I am a rising junior in college. The only times my SAT or ACT scores have even crossed my mind in the past two years have been when I am writing these articles.
The only times I remember that the SAT and ACT happened are when I’m doing something related to The Prospect.
Sometimes I forget what I got on either of those tests at all.
To be honest, standardized tests only matter for the absolute short term. The trouble is that for the short time it matters it really does have an impact. It can affect what type of environment you spend four years of your life in, but it is only one of many many factors. I had one conversation with my friends first semester freshman year about what our scores were, and I can say that we all ended up in the same place with extremely similar levels of success with a wide variety of test results.
The things I think about a lot more in relation to my last stretch of high school and the skills I built trying to get into college are more abstract then the numbers that colleges saw under my name trying to predict my competence. First, I think about the books I read. On a near daily basis I wish that I had read more books, and had been more cultured in some of the classics. I thought in high school that I just did not have enough time to read, but now I really don’t have time to read. Even in the summers I am busy with jobs and internships that are still pretty all-consuming. Yet I know that a surprising number of the conversations I have with friends and my participation in discussion-based classes (even in classes unrelated to literature) would be much better if I were more aware of the breadth of literature that I could have explored in high school. So go read. That’s something you can actually low-key brag about and sound like much less of a jerk with than, “Oh yes, well back in high school my ACT was actually — so I only took it twice,” or something like that. Don’t be that guy.
Second, I think about my senior capstone. Without going into to much detail, because that is an anecdote that would come off as unnecessary bragging in the scope of this article, my senior capstone was in a subject that has been sadly lacking in my life ever since. It was also something that I had never done in my life until that point, so overall it was a unique experience. I learned more about myself than the project I was completing, and those are skills that have stuck with me as I enter into leadership roles more and more often as I inch toward adulthood.
On a different note, I also think about my GPA. Not in the way that I’m hooked on it. GPAs are like test scores – there is nothing a high school GPA is good for after high school is done except a little extra fluff on a job application if it suits the resume. But it provides a little perspective, and reminds me not to sweat the small things that don’t always go my way in my current classes. Such thoughts have calmed some major storms in the stresses of my consciousness while writing tough papers or before poorly times quizzes.
When going through college apps scores are important, whether they should be or not. No matter what happens after, the reality is they are significant for getting into college, but that’s not to say they are make it or break it in importance. A four letter score is not going to be the entire definition of your identity to colleges, and you’ll find that once your in college the range of those four letter scores is astounding – yet highly irrelevant. I don’t know any of my friend’s scores, nor do I care. The ones I have heard I rather immediately forgot because they just don’t matter. And that is glorious.