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Presented by North Avenue Education May 1, 2023

College admissions have always been an arcane process. However, both large and small universities have four criteria that are always critically considered: GPA, course rigor, essays and yes, standardized test scores. Before and during the pandemic, many higher education institutions adopted test-optional policies, but the admissions landscape is changing again.

“We know some of the most selective schools, MIT and Georgetown, for example, are requiring SAT or ACT scores again,” said Scott Clyburn, founder and director of North Avenue Education in Portland. “Test scores have remained important for awarding academic scholarships. What we hear from parents is that they want their children to have as many admissions options as possible, which means optimizing those key criteria.”

For institutions retaining test-optional policies, this decision puts more weight on GPA, course rigor and especially application essays, according to Clyburn.

“It’s more important than ever to make that essay stand out and ensure that your student’s uniqueness shines through,” Clyburn said. “Drafting your essay during a high school English class is not going to achieve the same results as working one-to-one with an experienced writing instructor who routinely helps students polish their essays into something remarkable.”

North Avenue Education offers free consultations for families to discover how customized tutoring and coaching can elevate a student academically and personally.

Whether a student needs to make significant score gains on a standardized test, write a glowing essay or work year-round on acing IB or AP courses and maximizing their GPA, North Avenue Education has expert tutoring options without contract commitments. All North Avenue Education tutors are W-2 employees and seasoned educators, Clyburn said. They use a proprietary curriculum for study skills, SAT/ACT prep, and college admissions essays. If they are tutoring for test prep, the tutors must prove their mastery by testing in the 98th percentile on the test.

Clyburn likened academic tutoring to hiring a private coach for student athletes. Your student may possess raw talent and do well without personalized coaching, but most will not reach their full academic potential without mentoring and accountability.

This is especially true for students with learning differences.

“In education, we know that one size does not fit all,” Clyburn said. “At North Avenue, we are supportive of all learning styles. We are especially experienced at working with youth who need special attention to develop study skills and executive function.”

North Avenue Education’s office is located at 975 SE Sandy Blvd. in Portland. Families can choose from online and in-person tutoring sessions, classes and workshops.

For juniors and seniors, summer is a prime opportunity to prepare for tests and essays without the pressure of regular classes and homework. With more students than ever applying to colleges, a casual or last-minute effort is more likely to have disappointing results. In 2022, many competitive universities reported receiving the largest applicant pools ever, driving historically low admission rates. Yale University, for example, reduced its admission rate to 4.4%. Columbia University’s acceptance rate was 3.9% and UCLA’s was 8.6% in 2022.

Give your student the tools to reach for his or her dream schools and scholarships. Book a free consultation to learn how a personalized tutoring approach can help your child attain their current and future academic goals.

Contact the Client Support team at North Avenue Education at 503-468-6905 or [email protected]. Learn full details about tutoring philosophy and program options at northaveeducation.com.











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