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PrepMatters’s Ned Johnson on College Prep in Today’s Uncertainty

Ned Johnson is the president and founder of PrepMatters, which provides tutoring, test prep, and educational planning.

The pandemic has shifted the work Johnson does with students and his staff. But he has been able to continue his sessions and his staff meetings with Zoom. Yet he recognizes that the work is harder. “I think after this is all done, we’re going to appreciate face-to-face interactions and hugs and crowded restaurants more than we ever have. We’ll never complain about those things again.”


Johnson also realizes that in terms of college preparation and planning, we are in “uncharted waters.” So many students and parents already feel such a loss of control regarding the college admissions process, and the global health concerns only magnify the uncertainty.

Johnson emphasizes, “The reality is that everyone who’s involved in the college admissions process, from parents to teens to college admissions people want kids to go to college. And that’s still going to happen. It’s just going to be a little topsy turvy compared to what was done in years past.”

Of course, there will also be changes in the process.

Johnson expects that deadlines will be extended and that even more colleges will be test optional. (There are over 1000 colleges that were test optional prior to the pandemic.)

Regardless of these changes, Johnson is still advising students to be prepared. “The more options people have, the better. The majority of schools that are test optional will still accept and even want scores.”

He continues, “I think it’s a big mistake for people to just forget standardized tests, because I don’t think the colleges will. I think they’re going to bend to be more flexible for all the reasons that are appropriate. But if kids know that they can do all these tests, they should keep doing all the practice they’re doing and take the tests when they have the opportunity to do that.”

Another advantage to continuing to prepare for these tests is that it gives teenagers something to do. “We’re sitting around doing nothing. People are going to get to the end of the Netflix. Do they feel like binge watching and feeling like their lives are just on hold? Treading water is tough. I think people like when they’re doing something to advance their goals.”

Whether or not students take the tests, there is one thing that Johnson feels certain about. “Colleges want kids to come and parents want kids to go to college. If being locked up with their folks for the next six weeks or six months doesn’t launch people out of the basement and off to college, I don’t know what will.”

To learn more great tips on dealing with testing anxiety and helping kids become self-motivated from Ned Johnson, watch the full interview.

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.

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