Steps to Finding the Right College Major

Choosing electives in high school that more accurately align with your subject interests will help you find the right college major. If possible, it is best to choose a high school that offers the most electives in the subject areas that interest you. These electives will help you prepare for college by extending your critical thinking skills outside of your main academic courses and you may be able to take the electives at the college level for the major or minor that you choose. Some schools only offer a few electives such as band, art, study hall, teacher’s aid, or a foreign language while others offer electives in most subjects. By choosing electives such as communication skills, journalism, accounting, business law, creative writing, computer applications, graphic design, painting, drama/theatre, CPR training, first aid, nutrition, rhetoric, science courses, religion, social science, among others you will learn to apply what you have learned in related topics in your main courses to these practical subject areas.

Choosing an elective that is based on one of your strongest academic subjects is the best way to find out if choosing a college major in the subject is right for you. You will have to make the transition from mainly using rote- memorization in high school to application based learning on tests, papers, and other assignments. Finding an elective that helps you learn these critical thinking skills in high school will greatly help you in college. One way to choose an elective that best corresponds to your subject interests is to take the Myers-Briggs personality test and use it to find what subject matter connects to your personality type. Most students change their majors numerous times once they start college because they either did not spend enough time thinking about how to approach finding the right major before they started school. To avoid this, take time out of your schedule to talk to a guidance counselor, find electives that meet your subject interests and personality type, and do outside reading on your favorite subjects before starting college. Though most students do not take electives as seriously as their main courses, focusing on an elective that interests you may help you find a college major that you will finish school with a degree in.

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Julie

About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.

 

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High School Students and Summer Plans

High school students, what are your summer plans? By the time the school year is close to its end, all of my students can’t wait for the summer break to arrive. Students anticipate spending their time with friends and family, focusing on enjoying their carefree summer. Although I think it is essential that students have fun over the summer, it is also important to make sure that a student’s summer is a productive time of preparation for the year ahead. Summers should certainly be filled with fun activities with friends and family, but students should also not lose sight of their educational dreams goals.

I spoke with some of my SAT Prep students who were telling me about summer travel plans, summer camp plans, and other fun-sounding activities. One of my students is taking a cruise to Alaska with her grandparents, while another is going to camp for the last time as a camper. I am happy to hear their excitement as they describe their plans to me. In the back of my mind, however, I think about their dream schools, and the test scores they would need to achieve to get into these schools. I remind these two students that they need to stay committed to continuing to prepare for the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement tests.[1]

The students both respond that they know they cannot just have fun all summer. The students know that they have to continue to study so that they can have a less stressful school year. “But how,” they ask me, “can I study for these exams and stay focused during all of these fun activities?”

I tell my students that planning ahead of time is the best way to achieve success. Together, we form an individualized plan for each student and their particular summer plans. The student who is going on a cruise to Alaska with her grandparents will take her SAT Prep book with her, as well as her AP English Language Summer work. We plan that she will spend one hour every other day working on SAT Prep and read a chapter of her AP English Language Summer Work on the days that she does not do SAT Prep. The other student who is going to camp for the last time will utilize the camp’s SAT Prep sessions. The class meets once per week as an extra enrichment activity at the camp. She will also try to complete her Summer AP Biology work, spending at least one hour every week on reading her AP Biology textbook.

With these plans in place, both girls will definitely be prepared for the next school year. Take the advice in this article, and your child can be prepared too.

[1] I encourage my students to get ahead over the summer for the coming year’s AP Classes. This way, they can make sure they achieve good grades but also not feel too stressed about preparing just a few months before the exam.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.
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Diagnostic Testing before Tutoring

Diagnostic testing before tutoring students is important. Testing allows the tutor to view the test results and tutor the student in the shortest amount of time possible. The tutor knows first-hand any weak or strong areas of the student and does not have to waste time trying to determine what a student knows and does not know.  Initial diagnostic testing saves the student both time and money and gets the best results possible for the student.

It is difficult to help a student achieve positive results in one or two tutoring sessions. When students start tutoring and notice improvement and then stops attending the tutoring the sessions, it results in the students not completing the sessions to fill the academic gap.  The academic gap, although shortened within  the short tutoring time, still exists and grows larger again during the school year. In addition, last minute tutoring cram sessions for final exams and test prep do not work.  Last minute tutoring puts stress on both the student and the tutor.  When students come the night before a test, or just weeks before SAT or ACT, there is usually not enough time to cover the material and practice to make sure that the student has mastered the material and is comfortable with the curriculum.  Waiting until the last minute leads students to procrastination.  Research shows that students who procrastinate do not do well in college.  See article.

Tutoring works best when students and parents are committed to improving academic levels and agree to a planned scheduled of academic lessons at the beginning of the school year, preferably, starting during the summer before the upcoming school year. Improving gaps in learning and working ahead of the class curriculum reduces stress and anxiety for the student and gives the student confidence in his or her academic abilities.  When students are on a consistent tutor/study schedule, they learn how to plan, practice and study ahead.  This breaks the cycle of procrastination.  In addition, the student gains an academic foundation for success on college admissions exams and will do well in college.   A current research study states that only a third of high school seniors are equipped for college-level math and reading.  See article. When students do not have a proper academic foundation, they will struggle in future courses and on tests.

SAT/ACT/PSAT test prep also works best when students begin as early the 9th grade year to prepare for these exams.  Students are competing on a national playing field and must begin preparing as soon as possible.  Although a student is making A’s and B’s in his or her school, this is no guarantee that the student will do well on the SAT or ACT without test prep.  School work is simply not enough for a student to do well on the test.  Many students have not had English Grammar since elementary school and lack the knowledge of the grammar rules needed for the English/Writing and Reading portions of the SAT/ACT and PSAT.  Many students are also weak in math.  A consistent math review helps students to learn the math needed to do well on the exams.  Test prep also helps students to know the format of the test first-hand and know what to expect when they take the test.  It is never a good idea to allow a student to take the SAT or ACT to merely see how he or she will do.  Students should know what is on the test and know what to expect on test day to significantly increase their chances of obtaining a high score.

Study and preparation along with time and effort is the key to academic success!

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Multiple Choice Portion of AP Exams

So many of my students detest the Multiple Choice Questions portion of AP exams. However, with some guidance, a student can easily conquer this portion of the exam. Here is the caveat:  this portion of the exam requires practicing the right skills. However, to the inexperienced student, knowing what the right skills are remains a major challenge. This is why most students need a teacher or a tutor to help them ace the AP Exam.

After going over their multiple choice questions, I had  a conversation with two of my AP Human Geography students. Their problem with certain questions of the AP Multiple Choice Question portion of the exam were due to their lack of strategic thinking when answering the question. We had come up against a problem that was a definition-identification question, and I asked them to go through each of the options strategically together. I told them to go as slowly as possible, and to think through why each option was correct or incorrect. While talking of each option together, they both reached the right conclusion, after careful examination.

During multiple choice exams students sometimes lack the care to pay attention to details. They want to get through the exam quickly–which is definitely important–but their choice to prioritize speed over scrutinizing the question got them into trouble.

That’s why I advise my students to first take exams without paying attention to speed. During practice exams, students should focus on developing the critical thinking skills to answer high-level multiple choice questions for any kind of AP Exam–from science, to the humanities. After achieving high numbers of correct questions, the student should then move on to practicing during a timed test.

Tutors or teachers are best suited to help students simulate a timed exam. Tutors also know how to gradually introduce the timed test to a student. They know the point at which a student is ready for a timed exam, and they know how to help students become accustomed to timed exams so that students don’t feel overly anxious. Moreover, tutors know how to proctor exams properly, and they know how to score exams in the same manner as an AP Scorer.

With a tutor’s help, any student can become thoroughly prepared for test day!

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

 

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AP Exam-Steps to Write a DBQ or Synthesis Paper

DBQs and Synthesis papers continue to be very challenging to AP students. As I mentioned in my previous post about what a DBQ or Synthesis paper is [which you can find here] I will explain the method to write a successful DBQ or Synthesis paper on your AP Exam.  (For clarification, a the DBQ is a Document-Based Question for social science exams, while the Synthesis paper is a similar for the English Language and Literature Exams.)

First, you should read the prompt carefully and bullet point what the directions are asking you to do! Generally, for the these types of essays, the directions ask you to use prior knowledge of the subject area as well as the given sources to create an argument or answer the question. First, note what your prior knowledge is on your scratch paper. Write how you would answer the question or the prompt based on only prior knowledge. You should try to formulate an answer before looking at the sources because this will guide your interpretation when surveying the sources.

The next step is to actually look through the sources. Note each author’s argument in the sources and the way that they made their argument, also known as the author’s rhetoric.The student must identify rhetorical devices on the AP English Language and Literature Exams, while on the AP World and US History Exams, the student must look for historical data and author biases. Understanding an author’s bias on a history exam is one of the requirements of the DBQ for these exams. Biases affect the way that historical actors record history, so as historians, we have to make sure to account for certain biases when analyzing the historical actor’s written work. We cannot always take their writings at face value, for historical actors may have had a certain agenda when writing the document.

Mark up each document and leave yourself a note in summary of the document so that you can go back to the document later and remember in detail what the document argued or meant. For the AP English Language and Literature Exam, many teachers advise their students to mark the document’s tone through a visual aid: a “+” represents a positive tone, while a “-” represents a negative tone. This quick representation of tone helps when the student begins writing the response.

The next step is to outline your argument, starting with your thesis. In general, an English Language thesis requires the student to analyze an argument, either historical or contemporary. An English Literature thesis compels the student to analyze the author’s use of rhetorical devices to create a successful piece of literature. On social science exams, the student must create a thesis that his historically-sound and also uses the given sources as evidence for their argument.

Once you have created a thesis, and an outline, you are ready to begin writing your paper. Good luck!

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.
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