Get Rid of Emotional Excuses Around PSAT-ACT-SAT Testing

“My daughter is so overwhelmed.”

“He’s not good in math.”

“She has a lot on her plate.”

Best-selling author Josh Kaufman gave a TEDx talk on how to master just about anything with 20 hours of focused the deliberate practice.  He shared,

The major barrier in learning a new skill or achieving a measure of mastery is not intellectual… It is emotional!

College is going to be both intellectually and emotionally challenging.  If a student can’t handle the stress of preparing for the SAT and ACT, quite honestly, you might need to rethink what you are going to do for college.

In high school, mommy and daddy might have some leverage to make excuses for the student.  However, that is not going to happen in college.  I was a college professor for 16 years.  When I incurred what I considered a “high school” excuse, I usually recommend the student realize that college is not high school, those excuses don’t work in college, and the student should consider going back home until they grow up enough to quit making adolescent excuses in an adult world.

“We don’t have time this summer.  We’ll wait until schools starts in the fall.”

I guess having less time to prepare for tests, having fewer testing opportunities, and having to put this on top school, band, football, etc., in the fall has its merits… at least in someone’s eyes.

“This program is not working.”

I get this a lot when a student does nothing and the parent makes the excuse for the student.  This statement is both a lie and a fact.  It is a lie because we don’t know if it works.  The student has done no work and I doubt the program is keeping the student from the work.

It is a fact because the program doesn’t do the work.  The program is a tool to help the student prepare.  Like a lawnmower, if the grass isn’t getting cut, it’s usually not the lawn mower’s fault.  Few lawn mowers are of any use sitting in the garage.  Likewise with preparation programs.  Left unused, they don’t work at all.

The Story of Michael

Michael was a good kid.  Made great grades.  Highly rated athlete. Had a very high ACT score.  Michael had high ambitions.  He was looking at Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Princeton, as well as the other typical “dream” schools.  Except, for Michael, there weren’t dreams.  These became reality because he did not make excuses.

He had one last shot before the deadline to raise his ACT score to a 36 if he wanted to have a chance to be competitive for admissions to these colleges.  He lived in the Dallas area and spent several weekends at competitions.  Unfortunately, the Saturday of the ACT there was the national competition in Chattanooga, TN.

Now, most people would accept the fact that because the competition was in Chattanooga and that the competition ran during the test time, there was no way to take the ACT.  It would be an easy and acceptable excuse.

For Michael, it wasn’t.  He knew he had to take the test to be competitive for those colleges and he also knew he needed to compete in the event.  Instead of making excuses, he solved his dilemma.

He made arrangements to take the ACT at a high school in Chattanooga.  Next, he made arrangements with the judges to do his preliminaries to qualify for the finals before the test.

So, he did his preliminaries at 5:30 am, qualified for the finals, took an Uber to the test site, took the ACT, scored a perfect 36, took an Uber back to the competition, and placed 2nd.  He probably could have placed 1st had he not had to get up at 5:30 am and not taken the ACT.

Michael received admissions and full scholarships from both Harvard and Princeton, along with several other scholarship offers totaling over $1 million.  He ultimately chose Princeton.

No excuses; just execution… and rewards of his own work.

“If you can keep up, you can’t catch up.”

Opportunities do not increase when you wait, waste time, and make excuses.  Some people believe they can pull off some last minute miracle their senior year.  In some 30 years in this business, I’m still waiting to see that miracle.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

– Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

College is difficult.  Properly preparing for college is a challenge.  It IS hard and… not everyone can do it.  Freshman dropout rates are 30-35% and 60% of college students don’t finish in 6 years.

Excuses don’t make it any easier.  Indeed, if you are prone to excuses, it will be more difficult, and you will need to create a new list of excuses to deal with the greater difficulty.

In all my years helping students gain admissions and scholarships, I have NEVER had a student failure.  I have had thousands of parent failures because they made excuses for the student.

Once a parent makes an excuse for the student, I know I have lost the student.  At that point, I can no longer help the student because the student doesn’t want to do the work and the parent is covering for them.  Then if they go to college, they have to take out loans, mortgaging the student’s future, and often dropping out.

When you quit looking for ways to fail, you have no choice but to succeed.

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