R2C Community Story: Mom Says Daughter’s Average SAT Score Wasn’t Measure of Future Success

R2C Community Story: Mom Says Daughter’s Average SAT Score Wasn’t Measure of Future Success

From a member of our Paying for College 101 FB Community comes this heartfelt story about watching your child overcome the odds and achieve success. (Edited for clarity and flow.)

I recently read a few posts about SAT scores and wanted to share my oldest daughter’s experience. 


Becky graduated from a New Jersey public high school in 2013. Her class rank was around 100 out of 450, she took mostly honors classes (though no AP classes), had a GPA of 3.9, and a composite SAT of 1160, which at the time, was considered average. 

Her Goal? 

Attend the University of Massachusetts (UMass) and major in communication disorders. 

Her Reality?

Becky was admitted to UMass, but learned she couldn’t begin until the spring, and would not receive merit aid. After much thought, she opted instead to attend a very small, private, and largely unheard-of school in Massachusetts called Our Lady of Elms College (in Chicopee). They offered her a $17,000 per year scholarship. Her plan was to transfer to UMass the following year. 

Plans Change

Becky started Elms, lived off-campus, and eventually applied as a transfer student to UMass. She got into UMass, but didn’t go. Turns out, she liked being a big fish in a small pond and stayed at Elms. Plus, UMass was way more expensive. As the years went by, she was awarded additional scholarships and grants from Elms. 

Fast forward: My daughter graduated magna cum laude. 

Originally she wanted to attend graduate school for her masters to become a speech pathologist but during her junior year at Elms realized her passion was audiology. 

During this time, her disabled grandmother (my mother-in-law) wasn’t in good health and couldn’t live alone anymore. Our home at the time couldn’t accommodate her (too many stairs).

Gap Year

While my husband and I searched for a new home, we asked Becky if she would take a gap year and live close by in a rental with her grandmother. She did, though it turned out to be two gap years because of the timing of grad school admissions. 

Time Well Spent

During that time she worked full time, helped care for her grandmother, took the GRE’s, and paid down her student loans. 

She also applied to the only school (Montclair State) in New Jersey that has a masters/doctorate audiology program. She was one of 12 students admitted. 

Sadly, in August 2020 Becky’s grandmother passed away. She cherishes the time they had together. 

The point of this story? Becky didn’t get a high SAT score and it ended up having nothing to do with her ability to succeed or find merit aid.

Neither did going to a college no one ever heard of, or taking two gap years after she graduated from college. 


Average Is in the Eye of the Beholder

My daughter has now finished her second year of the doctoral program and is currently working as an audiology intern at St. Peter’s hospital.

We are so proud of her not only for her accomplishments, but the kind person she is. 

So please don’t stress over SAT scores and getting into name-brand colleges. With hard work and encouragement, your student can find success and happiness at whatever school they attend. 






Jeanette Smith

Jeanette Smith is a mom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family.