As we approach another Thanksgiving, thoughts naturally turn to what we feel grateful for. Another way to celebrate is to deeply consider why we should be grateful for those things in life we have to deal with, regardless of how much we like them. Few teens look forward to tests like the SAT and ACT; fewer still actually enjoy them. But do these exams represent a necessary evil or a golden opportunity?
Imagine yourself as a high school student eager to attend selective institutions, access prestigious honors programs, or earn enough merit scholarship to defray the ever-rising cost of college. Now think about how you’d feel about your prospects if any or all of the following applied to you…
…if your grades don’t reflect your ability.
…if you suffered some academic setbacks along the way.
…if your excellent grades are undermined by your school’s academic reputation.
…if you couldn’t find enough ways to demonstrate academic rigor.
…if you are competing with 8,000 applicants just like you for 400 open seats.
Far too many students (and their parents) enter the college admissions process painfully unaware of how fiercely competitive admission to most brand-name schools has become. Grades are, for most applicants, the single most important factor in admissions. But in the absence of an impeccable honors-level GPA and several additional distinguishing factors, any applicant should be grateful for entrance exams to help them not just compete but stand out from the crowd.
Think about every sport, art, or craft you engage in. Anyone seeking their best work seeks out challenges that demand their peak performance, even if–or especially when–the world is watching the competition. A test like the SAT or ACT can be your own personal Mount Everest or Super Bowl. If you dare to compete to win, you’ll earn respect, no matter the results. And if you excel, you’ll set yourself apart in a way that everyone understands!