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Coffee, Tea or SAT?

With the start of a new year, our attention is often directed toward steps to create healthier practices, such as what to consume or not to consume, which in turn reminded me of the articles and the bounty of conflicting studies on the positive or negative effects of coffee. You may have read some of these "best practices" articles as well. Did these articles make you or me stop drinking coffee? Did they keep local coffee shops or McSized coffee venues from popping up in your neighborhood or creating new and improved drinks to (choose all that apply):


a) boost your mood?

b) boost your productivity?

c) reduce your waistline?

d) become one of your seasonal activities?


And just like we’re inundated with flip-flopping opinions on whether to consume our almond milk latte or chai matcha, pausing to determine the pros and cons, what we want, and why can be invaluable.


The recent SAT and standardized testing debate in the media and revised testing policies resurfacing has the same kind of flip-flopping flow of information as the coffee debate, with a whole lot of conflicting information and opinions, including whether the tests (choose all that apply):


a) add value in determining an applicant’s potential success in college;

b) indicate what classes an applicant took or had access to in high school or earlier;

c) reveal how much time and effort an applicant invested in preparing for the test;

d) reveal how many years of testing an applicant was exposed to within their school system;

e) are required for schools you will apply to.


The important aspect of all of this is just how standardized testing impacts you as a student applying to college, and whether a standardized test score is even necessary.


As you sort through the information, the key is developing a test plan that is specific to you.

This will include answering the following questions:


a) test or not test?

b) ACT or SAT?

c) how will you prepare for the test?

d) when to take a test or tests?

e) which colleges want your test scores and which do not?

f) will the test results strengthen your application?

g) Does the time value of all the work that goes into preparing and taking a standardized test make sense compared to the other meaningful ways you can spend your time?


Addressing these factors involves many moving pieces, including your schedule, commitments to school and beyond, aspirations and goals, and strengths and talents, whether academic, creative, athletic, or something unique to you. While it may feel that this is our “seasonal coffee drink” for applying to college, doing your homework on the latest shifts and trends on the benefits of testing is essential consumption.


To help you decide where testing fits for you, take note of the sources that are putting out information:


a) higher-ed enrollment professionals like Jon Boeckenstedt

b) testing companies

d) colleges like MIT, Cal Tech, and the UCs demonstrate the variation in current testing policies. With over 1900 schools offering test-optional policies and certain schools requiring test scores underscores the need to learn the testing policy for schools you are interested in to make an informed decision about your testing plan and path.


Recognizing where information comes from and how it applies is in your best interest. A test score is one data point, yet because standardized testing reflects an industry comprised of multiple levels of companies, human resources, and, most importantly, money, it should not be viewed as a traditional and unalterable “must do" in applying to college. Instead, whether this particular tradition is necessary is no different than whether the fall season just wouldn’t be the fall season without a pumpkin spice latte (forgive me, pumpkin spice, as you are a fav). It may be, but it needs a close assessment before you decide.

Like what you're reading? Field Guide for an Inspired College Journey packed with tips, insights, and resources to help you navigate your college journey is now available to order online and coming soon to your local bookstore.


Have more questions or looking for more support? Email me at 

updated 4.2024

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