Many of you follow this blog because of the school information we have posted over the years. Posts on how to choose a school, how to know how schools rank, or how to navigate the day-to-day challenges of schools here in Mazatlán have tended to be our most popular.
Our son is a junior this year, and thus he’s thinking about and planning for university. Here in Mexico college planning seems to start a lot later than it does in the USA where we’re originally from. Next year, as a senior, Danny will accompany one of his teachers to five or so universities in Guadalajara. Some friends in his “generation,” as they call it here, have toured a few universities already this year, but that seems pretty rare. Mostly such tours occur senior year (if ever).
Danny may go to university here, or anywhere else on the planet—he’s considering lots of options—and he’s looking at universities in the US as well. Most US-bound foreign and domestic students need to take the SAT, a standardized college entrance exam, as part of the entrance application process. Most of those students based in the USA are also fortunate enough to be able to participate in study sessions to prepare for the test. Here we have a double whammy: Mexican schools of course do not teach for the SAT, and live prep courses are few and far between, especially here on the coast.
We were disappointingly told by several high school directors here in town that Danny would need to travel to Tucson or Phoenix, Guadalajara or Mexico City, to take the SAT. We found this incredibly hard to believe, when there are so many international students here in Mazatlán, as well as so many talented local students with international ambitions.
I am very happy to report that, after much searching and legwork, we found that Instituto Anglo Moderno right here in Mazatlán is a certified SAT testing center! Claudia Ortuso there helped us out. She speaks wonderful English and was very kind. She tells us that normally there are two SAT test dates per year at Anglo: one in the fall and another in the spring (it was today, Saturday May 4th).
Normally they also hold a prep course in the spring, though this year they did not. I suppose that is because no Anglo students were taking the test. They were four exam takers today: two from ICO, one who came from Los Mochis, and a fourth who flew with her mother from Los Cabos. There is most obviously a demand for testing sites here in Northwestern Mexico!
So, how to register, if you have a child who wants to keep his or her options open for university in the USA? First, go to the College Board site. There you can check test sites and schedules, and register for tests. Instituto Anglo Moderno is test center #69213. While on the College Board site, you can also create an account and set up an Organizer that your student will use to study and practice for the test, sign up for daily emails to help them gain familiarity with test question types, and monthly emails reminding parents how we can best support and guide our kids through college planning. To me it was a godsend, and it was all (minus the test itself) free.
I would highly recommend that your son or daughter spend a few months actively preparing for the SAT. Engaging the online curriculum, and getting a practice SAT booklet from Claudia, will help. Danny also signed up for a few mock tests online via Kaplan. He didn’t pay for any of their courses, but he did find the mock tests with the scoring very helpful to guide his studying. There seem to be loads of online study courses accessible to those of us here.
The other thing I really recommend is getting a couple of good college prep books while you are in a major city with English language bookstores; Kindle versions just don’t work like dog-earring pages of a paper book. Danny’s currently enjoying one called The Best Colleges by the Princeton Review, and there was another one called the College Board Book of Majors which helped him immensely. The majors and options up north are just so much more extensive than most of the kids here are exposed to.
We aren’t there yet. The college selection and application process is only just beginning for us. We thank Anglo Moderno for helping us with this first hurdle!!!