Family

What are good test scores?

What are good test scores?

It’s a question I hear all the time: “I got _____ on the SAT. Is that good?” Everyone would like to know that their test scores are good. That they’re valuable, that they’re going to help a student get what she wants, like admission to a top-choice college or a scholarship. The problem, of course, is that none of us are quite sure what makes a test score “good.”

What I’d like to do today is go over all the ways I can think to answer that question, from the fairly objective to the completely dysfunctional. There are a lot of ways to think about your test scores.

Getting good advice from your family

Getting good advice from your family

I was a little surprised to read last week that the people who have the most influence on high school students' college decisions is their parents. (You can read the full Department of Education report here.) For an example of why I found that surprising, consider that a friend told me that the number one question his high schooler son asks him about college is "why do you keep talking to me about college?" But it also makes sense, because your parents have been talking to you about college, directly or indirectly, like it or not, a lot longer than anyone else has. Unless you're going to completely ignore your family and go straight to the second-largest influence, "myself," you can get the most wisdom from what your family says to you.

Are people afraid of the University of Chicago?

Are people afraid of the University of Chicago?

I visited New York City over Thanksgiving with extended family. It was a fantastically fun and relaxing trip. On top of all the lights and crowds and excitement, something else really caught my attention. Standing in line one night, I overheard someone in my group say that there has been a 20% decrease in applications to the University of Chicago over the past five years. It has to do, he said, with the growing violence in Chicago. People are scared to go there. (I checked with my wife, and she heard the same thing I did.) My immediate thought was that there is no way there's been a decrease like that to such a prestigious school, no matter what the news reports say about Chicago. But I didn't have any evidence for my argument. And I'd only met this guy, who is really nice and really smart, a few hours earlier. And it's the holidays. So I let it go...

...but I couldn't let it go. This week I did a bit of investigating to learn more about applications and crime near U Chicago. And it turns out he's right. Kind of. 

Getting the support you need in college

Getting the support you need in college

More and more high school programs are focused on getting students through college, not just to college. About 10 years ago, some of the major charter school networks made college graduation a goal.  Posse has been around since the late 1980s. College Possible has been doing their thing since 2000. What wisdom can you gain from these success-through-college programs even if you're not a part of them?

Your parents' fears and wishes

Your parents' fears and wishes

Welcome to the new year and a semester!

If you're a senior, you've likely already sent off most or all of your applications. That means you probably have at least a little bit of anxiety about how things are going to turn out.

As a way to put that stress and anxiety into some greater context, please talk to your family about their fears and hopes about your academic future.