The Virus Diary: Mom Thoughts PSAT Day

Today, as I understand it (and I very well could be wrong), the majority of my son's classmates will be in school taking the PSAT.  My son is NOT among them. This was a family decision and was influenced by a variety of thoughts and experiences.  Our decision was for us, just as those who are taking this test today made the decision (hopefully) based on what was best for them.

I may be in my 50s but I took the PSAT and SAT when I was in school.  I didn't do well.  Even after I took some sort of (paid) preparation course I only did marginally better.  I hated sitting there taking this test that made no sense to me...comparing words and doing math problems.  (There was no essay portion back then.)  I was not planning on going to a highly competitive school.  Ivy League was never in my plan for my future.  I am relatively intelligent; I am NOT highly intelligent and I am NOT cut out for the intensity of serious academics.  I am not putting myself down; this is just me as I am.  I did relatively well in high school (although I barely passed Algebra II).  If I recall correctly I was in the top 15% of my class.  I went on to college (as was expected at the time) to major in one thing (nursing) and ended up majoring in another (communications).  I did okay academically, but was not a shining star.  There were classes, both in high school and college, that had a great impact on me and to this day I hold dear.  There are classes that I took (several required) that were a total waste in my opinion.  I have held down a variety of jobs since then.  I support my family of three and am a productive member of society (or so I think). My life experiences and my actions over the past 50+ years are what define me as a person.

My son did take some sort of precursor to the SAT (maybe it was a pre-PSAT?) last year.  He didn't do that well.  Or so I recall; I really don't remember that much about it and it made no impact on me.  However, this test did reiterate what I already knew; my son is not a great test taker, especially when it comes to standardized tests.  I have known for years (probably since pre-school) that my son was not a great academic.  He is intelligent, but he is not a scholastic achiever.  I have always said, with a sense of pride, that my son is average, at least when it comes to academics.  And while I push him (too much at times) to achieve and do as well as he can when it comes to school, he is NOT going to be in the top 15% of his class.  He's going to be somewhere in the middle; maybe a little above and maybe a little below.  (Not unlike what his PARCC [remember those?] results told me.)

So what is the point of the PSAT/SAT?  My results all those years ago did not reflect how I was going to do in college or show what I really knew and did not know.  The same can be said for my son.  While I admit I'm biased; he's a great person.  (Well most of the time; he is a teenager after all.)  I am confident that he will do well in the world.  I'm pretty sure that he's not going to be rock star in the field of mathematics or engineering.  He's a good artist, but I doubt as if he's going to be having his work auctioned off at Christies.  He may go to college or he may not.  This is NOT shocking and it IS a change of thinking for me and for all of us.  I'm not sure that college is the right thing for him.  I'm okay with my son not going to college.  And that's a BIG CHANGE in my way of thinking from just a few years ago.

If he does go to college, I know that he will do fine.  Just like he always has.  That's not to say that there won't be bumps in the road.  There will be.  That is just life. 

He will find his way and (continue to) be a productive person in our society. I hope that he will have a good (whatever that might be) and happy life.

None of this depends on SATS.  None of this depends on where he goes to college (if he goes to college).  It does for some, but not so much for my average ordinary son.

Now, will be take the SAT at some point?  Despite the fact that "as of March 20, 2020, no American colleges or universities require all high school applicants to submit SAT Subject Test scores" (taken from he probably will.  His score will not be one that will wow any university.  (And I say this even if we do opt to spend the bucks to take a "preparedness course."  Insert sigh and eye roll here.)

Will he go to college?  Probably?  Maybe right out of high school or maybe not.  Who knows?  If we have learned ANYTHING over this past year, it is that what we once had to have, we really don't.  What is "essential" might not be.  What we consider important, might not be at all and that the little things are not really that little.  Understanding and learning that might just be more important than any test we could ever take.


  1. My daughter was not ready for college when she graduated high school and I was upset. I had to accept her decision not to attend. Instead she went to cosmetology school and started a career as a hair stylist. While a stylist she participated in a program called "One night to shine." One Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older. After that night she realized that she wanted to work with special needs children. She got a job as an aid at Spectrum 360 and loved the work. She then realized that to continue with the work she needed to go to college. She started taking classes at night and she realized that she wanted to be an occupational therapist. She quit work and started to go to school full time and she recently graduated as an occupational therapy assistant. Today she got her license as a COTA and she is so happy. She is looking for a job and thinking of going for a masters degree in OT. I could never have predicted this. I thought she would be a hair stylist and that was fine with me as she gave me free hair cuts. Children have to find their own way. We can guide them but the choice needs to be theirs.


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