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College Track
Takes More Than
A Good SAT Score

Don't Bank On Just A Good SAT Score
To Get Into College

By Jean Burk Author of
College Prep Genius:
The No Brainer Way to SAT Success

"We're not just looking for smart kids, there are plenty of those around. We're looking for well rounded students,"
the Harvard recruiter replied.

This was the answer given to a parent of an honors student when she wanted to know what SAT score Harvard required. The good test score is just the beginning of this prestigious college's criteria. So what exactly does that mean to those of us who hope our kids will qualify for scholarships to go to a good school—maybe even Harvard?

Many colleges give the big scholarships to the students who will represent their school well while attending college as well as after graduation. Usually, each college department has several big scholarships they like to give to well-deserved students.

Start A Portfolio

How do they select these world changers? They seek students who already have a proven background of abilities and ambitions long before they have ever entered a college classroom. These students started their own portfolio of accomplishments in their early days of high school or before. Being well-rounded encompasses a five-fold program that speaks volumes about the student.

High School G.P.A.

Academics are important to colleges, but they understand there is more to a student. Maintaining a strong high school G.P.A. while being involved in other areas shows potential for college success. The student's SAT score generally solidifies his or her academic achievements. An SAT math and critical reading score of 1200 shows excellent preparation; a score around 1300 shows remarkable preparation; and a score of 1400 and above is evidence of an extraordinary student.

The second part of the portfolio is the student's extracurricular activities. These show the colleges what a student has been involved in along with his or her academics. Participation in sports, music, dance, or a part time job would all be considered extracurricular activities. Students have so many opportunities to get involved and should start as early as possible.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer work is equal to extracurricular activities in importance. This displays how the student is a valuable asset in his or her own community. Some volunteer work ideas are Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, tutoring others, food banks, candy striper, nursing homes, and library help. Look around; there are always openings for volunteers to help out in the community. Start volunteering early in order to log as many hours as possible. To really stand out amid other college candidates, consider starting your own organization — one that fills an important need for others.

Club involvement is another important part of being a well-rounded student. Some club ideas are Drama Club, Boy Scouts, and 4-H, Debate Teams, Student Government, and the YMCA. Also in this fourth part of the five-fold program, it is noteworthy to become leaders in these clubs. Most clubs have offices to be held. This is not only a good experience but also will show evidence of your leadership abilities.

Last of all, you will want to keep a record of all awards you have received. This is the fruit of your labor and it is where you are rewarded openly for all your hard work. To name a few awards, there are sports trophies, Piano Guild, Honor Society Awards, Who's Who Among High School Students, writing contests, art contests, and community service awards.

Every student should start at least in the ninth grade working on this five-fold program. Good records should be kept, pictures taken and letters of recommendation solicited. Get the whole family involved; this can be very challenging as well as life changing. By focusing on the needs of others and the world around them, the student's life can be not only be enriched personally now but also financially later during the college years.

Meet Jean Burk

About Author Jean Burk

Jean Burk is the author of "College Prep Genius: The No Brainer Way to SAT Success." She has written numerous articles about the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT. She has been featured as an SAT expert on Good Day Dallas (Fox 4) and KXAS (NBC 5). She currently travels and speaks about the importance of college preparation, and teaches her "Master the SAT" Prep Class all over Texas.

Both her children received incredible scholarships because of their PSAT and SAT scores. Her teaching DVD will be released in the Spring of 2008, as well as the first edition of the brand new VocabCafé Book Series intended to help teenagers and younger children increase their knowledge of vocabulary words.

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