Tagged: Quora

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



Curious About MIT?

Daan Mulder
Daan Mulder, studied at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Several things come to mind:

  • The professor you’ve just casually chatted with and asked about his/her research is actually a Nobel prize winner.
  • Everyone talks in code and it seems to make perfect sense: I’ll see you at E52; I’m taking 780 from course 15.
  • We complain that we should have gone to an easy college, like Harvard.
  • We constantly reference IHTFP (“I hate this f***ing place”) while secretly love every second here.
  • The institute is taken seriously by almost everyone. When we send emails from the MIT domain name (name@mit.edu) answer is almost always guaranteed.
  • You constantly feel inadequate by the level of the people around you (at orientation they even point out that it’s perfectly normal to have the “imposter syndrome”, i.e., feeling like you were admitted by mistake, as clearly you don’t feel like you deserve to be here with these people).
  • Sending an email to a wide distribution list saying “there is food left at [location]” and within seconds a swarm of hungry mouths descend, devour, and leave.
  • Playing with the beaver is totally not a sexual thing.

PS – sorry if this sounds like humblebrag. We’re really not full of ourselves here 🙂


ONE More comment from me: the most popular minor at MIT is music!

If MIT isn’t in your future, we can build a list of great colleges where you will thrive. stephanie@accessguidance.com pr 610-212-6679.

What Goes Into The Additional Info Section?

What should I include in the ‘Additional information’ section of the Common Application?

Keep in mind that the people who read applications have a case load of 1000 or more and may read 50+ applications during a weekend. Less is more when deciding what to include.

Additional information should be material that isn’t anywhere else on your application or adds insight into why an activity or event had meaning for you.

Depending on what a college has asked to see you can upload a well-crafted resume (get help with this!), portfolio, a graded paper, links to a brief recording of a recital, the link to your Zeemee account.

The format for your resume, activities list and additional information should follow STAR.

Situation (or activity, club), Task (what you tried to accomplish such as being membership chair), Action (promoted club activities and sign ups), Result (increased membership by 25%).


What is the best way to negotiate a higher salary during the initial phone call job offer?

Here is good advice on salary negotiations.  In an initial screening interview it is unlikely that the interviewer will pursue your salary requirements, it is possible.

From Quora Digest

What is the best way to negotiate a higher salary during the initial phone call job offer?

Daniel Burgin
Daniel Burgin, studied at Stephen F. Austin State University

This is a bit of an art form. But the rules are simple. Whoever speaks a number first, loses. Typically a hiring manager or HR representative will ask a question like:

“What are your salary requirements?”

Don’t answer this question with a number or that will be your salary offer, or very close. Instead, answer with reasons why you can’t give them a number. It’s best to have different ways to say the same thing – which bluntly is “are you kidding? I’m not giving you a number” but are much more respectful than that. Here are some example answers that contain no actual salary numbers.

“Well, it’s hard to answer this question as many things factor into that answer. For instance, what is the full benefits package? Is there a bonus structure and how likely will it be to attain most of it? What is the vacation accrual schedule? You know, things like that.”

Then when they ask again, “yeah well just tell me what you made in your last position.”

Again, don’t answer with a number. Say something like:

“Well, I took a pay cut at that role because it was a horizontal move into a position that was new to me, but I wanted the experience. Now that I have 5 years of experience, I feel like I need to assess what the market pays for an experienced person in that role. I feel confident I am among the best skilled people in this role so I feel sharing past salary info is misleading for where I am now.”

Then ask your own question:

“What is your salary budget for this role?” And then be quiet.

Most hiring managers or IT folks won’t answer this, but what you want them to do is make an offer in writing for you to discuss with your partner, or spouse, or mentors (as the case may be) and so you can assess the entire offer, not just the salary.

If you are disciplined and don’t answer any question about salary with a number, you will almost always come out on top. The pressure to give them a number might be high, but respectfully declining and answering with thoughtful answers (not a number) like above, will usually yield the highest dollar amount they can offer you or something close. If they go to the trouble to write you an offer, they want you, so why not force them to pay you what they think it will take to get you, rather than some lower salary amount you just happen to tell them you would settle for by saying a number.

Good luck.

There are many other ways to deflect the salary query.   Lets practice answering salary questions before your interview!  For an appointment contact me at 610-212-6679 or stephanei@accessguidance.com.

Quora: How To Get Onto An Ivy Grad School

Sasha Carter
Sasha Carter, Freelance Admissions Essay Consultant at New Field International (2018-present)

In my personal experience, I started with a plan.


  1. Ace my courses. Do terribly in math and adjust this plan to acing the courses in my major, which I did.
  2. Build relationships with my professors and department heads. This actually worked because all my recommendation letters were from department heads or the most published faculty in my department. How can you do this? Tutor, be a TA, work closely with professors, learn how they think and be an asset to them. This makes it easier to get a recommendation letter.
  3. Get advice from Ivy League alumni at my school. This was by far the biggest help. Their advice was crucial in helping me put together my application. People who have already gotten in, know how to get in.
  4. Join organizations that I actually care about. For me, I wanted to be a writer and writing is big on community. We’re a solitary bunch so we take our human contact where we can. That means poetry slams, readings, and fostering literacy in the community.
  5. Audit graduate courses. I did this for funsies but I ended up presenting myself as a more serious candidate by doing so.
  6. Research. A lot of it. Buckets of it. Do your eyes feel fine? Then you didn’t do enough. I researched each Ivy’s motto, their acceptance rate, their faculty, said faculty’s published work, and I worked all this knowledge into my application essays.
  7. Pray. I’m not kidding. Light a candle at your church. Sacrifice a chicken. Get extra prayer power from your pastor. I’m not saying prayer was a factor but it doesn’t hurt. Also if you’re too busy focused on visualizing that acceptance letter, you’re not quietly freaking about not hearing anything.

Those were my steps. That was the plan I executed and I got in. I hope this helps and good luck.


What Were You Least Prepared For At An Ivy?

From Quora

What Were You Least Prepared For When You Entered An Ivy League School

Answered by Wes Lai, retired teacher of 34 years

“I did not attend an Ivy League school. My son did, and he graduated #1 in his class of 480 at a public high school. The one thing he said that blew him away was how students from private prep and boarding schools were so well prepared for college. The other thing was how everybody was just as smart as he was, or smarter. Culture shock.”

This answer explains why admission to Tier One colleges is competitive.  The outstanding student in any high school is just average in the pool of applicants to selective colleges.  All of the candidates have stellar grades in a rigorous curriculum.  Most will have nearly perfect scores.  Admission depends on the interests, passions and accomplishments outside of school.   Overcoming challenges, solving real world problems, and having done something that benefits others gain traction in the admissions office.

Lai’s response highlights the epidemic of depression and anxiety experienced on college campuses.  Discovering that you aren’t the smartest person in the room when your parents, teachers and accomplishments have told you just that, is difficult for many students to accept.  They believe that less than perfect grades or not having the answer to a difficult question shows them to be  weak and failing.

As parents, we need to emphasize that the quest is more important than the badge of achievement.  A goal should be to grow, become better at the tasks we undertake, to focus our  education on how to use knowledge and experience to help others. Most of all we need to treat failure as a part of moving forward: it teaches persistence, humility and spurs determination.  Sometimes it opens doors to new thinking.

As I’ve told countless students,  when you get to college you will meet people who have had different experiences than you have, learned bits of information that diverge from what you are familiar with,  connect the dots in a different pattern.  That doesn’t make one of you smarter or a better student: its another opportunity to apply critical thinking.

When you’re ready to talk about a college list, or ways in which college might surprise you, I’ll be waiting to hear from you. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.



Leaving? Keep It Classy

How honest should you be in your exit interview about your reasons for leaving?

Ian Mathews, Real Estate Investor and former Senior Executive (2018-present)

Answered Wed

“This place is poisoned. The managers don’t care about employees. You are running a sweat shop. You don’t pay anywhere close to market and some of your policies are so anti-customer that it is clear that corporate only cares about profits. You only promote politicians and yes men.”

I’ve seen this bitter approach from more than a few employees on their way out the door. They leave with their chest puffed out, feeling good that they gave us a piece of their mind.

Most managers do want feedback on your way out the door and it is usually best at the skip level (your boss’s boss). The problem with the personal attack approach is that it comes across as bitter and the feedback lingers. Inevitably, the exiting person runs through a few more companies and with perspective, realizes it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the pay wasn’t better, the atmosphere more negative and workload was heavier at other companies. Then comes the email:

Hello Ian,

I hope all is well with you and your company. I was laid off last month and have come to realize what a great opportunity I had. I made a mistake in leaving your company and would love it if you could give me another chance.


Formerly Disgruntled Employee

How many of these emails do you think I responded to when they took the personal attack approach on the way out the door? Correct, zero.

In the last two months, three different former employees have called me and asked if I would put in a good word for them. They wanted to come back to my

old company and wanted me to vouch for them to the executive who replaced me. I did no such thing with two of them, as I remember how they tore out of the place. Two of them blasted the company on Glassdoor, a move meant to hurt the company’s future hiring. I wasn’t putting my word on people who went that route already, given that the odds are higher that they will do it again.

This is a small world and even smaller when you figure that most people stay in the same industry for most of their careers. Even if you are 100% certain you don’t want to return to that company, you gain nothing by going scorched Earth on the way out the door.

What if one of those same managers that you scorched is hired into your new company in a position of authority, even your direct boss? I’ve seen this more than a few times.

Take the approach I mentioned above and eliminate the personal. You could still say this, while being honest and helping the company improve:

“I just can’t find the balance here between work and personal life. I also have a chance to make a serious jump in pay, which is very important to my family right now. I have learned much from this company and appreciate that you took a chance on me. I hope we stay in touch.”

As a manager, I get the point with this feedback. We need a different staffing model and need to look into our compensation program. In almost every case, I knew our problems but just couldn’t make changes fast enough to help the front lines. Managers don’t like running short staffed which can happen in a hot market or overly competitive market where income is rising rapidly.

Anything else you share is probably just going to sound bitter and make that manager defensive. With the positive approach, I remember you in a good light years down the road and you’ve left the door open. You also earned a positive reference from me should a future prospective employer call me to ask about you (and most of them will).

So, pass on the short term opportunity to stick it to your company on the way out the door. It won’t encourage the company to change and the only person who can get hurt is yourself.

Keep it classy.

How Can I Stand Out On An Ivy Application?

Cindy Greatrex
Cindy Greatrex, Associate Medical Officer

A friend of mine was in Admissions at Columbia for many years and had some good advice. So I assume you have the baseline excellent grades and test scores. But how to stand out? Look at what is missing at the school.

My friend said she read through thousands of applications every year where the applicant was a violinist. Problem? Orchestras need only so many violinists. What was desperately needed was a French horn player. Orchestral music scores almost always have the French horn. But she almost never received an application from a French horn player!

Sane is true for Fencing and Squash. Ivies tend to need more fencers and squash players than they have applications from.

Also look at niche majors. Cornell has a fantastic Forestry major but not a ton of Applicants.

Lastly look at what you can Create. Ivies look fondly on inventions, trademarks, patents, something that you felt passionate about and created. The Ivies get tons of Applications from people who worked with the homeless, or in a clinic, or in a food pantry, or off to Africa for the summer to assist in vaccination programs. All outstanding things, obviously.

But show Admissions what you Created, not just what you Joined.

Readers: this advice is solid and highlights one of the difficulties in gaining admission to selective colleges: qualified applicants are a dime a dozen but finding the few who have something unusual is difficult.  Fill a niche and you increase the chances of success.  Lets talk about your unique opportunities. stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679.

From A Recruiter: How Companies Hire

I came across Ambra Benjamin, an engineering recruiter, when she answered a question on Quora about recruiting practices. Here is part of her response.

New school recruiting is a different game. Candidates are more cynical. People know recruiterspeak like “we’ll keep your resume on file.” Candidate experience is everything. People read and write stuff on Glassdoor. There are whole websites dedicated to giving you every possible coding question you can expect in an interview. Today, interviews really only exist to confirm that someone I already believe to be awesome (based on my own research), really is that awesome.

New school recruiting is about finding talent in non-traditional places. At the last few companies for which I’ve worked — all top tech companies mind you — most of the candidates I hired were people I went out of my way to find. They didn’t apply to any position. They were what I’d call “passive candidates.” I actually think that places like Github, Dribbble and other online repositories are HUGE factors in the evaluation process of a candidate. If you’re a developer or interface/graphic designer worth your salt, trust me, you don’t want to work for a company that doesn’t care about your portfolio, body of work, and contributions to your field. Good recruiters scour Github and Dribbble for talent. We read developer blogs, stalk people on twitter, find every virtual water cooler we possibly can to find out where the smart, talented people hang.finger-on-net1648573_640

This applies across fields — for every career field there is the Dribbble, Github, or Stackoverflow equivalent of some sort. As a recruiter all I can say is demonstrate your expe rtise as much as possible in whatever your skill set is. It doesn’t matter if you have an impressive resume, if you have an online presence and you are making a significant contribution to your field, people will find you.  (Bolding is mine) Your gift will make room for you.

When I worked at Google we offered jobs to hackers who’d built something amazing from Google Maps or GoogleTalk despite their lack of college degrees. Why? Because we found out about something impressive they’d done on the Internet. Yes, even Google, notorious for its strict adherence to a Stanford-bred PhD pedigree prefers (well, used to prefer) raw talent + results over the ideal resume. There are countless stories of developers who built cool products using a service’s API and got the attention of employers everywhere.

Recruiting well in every facet (process, talent level, candidate experience, speed) is a tricky thing and I’m not sure anyone has mastered it on a grand scale (though I think some of the big management consulting firms seem to be doing something very right). I wouldn’t be surprised if one day way in the future all our social media platforms, networks, portfolios, resumes are unified in one repository used by employers. We shall see.  Until then, inefficiency For the WIN!

ball-point-pen-724085_640Me Again.  There you have it.  To get a job today you need to make significant contributions and have an online platform so employers can find you.  Many of us make contributions but have difficulty identifying what they are and to whom they matter.  Lets talk about how you can connect with employers with a problem you can solve. 610-212-6679, stephanie@accessguidance.com.