? Will she be happier at a small college or a large one? Is she interested in pursuing a science degree or is she interested in applying to an art program?

How it will help
“But wait,” you say, “can’t my daughter worry about which colleges she will apply to AFTER she has started studying for the SAT?”

She can wait to make her college list and this is exactly what most students do. But researching colleges now, at the beginning of the SAT Preparation Program, is the best way to get started.  There is a lot of material to cover for the SAT. Developing  a clear idea of how much she will need to cover in how long a period of time is the best way to develop a road map to get there.

The colleges and specific programs that she will apply to will determine what target SAT score your daughter should be aiming for. This target score, and the amount of improvement needed, will determine what she needs to study for these exams and for how long.

Outside advice
By this time you are asking, “Won’t a tutoring company be able figure all of this out in order to create an SAT or ACT program for my child?”

Unfortunately, most tutoring companies do not consider most of these factors when suggesting a tutoring program for your child. And many test prep programs use the same SAT or ACT materials and the same format for every student who signs up for a test prep program (even for one-on-one sessions), regardless of any individual student’s current projected score or target score.

So it is imperative that you figure out what your daughter needs or that you make sure that you are getting the advice and the test prep program that will work for her specific needs.

One more thing to consider
The college list may even impact when your your child needs to start studying for the SAT/ACT.  Many art and theater programs put far more weight on the application essay and the audition or portfolio than on the SAT or ACT scores. Students who are pursuing these programs may need to start working on their portfolios and auditions first. There are many resources to help you research colleges on your own.  I would also be happy to refer you to one of the advisors in my network who specializes in the area that your child is pursuing. They can be very helpful in selecting the best programs and colleges for your child as well as in helping her navigate the admissions process.

Amy Martin Rodriguez, PhD
Academic Coach and Owner
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