October 20, 2008

October 20, 2008

Dear LoMA Family,


This Tuesday a college advisor will speak to the Parents Association and then on Thursday and Friday we’ll be giving out the first report cards of the year at Parent Teacher Conferences. These two events are closely connected because, as our seniors are finding out, the first thing college admissions officers look at when determining who they admit to college is a student’s grade point average or GPA. Most commonly, they want to see an 83. The good news, for some of students, is that colleges see transcripts, not report cards. Some students still seem confused about the difference between the two. The transcript records term (also known as semester) grades. Term grades are the average of three marking period grades from either the fall term or the spring term. In other words, if you received a 75 in a math for the first marking period and 85 in the second and third marking periods, your term grade for math will be 80 - an average of the three (below 90 grades are always rounded to the nearest five). This 80 would be unfortunate, because it is just short of the 83. Therefore, if a student gets 75 in the first marking period, he’d need an 85 and 90 to sufficiently raise his average. In other words, every marking period counts and one’s ninth grade average is just as important as one’s eleventh grade aveerage.


If you do have that 80 average there are things that you can do to beef up your college application. The second thing that most colleges look at is your SAT scores. Last Wednesday our sophomores and juniors took the PSAT or preliminary SAT. As a rule of thumb, they will need scores in the 45th percentile to get into a decent college. While we will be offering SAT classes through Oppenheimer, Edgies and the Door, these classes cannot make up for low literacy and math skills. Ultimately, the SAT measures how much math a student knows and how much he or she has read. About half of the test is vocabulary, and the most effective way at improving vocabulary is reading challenging material. That is why we build a reading program into every school day and make the NY Times available for free outside or room 332. The NY Times is where the College Board, who administer the SAT,  get the vocabulary words for the SAT. The more you read it the higher your SAT score will be.


Another way to boost your college application is to enrich your resume with extracurricular activities. Colleges want students who do things with their lives and participate in their communities. That is why they give preference to students who take part in the arts, sports, leadership and service organizations, and it is one of the reasons we require sixteen credits worth of participation here at LoMA.


From what I’ve seen of the report cards so far, many of our students are doing well, and more kids are earning their 83s every year. This week LoMA’s students will be getting their first measure of their progress. If your grades don’t meet your expectations, then you need to talk to your teachers, and make a plan to raise your average.


You can do it,



John Wenk