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ACT Scores Lower This Year, But More Students Ready for College

August 20, 2010

by Scholarships.com Staff

Although average ACT scores were lower this year than the previous year, it wasn’t all bad news on this year’s ACT score report. High school graduates who took the test this year are slightly more prepared for college than their peers in years prior, despite the average lower scores.

According to the report, The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2010, about 71 percent of test-takers met at least one of four college readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading or science. About 47 percent met between one and three benchmarks, and 24 percent met all four benchmarks. Last year, 23 percent met all four benchmarks; in 2006, that figure was around 21 percent.

An article from the Associated Press in USA Today this week explains that test-takers this year were a more diverse group of students. While they did score lower overall, how they did meeting benchmarks is encouraging to the authors of the test. To measure college readiness, the standardized test translates students’ subject area scores into data that shows their chances of receiving passing grades in college coursework. The content on the ACT can relate to courses like biology and general education social science and psychology classes, for example. It’s also important to note that more students in general are taking the test, so slight gains like this in any area may mean more than you think.

Other data pulled from the report included the following:

  • 29 percent of test-takers were of a minority group, up from 23 percent in 2006.
  • Average scores for Hispanic students decreased slightly, from 18.7 last year to 18.6 this year, but the number of students from that student population taking the ACT has nearly doubled in size.
  • Average scores among other race/ethnic groups were 23.4 for Asian students, 22.3 for white students, 19 for American Indian students, and 16.9 for black students.
  • The national average for all student groups was 21, down from 21.1 last year. (The ACT is measured on a scale of 1 to 36.)
  • Those students who took a core curriculum in high school were more likely to meet their college readiness benchmarks; students who took more than three years of math in high school were more than 42 percent more likely to meet their benchmarks in that subject area than those who didn’t.

While more colleges are going “test-optional” when it comes to providing standardized test scores as part of your college application, both the ACT and SAT remain important at most institutions of higher education. At those schools with a high number of applicants, there may even be a cut-off score as part of the admissions process. You’ll probably then still need to take either test, despite growing criticism over the effectiveness of standardized tests. Take a look at our Standardized Testing section for more information on how you can better prepare for not only undergraduate admissions tests, but graduate and professional school tests like the GRE and LSAT as well.

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Want to Know the Likelihood a College Will Accept You? There’s an App for That!

February 9, 2011

Want to Know the Likelihood a College Will Accept You? There’s an App for That!

by Suada Kolovic

There’s an app for just about everything these days, so it’s about time that there’s one that will help students determine how likely they are to be admitted at their school of choice. The Facebook application, AdmissionSplash, asks students to submit a personal profile including quantitative and qualitative characteristics, such as test scores, grades and extra-curricular activities, which colleges consider when making admissions decisions. Then the program enters that information into a complex algorithm to predict the student’s chance of getting into any of the 1,500 colleges currently included.

According to tests conducted at UCLA and NYU, AdmissionSplash founders looked at three sets of students – 88 and 73 from UCLA and 75 from NYU – and found that the app was able to accurately predict admissions decisions for 85, 91 and 97 percent from each group, respectively. AdmissionSplash co-founder Allen Gannett views the application as a more-personalized college guide book, calling it “a really good tool for narrowing down your choices,” but is quick to point out that students should not rely on it as a sole indicator. Gannet believes the app will help students navigate through the stressful application process and hopes to develop a program that will predict admission chances for law, medical, business and grad school applicants.

High school seniors, are you downloading this app to help you with your application process? Let us know what you think.

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DePaul Joins the Test Optional Club

University Says Standardized Testing is Out, Essays are In

February 18, 2011

DePaul Joins the Test Optional Club

by Alexis Mattera

Standardized testing is as much – if not more – a part of the college process as dancing when the fat envelope arrives, Facebooking your new roommate and shopping for extra-long twin sheets. That will no longer be the case for DePaul University applicants for the freshman class entering in 2012 because the Chicago school has announced its plans to make the reporting SAT and ACT scores optional.

But don’t start shredding your test prep materials into confetti just yet: Students choosing not to submit ACT or SAT scores will be required to write short responses to essay questions designed to measure "noncognitive" traits, such as leadership, commitment to service, and ability to meet long-term goals. These essays were introduced a few years ago and subsequent research convinced the admissions committee that the nontraditional measures did more than the ACT or SAT to predict the success of low-income and minority students at the university. Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management, said he wants to encourage applicants with high grade-point averages but relatively low standardized test scores to apply and believes the new method will allow his colleagues to better select applicants who are most likely to succeed and graduate.

DePaul is now the largest private university to join the FairTest list, joining Wake Forest as one of the most selective institutions to adopt test-optional policies. Do you think giving students the choice to report their scores will produce the results DePaul expects? What do you think is a better barometer of qualified applicants: test scores or essays?

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The NYU Global Network Gains a New Member

NYU Shanghai to Begin Enrollment in Fall 2013

March 28, 2011

The NYU Global Network Gains a New Member

by Alexis Mattera

There’s some big news coming out of Greenwich Village that will have an impact on students nearly 4,000 miles away. It’s NYU Shanghai and no, it doesn’t involve James Franco.

Late Sunday, the school announced plans to launch "a comprehensive research university with a liberal arts and science college" in Shanghai. This is a big deal for New York University, as the campus will be the first American university with full, independent authority in China and another step toward creating NYU's goal of a "global network university." (The school has a similar facility in Abu Dhabi.)

Application materials aren’t available just yet – the first students aren’t expected to be enrolled until the fall of 2013 (half from China and the other half from the rest of the world) and will be admitted based on factors beyond China’s national college admissions test – but nearly 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students could eventually call NYU Shanghai home. Like at its home campus, students will have access to a comprehensive liberal arts education, dormitories, athletic programs, student clubs and career counseling and but unique to the NYU global network university model, students can spend as many as three semesters studying in New York, in Abu Dhabi, or in one of the other NYU global sites that form what NYU calls its "circulatory system."

Will you be adding NYU Shanghai to your college search?

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The Learning Curve: Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes

May 31, 2011

The Learning Curve: Online Classes vs. Traditional Classes

by Jessica Seals

College classes, whether taken online or in person, may all seem to be the same. Both types require you to read, write papers, take tests and participate in some way but there is a big difference in the lifestyle that you can lead when you take online classes instead of taking traditional classes on campus.

I have personally taken both online and traditional classes, experienced the differences between the two and quickly learned that my learning style needed to be adjusted on a class-by-class basis. With traditional classes, you have a set time to go to class, turn in work and take tests. Your other daily activities have to be planned around your class schedule. Online classes allow you to be more flexible with your time – the ones I’ve taken allowed me to base my school activities on my daily schedule and do the work when it was convenient for me – while still studying and adhering to deadlines set by the instructor. But with this increased flexibility comes more responsibility, as you have to learn how to make a schedule you can stick to. This schedule should list all of your assignments along with their due dates so that you don’t miss turning anything in. (When I first started taking online classes, I missed two assignments because I hadn’t adjusted to this new type of learning. Ouch!)

Online classes are very convenient for those who have busy schedules that don’t allow them to sit in traditional classes. Taking classes online makes it easier to push your work to the side until the last minute, so be prepared to manage your time more closely if you want to stay on track.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Orientation: The Survival Guide

June 3, 2011

Orientation: The Survival Guide

by Anna Meskishvili

For the short time you’ll be at orientation, you’ll come away with one million impressions. Here are some things I wish I knew before my orientation:

  • Don’t over pack. Most orientations are only a few days so there is no need to bring anything more than a backpack with shorts and a few t-shirts. You’ll probably be snagging some school attire, too, so save room!
  • Don’t expect to meet your best friend, roommate or significant other. You’ll likely only meet 10 percent of your class during orientation, which is only 25 percent of your school’s population. I met some awesome people during my BU orientation – I still meet up with a few for lunch! Try to make the most of everyone you meet...and don’t leave orientation engaged.
  • Come with questions. Most schools do their freshman class registration during orientation so have a rough idea about which gen eds and electives you would be interested in. For example, if a science is required, you can either take a challenging biology course or a fun, easy geology course for non-majors. (We call it “Rocks for Jocks.”)
  • Sleep when you can. I don’t remember one minute of my orientation weekend where I was not scheduled to be somewhere but do yourself the favor and sleep when you can. Although it’s fun to stay up all night gossiping, keep in mind you have four more years of this! Orientation is exhausting, overwhelming and awesome...make sure you have enough energy to take it all in, unlike my friend who stayed up all night and ended up missing registration and ID pictures.

All schools take great pride in their orientation programs so be ready to be entertained. As long as you take it all in stride, make the best of it and come prepared, you’ll leave orientation counting down the minutes until move-in day!

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.

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Prepping for a Summer Abroad: Logistics Edition

June 6, 2011

Prepping for a Summer Abroad: Logistics Edition

by Mariah Proctor

Experience has taught me things that the people whose excitement I share as our departure date rapidly approaches have yet to learn. Luckily, I can split my study abroad knowledge into three categories of preparation: what you’ve got ahead, what you’re leaving behind and what to bring along.

What you’ve got ahead: Being overwhelmed by the stuff you have to do before you leave can block your ability to be excited and grateful for the coming opportunity. Prevent this by finding out everything you can about your destination. Research the city where you’ll be staying and look up all the oddball entertainment in whatever genre entices you to get a real picture of what’s in store for you. If there’s a prep course, don’t miss a single moment of it.

What you’re leaving behind: Sit down a make a list of the things you need to do while you’re still weeks out and then carry it with you so you can add items like a new journal or travel-size deodorant as soon as you think of them. Studying abroad (particularly in summer) often means missing family reunions, weddings and road trips; don’t be an absent friend or relative and keep people updated on you so you don’t just fall off the map. You will get homesick – be prepared for it.

What to bring along: Give the clothes you’re bringing a trial run at home to be sure you really enjoy wearing them. Whatever you bring will be worn a lot; don’t let eight outfits become three because they’re not fun or functional to wear. Bring entertainment with you (books, movies etc.); you’d think that three months abroad would be constant exotic experience, but there will be downtime and you will want to unwind in a way that’s familiar.

Remember that no matter how well you prepare, there will be surprises. Just find joy in that journey and you will have a brilliant experience.

Mariah Proctor is a senior at Brigham Young University studying theatre arts and German studies. She is a habitual globe-trotter and enjoys acoustic guitar, sunshine and elephant whispering. Once the undergraduate era of her life comes to an end, she plans to perhaps seek a graduate degree in film and television production or go straight to pounding the pavement as an actor and getting used to the sound of slammed doors. Writing has and always will be the constant in her whirlwind life story.

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First Contact of the Roommate Kind

June 7, 2011

First Contact of the Roommate Kind

by Jacquelene Bennett

Starting college can be exciting and intimidating all at the same time for myriad reasons but one thing that doesn’t have to be stressful is getting to know your future roommate. Schools generally reveal room assignments a couple of weeks before the start of the term, giving you plenty of time to get acquainted and prevent any possible problems.

As a freshman, I lived in a room with three other girls. Yes, you read that right: There were four of us in one room. Luckily, we all got along really well and respected each other’s lifestyles and schedules but there was still an adjustment period – this will always happen when living with someone new.

One way to help ease the shock is to make contact before school starts. My roommates and I called each before freshman orientation and though it was a bit awkward, talking to a stranger it was helpful. We discussed each other’s cleaning habits, sleep schedules, class schedules and music preferences so when we finally moved in, we already knew what to expect.

Not only does calling, emailing or Facebooking your new roommate ease the awkwardness of living with an unfamiliar person and setting standards for your room but it gives you a chance to cut costs as well. You can plan ahead of time which person is going to bring the mini-fridge and who is going to bring the television so you don’t need to buy both. The same should go for all shared items: My freshman roommates and I would take turns buying water bottles for everyone.

Living with someone you never met before is going to be awkward and uncomfortable in the beginning but you can help the situation by simply picking up the phone and calling them. Who knows, they could end up being your best friend!

Jacquelene Bennett is a rising senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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Challenging Yourself in High School Has Vast Future Rewards

June 8, 2011

Challenging Yourself in High School Has Vast Future Rewards

by Julius Clayborn

I began my high school career at EXCEL-Orr High School but quickly realized the school was not doing enough to prepare me for post-secondary success. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I transferred to Urban Prep Academy and though my collegiate dreams were now within reach, the transition was not easy. I was met with much opposition and had multiple run-ins with many of the students. I was torn: Here I had this great opportunity but these external factors were taking an academic and emotional toll on me. I began to regret transferring and eventually regret school altogether.

Luckily, I found solace in my extracurricular activities such as debate and youth activism club. These things helped me realize my full potential and made me believe that there was something greater in store for me. Transferring quickly went from the worst decision I had ever made to the best, especially when it came time to start applying to colleges. Initially, I saw more challenges – Will I get in? Can I afford tuition? – but my worries were put to rest just as fast: We had an entire class period dedicated to college preparation and the application process, which is where I found out about the site you’re reading right now. Not only did I get accepted to a fantastic school, I also received enough scholarships and grants to pay for it.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with your high school’s curriculum, don’t sit idly by: Challenge yourself by taking harder courses or transfer, like I did. It may be difficult at first but any struggle will be well worth it in the future.

Julius Claybron was born on Chicago’s South Side in the Harold Ickes public housing projects. At the age of five, he lost his father to diabetes and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who helped him to enroll in Urban Prep Academy, a public all-male college-preparatory high school, during his sophomore year. Julius started to read at the age of two and still enjoys escaping in books during his spare time. He will begin his freshman year at Cornell University this fall, where he plans to double major in psychology and English literature.

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Keeping in Touch with Friends from High School

June 9, 2011

Keeping in Touch with Friends from High School

by Jessica Seals

The day before I started my freshman year of college, the thought of having to start over and meet new people from all over the country left me feeling very overwhelmed and anxious but I quickly realized that this was actually one of the main perks of attending college! While I enjoy meeting new people, I have also made it a priority to stay connected with my high school friends.

Since I no longer go to school with my closest friends from high school, I don’t get to see them as often as I did before we started college. To make sure that we all stay connected, we all get together on social media websites like Facebook and send out mass messages before holiday and summer breaks. Each person puts what day and time for a gathering works best for them and we finalize our meeting time before we head home. When we meet up, we discuss how our classes have been going and what new activities or hobbies we’ve picked up. By having these gatherings, we are able to stay in touch even though we are spread out across the country.

Remaining close to high school friends has allowed me to make connections with their friends that have proven to be helpful in my college career and has also made me feel comfortable in having someone to talk to when the stress of college brings me down. I also think that it’s interesting to see how everyone has changed since their high school days and how everyone is getting ready for life after college.

College is an excellent time to meet new people but your old friends helped to make you who you are today. Don’t forget them!

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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