Category: College Bound

SAT Subject Tests: What You Need To Know

As the clock ticks down to the end of junior  year, students are scheduling and prepping for standardized tests.  Most will choose the SAT or the ACT and take the AP exams for the courses they complete this year.

As of March 2018 only 7 colleges require SAT Subject tests: Cornell (some departments), CalTech, Harvey Mudd, Harvard, MIT, svMcGill (or the ACT), and Webb Institute.

Fourteen more recommend subject tests: Georgetown wants to see 3 tests; the others, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Lafayette, Northwestern, Penn, Princeton, Rice and Yale, University of Delaware (strongly recommend for Honors), University of Georgia suggest 2. “Recommended” should be read as ‘required”

Check with each university for specifics on which ones are preferred.

SAT 2, or subject tests are aligned with the material covered in a high school curriculum.  Unless specified, colleges don’t care which tests are submitted.  Engineering programs are likely to expect to see  either Math 1 or Math 2 and Physics.

The tests offered are Math 1 (SAT math); Math 2 (pre-calc)

Biology with emphasis on Ecology or Molecular Biology; Chemistry and Physics

US or World History

Literature adds poetry and drama to the SAT literature questions

Languages.  Many native speakers take these tests; not being a native speaker doesn’t impact the scores significantly.  Test prep is suggested.

Each test is one hour and a max of 3 may be taken on the same day.  Register for one test to save your seat.  On the day of the exam you can choose which exams to take and in which order.  You may take fewer or more than you registered for.

Subject tests are offered on all test dates except March.  The Language with Listening is ONLY offered in November.  The multiple choice test is as highly valued as the test with  listening.

Scoring     Tests are scaled 200-800 and also by percentile.  Math exams have many testers score 800 so the highest percentile coordinated with the top score is around 80th percentile.  Good news is that you can miss 4-5 questions and still receive your 800; a 750 or better can be reached with 8-9 incorrect answers.

You will find 5 answer choices and there is a quarter point penalty for guessing.

Score Choice     You are permitted to take the same test more than once and can choose which scores to send unless a college requires all scores.

Accommodations that you have for the SAT apply to subject tests as well.

If you want to confer on which tests to take and when to take them, lets talk! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

 

 

 

 

Expert Advice: Tips To Survive College

Perseverance :  Tips to survive college life

By Dr.Michelle   Getting Into the Ivies

 

The Art of Perseverance: Tips to Survive College Life

College life is a huge adjustment for many students. You are away from home (maybe even for the first time) and find that you are responsible for taking care of yourself on your own. For example, handling your laundry, meals, housekeeping, and even waking up on time.

Combine these new responsibilities with studying, writing papers, attending lectures, and social engagements and you may feel a sense of doom before you even get started.

Many students find themselves overwhelmed and struggling until they get the hang of this new life. It is possible to make it through successfully – if you just stick with it. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you survive the college life.

  • Get involved. Make some friends, join some clubs, attend campus events – whatever will get you involved and make you feel like you belong.
  • Stay organized and prioritize. Keep your space tidy. Get a calendar to organize your
  • Studies and your engagements: prioritize these items.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get proper sleep.
  • Create a budget. College-life is a real lesson in money-management. Make a budget and stick to it. Your bank balance and credit score will thank you!
  • Find a study place that works for you. Once you find this place, go there often.
  • Allow some fun time. Do not deny yourself time to unwind. Have fun and lots of it – just at the right time, that’s all.

Remember what you are there for. Your education. Keep this is the forefront of your mind so you don’t find yourself drifting. Go to class, engage with your professors, and be active in the college complete process.

Your future career awaits.

What Makes A Good Professional Reference?

If you aren’t actively job hunting you probably aren’t thinking about your references.  Now is the best time to lay the ground work for excellent recommendations.

Be nice to the people you work with.  Everyone: your team mates, people above you (even if they aren’t in your direct chain of command) and those you manage.  Someone at a company you will approach later may know your colleagues and give them a call for an opinion.What will they say about you?

 

 

Ideally, you want to have your co-workers, and especially those you select as references, say an enthusiastic “YES!!” when asked if given the opportunity they would work with  you again.  Hopefully, the yes will be backed up with lots of anecdotal evidence of your worthiness.

Choose your references for their knowledge of how you could perform in the new role, ie, not your BFF from your last job.

Advise the references that you are interviewing.  When you are ready to be asked for references, let these folks know.  Tell them the name of the company, who will call and a little about the job so that they can frame their comments around your ability to successfully complete the tasks.

The most effective way to get a high recommendation is to be a reference yourself.  When someone you work with leaves the job, contact them and tell them how much you enjoyed working with them, wish them well.  Make it known that you will be happy to act as a reference if needed.  Stay in loose touch with people who can attest to your capabilities.

If you have pursued college applications with me, you will immediately see that this advice is similar to and built on the work we did for your high school teacher recommendations.  References shouldn’t be left to chance, they should be a work in progress.

Did you know that many companies will only verify your dates of employment?  you need to prepare for great references of your choosing.  Lets talk about how to do that. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-2120-6679

Strategies for Scoring 800 on the Math SAT and SAT II

How To Score 800 on the Math SAT: Tips From Students and Tutors

Do extra stuff:

1. Practice concepts which aren’t in the syllabus but are related none the less. Often a math problem can be solved in multiple ways which aren’t covered in the default syllabus.

2. Recheck your answers efficiently.

3. Do as many difficult problems as you can.  Ensure you are clear about the concepts.  Practice, practice, practice solving problems.

4. Take (practice) subject tests and use Tips For SAT Subject Tests.

5.  Take timed practice tests and go over the problems you missed.  Take as many timed practice tests as you can.

6. Master your graphing calculator  Use it to solve equations and test questions in different prep sites or books.

7. Practice answering problems without the graphing calculator as Section 3 disallows the use of a calculator

8. Memorize the reference table so you don’t have to flip back and forth

9. Take practice tests from Princeton Review, Kaplan and Kahn Academy

Need help choosing the Subject tests to take?  Lets look at your curriculum and decide what will serve you best.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

 

Self Reported Academic Records: New and Time Consuming

Some seniors will find that college applications are asking the student to fill in a form with details of all of the courses they have taken and will take over 4 years of high school, including the final grade.  According to one admissions office, this is because while high school transcripts have pretty much the same information the format is different on each one.  Figuring out the location of the material the admission officer is hunting is time consuming. Students are asked to use the form so information is presented in a standardized  manner making comparisons among applications much easier.

Now is the time to take a look at the applications you will be using to see if any prefer SRAR.  Another avenue to get this information is to email your admissions rep at each college and ask about self reporting grades and scores.

If  at least one college uses this form, check online to see if your entire high school transcript is available to you.  Should only the last year’s curriculum and grades appear, contact guidance for an unofficial copy of your entire history.  Perhaps in 8th grade you took Algebra I or a year of foreign language that counts toward fulfilling a foreign language requirement; you may need to access your 8th grade record, too.

Once you have the transcript in front of you, make notes.  Start with 9th grade and write down your courses, final grade and a description of what the course covered.  If your high school has an electronic course book from which you choose your classes, consult this tool to help with course descriptions.  Avoid guessing.

Why should you do this now?  The SRAR is a convenience for the admissions office and a nuisance for students.  Filling out the form is time consuming.  Do it now as the school year winds down and you have fewer pressing assignments so that when you are ready to apply you won’t need to invest a couple of hours tracking down the information.

Be assured that if you are accepted you will be required to submit official test scores and an official transcript from each high school you have attended.

If you’re ready for a consult on your list or to begin writing essays, filling out your apps, lets make an appointment! stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679

Recommendations For Math Curriculum For High School

High Schoolers Should Take 4 Years of Leaner, More Relevant Math, Teachers’ Group Says

By Stephen Sawchuk on April 25, 2018 3:52 PM

High school math classes should be broadened to focus on goals beyond college and careers, including teaching the math students will need to be literate participants in civic life. Educators should ensure that all students master a core set of “essential concepts” through four years of math coursetaking. And the classes should be detracked, to prevent students of color from winding up in dead-end math pathways, says an expansive new report from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The report, unveiled today at NCTM’s annual conference, is the product of a task force the group’s board of directors created back in 2016. Part vision-setting document and part stock-taking, the report aims to stimulate conversations on how to improve teaching of the subject in high school.

The Algebra-Geometry-Algebra 2 trifecta that has shaped high school math since the late 19th century remains firmly in place without enough evolution, it says. And while 4th grade students have progressed in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress since the 1990s, scores have been stagnant for decades at grade 12.

The document is also a corrective of sorts to the high school math section of the Common Core State Standards. Some critics and even some of those standards’ developers have said the common core’s high school standards weren’t as lean and polished as those in the K-8 grades. The NCTM’s document attempts to identify areas of focus, as the common core’s K-8 standards do.

Purpose and Essential Concepts in Math

In a nutshell, the report says that the goal of math coursework shouldn’t be just to prepare students for college classes or work, but so they are better able to understand and critique the world. That includes being able to identify, interpret, and critique math in social, scientific, and political systems; to understand math in polls, the media, and other communications; and to make good financial decisions and interpret research.

As part of this effort, the publication gives a list of essential concepts in math that all  National Assessment of Educational Progress, students should master. Rather than a new set of standards, they should be thought of as “distillations” that will help bring focus to high school curricula, the report states. It breaks them down into the areas of essential concepts in number; algebra and functions; statistics and probability; and geometry and measurement.

For example, for statistics, it says, all high school students should be able to understand the differences in research methods that use sample surveys, experiments, and observational studies, and the problems of bias and validity, among other things.

As part of this, it recommends that some practices should be scaled back. Too much focus in algebra is put on solving equations and inequalities, rather than on learning how to use math techniques to produce a certain outcome, solve a problem, or provide proofs of why algebraic statements are true, the report says.

“There is a lot of what we might refer to as legacy content, particularly in second-year algebra where students spend a great deal of time on symbolic manipulations—factoring equations, solving equations,” said Matt Larson, the outgoing president of the NCTM. “Today the emphasis has to move to students understanding, here’s a problem situation that can be modeled by using a quandratic equation and then solved. And when you think you have the solution, understanding the math enough to say, ‘Yeah, my solution seems reasonable,’ or ‘No, that doesn’t seem to make Math concepts, sense in this particular situation.'”

Equity and Access in Mathematics

Of course, those key shifts will also require new thinking about who takes the classes. On this front, the NCTM says mathematics classes should no longer track teachers or students into different levels (like “remedial” versus “honors” versions of the same course).

“Tracking … in some cases puts students into terminal mathematics course pathways that are not mathematically meaningful and do not prepare them for any continued study of fundamental mathematics concepts,” the report says.

As if on cue, the U.S. Department of Education released data yesterday showing that a disproportionate number of students of color don’t take Algebra 1 until the 11th grade, all but ruling out the possibility of higher-level math attainment.

While acknowledging that detracking poses challenges, it can be supported by having schools begin to examine data patterns and assignments, Larson said. That includes which teachers are typically assigned to teach which course levels.

“Often it’s the case that those teachers who are the most experienced or perceived to be the most capable are assigned the upper-level math classes. An initial action we recommend is, again, to examine the data,” Larson said. “Who is teaching whom in your high school math department?”

And teachers should focus on equitable instruction that focuses on reasoning, problem solving, using mathematical representations, and facilitating mathematical discourse, in which where students and teachers feel comfortable discussing and critiquing one another’s reasoning, rather than focusing on “getting the right answer.”

Finally, the report calls on rethinking math pathways: All students should take four years of classes that “maintain the integrity” of the mathematical standards, require clarity and precision, and don’t allow for substitutions, such as computer science, to stand in for math.

I’ll be interested in hearing how the larger math community responds to this report. Any talk about the balance of procedural and conceptual math is bound to raise passionate discussion. Our comments section is open for your feedback!

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2018/04/high_school_math_vision_nctm.html?cmp=eml-eb-popweek+05042018&M=58473827&U=1678853

 

Tips On Getting Letters of Recommendation

 

All college applications request a letter from your guidance counselor and usually expect 1 or more teacher recommendations.  Your counselor is predetermined but you get to choose who will write the teacher recs.  Please read to the end of this post to learn what to do if you are asked to write your own recommendation.

1. Most schools prefer that students ask for recommendations at the end of junior year so that teachers can take time to write thoughtfully over the summer.  If you school has other policies, be certain to follow them.

2. Who should you choose?  Ideally, the persons you approach should know you well.  Perhaps you’ve taken  more than one class with a favorite teacher or one of your current teachers is the advisor for a club or organization you belong to.  The more interaction  you’ve had, the more detailed the letter from the teacher can be.

3. Its helpful to write a note asking for the recommendation and to present the note to the teacher during a free period, before or after school.  If you have copies of assignments from the class you took with this teacher, you could offer them along with the note, or continue the conversation by mentioning how much you enjoyed, or struggled, or learned from the work.

4. Also give the teacher a list of colleges to which you are applying.  Know if there are special requirements for submitting the letters via Naviance, if you high school uses this tool.  If the letters will be submitted by mail, attach any forms and addressed, stamped envelopes.

5. Before school begins for senior year, check with the guidance office to make certain that all recommendations have been turned in.  Then write a thank you note to each person who wrote a recommendation.

What Should You Do If Asked To Write Your Own Recommendation?

I’m learning that self-written letters are becoming a common practice, particularly at large high schools.  Unfortunately, many counselors don’t know all the students in their cohort and use the self-written recommendations as guides (or just turn in the student’s work).  If you are asked to write such a letter here’s what to do.

1. Special circumstances.   Counselor recommendations are used to explain circumstances not in evidence elsewhere in the documentation.  When a family experienced trauma, death, financial hardship, student academic problems, learning challenges or any other factor affecting the student’s performance, it is usually the counselor who offers the information.   If this applies to you, write this part of your story.  First, the circumstance (what happened); next, how you were affected; the current state of your recovery or accommodation.

For instance, in 11th grade you were found to have dyslexia; what treatment has occurred and how have your grades improved?  Ex 2, Your parents experienced a messy divorce and you were unable to focus on academics; what has changed and how are you coping?

2. Your Achievements.  Take out your resume and activity lists.  The format you should have used to create both is: List the organization, dates participated, what you did and how it benefited the club.  Ex. French Club, 3 years, As program chair started a French club at an elementary school; increased membership by 20%.  Ex. International Club, 3 years.  Facilitated the smooth running of meetings by setting up, arranging refreshments, cleaning up.

Don’t just copy your Resume or Activities List, choose a few items and amplify what you’ve written, including the importance to you of this activity or event, something you particularly enjoyed or learned, leadership role, how the experience might impact your college experience. Ex. Environmental Club.  I worked with local organizations and officials to clean up a trash from a creek.  I’ve learned about the world-wide clean water shortage and hope to take a trip to Africa where I can participate in a clean water project as well as taking courses in hydrologly in the geology department to learn more about water.

3. Executive functioning.  These skills include persistence, organization, time management, and so on.  You want to present the skills with supporting evidence. Ex. Persistent: failed 2 tests Algebra 2, got help from teacher and secured a tutor from National Honor Society.  Brought grade up to a C+.   If you are unclear on what to say, try asking teachers and classmates to describe you in 1 word, or in 3 words.  Use their comments to develop this section.

4. Goals.  What do you want to get out of your college experience?  Are you planning your coursework so you can study abroad?  Do you have plans to take specific courses to learn about a special interest?

When you’ve completed your recommendation, have several people you trust read it over.  Discuss it with your guidance counselor.

Asking for your letters of recommendation is good practice for getting a job.  You will need to know your strengths and who can best describe them to others.  Don’t gamble on getting winning testimonials, prepare the path for the people whom you will ask.  Be professional in your approach and show your appreciation generously.

Questions?  Call/text  me at 610-212-6679 or email stephanie@accessguidance.com

 

Prepping For The SAT Reading Section

Knowing what to expect on a standardized test is one good way to improve your score.  Here are some tips from the Summit Educational Group to initiate your prep for the SAT.

The reading section gives test takers 65 minutes to read 5 passages and respond to 9-11 questions per passage, 52 total.  The passages range in reading level from 9th grade to early college.

Passages and questions are designed to have students distinguish words with multiple meanings from context, give evidence in multiple choice questions, analyze information in charts or graphs attached to the package.

Balance the time you have among the passages.  Spend about 5 minutes reading, looking for the author’s point of views, attitude toward the subject matter, key points.  Write notes on the test booklet as you go.

You will then have 45 seconds to answer each question.  They are all worth the same amount so do the ones that are easier first.

Opinions differ on whether to read the questions before tackling the passage.  Pre-reading the questions can direct your attention to what is important but it does reduce the time you have to read the passage and complete the questions.

Most test prep companies offer multiple iterations of the test to familiarize students with the styles and types of questions they will encounter on the version that appears when they open the booklet on test day.  Take as many as you can find online or in your prep materials.

Do you have a strategy for scheduling test prep and examination dates?  Let me help you create a time timeline that fits your personal schedule yet leaves time to re-take the SAT or ACT before the scores must be on the admissions officeer’s desk.  stephanie@accessguidance.com, 610-212-6679

 

You Really Must Negotiate Job-Offer Salary!

The Muse offers these suggestions for negotiating the salary when you are offered a new position.   https://www.themuse.com/advice/can-i-negotiate-job-offer-when-the-description-lists-salary  Read the article below:

Negotiations are often nerve-racking for candidates because they don’t want to ask for too much and have an employer withdraw an offer.

But I want to give you reassurance that as much as you fear losing out on an opportunity, companies also fear losing great talent (like you!) by coming in below expectations. That’s why companies and candidates often have an open discussion to meet somewhere in the middle.

With that said, what can you do if the job description clearly states a salary—yet you want more? Are you still even entitled to that attempt to find some middle ground?

If you’re applying to the public sector (government jobs), the pre-determined salary range is usually close to the final offer. However, if you receive an offer, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a number that falls within the range displayed. As with any negotiation, focus on objective facts of why you believe you’re worth more (for example, the job description asks for two years of experience and you have four).

If you’re applying to the private sector (non-government jobs), I would absolutely recommend negotiating despite what was displayed on the job posting. Most companies work with a compensation benchmark system and have a low, mid, and high end of a salary range. Typically, the salary advertised is the median compensation, so it never hurts to ask for more—especially if market research data shows that your title, skills, and experience are worth a higher salary in your geographical market.

Again, you will want to remain objective in your approach: What specifically about your background adds value to the company and justifies why are you worth more? You should use measurable and tangible facts instead of subjective, loose opinions.

It might also help to know that employers expect employees to negotiate. Employers typically don’t withdraw offers because a candidate starts that conversation. However, they do withdraw offers based on how a candidate asks.

If you demonstrate that you’re polite, professional, and perceptive, an employer’s often eager to consider your requests. It’s the requests that come off as aggressive, demanding, and non-compromising that breaks the deal.

That’s why it’s never a bad idea to practice several times before the real conversation to make sure you know exactly what you want to say. You can even run through it with a friend to confirm that you’re coming off the way you intended.

Finally, if the company says they have given you the best offer, remember there are a lot of other benefits and perks you can negotiate aside from your salary.

For example:

  • Sign-on bonus
  • More vacation days
  • Telecommute perks
  • Tuition reimbursement or ongoing education and training allowance
  • Timing of next raise
  • Stock options
  • Competitive commission structure (if in a sales-related role)
  • Relocation bonus (if applicable)

Negotiating might always make you a little nervous (that’s normal!). But, in the end, remember this: You won’t get what you don’t ask for.

Let me add my own comments.  Women are earn less than men doing the same work.  One reason is that men are far more likely to negotiate starting with the first offer while women tend to accept the first offer.  To close the gap, women must adopt negotiation as the first step in getting paid what they are worth.  As the article points out, HR expects negotiation.

If the starting salary is lower for women, each raise that is a % of current salary will also be lower.  The gap gets wider with each salary bump.  Close the gap by asking for what you want.

In addition to the perks listed as alternatives to a starting salary, you can ask for a 90 day review with specific benchmarks that, if met, entitle you to a raise.  You can also ask for a performance bonus, an extra check for meeting specific performance criteria.

If you’re a little hazy on what you’re work is worth, lets figure it out together. stephanie@accessguidance.com , 610-212-6679

Business Casual? What To Wear

Business casual is a puzzle that confronts each of us from time to time.  We worry most when dressing for an interview but the question also arises with regard to restaurants, networking events, parties, business meetings, or sales calls.

Know before you go.  Call and ask.  The reservationist at the hot new restaurant will tell you what most patrons wear and if there are specific requirements like a collared shirt or jacket.   Interview?  Call your contacts  or the secretary of the interviewer and ask.  If there is any doubt, look at the social media of the company, restaurant, your contacts there and any publicity shots.  Here are a few cues….

There is a rule of thumb that states that when making an impression you should be slightly more polished than, say,  an interviewer.  Show respect for the person, her job, the opportunity.  Dress for the position you want, not the one you have.

Is it OK to wear denim?  Yes, if its dark washed and paired with a blouse, shirt, sweater or other nice top and covered with a jacket, nice jewelry, and good shoes for women.  Men also wear denim pants with a button-down shirt, shirt and sweater combo, or perhaps a sport coat; include a nice watch and appropriate shoes.

Khaki and soft cotton are also good fabrics for trousers, dresses or skirts.  Linen is OK, too, although it wrinkles quickly.  Add a blazer and you will be good to go.  Under a jacket or dressy sweater, silk or up-scale T shirts pass muster; a crisp white cotton T from a  designer or JCrew is acceptable unless this is a first impression situation, (please, no Hanes underwear out of the  bag).

Give sneakers a rest and in a business setting leave sandals at home.  I’m not in favor of open toe  (or back) shoes for women unless they’ve had a pedicure the day before.  Its too easy to shove calloused feet with dry skin or chipped polish into sandals or backless shoes, a sight that says you are lazy and unaware.

Shoes should be appropriate for the outfit, clean, polished, and free of mud or street debris.

Update on footwear: an interviewer was asked what makes a LAST impression on interviewers.  The backs of the candidate’s shoes!  Polish out scuffs. Check for worn down soles/heels and sinking sox!

No matter what you wear, it must be clean, ironed, and fit properly.  No loose threads, missing buttons, uneven hems, lining extending out of jacket sleeves.  If you are layering, be certain that the top layer is big enough to cover what’s underneath without turning you into a sausage.

How do you build a wardrobe?  Set a budget and shop sales.  Begin before you are ready to network or job hunt.  Begin with a few pieces that can be worn in different ways with various other pieces.  A blazer, a couple of tops and bottoms that coordinate is a good place to start your casual wardrobe.  You might choose  a color pallet at the beginning and build around that.  Navy is good and coordinates with khaki, red, green, white, cream, yellow and light blue.  Consider pieces that can carry you through 3 seasons: fall, winter spring or spring, summer, fall.  Add one or two pieces each season.  Buy what you can afford; shop sales to stretch your dollars.  Avoid trendy pieces and impulse buying.

Accessories no longer need to match.  A smallish hand bag and a portfolio in which to carry your resume, business cards or other papers is just right.  Add a couple of statement pieces of jewelry, a pocket square, professional looking watch, clean well fitting glasses, to complete your look.

Below are two articles from The Muse on business casual for interviews.  Knowing how to dress before you leave high school will add confidence and polish to your college and internship interviews.

Want to talk about how to carry off the suggestions above?  I have great ideas that will help you pull together you own style.  stephanie@accessguidance.com      610-212-6679.

https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-successfully-pull-off-a-business-casual-look-at-a-job-interview

https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-secret-to-a-perfect-interview-outfit-stalk-the-companys-social-media