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SAT Scores and Teens

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen, Teen Education

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The weight of a high SAT score might seem insignificant if pricey tuition isn’t a problem and your student can boast a transcript filled with As, a resume filled with part-time jobs, an active social life and a leadership position in high school. But SAT scores do more than award your teen with scholarship money and ensure he or she will get into a local university. According to a recent Forbes.com article, a higher SAT score can mean a higher salary in the future.

How Important Is Your SAT Score?

Though admissions offices are generally tight lipped about exactly how much SAT scores matter, we know high school grades and participation, ethnicity and family educational history play a large part in determining college admittance, along with standardized test scores and personal application essays.

But what if your student is like the younger-version of Bob Parsons? For those who are unaware, Parsons is the founder of the Internet hosting site GoDaddy.com. What if your student is focused, driven and gets decent grades, but doesn’t stand out on paper?

If your student fits into the all-American average student with a respectable GPA, reasonable amount of club activity and successful parents who attended college themselves, he or she is likely to be accepted to several universities of his or her choice. In this case, it isn’t first-generation education pursuits or family background that will set your child apart. Admittance is inevitable, but to which university is questionable; here lies the value of good SAT prep.

The Stats

Found on PayScale.com is median starting salary data and median mid-career salary data for bachelors degree graduates of most U.S. colleges and universities. Paired with the Chronicle of Higher Education, which has a searchable tuition database, and schools that provide the 25th and 75th percentiles (usually called the “middle 50 percent”) of their admitted students’ SAT scores, college hopefuls can easily narrow their university choices based on SAT scores, tuition price and future salary expectations.

Take for example the scenario in the Forbes’ article: a student’s SAT scores are 1700, which puts her in a good position for admission to Adelphi University where the middle percent SAT scores fall between 1480-1780. According to PayScale.com, the median salary for graduates right out of college is $46,000 and grows to $83,500 mid career.

But, with that SAT score, she might not make it into her preferred school, Stony Brook University, which has a middle percent of 1660-1970. PayScale lists Stony Brook graduates’ median pay to be $45,800 out of college and $91,000 mid career.

SAT Prep

In this situation, how much would it be worth to pay for SAT prep classes and what might be the value of a score increase? According to Forbes, more than $100,000 in future earnings.

With that data in hand, selecting a university to attend becomes much easier and SAT preparation has more purpose. This information can help students and families decide which is more suitable for them: a university that admits applicants with lower SAT scores but averages less pay for its graduates or a university that requires higher test scores but averages more pay. The two don’t always go hand in hand, but often the higher the SAT score the higher the chance of getting into a university that produces graduates earning higher median salaries.

“For almost everyone except test prep professionals, actual scores wont be worth a hill of beans once acceptance letters are sent out,” said Mike McClenathan from Forbes. “But where those acceptance letters come from might or might not be worth a great deal.”

Tips and Tools

To help teenagers stay motivated to study, encourage a variety of practice. Besides just taking tests online, students can download SAT practice apps on their mobile devices. Yourteacher.com’s SAT app focuses on math while Superkids.com offers SAT vocabulary flashcards and matching games to help students study and learn more than 1,000 words frequently found on the test. Another popular app that is said to be less fun but more helpful is the Princeton Review’s SAT Score Quest for iPad. Offering abbreviated practice tests for each of the SAT’s subjects math, writing and critical reading the app can help students realize possible areas of weakness. The app also lists the logic behind each correct answer and teaches strategy for answering questions.

1 Comments to “SAT Scores and Teens”


  1. Of great importance is to begin studying months before the SAT and work regularly and consistently. Learning the grammar rules, increasing vocabulary, and enhancing essay skills– each is a time consuming endeavor.
    Also, use a book which includes detailed answer explanations so that the student is able to enhance skills by learning from inevitable mistakes.

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