December 15, 2011
Financial Aid: Prepare now (like soon) to complete the FAFSA.
You will not officially be able to submit this until January 1st, but you should apply now for a PIN for you and your child. If you wait until January, there will likely be a significant delay due to the volume of requests. Put these numbers in a safe place – you will use them each year. The early bird often does get the worm with financial aid so file as soon as possible come January 1st (you will use your 2010 tax return to estimate and will update when your 2011 taxes are finalized).
Which test to take
Sorry to bring it up now, but it’s already time to think about college testing preparation for the SAT/ACT!
One question I hear a lot is, “Which test should my child take?”
My answer? … It depends.
You may be able to make the decision quickly if there is a big difference in scores from your child’s PLAN (precursor to the ACT) or the PSAT. Otherwise, many students will want to try one of each test and then consider if they want to re-test on one or both if they are not happy with their scores. Keep in mind that all schools will accept either the SAT or the ACT (or both). There are also a growing number of schools that are “test optional.” (Visit http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional for a current list) That possibility should be considered for those for whom timed, lengthy tests are difficult.
Test Preparation Help
In terms of test preparation, there are many good options, including buying a workbook, using free or fee-based online sites, attending small or larger group classes from commercial companies and, of course, hiring a tutor.
An important part of that decision relates to your child’s learning preferences. Will they do well having to pay attention in a bigger class, for example, or are they self-directed and more productive working on their own? Making a good match in this way is as important as the quality of the training option itself.
Some options can be figured out at the last minute and others, such as classes and tutors, have a lead time to get signed up. So it’s important to start considering the choices now.
Whatever you chose, companies like Kaplan offer free practice SAT and ACT tests and it’s always a good idea to take advantage of these (you don’t have to sign up with Kaplan to take the practice tests).
(Visit the Resources Page of my website [under test prep] for a list of test prep options. Please update me with your suggestions to help keep this current!)
Start planning now
Overall, when it comes to doing well on these important college entrance tests, early planning is vital. Choose the best test(s), consider learning preferences, and develop an approach that works for your child. Putting a plan together now will help keep the family stress level to a minimum!
Welcome to the official start of the college planning year!!