Getting into college: The importance of the application essay – it's just your future (and past!)

It’s September. If you are a football fan it’s pre-season and your team has hopes of making it to the super bowl. If you are a baseball fan hopefully your team is poised for a playoff run. If you like to swim and be outside, it is still warm and good weather and if you are a student you are waiting for your schedule and collecting school supplies.. unless you are a soon to be senior. An exciting time. It’s college application season. And you need to get busy!!
Seniors – this is an important time for you. And you need to take this process seriously. Treat it like a class! There are deadlines and time limitations. Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. As an Educator I get asked all the time about applications and admissions strategy, and the best advice us simple: start early, be consistent with your efforts and get it done.
My guideline for my students: Have your paperwork and essays done by the first day of school or the end of September at the latest. Take the pressure off of this process.
Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. Most apps take at least 3-4 Hours to complete. The essays writing and revision process can seem interminable.
So start EARLY and work on them OFTEN.
Most of the application process is a collection of information… name rank and serial number type stuff. Your academic history, your standard admissions test scores, your extracurricular activities etc… and then coup de grace.. the chance for you to tell them about all the things they didn’t ask about already… THE ESSAY.
Writing this essay – or in some cases essays – can be daunting and intimidating for students. What do I say? Am I talking about the right things? How can I say what I want in only 650 words? Does it really matter? How do I make my essay stand out?
The answers are: Talk about your experiences. Stay with the essay prompt that you’ve chosen. Yes brevity is important but stay on point. yes the essay can be a huge factor in admission. Stay interesting and tell your story… don’t write like a history paper.
Need help. Here is a video that I’ve made along with professional college placement advisor Cheryl DiLanzo. It will give you a very good perspective on the essay.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ESSAY GUIDELINE VIDEO
Finally if you don’t know where to start, or you would like a professional look at your essay, consider this free (!!) essay workshop:
CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT THE ADMISSIONS ESSAY WORKSHOP
Please let me know what you think in the comments area below.
or Contact mAke the grAde now at: sgreene@makethegrade.net

Getting into college: The importance of the application essay – it’s just your future (and past!)

It’s September. If you are a football fan it’s pre-season and your team has hopes of making it to the super bowl. If you are a baseball fan hopefully your team is poised for a playoff run. If you like to swim and be outside, it is still warm and good weather and if you are a student you are waiting for your schedule and collecting school supplies.. unless you are a soon to be senior. An exciting time. It’s college application season. And you need to get busy!!

Seniors – this is an important time for you. And you need to take this process seriously. Treat it like a class! There are deadlines and time limitations. Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. As an Educator I get asked all the time about applications and admissions strategy, and the best advice us simple: start early, be consistent with your efforts and get it done.

My guideline for my students: Have your paperwork and essays done by the first day of school or the end of September at the latest. Take the pressure off of this process.

Simple to say. Not always so easy to do. Most apps take at least 3-4 Hours to complete. The essays writing and revision process can seem interminable.

So start EARLY and work on them OFTEN.

Most of the application process is a collection of information… name rank and serial number type stuff. Your academic history, your standard admissions test scores, your extracurricular activities etc… and then coup de grace.. the chance for you to tell them about all the things they didn’t ask about already… THE ESSAY.

Writing this essay – or in some cases essays – can be daunting and intimidating for students. What do I say? Am I talking about the right things? How can I say what I want in only 650 words? Does it really matter? How do I make my essay stand out?

The answers are: Talk about your experiences. Stay with the essay prompt that you’ve chosen. Yes brevity is important but stay on point. yes the essay can be a huge factor in admission. Stay interesting and tell your story… don’t write like a history paper.

Need help. Here is a video that I’ve made along with professional college placement advisor Cheryl DiLanzo. It will give you a very good perspective on the essay.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ESSAY GUIDELINE VIDEO

Finally if you don’t know where to start, or you would like a professional look at your essay, consider this free (!!) essay workshop:

CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT THE ADMISSIONS ESSAY WORKSHOP

Please let me know what you think in the comments area below.

or Contact mAke the grAde now at: sgreene@makethegrade.net

Today – Sept 30 – Last Day to Get Maximum Education for free! :)

Today only… you you get a FREE copy of Maximum Education at this link:

Watch the video and click the link in the comments…

  • Time Management
  • Information Management
  • Comprehensive Planning
  • Special Bonuses

http://bit.ly/930maxed

https://youtu.be/hBRHWYVfKu0

Who is your mastermind group?

I imagine you’ve heard of the mastermind group…. you collect (or join) a group of others who are experts in their fields – and at the same time do not compete with you – and you meet and brainstorm and mastermind ideas. The goal is to help each other succeed through support and education and well… OPT = others peoples talent.

Take home message —> you can ALWAYS learn from others no matter how successful you are in your own field.

Over the summer, I had the privilege of joining more than 20 other entrepreneurs for an evening of networking and sharing success stories. Talk about positive ‘vibes’ in the room! Better even, nearly all of these business owners have following their passions for only a few years. A real tribute to the reality that if you feel strongly enough about your dreams and goals and you have the right plan and you work with the right people… success is just a matter of time.

I asked the organizer of the event, Bonny Clayton – Your Web Chick – to summarize the event:

“Six months ago, when I started playing with ideas for how to celebrate my two years in full-time business for myself, I wasn’t sure where to start. I knew I wanted to celebrate the small business professionals who had supported me in ways big and small over these two years. I knew I wanted to spotlight other local businesses. And I knew I wanted to give something back And so Journey to Success, a charity networking event with small business owners as storytellers, was born! The success of the event exceeded my expectations and I believe that success can be attributed to the combination of my diligent social media and personal outreach, the quality of the sponsors who stepped up to support the event and the appeal of the storytelling element. The feedback I’ve received so far echoes my own sentiments…that the storytellers were the hit of the event. And so, selecting storytellers will be an ongoing tradition for each Journey to Success to come!!”

At this small (20 people) event, not only did I sample some great home made food and the best cupcakes ever (nothing wrong with mixing food with business right!), but I also met several talented and motivated people. All of them were on different stages in their respective journeys to success. And I learned something from all of them.

PS – the event raised over $200 to support the North Shore Animal League!

Take action. Form or join a mastermind or a networking group. It could be a localized face to face group, or use technology and meet via online forums. Both work well.

If you are local to me… CHECK OUT THIS MASTERMIND GROUP or connect with my inbox if you want to learn more about online mastermind groups.

Connect. Learn. Prosper.

Limited Offer – Get Maximum Education for Free!

Amazon is offering my book for FREE today tomorrow and Wednesday only.

I have made a short video to promote this (attached)… the direct link is:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNzlH5s61LU&w=420&h=315]

Link to get Maximum Education for free!
http://bit.ly/maxedfree
Also.. please share with anyone who you think might be interested.

 

Online Tutoring: What are your options?

It’s 11pm and you have a question about your math or science homework. You just can’t seem to finish your English or History paper. You’re 5th graders homework is beyond what you as a parent ever learned in high school… Do you have a solution? Where are you going to get help? Good news. There is a convenient, simple, and increasingly affordable solution: online tutoring. Online education and online tutoring is not a new concept, however in the past few years there has been a proliferation of companies and individuals providing this service. So what is online tutoring?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JYWjfJ_7LE?rel=0&wmode=transparent]

The concept is simple and fairly self-evident. A student would connect with a tutor or educator through an online medium or online based classroom. Then they can work through their educational or academic challenges. Typically a combination of media issues for example, video feed audio feed and an online whiteboard along with screen sharing. Almost like being there live.

“We provide 15-20 hours or online based education to our students each week.” says Dr Steven Greene, the lead educator at mAke the grAde a Philadelphia PA based service. Some of this are 1 hour sessions that are similar to our face to face tutoring, but many are in 10 minute blocks to accommodate students who have just 1 question or just need a single concept explained.”

Greene goes on to talk about the convenience of the system.

“Clearly there is an academic and educational advantage to the student as they can get help from an expert, but there also is a convenience advantage as students are able to tailor the amount of time needed to their specific question so the process becomes very efficient. Also the ability to get help when they need it is priceless.”

An example of one of Dr Greene’s online sessions can be found here: http://youtu.be/2GxVlYuXo9U

What do online tutoring services instruct?
Academically, pretty much everything.

Subjects range from general math such as arithmetic, algebra and geometry right up to calculus in addition there are students who have questions about science topics like general science, and the more advanced classes like chemistry biology and physics,. Additionally History, English including writing term papers, and foreign languages are popular. There are clear advantages… Imagine being able to learn Spanish from a native speaking tutor in Spain! Or being able to learn Chemistry from a working Chemist. And it doesn’t end there… an increasingly large number of students also work on standardized tests like the SAT and a ACT college admissions exams and further get coaching for the application and essay process.

These services are not hard to find. A single search of the Internet shows that just about anything can be taught or learned online those in the education arena and outside of it. There are topic basic sites dedicated to this field such as Udemy and Creative Live. Companies like tutor.com and y2academy.com which provide subject based tutors appear to be popular as well. Here is a link to a review of several of the large companies: http://online-tutoring-review.toptenreviews.com

But does it work? Is it effective? Can one really learn this way? College students, High school students, Middle School students and Parents all seem to love the concept.

“I never would’ve made it through my freshman year of college” reports Jenna currently a student at Penn State University. “It wasn’t my classes were overly difficult all the time, but the volume of work was challenging, and it was very reassuring to know that I could get help that was really effective when I needed it and I didn’t have to be locked into a strict schedule. There is plenty of help on campus but it doesn’t always work around my schedule”.

Charles, now a High School senior in California was happy to have the option. “We had checked out several local tutors and some of the big house prep classes but but we wanted something that was one-on-one and more tailored to my timetable and my instructional needs. We found that online tutoring was the best of all worlds when it came to prep for the ACT. The best part about it was that I really connect with my tutor and my score went up 5 points which was phenomenal.”

Finally parents are happy to have the help. “I was fine working with my daughter until 7th grade. At that point the Math and Science were just beyond what I remember.” said Andi, a mother of three who seemed to have a full time job just managing homework time. “Having to oversee homework for all of the kids become too much. And honestly, it reached a point where they just didn’t want to work with me or their dad. The online service is just great. We use it when we need it and my kids love doing it. Really it’s a life saver.” Want to check out a sample online tutoring session: http://youtu.be/2GxVlYuXo9U

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GxVlYuXo9U?rel=0&wmode=transparent]

Finally, try before you buy. Most tutoring companies, including mAke the grAde, will offer a free trial session before you commit to anything longer term.

Dr Steven Greene is the lead educator at mAke the grAde. They are a full time academic services and tutoring company based in the Philadelphia PA area. Since 1996 mAke the grAde has worked with over 7 000 students and their families including nearly 1 000 using online tutoring. You can reach him at sgreene@makethegrade.net

The 11 Most FAQ about SAT and ACT Test Preparation

Recently I did a live presentation entitled – The College Admissions Process: SAT? ACT? – What is your plan at a local library.

Here is a video of this event…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3c2lQ-tjHzA?rel=0&wmode=transparent]

or… http://youtu.be/3c2lQ-tjHzA

This is the 20th time I’ve done a talk of this nature. Why so often? Simple… Students and their parents have a lot of questions about this very important process. There are always questions that come up so here there are along with the answers…

The 11 Most FAQ about SAT and ACT Test Preparation

  1. How long are typical SAT & ACT prep courses and how far in advance of the test should my child take a program?
    Typically 8-15 weeks. You should start so that the program(s) concludes with the test date(s)
  2. Do SAT & ACT prep programs require daily student practice?
    YES… 20 – 30 minutes a day 4x or 5x a week
  3. Where do students have the greatest resistance?
    Scheduling is usually an issue (they are busy and often this occurs during school time with sports / homework / plays / out of school activities etc). Some students welcome test prep as a challenge, and others treat is as a ‘rite of passage’. The key is to show the value of test prep to the students.
  4. Are PSAT scores in 10th or 11th grade a reflection of how my child will do on SATs?
    They are a benchmark of expectation since the PSAT emulates the SAT. The 11th grade PSAT is a better benchmark. An expectation (based on test publishers) is that without prep, a student will score +/- 40 net points from the PSAT score.
  5. What are the dates/deadlines and websites for registration for 2014/2015 school year SAT & ACT EXAMS?
    www.collegeboard.org for the SAT
    www.actstudent.org for the ACT
  6. Which test – the SAT or ACT – should my child take if he/she doesn’t know the type of school he/she wants?
    Since colleges will accept both tests, the decision should first be based on which test you feel your child will do better on (higher score) since the goal is about getting a better relative score to increase the possibility of admission to the institution of choice.
  7. What can my child do now in 9th/10th grade to plan ahead for the SAT or ACT tests?
    Study vocabulary now since it’s a long term activity. Keep up with school concepts, especially in Math. The SAT and ACT both have online practice test materials that can be utilized or questions of the day. Even doing a problem a day is a start.
  8. Are there advantages/disadvantages of my child doing more than one SAT or ACT prep program?
    Yes, and no. You can argue that the more prep the better, but sometimes different courses have different and conflicting test taking strategies… so really it’s more about consistency and having a consistent plan for the tests. The goal is for a student is to approach the test and practice for the test in the most consistent repeatable way possible. My opinion is that the longer prep is spread over time the more effective it is and different classes have different pacing.
  9. How much can we realistically expect our son/daughter’s SAT or ACT scores to improve with test prep?
    Bear in mind that since the higher your starting score, the more difficult it is to improve, so a person with a starting 1000 score (of 1600) would and should improve more than a person with a start score of 1200 (of 1600). Having said this, a reasonable expectation is an improvement of 100 points. I have had students increase >300 points or more in some cases however. You can expect a commensurate improvement in the ACT scores with the 36 point scoring system.
  10. Are there differences in requirements for SAT or ACT exams between in-state vs. out-of-state schools?
    In terms of admission and admissions test, very little. Many large state schools may have quotas for the number of in-state students that they must accept which limits the number of out of state candidates.
  11. My child has accommodations in school such as extra time on tests… will we get this as well on a standard SAT or ACT test?
    Any test accommodation must be arranged with the test administration companies. An accommodation that is granted in a school setting (e.g. extra time on test) is not automatically granted on a standard test. It is an independent approval. A guidance counselor should be able to address your specific situation better.

What questions do you have? Let’s see them in the comments.

Ask your questions in the comments below and you will get answers asap or Contact Dr Steven Greene at mAke the grAde at sgreene@makethegrade.net

Too Busy To Study – What is a Student to do?

Everyone is super busy these days. Running here and there from all day. This used to be the purview of C level executives and over scheduled sales professionals… but now it also included studentsand the education world. It’s common to see a student up before the sunrise, at school until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, then to a sports practice or club or other activity and then finally home for an evening of homework. The ‘average’ student, even in middle school level, may spend as much as 3 hours on homework a night (according to a great article in the Atlantic – this article also compares the time spend on homework done to grades).

So how does one balance all these activities and commitments and still achieve success in the classroom and in your education?

The Secret is really no secret at all. You have to be organized and you have to have a system.

A system should be composed of four aspects:
1. a homework tracking system
2. a note taking and outlining system
3. a time management system
4. a test preparation system

Here are quick examples of each…

Homework tracking should have three aspects to it: a list of assignments, a set of prioritization, and a time element attached to it

Did you know that there are at least six different ways to take notes and outline…try making a concept map rather than an indented style.

Time management isn’t just about writing things down in a calendar, it’s about blocking out and prioritizing efforts, color coding and going digital with online tools

Test preparation has both active and passive styles.. active ones such as making flash cards and creating mock exams are 3-4x more effective than passive processes such as rereading notes.

Maximum Education is a workbook and study guide written by Dr. Steven Greene of mAke the grAde academic services. This is about taking action and creating a system that works. In this hands-on process-based workbook, he provides students and parents with a basic functional, but powerful, system that they can use on a daily basis to achieve maximum results. All of the processes and techniques detailed in the book have been field tested for over 20 years at Dr. Greene’s tutoring center near Philadelphia PA.

A lot of this process is simply knowing what you need to do and having an effective repeatable system to accomplish all of your tasks. There also is an element of planning ahead and anticipating important events coming up like tests and papers. there are also mechanical skills by creating outlines or taking notes which are critical as the tests themselves.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSk2gDDAMRs?rel=0&wmode=transparent]

The workbook may also be unique in that it interfaces with several videos and online forms that help the student develop their own particular variations on the process taught in the manual. It is an online mechanism that enables the students to get updated information on the fly. Great idea!

For more information about Maximum Education see www.makethegrade.net

SAT/ACT prep: 1/1Tutoring v Group Classes-which is more effective?

You’ve taken the PSATs. You’ve tried to learn vocabulary using flash cards. You’ve had your older siblings book sitting on your desk under a pile of papers for four months. You’ve made it through the first quarter or more of your junior year. You’re put it off… and now… you are ready to start your test prep process.

Options are:

Do it yourself. Or Take a class. Which leads to the even bigger question:

The big question is: individualized tutoring versus a group class.

Regardless of what you are thinking… here is what the statistics say:

  • Students who prepped for standardized tests perform better than students who do not prep
  • Students who hire professional tutors perform better than students who take group classes
  • The length of a prep course is not necessarily related to proportionately increased test scores
  • The cost of individualized tutoring varies greatly
  • The effectiveness of individualized tutoring depends on the quality of the tutor and the ability of the student to utilize skills learned in the process

In an article on Bark.org researchers interviewed students who hired private tutors. While results varied, nearly every student felt that hiring the tutor was worth the cost and investment. At the same time this did not absolve the students having to do the work to get the results that they wanted. Some of the courses asked students to do several hours of homework every week. Prices for individualized tutoring vary tremendously as shown in this graphic:

tutoring costs

Pricing will very regionally and in different demographics and geography.

A much more thorough analysis of the use of private tutors was done by the national Center for educational statistics in 2010. The Study is available here. In short, the study concluded that the number of students asking for, and getting private tutoring increases every year.

So where do you start?

It is a good idea to know what you need before you begin searching for help. Some of the preliminary exams, like the PSAT, may help to clarify a student shortcomings and other areas that need to be bolstered. A qualified tutor or educator and also administered diagnostic tests of their own in order to determine these areas of need as well.

Here is a link to a video which details the seven most important topics and questions you should consider before setting up a tutoring program, not just for test prep, but for any educational experience.

7 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL TUTORING EXPERIENCE

This is an excellent video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZutQJevzG8c?rel=0&wmode=transparent]

What do you think?
Are you planning to hire a private tutor?
Are you planning to do a group course?
Will you class be online? face to face?

Let’s hear you comments and suggestions.

Do you want to understand your PSAT scores? For a free analysis of your PSAT scores including a section by section analysis and needs determination: contact Dr Steven Greene at sgreene@makethegrade.net

Information Management: A challenge at all levels and an interesting experiment.

Organizing Information.

This is a challenge at all levels.  Middle School. High School. University. Job. Career. Home.

Why?

1. There is simply a lot of information that you have to manage
2. There are so many ways that you can get (or be bombarded) with information.
3. It isn’t just about volume, it is also about prioritization.

I did an experiment for 2 days last week which I suggest that you try as well.

Day 1 – I dealt with all forms of incoming information as swiftly as I could.  I mean every text, email, tweet, phone call, fax (do you still get them?), read feed, and whatever else came my way.  By about noon, I’d lost count at about 900 items that I’d dealt with.  Mostly emails and texts but a combination of just about all of them.  And to be fair, some were responses to emails and texts that I had sent (I was trying to be productive after all!).  By about 2 I just felt Intellectually sluggish.  It wasn’t so much that I was overloaded, as I think we are all capable of handling this volume, but I felt that I wasn’t making progress somehow.   In the name of science I stuck with it and by about 10pm when I closed up shop for the day I had estimated about 2000 pieces of info back and forth.  Maybe digitized between the emails and web clips in Evernote and social media and so on.

Day 2 – the goal was simple.  I have a goal for today (in this case to finish a particular chapter of my soon to be released book – Maximum Education.)   I was going to only deal with incoming information that helped me to accomplish this goal.  By 9am I had 190 emails in the inbox, but I’d only read 3.. 2 from editors and 1 from the publisher.  I have 11 texts that all were thus far unanswered.  Not even counting social media as a just ignored Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin… By noon when I broke for lunch, 371 emails and 19 texts. I had answered 7 total.  The phone did ring 3 times.. all potential clients … so of course I took those calls… By 3pm.. chapter done, edits done and feeling accomplished.  Tally: 752 emails, 28 text, 4216 tweets in the feed, indefinite facebook posts still ignored.

The ‘moral’ here is obvious.  You get a lot more done when you focus on what you want to get done.   I didn’t have to go whole hog in either direction to do that, and in this day and age, anyone who markets and thrives on the internet can’t go cold turkey for any length of time, but it is clear that not dealing with the background information and collateral and non-essential information is will increase productivity.

In the next post, I will present some hands on techniques to channel and funnel essential information to keep all of us productive and sane.

More tips at makethegrade and

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZutQJevzG8c?wmode=transparent]