Thursday, December 24, 2020

How to Get Financial Aid for Test Prep

Critics of the use of standardized testing in college admissions point to the disparity between students with resources to prepare for the test and those without. Generally speaking, students in higher income brackets perform better on standardized tests than those in lower income brackets. It is a salient argument against the SAT and ACT that is supported by data. And it is a major reason why so many schools have gone "test optional," even prior to the COVID pandemic. 

Yet, even if schools are "test optional," some studies suggest that submitting a good test score can increase your admission chances. 

So what if you don't have the resources to pay for test prep? Is there Financial Aid for test prep? 

Yes, indeed there is. Truth is, most test prep companies understand the aforementioned disparity and want to do their part to help those who might not normally afford an expensive test prep program. 

Consider these five ways you can seek Financial Aid in order to make test prep more affordable and increase your admission chances: 

1) Ask: Simply put, ask for it. Call up a test prep company and ask, "Do you provide Financial Aid?" There may be some information on their website about aid but it is usually best to talk to a person so you can understand. Some times, test prep companies will have a formal process to apply for aid. Other times, just by asking, you can access discounts or coupons not necessarily advertised. 

2) Bring a Friend: While not officially "financial aid," many test prep companies can give you a deal if you can also get a friend to sign up for a program. Think of its as a win-win: the company gets a new client and you could get a discount. And even some innovative test prep companies might work out a special deal if you help fill a class with your or your parent's personal marketing efforts. 

3) Check in with your Counselor: Many times, test prep companies market directly to schools. As such, your school counselor may be aware of what programs are available in your area. Reach out to your counselor to see if s/he knows about upcoming programs, special deals or other ways to access resources. 

4) Check in with Community Organizations: Some test prep companies connect directly with community organizations, like a Boys and Girls Club, to provide test prep access to all. Reach out to youth-oriented organizations in your local area to see what they might know. 

5) Do It Yourself for FREE: When all else fails, realize that there are many free resources that are accessible to just about anyone. 

Truth be told, affordable test prep or access to financial aid for test prep is a phone call, email or click away. Take the time to reach out and see what is available for you. 

CROSSWALK is more than willing to help. We offer financial aid for our upcoming Winter Test Prep Series as well as special deals for all programs for those families in need. We also work with local organizations in and around the Monterey Peninsula to make test prep affordable for all. Contact us here to learn more. 

CROSSWALK Test Prep & Tutoring is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring and test prep. 

Monday, December 7, 2020

"Who Gets In and Why" -- Book Review

Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo is branded as a "revealing look from inside the admissions office" and indeed it is. One of the New York Times Notable Books of 2020, this book follows the college admissions journey of a small group of students and the admissions decision process for a handful of universities. 

While Selingo's perspective is limited to select students and universities, his messages are highly useful for anyone embarking on a college admissions journey. He presents some historical context on how universities arrived at the current admissions landscape and he shows how many families are misinformed and unprepared to navigate the process. 

Selingo is quick to point out that college admissions is not a "mythical quest" full of "smoke and mirrors." He argues that there are many top-notch schools with high acceptance rates that offer amazing experiences for many students. 

By dividing all colleges into sellers (the most selective schools who have high brand name recognition and rarely discount tuition for top students) and the buyers (less selective schools without major brand recognition who use tuition discounts to entice top students), Selingo reveals that the $10B spent by colleges on recruiting students is a numbers-driven and strategically-planned operation. 

Perhaps the most illuminating elements of this book are the multitude of inequities and paradoxes inherent in college admissions. For example, Selingo shows how high-income families with highly-educated parents, know how to play the game to find the right "fit" for a college while lower-income families with less-educated parents lack the support and information to explore a variety options. Similarly, Selingo argues that processes like Early Decision and Early Action seemingly favor the student but, in the end, really only benefit the colleges. 

As a test prep tutor, I personally found few surprises in Selingo's book. Nevertheless, for someone not as familiar with the college admissions process, there is great information and anecdotes to help families learn the ins and outs of admissions, financial aid and the college search process. 

What may be missing from this book is a call to action to upend the admissions process. Selingo deftly identifies the hypocrisy of college admission where the rich get richer (both schools and families) but he falls short of providing a path to a more equitable process for everyone. In Selingo's defense, his objective is not to change the world of admissions but to take a look under the hood to see how it works. 

In sum, this is a book worth reading especially if you are preparing to embark on the college admission journey. If anything, Selingo's main point that there are hundreds of great options for all students is a refreshing, practical and useful message for all. What's more, Selingo offers useful approaches and tools to guide and help all families in the process of college admission.

So if you are shopping for a high school student or a parent of a high school student this holiday season, this book would be a practical and meaningful gift. And if you read it and want to share your perspective on this book or your college journey, let me know with a comment below or contact me here

CROSSWALK Test Prep & Tutoring is dedicated to helping students improve GPAs, boost test scores and find greater success in learning. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and online