PSAT: The Beginning

Lugubrious, Nefarious, Eviscerate. What do these words have in common?  You say nothing? Wrong.  They are all words to be studied for the infamous SAT’s my son will take in March.  The dreaded PSAT’s,  for anyone who doesn’t have a Middle School or High School student, are over. There is “before”  in the college process and then, there is” after”. This goes on for a very, very  long time.

At the moment, my son completed his PSAT’s taken with more than a little arrogance and plenty of time. “It was way easy” he proclaimed. Not so much when he got back his test scores (which I thought were pretty good). My approved quote to any mother that might ask how he did was “he was disappointed he didn’t do better.”  We now talk in code.

The kids can or cannot talk about their scores, this is individual. It may be alright with SOME friends but definitely not with others. Why, who or when is completely unknown. This is for KIDS ONLY.  If  I casually ask how a particular friend had done, I am met with an annoying glare, translated to “why on earth do you want to know and no way am I telling you.”

I’m not sure if it’s the age (okay, it is DEFINITELY the age) but communication, affection, closeness and manners all decline; this is from my own experience and those of my mom friends too.  We KNOW you have to separate, we KNOW you are going to college in a little under 2 years but really, there is nothing to prove to us. Ah, I see, kids are really doing it for themselves. We know it’s a process called individuation, but they don’t and that’s why they act up, guard their territory, communicate less, condescend more and basically act as if they have already packed up and left home. The only unknown is where their dorm room is, does it have a stereo system and which college they will be attending.  Other than that, they are pretty much done.

Except for the fact that the process is just beginning. After the PSAT you need to study for the SAT; many children (children?) go to tutoring. It’s just not that simple as that. There is SAT tutoring in large groups, SAT tutoring in small groups, and SAT private tutoring. For those who knew nothing about it and waited too long with their oldest child, (like us) there is also SAT tutoring on-line and no, silly, it is NOT free. Nothing is. You even have to pay for  the test….every single time you take it!!!   And, truth be known, students take it several times to see if they can better their score.  At some point, the parent or the child will just have to stop.

The next paragraph is pure conjecture on my part and in no particular order but from what I have been told, the tests just multiply after this. There’s the ACT (instead of or with the SAT) there a re subject tests (no clue how many) then there is the “Common Essay” that you use as your general essay submitted to a multitude of colleges. In addition, there’s the separate college essay that’s geared to a particular school, and they all want them. There’s the interview, the alumni interview, the visit- the- college- and- show- them -how- interested- you- are -interview and several others.  It’s not easy for the kids and it’s definitely not easy for the parents or for that matter, the younger siblings.

You CANNOT book a vacation or make any plans from halfway through Junior year to halfway (minimum) through your Senior year. You will be visiting schools with your parents, visiting schools with your friends, wanting to go to visit schools and of course not wanting to go at all and wish the decision could be made without you.

So far, we are at the very beginning of the process. My son puts his hands over his ears and screams Nah Nah Nah at the very thought of going on a college tour. Some of his friends have been on tours already, some already know which college they want to go to, if they get in. Then, of course, there’s early admission where you sign your life away and many other admissions after that, delayed, delighted and dismayed.

Hang in there with us. We’ll take you with us on every step of the prep. Enjoy your early High School years, they really are a lot of fun. But, think to yourself, as soon as second semester sophomore year approaches, it only goes downhill from there. They up the work load, pile on the homework, test your skills, dedication and ethics just to get ready to start the process from the very beginning, the PSAT.