Category: College Bound

AP and IB Exam Update

College Board has announced that AP exams will be taken online in May. Material covered will be reduced to reflect what most students will have covered by mid-March. Each 45 minute exam will be offered on 2 dates. Specifics should be available in early April.

Free review material can be found at https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates?utm_source=Applerouth&utm_campaign=3b7149ea3c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_23_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_41a7cbffe6-3b7149ea3c-108463421#free-ap-classes

International Baccalaureate is working on their plan for testing which they expect to have in place by the end of March. You can access information on their website at https://www.ibo.org/news/news-about-the-ib/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/

As information comes available, I’ll send you an update.

Maximize Online Learning

Bring Your A Game to Distance Learning

Keeping focused while taking classes online can be difficult. Bring your study skills, time management and persistence to your new work space as you stay on top of assignments.

Creating a habit is probably most important to succeeding with online courses. When I don’t want to do something I procrastinate. I tell myself that there is plenty of time to complete the task. This is the exact opposite of what is needed with online classes. Make a schedule and stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is when you have a framework for getting started.

If you don’t have lessons from your teachers you can find lesson plans and help at Khan Academy (khanacademy.org). You’ll find math, science and more. Khan even provides lists of books for reading for pleasure or to alert you to iconic works for cultural literacy.

One of my favorite websites is freerice.com. Challenge yourself with this vocabulary quiz were you will have a choice of meanings for the word that pops up. When you score well you are boosted to a new level of difficulty. When you guess incorrectly you remain at that level or drop back. Best of all, every correct response triggers donations of rice to communities that suffer food insecurity.

For college bound students this time without 24/7 scheduling is a blessing in disguise. You have time to deeply research colleges. Many admissions offices are putting the information sessions on line. Most have virtual tours of the campus led by one of the ambassadors who work for the admission office. Reach out to the admissions staff with questions. Join college social media although not much is being posted at the moment.

Khan Academy has SAT prep on their website for students who will be taking a standardized test. Even Freshmen can benefit from exposure to the prep sessions.

Online learning isn’t new to colleges. You will find that brick and mortar institutions make some of their classes online to facilitate getting the courses needed for graduation. Online learning isn’t dumbed down versions of in-person classes and some students find them more difficult. Time management is the key and persistence is right behind. The habits you develop while home from high school can be valuable when you are a college student.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Thomas, Unsplash
Here’s another fun thing to do: go to the database www.citizenscience.gov and look at all the real time science research you can take part in. The image above illustrates one of the astronomy initiatives. You don’t need any special knowledge or training: if you can click of a mouse you’re qualified to take part. I’m curious about the cosmos so I chose to look at astronomy projects but there are hundreds of other fields. You can add tags for keyword search to documents in the Library of Congress. A task on Rosa Parks looks interesting. Other topics include Gardening, Biology, Environmental Science, Social Science,Clean Water Management. Go forth through the internet and explore the universe, or atoms or people!


Update: When you need to add some PE to your class schedule, or you’ve just had enough chair time, there are some places you can find a workout or a class. I’ve done this challenge; I hate squats but this is a fun break from sitting at the computer.

Several places are offering their virtual classes for free: Beach Body Fitness, Les Mills, Edge Fitness, Down Dog downdogapp.com. Enjoy!

College Visits? What To Do Now

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Oh, no!  Colleges are closing! 

Under other circumstances you would be executing planned college visits over the next few weeks and are finding that admissions offices are canceling tours and info sessions as their campus closes down.

There are some things that you can do now to learn about the colleges on your list.

Take a deep look at the college website: It tells the story of the college.  When and why was this institution founded?  What do they value?  Look up your potential major to see what is required to graduate.  Look at the required courses to see how interesting they seem.  Will you be able to take advantage of study abroad and internships?  Check out a few other subjects you might be curious about.

Take a virtual tour of the campus that you find on the college website.  It’s not the same thing as being there but you can see the layout and buildings.  Usually, the tour is led by admissions office ambassadors (tour guides) and is similar to the tour you would take in person.  If you like what you see, ask the admissions office to put you in touch with an ambassador or student similar to you, maybe from your high school or studying your major.

Campus Spotlight, https://www.collegematchpoint.com/college-matchpoint-blog/tag/Campus+Spotlight reviews some school.  Check out niche.com, too

Access campus tours through Campus Reel.    Campusreel.org offers tours of many campuses in 15,000 videos.  The quality varies as does the information.  An annoyance is that you must click the speaker icon at the bottom of each video as it loads so that you can hear the audio.

While campus is closed down, most admissions offices are up and running.  Make a list of questions you can’t find answers for on the website and call your admissions rep.  You will likely be able to have a conversation with him or her.  Not only do you get answers but you are showing interest in that college.  Some schools track Demonstrated Interest for consideration when processing your application.

Connect with college social media.  Instagram, Twitter, YouTube are good access points.  If there is an online campus newspaper you will be able to see a back issue or more; the campus radio station might still be operating.  From either, you can learn what is popular, what students care about.

Even though you can’t meet with anyone or take guided tour, it’s still possible to drive through  or walk around a school that you’d like to know more about.  Take time to visit the area surrounding the campus to find the local Thai restaurant, hair salon, movie theater or Target.  If you move here you’ll spend time eating, shopping and socializing in the neighborhood.

Let me know what you find out! 

How Do Top Students Study?

Question on Quora.com   How do top students study?

Answer by Shafiq, who studied Political Science at Standard University

Habits of Highly Effective Students

The key to becoming an effective student is learning how to study smarter, not harder. This becomes more and more true as you advance in your education.

An hour or two of studying a day is usually sufficient to make it through high school with satisfactory grades, but when college arrives, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your studying in if you don’t know how to study smarter.

While some students are able to breeze through school with minimal effort, this is the exception.  The vast majority of successful students achieve their success by developing and applying effective study habits.

The following are the top 10 study habits employed by highly successful students.

So if you want to become a successful student, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, just work to develop each of the study habits below and you’ll see your grades go up, your knowledge increase, and your ability to learn and assimilate information improve.

  1. Don’t attempt to cram all your studying into one session.

Ever find yourself up late at night expending more energy trying to keep your eyelids open than you are studying? If so, it’s time for a change. Successful students typically space their work out over shorter periods of time and rarely try to cram all of their studying into just one or two sessions. If you want to become a successful student then you need to learn to be consistent in your studies and to have regular, yet shorter, study periods.

  1. Plan when you’re going to study.

Successful students schedule specific times throughout the week when they are going to study — and then they stick with their schedule. Students who study sporadically and whimsically typically do not perform as well as students who have a set study schedule. Even if you’re all caught up with your studies, creating a weekly routine, where you set aside a period of time a few days a week, to review your courses will ensure you develop habits that will enable you to succeed in your education long term.

  1. Study at the same time.

Not only is it important that you plan when you’re going to study, it’s important you create a consistent, daily study routine. When you study at the same time each day and each week, you’re studying will become a regular part of your life. You’ll be mentally and emotionally more prepared for each study session and each study session will become more productive. If you have to change your schedule from time to time due to unexpected events, that’s okay, but get back on your routine as soon as the event has passed.

  1. Each study time should have a specific goal.

Simply studying without direction is not effective. You need to know exactly what you need to accomplish during each study session. Before you start studying, set a study session goal that supports your overall academic goal (i.e. memorize 30 vocabulary words in order to ace the vocabulary section on an upcoming Spanish test.)

  1. Never procrastinate your planned study session.

It’s very easy, and common, to put off your study session because of lack of interest in the subject, because you have other things you need to get done, or just because the assignment is hard. Successful students DO NOT procrastinate studying. If you procrastinate your study session, your studying will become much less effective and you may not get everything accomplished that you need to. Procrastination also leads to rushing, and rushing is the number one cause of errors.

  1. Start with the most difficult subject first.

As your most difficult assignment or subject will require the most effort and mental energy, you should start with it first. Once you’ve completed the most difficult work, it will be much easier to complete the rest of your work. Believe it or not, starting with the most difficult subject will greatly improve the effectiveness of your study sessions, and your academic performance.

  1. Always review your notes before starting an assignment.

Obviously, before you can review your notes you must first have notes to review. Always make sure to take good notes in class. Before you start each study session, and before you start a particular assignment, review your notes thoroughly to make sure you know how to complete the assignment correctly. Reviewing your notes before each study session will help you remember important subject matter learned during the day, and make sure your studying is targeted and effective.

  1. Make sure you’re not distracted while you’re studying.

Everyone gets distracted by something. Maybe it’s the TV. Or maybe it’s your family. Or maybe it’s just too quite. Some people actually study better with a little background noise. When you’re distracted while studying you (1) lose your train of thought and (2) are unable to focus — both of which will lead to very ineffective studying. Before you start studying find a place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. For some people this is a quiet cubical in the recesses of the library. For others is in a common area where there is a little background noise.

  1. Use study groups effectively.

Ever heard the phrase “two heads are better than one?” Well this can be especially true when it comes to studying. Working in groups enables you to (1) get help from others when you’re struggling to understand a concept, (2) complete assignments more quickly, and (3) teach others, whereby helping both the other students and yourself to internalize the subject matter. However, study groups can become very ineffective if they’re not structured and if groups members come unprepared. Effective students use study groups effectively.

  1. Review your notes, schoolwork and other class materials over the weekend.

Successful students review what they’ve learned during the week over the weekend. This way they’re well prepared to continue learning new concepts that build upon previous coursework and knowledge acquired the previous week.

We’re confident that if you’ll develop the habits outlined above that you’ll see a major improvement in your academic success.

Students, if you need help becoming proficient at organizing your assignments and managing your study time, I can help.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

 

What Are Mistakes Students Make In College Interviews

Tom Stagliano
Tom Stagliano, MIT Volunteer, interviewed freshmen for admissions
There are two basic mistakes made by the students:

First, the Student is supposed to schedule the interview. When the student contacts the interviewer, they have to realize that the interviewer is a volunteer with lots of other commitments. The student should know by the start of senior year in high school which colleges she/he will be applying to and which ones require an interview. They should schedule that interview as early as possible. This past Fall, I conducted four interviews and each applicant contacted me on the last day possible (per the college’s web site). Two for Early Action and two for regular admission.

That will be noted in the interview report. If you can’t budget your schedule well when informed of deadlines at least six weeks in advance, then how can you budget an intensive college life?

Second, the applicant should come to the interview with two purposes in mind:
The ability to tell the interviewer what the applicant does other than study and other than academic subjects. That is what the interview is all about. The interviewer does not care about your grades, nor scores, nor how many AP classes you take. The interviewer wants to know what else you do. Fifty percent of the applicants to most top colleges could do the work and graduate in four years. However, the college can only accept one of every seven of that 50%. Where you distinguish yourself is in that interview.

Have questions to ask. The interviewer is there to answer questions about the college. In my case the interview should be conducted before you finish the online application. You may learn something from the interview that will guide you better in filling out the application.

The applicant’s appearance should be neat and appropriate, like for a job interview. However, a tie is not required for the male applicants.

In my case, it is (roughly) a 90 minute two-way discussion, and you should make the time fly through your conversational abilities.

Relax, and enjoy the interview process. The interviewer loves her/his college and loves to interview otherwise they would not being doing the interviews. Take advantage of that.

NOTE: I give “extra brownie points” to an applicant who has done her/his homework and looked up information on me, and works that into the interview. It shows initiative. After all, I was an undergraduate at that college and many of my avocations were cultivated there.

If you contact me I’ll give you my interview prep guide.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

Leaders, Here Is How To Promote From Within

When Jerry was made head of his sales team at a pharmaceutical company, there were groans and comments questioning his promotion.  What Jerry did proved that the head of sales knew a good thing when he saw it.

First, Jerry met with everyone on the team individually to better understand their strengths, preferences, style, unique qualifications and hopes.  A bit of reorganization allowed members to function more freely. Next, Jerry was able to support each of his team as they advanced their qualifications.

Sheila was a wiz a developing new customers from casual contacts.  Her can-do cheeriness brought positive attention to the company.  Jerry began to take her to local events, industry meetings and in-house gatherings where she could be introduced to other department heads.   Not long after, Sheila was promoted to an opening in the public relations department.

Jerry’s  habit of highlighting each individual’s talents and successes, especially in settings where decision makers were present, launched team players toward their own goals.  When a team member was promoted, everyone shared the success.  Jerry offered enlightening stories  that illustrated why the decision to promote was made.  Knowing that the change wasn’t random or based on favoritism helped everyone buy in.

When the culture of a department or a company is based on advocacy of the ambitions and objectives of individuals by the people who wield power, productivity goes up; engagement rises; job satisfaction increases.

Leaders understand that no one wants to be seen as a cog in the wheel that is their job.  Encouraging individual aspirations and making it possible for them to be fulfilled is the distinguishing feature that separates a manager from a leader.

Want to know more about entrepreneurship or career success?  I have resources to share with you! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

 

3 Best Lessons From Saying Yes

The 3 Best Lessons I Learned From Saying “Yes” to Something I Had No Idea How to Do  Muse 8/8/17

Recently I was asked to lead a project that would have a positive impact on not just my team, but on other teams across my company. Because I have a hard time turning things down at work, I accepted the challenge without a second thought.

But there was one catch: I’d never led a project like this before. And frankly, it’d been a long time since I led a group of people toward a shared goal—and the last time I tried, it didn’t go particularly well.

I struggled throughout and as we made our way through the process, I thought I’d made a mistake in accepting the challenge. I kept thinking it would have been better for everyone if I had said, “Maybe next time.”

But then a funny thing happened—the project got done and I became an authority on something I previously knew nothing about. Even though it’s easy to believe you’ll fail when you say yes to doing something new, it’s just as easy to believe in yourself. (OK, almost as easy.)

If you need encouragement in the right direction, here are a few things I learned from taking a leap and saying “yes.”

1. You’ll Find Out That You Were More Qualified Than You Realized

Here’s the thing: Unless your boss is trying to get herself fired, she’s also under a lot of pressure to get things done. She has goals she has to hit and she can’t do it herself. As tempting as it would be to assume that she’s given you this assignment because there’s nobody else to do it, the truth is that your manager wouldn’t have trusted you with it if she didn’t actually think you could get it done.

I know that your impostor syndrome is making you say, “You’re not up for this and you don’t know anything.” But here’s the thing—the only person telling you that you’re unqualified is you. After all, your boss asked you because she thinks the exact opposite. It took me a few days to realize this, but when I did, I knew that the only person who was skeptical of my abilities was me.

2. You’ll Learn That Asking for Help Really Doesn’t Make You Look Dumb

The natural conclusion to taking an assignment you’re unfamiliar with is to keep all your questions to yourself. You want to prove that you can crush it, so you take it upon yourself to find every relevant resource out there that’ll help you become a subject matter expert in no time.

But what I ended up learning is that approach can actually make you look less qualified than simply asking for help.

It’s OK you don’t have all the answers. Your boss probably knows that’s the case. But he also trusts you to figure out the right people you should be leaning on for help. So don’t rely too heavily on your own skills (or Google), especially since you know you’re lacking some of the necessary experience to get this task done—and done well.

3. You’ll Realize It’s OK That the End Result’s Not Perfect

In terms of the project I was leading, I didn’t maintain the process we established at the onset perfectly. At times, I ran around like a madman because I had no idea how to resolve certain issues. And ultimately, while we completed it, there were plenty of things I wished had gone differently.

But the good news for me? Most of my “I wish I’d done this differently” thoughts didn’t matter to the end product. I turned in what was asked, even if it wasn’t exactly what I would’ve liked to submit.

In the likely scenario that your final result isn’t exactly what you hoped it would be, focus more on the lessons you’ve learned throughout the experience. Were there breakdowns in communication that you can resolve for the next time? Were there knowledge gaps that you currently have the answers to for future attempts?

Even if the project wasn’t executed perfectly, you’ll learn plenty of valuable lessons from the experience. In my case, I learned so much about a completely new area of the company’s business that I’ve now become the subject matter expert on it.

Hey, I get it. It’s easy for me to sit behind my computer and tell you to accept more assignments at work, even if your previous experience would suggest that you’ll fall on your face. But I’m a total scaredy cat about new challenges. And not only did the project get done, I learned a few things that will impact the rest of my career. So, if someone like me can survive this harrowing experience, I’m totally confident that you can too.

 

How To Get The Most Affordable College Loans

You’ve read about students who graduate with mountains of debt and struggle to pay off their loans.  Borrowing money may be the only way to pay for some of the cost of higher education but being smart can make the pay back less painful.

According to Nerdwallet, borrowers should choose federal loans first.  Students are eligible because they don’t require the borrower to have previously established credit.  Federally backed loans have income-based repayment plans and for those in public service jobs there may be loan forgiveness.

If the federal loans aren’t enough, go first to the bank or credit union where your family does business for a private loan.  At a local bank, rather than a large national chain, you will be able to sit down with a bank official and discuss your needs where large chains may require you to do your loan shopping by phone.

Before you approach the loan officer, think about some options that may be important to you when its time to payback the loans.  Being able to release a co-signer, usually a parent or grandparent, from the loan upon your graduation is a courtesy to the co-signer and a solid business decision on your part. You may be find private loans with options to begin repaying later, or  the ability to stop paying temporarily if you hit a rough patch.

Forbearance is the term for a temporary halt to loan repayment while interest continues to accrue (adding to the total debt. Typically, forbearance is granted for 3 months at a time for up to a year.  Choose a bank with a clear forbearance policy.

In the matter of interest, a fixed rate is a better choice because you will know what the payments will be for the duration of the loan.  Variable rate loans usually have a low rate at the beginning but the rate is morel likely to go up than to go down before you pay off the loan and can change on a fixed schedule or whenever the prime rate changes.

Compare interest rates.  The lower it is, the less  your total payout will be. Borrowing $10,000 at 6.5% will make the total you repay 13,600.  at 5.5% the total will be $13,000.  Three ways to get the  lowest interest rate are to have excellent credit or have a co-signer with excellent credit; choose the shortest term for the loan you think you will be able to manage; sign up for autopay that deducts the payment automatically from a checking or savings account.

Look for discounts.  One common discount is paying the interest during the term of the loan while you are still in college.  Making interest payments can drop your rate by a while per cent. Sallie Mae offers this discount.

In addition to the interest rate, look at all the fees.  Some banks charge disbursement fees (for writing the check to you), origination fees (for processing the application), various administrative fees.  Any or all of these fees can be added to the loan amount or deducted from the amount of the check they write.   Be certain to compare late payment fees and penalties when you shop for a loan.

Keep in mind that you are likely to borrow a similar amount for each year you attend college.  Your repayment schedule should be comfortable when loans for 4 or more years are being repaid at the same time.

Parents, financial aid letters arrive with an offer of admission but are often written in ways that make comparison difficult.  Lets talk about how colleges put together an aid package and how to compare the difficult to understand aid offers.  610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com

College Rankings: Helpful or Harmful?

Guidance counselors and independent educational consultants agree on many things; one of the strongest points for  high fives is disdain for the published college ranking system used by USNWR to sell magazines.  USNWR has about a dozen criteria; each year they manipulate the importance of the individual criteria so that the Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford change positions.  None of the criteria have anything to do with educational outcomes.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy of The College Solution published a blog post listing 15 things that are wrong with the list.  Here are a few of her assessments.

  1.  One variable is ratings by administrators at the colleges in a given category such as Liberal Arts Colleges.  As O’Shaughnessy points out, the president and provost at  Lafayette probably have no idea of what goes on at  Endicott.
  2. Test scores, GPA, class rank help raise the position in USNWR rankings.  Each of these measures tend to be higher for students with more financial resources for a variety of reasons.  Colleges want to enroll students with higher benchmarks, ie wealthier students, skewing admission decisions.
  3. Related to #2 is the distribution of merit aid over need-based aid.  The former encourages wealthier students to attend and reduces resources for less well-heeled students.  With weatlthier students  showing up, costs can and do go up, disadvantaging everyone.
  4. Colleges now market strategically to encourage students that they don’t expect to admit to submit an application.  The more applicants a college denies, the more selective they appear and the higher the rank.  I know of one instance of a Tier One University admissions office personally inviting a student to apply, interview and then deny in a 2 week period near their application deadline.

Here’s the address of the entire article. http://www.thecollegesolution.com/15-things-to-know-about-u-s-news-college-rankings/

There are over 100 colleges and universities that have similar Tier One academic potential and outcomes to Ivies.  They are scattered around the US  and admit students based on many factors beyond the benchmarks.  Education is earned through hard work and where the education is earned is less important than the effort expended to earn it.  As Frank Bruni titled his book, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.

Lets work together to develop a list of great colleges where you can thrive academically, be comfortable socially and not send your family to the poor house.  610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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College Interview: Why Should We Choose You?

Scott Mattox

I am an ivy league graduate and have been an alumni interviewer for over 15 years. I ask this question, in various forms, to all my applicants. Having heard hundreds of replies to this question let me first address how not to answer the question. All of the following are actual responses I have gotten over the years.

  1. Do not say I am “hard working, conscientious” etc. This is by far the most common answer. Virtually all applicants are academically successful, and this answer will not serve to differentiate you from them.
  2. Do not say you are a “good person” etc. Self analysis of personality traits is always suspect, and in reference to number 1, I would assume all applicants think that they are good people.
  3. Do not say “I will make the University famous and enhance their reputation.” This is actually a fairly common reply. While in some cases this may ultimately prove to be correct, by no means can anyone reliably predict this outcome. Also while some element of self confidence is good, this type of response borders on arrogance.

The ivies, and likely most elite schools want to have a diversified class. This does NOT mean that they want of lot of diversified students, rather they want students that are exceptional in many different areas. For example they would much rather have someone who excels in one area e.g. : number one tennis player in their state, national science fair winner, or nationally renowned violinist, rather than someone who has all A’s, plays on a few varsity teams, and was in the chorus. Also please know that your interviewer has heard hundreds of answers and can recognize “bullshit” even before it has completely left your mouth. Above all be honest!! Choose an area that you are accomplished in and try to show how the Universities resources can help you achieve a particular goal in this field. The following a some examples of the more successful answers I have received: One applicant started his own successful software company in high school, and was familiar with the University’s strengths in this area and gave specific examples of the courses he would take to further his career goals. Another student started a charity to support a particular school in the caribbean. Her interest was in third world economics, and she was able to show how her acceptance would allow her to work with certain professors to make a difference in this world.

In short, you need to find an area in which you excel, and then show how this University has unique resources to help you achieve specific goals related to this area. If you are honest, the interviewer will see how your acceptance will be mutally beneficial.

Students, this is also how you should answer the question “Why do you want to go here?”  Lets talk about how to show your exceptionality in an interview and on your applications.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679