Jay Bacrania, is the CEO of Signet Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York, New York. He helps college-bound high school students develop and implement a personal strategy to prepare for and pursue a fulfilling college experience. “The internet makes it easier for students to consider applying to numerous places, and far away. It has become a kind of ‘arms race’ where students are applying to eight to ten schools.” And according to Bacrania, with email communications schools are getting very aggressive about connecting directly with students. “It can become a kind of hysteria as students and their parents feel pressure to apply to more schools,” he said. “The impact on the students is not good.”
According to Bacrania this ease of applying to schools raises the stakes and stress levels for students and parents making the college application process a financial and emotional burden. “The purpose of education is to explore and broaden the mind so you can find a place in the world,” he said. Bacrania encourages parents to help students avoid letting the process dominate their approach, but rather leverage the process to fulfill their personal needs.
Below are Bacrania’s tips for preparing for the college application process and SAT and ACT entrance exams with less stress and anxiety.
- Get started early. Encourage your student to start preparing for the entrance exams early: ideally the summer after the sophomore year through the middle semester of the junior year.
- Save time and money. Take the PSAT and ACT practice exams on-line.
- Use the internet well. Encourage your child to use the internet to find a good fit, and to avoid any frenzy or hype about what you need to do to become a successful applicant, go directly to the college admissions office and ask how they rank SAT or ACT scores, and what letters of recommendation are most helpful, etc. Avoid on-line forums.
- About college entrance exams. ACT has more time pressure than SAT, and so slow readers may find ACT more challenging. While the new SAT test has more words: there are more word problems in math, there is more prose to read for English – so if you struggle with complex reading and comprehension, then this test might be more challenging. “Overall we do not see a huge advantage to taking one test over another,” Bacrania said.
Done well preparing for the college entrance exams always works, and it is important to study effectively. Bacrania encourages folks to consider tutor services like his because they know how to help students formulate a disciplined and focused approach that will minimize anxiety. Industry organizations like IECA and NACAC have good references and resources for tutors, college preparation and testing services.“The objective with college preparation and planning in high school is to increase their learning capabilities and find a good fit,” he said.