Archive for August, 2013

How to Get a Competitive Edge with Your Professors

August 21, 2013

Many high school and college students began a new school year this week.  Most enter this new year with the intention of doing well academically, but some students simply do not know how to be successful.

I think this is a great list of suggestions to help students get a competitive edge.  It is from the College of Charleston and actual comments from their professors.

  • Ask at least one question in every class.
  • Know that students earn their grades, professors do not give them.
  • Type your work. You are in college now, and it is 2013.
  • Answer test questions consecutively and in complete sentences, rather than stream of consciousness. And not in green ink!
  • Find things you are good at, and like.  Often the two are connected.  
  • Say “I’m having trouble understanding this.” You will get a better response than if you say “You didn’t explain this very well” to your professor.
  • Be clear and honest about what you do not understand. For this short period of time, that’s someone else’s (the professor’s) problem. So don’t fake a thing. 
  • Ask if you don’t understand something. Chances are that 75% of the class is right there with you going “WHAT?!” They will thank you for it.
  • Start writing your paper early. You can’t write an “A” paper in two hours. Probably not even a “C” paper.
  • Learn the difference between “reply” and “reply all.”
  • Engage in public speaking and master personal finance.
  • Know your attitude always matters.
  • Treat college like a full-time job. Make the time you spend in class and the time you spend studying add up to 40 hours a week.   

SAT and ACT Tests: To Take or Not to Take Again.

August 13, 2013

Jake took the SAT and ACT once his junior year of high school.  His scores were a little above average but he wanted to do better.  He took my test prep course and improved his scores on both tests.  He and I went over his results and looked at the areas that still had room for improvement.   As with some other students I have had, the third try on the two tests paid off.  He was finally satisfied and felt that his scores were competitive for most of the schools in which he had an interest. 

Unlike The College Board, which does not cap the number of times a student can take the SAT, students may not take the ACT more than 12 times. While I do not recommend taking either the SAT or ACT more than three times, it is important to remember that the highest scores a student can get will often provide more opportunities for college admission and scholarships.

Jake was accepted at seven of the nine schools to which he applied.  His test scores turned out to be on the higher end of most of the college applicants at the schools to which he was accepted.  In addition, he received scholarship money from each of the schools that accepted him.  Not bad and certainly worth the effort.

While a student’s GPA and coursework continue to be the biggest factors for college admission, SAT and ACT scores are not far behind, even at schools that often claim to be test-optional.

Your college experience is only as good as what you do with it

August 8, 2013

As a private college counselor, I have always tried to lead my students to schools that were the best fit for them.  If these were prestigious schools and they were well suited for the student, fine.  If they were less competitive but more appropriate for a student academically and personally, that was fine also.

Too much emphasis is placed on rankings when each of the rankings means something different.  Many of the criteria ranked are not always even important to  students.  We would have far fewer students dropping out or transferring at the end of their freshman year if we did a better job of counseling students to choose schools that were right for them.

“I think it’s tough, in today’s climate, but it would be great if kids (and their parents) could take a deep breath and realize there’s more to life than where you went to college. Education is only as good as what you do with it…” 


Test Prep Courses Do Not Need to Cost a Fortune

August 1, 2013

Do you want to help your child improve his or her chances for college admission and scholarships?  With all the discussion about the SAT and ACT, there is no question that these two tests still are important criteria for most colleges as the competition grows more intense with their college applicants.  Many parents do not understand that a small jump in test scores can help a student more than they may realize.  The first SAT and ACT tests are not far away.  It is time for your high school senior to start some test prep if that has not already happened.

As a private college counselor and test prep coach, I think it is important for families to understand that there are many choices for test prep other than the $1000 or more courses. I have taught a six week course for more than twenty five years and the price has remained at $395. I know it’s a bargain, but I am more interested in the outcome than the income when it comes to test prep.

Families need to decide what will work best for their child.  I recommend a small group of no more than ten students.  The focus of the test prep course should be on content, useful strategies, and dealing with test anxiety.  I also want my students to learn how to pace themselves and utilize good time management throughout the SAT and ACT.

It’s time to research, sign up, and get started on a test prep course to give your child the best opportunity to score well on the SAT and ACT.