Avoid Three Things on Your College Application Essay

During the summer before a student’s Senior year of high school, students and parents work hard on college applications. Some college deadlines start in the beginning of August! This is a time that students and parents are understandably nervous about applying to college. Students wonder if their junior year shows both their academic rigor as well as their commitment to activities outside of school. Students want to get into their “dream school” but they often do not know what to do every step of the way. Students often struggle with writing a thoughtful essay to

Submit to colleges to demonstrate their character. Here are some specific
take-aways that I find help my students:

 

  1. Make sure to answer the prompt!

One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is that students don’t address the question laid out in the prompt. This demonstrates one of two things: either the student did not understand the prompt or the student was not capable of answering the prompt. Both faults can be detrimental to a student’s overall application. Admissions committees ask specific questions for a reason. They want to know if you will fit into the culture of the college, and that the student’s values align with those of the college. They need this information to make the best decision, for you and for

college. Don’t jeopardize your admission by not answering the prompt directly.

 

  1. Don’t write in clichés

Writing in clichés is something that tutors, teachers, and admissions committees dislike vehemently. Why? A couple of reasons: Clichés come from popular culture and are often only understood by a particular group. Your essay should be clear and concise – anyone and everyone should be able to read it and understand your thoughts. Furthermore, using clichés shows that the student didn’t actually take the time to think about the prompt and answer the question from his or her own experience. The admissions committee will question if the information you include in your essay is exclusively your own thinking, or if you are borrowing

work from someone else.

 

  1. Maintain your tense

When writing an essay, students sometimes jump from the past tense to the present tense to the future tense, not realizing the havoc it wreaks on the reader’s mind. My advice to students is to pick a tense and stick with it throughout the essay. You do not want your admissions committee reader to be confused about when something happened. Don’t allow verb tense errors to take over your paper.

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.
Please follow and like us:

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.

Take a look at the link below:

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.

 

Please follow and like us:

Get Ready for AP Exams

In the middle of March students and parents look forward to Spring Break, vacations, and some needed relaxation time. After almost an entire school year of getting through another academic grade, families and their students have cause to feel worn out.  For those parents who help their children with homework, Spring Break is a needed respite from the homework routine.

Unfortunately, I have to be the bearer of bad news for some parents and students.

Those who are studying for Advanced Placement (AP) Exams have a deadline on the horizon–the two weeks in May devoted to taking AP Exams are creeping ever closer. As I mentioned in my post about why AP scores matter, which you can find here, parents and their students should use this time to begin preparations for the exams.

Many parents don’t know how to help their child succeed.  They may not be familiar with the content of the exams themselves–AP courses are on the level of college classes and require specially trained instructors to teach students the materials covered on the exam. Parents and students need to collaborate to come up with a study plan to ensure their students do the best they can when test day rolls around.

My advice is to have a family discussion to set clear goals for the student. Parents and their student should decide if the student should aim for a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam. Every student learns uniquely and at their own pace; outlining a plan is a surefire way to support the student’s education. Creating realistic goals for achievement allows students to improve their confidence.

There are many options to accommodate test preparation. Firstly, the student and parents can reach out to a teacher of the respective AP Course and ask for supplemental material. The teacher may be able to provide the student with extra practice exams so that the student can master the exam before the test date. Secondly, students and parents could prepare for the exam together with test preparation books. I have found this method to be effective.

Students and parents should also consider tutoring for the exams that they deem the most important for the student’s college goals. By adequately preparing for exams with tutors, parents and students can save money and time in the long run. If the student achieves a score of three or higher on the test, depending on the college the student attends, he or she can be awarded up to 30-40 hours of introductory college credit (depending on the number of exams taken)! Tutors, like many teachers of AP Exams, have expertise that covers the breadth of the exam’s content. Unlike many teachers, however, tutors can individualize the lesson plan for each student’s learning style. This equips the student with the best resources to tackle the exam, get great scores, and acquire college credit.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the content of this post, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

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.
Please follow and like us:

Taking a Gap Year

When I was a senior in high school, none of my friends even considered a “Gap Year.” I do not think that any one of us had actually been exposed to the idea that a newly-graduated high school senior could take a year off from school before starting their college education. Now, the idea that students could, and maybe should, take time off to explore themselves, the world, and possible careers is in vogue. And why not? From personal experience, I will tell you that most college freshmen don’t even know what they should major in, much less what career they expect to pursue. It’s heinous that college students nowadays sign for thousands of dollars in loans but could not tell you what they are working toward. A year of self-discovery may give these students the necessary experience needed to see what jobs appeal to them, in addition to a year of personal growth. Many schools are beginning to encourage their students to take a Gap Year. For instance, the prestigious Harvard and Yale Universities promote taking time off to incoming freshman.[1]

For clarification purposes, students that take a gap year, like other juniors and seniors, take their SAT or ACT tests at the same time as their peers who intend to continue on to college immediately. These students would work hard to achieve their personal best scores, and then would apply to college in their the Senior year. Once admitted into a college, students who wish to take a gap year appeal to the college and ask permission to matriculate a year later.

Each of my friends who took a gap year before matriculating into college benefitted from a wider, yet more focused perspective than our peers. One friend developed an online presence through her social media in the year that she took off from school. She found her niche in creating jewelry, t-shirts, and artwork and has since been hailed as a rising star in that sector. Through her experience, she found out that she wanted to pursue a business marketing degree in order to further her ability to grow her own small business. Before her gap year, however, she didn’t have a clue as to what she wanted to study. This year of exploration grounded her in her interests, while also showing her that she lacked the skills necessary to run a business.

Another friend joined a year-long travel program that took him to countries all over the world–from islands in Oceania to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. He encountered different cultures, learned new languages, and discovered interests that he had never known he would enjoy. In South America, for example, this young man learned that he enjoyed dancing! He had always felt uncomfortable at school dances, but when he immersed himself in the Latin culture, he found Tango and Salsa dancing exciting. He came back to school the next year completely changed by his experiences, yet he was also still uniquely himself. He decided he wanted to study medicine so that he could one day contribute to Doctors Without Borders. Some great Gap Year programs are Thinking Beyond Borders, Dynamy, and Youth International. Find some great advice and more in depth information at UsaGapYearFairs.org.

Had these two students went straight to college, they would not have had the perspective that they gained from their year off. Both of these students went back to school self-motivated and excited to learn skills that could help them in their career. Instead of feeling burnt-out from high school, they were fresh and ready to learn more.

If you want more information about the Gap Year and specific programs associated with them, please do not hesitate to contact me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

[1] Find Yale’s information on a Gap year at http://www.yale.edu/yalecollege/international/welcome/gap_year.html and Harvard’s at https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/preparing-college/should-i-take-time

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.
Please follow and like us:

Do AP Exam Scores Really Matter?

When I was in high school–the nerd that I am–I thought that AP Classes were adequately challenging. The endless essays and readings didn’t faze me! But, I know that was far from the truth for many of my peers. They struggled with the course load. They’d taken the AP courses in pursuit of getting into their dream schools, whichever school that may be, but my peers never believed that the AP scores would actually help them when they got to College. They just thought the scores were a ticket into their college of choice, not an integral part of helping them to achieve the most they could in their undergraduate career. To be honest, I didn’t really see it that way either. I had found classes that showed me a different side of learning, but I also did not see how AP scores would really matter once I got to college. I was just looking to get my foot in the (best) door.

In all things, experience brings wisdom. I remember receiving my assigned time to enroll in my first semester of classes late in the summer. The email from the university had come unexpectedly, and I was excited that my enrollment time was so soon. In fact, I felt quite puzzled because I knew other freshman whose enrollment times were way later than mine. I thought, what makes me so special?

Little did I know that the AP Scores I had sent to my college played an essential role in this process. Later, when I had access to the transcripts section of the “Student Portal” (the online website through which a student enrolls in classes, checks grades, financial aid awards, among other things), I had achieved Sophomore-status as a Freshman. But, I had never attended college before! It was really encouraging to feel that I had a head start.

When I finally declared my major, I had another surprise. The introductory AP History courses that I took (AP World and AP US History) helped me to place out of the 100-level classes necessary to the requirements of my major. Instead of taking the boring 100-level classes, I could take Special Topics courses, take an extra elective for fun, or simply take a lighter course-load that semester and pursue an internship instead. The flexibility that the AP credit had given me allowed me to develop new interests and skills outside of my major.

Bottom line–if you are thinking that AP scores won’t help you in the long run, you’re wrong. They totally can and will help you to get the most out of your college experience! More information on the AP Exam here https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/about-exams

Any questions? Contact me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com

Like what you read? Follow Us!

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.

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Get a Head Start with the CLEP Exam

Students and their parents are usually aware of the Advanced Placement Program. The Advanced Placement Program is taken as a high school class, either in school or online. Through this class, the student learns a subject at the introductory College level. Students can take as many Advanced Placement or “AP” classes as their schools allow. Some schools offer AP classes to only Juniors and Seniors, while other schools offer these classes to students as freshman. The allure of the AP class is that the student–if they do well enough–can earn credit toward their college degree. This can come in handy when you’re trying to get ahead in college, especially if the student wants to graduate early. Sometimes AP credit comes in handy when a student has a heavy course-load and would rather take only three advanced-level classes in a semester, instead of four. There are all kinds of reasons why AP Scores can make your life easier as a college student. Two advantages of AP Credit are earlier enrollment times and placing out of General Education Requirements.

While the AP Exam is an excellent program to introduce you or your student to college-level work, there are other ways to earn college credit while still in high school! One of these methods is through taking the CLEP Exam (College Level Examination Program). The CLEP Exam offers 33 Exams in many of the same areas that the AP Exam covers, but the student is not required to take the class for the exam. The student can independently study for the exam, take the exam, and then use the exam toward gaining college credit!

So what does this mean for the student? Oftentimes, students struggle in the AP classes that their schools offer, and this may be a good alternative to gaining college credit while still in high school. Because the student does not have to take the AP Class, they could take an Honors-level class or a regular class and maintain their GPA. That way, the student wouldn’t have unnecessary stress levels trying to complete the rigor of work in the AP Class. On the other hand, many students take the CLEP Exam if their school does not offer the AP class on-site. For example, some schools may not offer AP German, but there is a CLEP Exam in that area, so the student can still take that exam for College credit if it is an exam that interests them!

As for non-traditional degree seekers, CLEP exams remain the best source to finally get your degree! The CLEP Exams can cover almost all introdu

ctory-level classes in college. By taking these exams, you can really get a foothold in finally graduating and moving forward in your career. More Information here on the exam  https://clep.collegeboard.org/overview/collegecredit

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the CLEP Exam, feel free to email me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

Like what you read? Follow Us!

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.
Please follow and like us:

What to do if You Didn’t Get Accepted into College

If you did not get accepted into college and want to continue your education for your career goals such as nursing or accounting, don’t give up.  You can still get into college.  For students who have struggled with grades, SAT/ACT test scores and Compass Exam scores, you will need to put in extra time to study and build your basic skills.

There is no substitute for not having the academic background.  Take the full year to build critical skills such as Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Writing and Math.  Not only will you need to improve your academic level in these areas to improve your test scores, you will need to have mastered these subjects to do well in your college courses.  It is never too late to learn.  Don’t look at this time as failure, but as a new opportunity to learn the concepts that you did not learn or missed while in school.  The good news is that you are still young and have your entire life ahead of you to succeed.  When you get to college after taking the year to better yourself, you will find out that not all college freshmen are 18 years old and just graduated from high school.  You will not be the only student that did not enter college directly out of high school.

We have had students to come to the learning center everyday for a year to fill in gaps in math, reading comprehension, grammar and writing to prepare for college.  Those students took that year and worked hard in class and on home assignments to gain the knowledge and confidence needed and successfully went on to college.

We have had adult students to come to the learning center to improve Reading, Math and Writing skills after working for years and realizing that higher education would improve their ability to receive raises and job promotions.

If you are a student just graduating from high school, don’t be discouraged that you did not enter college in the fall.  Set a new time table for yourself.  Be determined that you will take the time, put in the effort to study and learn to improve your skill set.  Only you can determine your future.  Decide if you want to work hard and put in the effort to learn now and be ready to move to the next level by next year or if you want to wait until you are older and have more responsibilities when you return to schooling.  It’s your decision and your choice to make.  Following the old adage of doing things now and not putting off tomorrow what you can do today is always the best strategy for life successes.

Please follow and like us:

Academic Common Market…An Opportunity Worth Considering

School counselors and college advisors often hear students mention the desire to attend college outside of Georgia. Many decide to stay due to the costs associated with out of state tuition and the irrestible lure of the HOPE scholarship. If your high school student is interested in a major that is not offered in a Georgia public institution, they may be eligible to take advantage of the Academic Common Market (ACM). ACM enables students to pursue out-of-state college degrees at in-state tuition rates through agreements between Georgia and 15 of our neighboring states.

 

    A few things you should know about the Academic Common Market:

 

  • Students should be admitted to the college of choice before submitting the ACM application materials.

 

  • Residents of SREB states should start their application process early to allow time for getting all the necessary authorizations.

 

  • States offering undergraduate degrees in our region include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia & West Virginia. North Carolina, Florida & Texas participate at the graduate level.

 

  • Georgia residents have access to almost 280 programs including: Sports Communication, Dance, Interior Design, Urban Planning, Forensic Chemistry, Business Analytics & a host of others.

 

This is an opportunity that will require some legwork and a few hours of research, but the return is definitely worth the investment!

 

For more details visit http://www.sreb.org/page/1304/academic_common_market.html

Please follow and like us:

More College Planning Updates…

In our last blog post we talked about the redesigned SAT which is on the way. Well for those 10th graders who are anxious and ready to start preparing, you can now check out a full practice PSAT! The College Board recently released the test and answer explanations that you can access at www.collegeboard.org/psatpractice. Although redesigned, the PSAT will continue to be the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test so rising juniors should invest some study time. Strong performance on this test can result in multiple scholarship opportunities so take advantage of this FREE resource and get started today!

Rising seniors have another important announcement to follow. The Common Application has released its revised essay prompts for the 2015-2016 application season. There are a total of 5 essays students can choose from to submit to the colleges of their choice. The Common Application is accepted at over 500 colleges and universities and has become a widely accepted admissions tool for students wishing to maximize their time. Summer is an awesome time to start drafting responses to some of these questions as current 11 graders prepare for the fall application season. This is also great practice for scholarship essays which will often times have similar writing prompts. Many students will avoid scholarship applications that require an essay(s); but taking the time to get a few prepared before the hustle and bustle of the ordinary demands of the school year can reduce the stress related with trying to multitask.

Now that you have an idea of some of the changes heading your way in the college admissions world take some time and come up with a strategy that works best for you. Just as important though is making sure you finish this semester on a solid note.

Don’t forget Academic Advantage Tutoring has College Planning services available to assist students prepare and stay on top of the busy and always changing college admissions world. Call today to find out how we can help!

Please follow and like us:

Are You Ready for the Redesigned SAT?

The SAT as we know it is changing and the redesigned version will be introduced to the public in the spring of 2016. College bound students and especially current 10th grade students should pay special attention to how the changes will affect them. The College Board is working hard to keep students and families informed and has a comprehensive website detailing the changes at www.collegereadiness.collegeboard.com.

In the meantime current 10th graders (and parents) here are a few things you will want to consider:

    • The redesigned SAT is an achievement test and is more closely aligned to what you are learning in the classroom.
    • You will be the first to take the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT as juniors in October. Your performance on this test may qualify you for scholarship and other recognition opportunities. It’s important to take advantage of the summer months and early fall to practice and prepare for the redesigned test. The College Board will release a practice PSAT sometime later this month.
    • There are some key changes to the redesigned test and the list can be found on the website but two of our favorites: no penalties for wrong answers and you will now see relevant vocabulary words!
    • While the writing section is optional we suggest you opt to take it, as it should give colleges a more comprehensive view of your ability. Remember every college has different requirements so do your research.
    • Most counselors suggest students take both college admissions tests in the spring of their junior year and this will be especially important during 2015-2016. Students should attempt both the SAT and the ACT if possible to determine which is a better fit.
    • Remember that most colleges will accept either test but again, check the admission requirements for each school you are considering. Concordance information (ACT comparison) will be available in 2016.
    • Stay tuned for the SAT Guide for Students and Parents which is scheduled to be released in June 2015 for a comprehensive overview of the redesigned test.
Please follow and like us:
1 2