I did not find out about my autism until I attended a four-year college at University of California, Riverside (UCR) when I was unable to finish midterm exam. When I informed my professor, she told me that I should find out if I qualify for extra time. I took her advice and went to the appropriate facility on campus to inquire. After completing the process, I learned I did, in fact, qualify for extra time for my quiz and test taking.
The SAT is a standardized, timed test that is used in the United States for college admissions, which means, I did not get an accommodation when I took it in my junior year of high school in 2003. On the other hand, my academic performance was exemplary to indicate whether I needed it or not. The accommodation given to me to finish my last two years of college made me realize why I ended up struggling when I took the SAT and was, ultimately, declined my college/university of choice solely upon my SAT score – although I had two outstanding recommendation letters to go with my application. After high school, I attended a community college just to keep moving forward to have the same academic performance at the college level as I did at high school, which means I have to argue that the SAT is no barometer for academic performance.
I attended Notre Dame High School, a private, Catholic high school, in Riverside, California by my choice. During my freshman year, I meticulously worked and studied to get a 3.8 GPA for my very first semester in high school. When I finished my last semester, I turned that one B into an A for a perfect 4.0; completing my freshman year with a strong 3.9 GPA, while involved with the Outdoor Club and Theatre Guild.
I sustained a 3.7 GPA average during my sophomore year. To be honest, my sophomore year was the hardest academically on me (and my class). For some reason, we would end up having a test or a quiz in every single class on a Friday that happened more often than we would have liked. At the start of my junior year, my class (I didn’t say anything) calmly revolted and asked that the teachers not do that to us again. I continued to hold my high GPA with that amount on my plate while still participating with the Outdoor Club and Theatre Guild again, along with a minor speaking role of 39 lines that I had to learn with a little more than a month away from performance. In addition, my sophomore year included my first year of Spanish, where I earned an award for the class because I was the teacher’s very first student ever to complete every solitary piece of homework assigned and ended up as the only student in my class with an A in that course.
Thanks to my very strong freshman and sophomore years, I rode my junior and senior years to graduate with a GPA of at least 3.5. My mother tells a story about my chemistry teacher saying, “I would not be surprised if your son memorized the entire periodic table.” I took a summer history course and performed equally well with the top performers of that class. I still kept up in that faster pace, which would repeat itself when I got to Riverside Community College (RCC).
At RCC, I started with a 6-week intercession Public Speaking course, which turned out to be the smartest decision I ever made, as it taught me proper note taking to keep up in college. After getting an A in that course along with getting three As and one B in my first semester, I started out strong in college as I did in high school. I kept taking 6-week intercessions during the winters and summers to stay busy, and consistently earned at least a B in those classes. I made and held the Dean’s list throughout my time at RCC.
After RCC, I was accepted to University of California, Riverside as a math major with the goal to become a math teacher. However, I fell in love with music after taking my very first music course to complete the last of my general education after testing into college level music theory. Plus, the math courses I was taking to begin that curriculum bore me because we started out reviewing what we learned from the last course. After switching majors and starting that quarter catching up in my first music class, I earned at least 3.7 GPA along with being part of three music ensembles: Taiko drumming, concert band, and jazz, which I narrowed down to jazz and orchestra.
When I graduated from UCR with my bachelors degree in music in 2011, I earned the honor of Cum Laude, a GPA of at least 3.5; the same GPA I graduated with when I finished high school.
In my case, the SAT does not give an accurate barometer of academic performance. My academic performance spoke for itself. I completed high school with a GPA of at least 3.5. While I attended Riverside Community College, I averaged the same academic performance as I did at high school. Finally, at University of California, Riverside to earn my degree in music, I graduated with honors – Cum Laude – that reflected the minimum of a 3.5 GPA.
In conclusion, if the SAT had not been a barrier to my college admission, my life would have gone down a different path. I would have attended University of Redlands studying what I would have graduated with seven years later. In other words, there is a three year gap of my life that I am never going to get back. On the other hand, there are lessons to learn from my story. Ultimately, my autism ended up affecting the outcome simply because I did not get an accommodation when I took my SAT. In my opinion, I would argue to get rid of the SAT requirement for college admissions. While it may be an academic performance standard for some, it certainly is not an academic barometer for all. My life would be completely different if the SAT had not affected my life.