From a Tutor’s Perspective

September 24th, 2014

Study Hut tutors have the opportunity to work with the Academics Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at different high schools. One of these schools is Peninsula High School in Palos Verdes. During her freshman year, a student named Cindy was among one of the students I got to regularly help last school year. Now as a sophomore, Cindy comes in to Study Hut for tutoring and it seems fair to say that she is both enjoying it and benefitting from it. While waiting for her ride after one of her sessions, Cindy decided to hang around. Since I did not have a student at the time, I invited Cindy to sit at my table until her ride came (more like she invited herself to come sit). We chatted about her AVID class, school functions, friends, and life in general. Although the conversation only lasted about five minutes, it was one of those small events that happened to make my day that much better. It was a great feeling knowing that she was comfortable enough to talk to me like a friend and I was able to provide her with advice as a mentor. On behalf of the Study Hut tutors, we strive to provide an environment that balances serious styles and laid-back styles in order to allow students to succeed inside the classroom and beyond. This is just one example of the bonds that the tutors and students experience at Study Hut – I am sure there have been and will be plenty more.

Finding Your Dream College

March 18th, 2014
Finding Your Dream College
As your junior year winds down, it’s time to start coming up with the list of colleges that you will be applying to. Maybe you’ve had a dream school in mind since you were a little kid, or maybe you haven’t even started thinking about it, but you’ll need to come up with a mix of reach schools, safety schools, and a few in the middle of the road. There are around 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States, so trying to narrow them down can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for choosing your mixture of schools, but here are some criteria you can use to find schools that would be a good fit for you.
  • Kind of college- Are you looking for a two year or four year school? Public or private?
  • Location- Do you want to be able to do your laundry and eat dinner at home, or only fly home for winter break from a whole new environment?
  • Size/Setting- How do you feel about being at a school where everyone knows your name? Or would you rather find your niche in a large, diverse student population?
  • Life Outside the Classroom- Do you see yourself in a fraternity or sorority? How important is school spirit to you? Do you want to be able to go to “the big game” every weekend? What about volunteering, or an active student government? What kind of balance are you looking for between being academically challenged and having a fun-filled social life?
  • Major- If you’re not sure what you want to do with the rest of your life, or want a lot of variety before you work on a major, don’t worry! That’s totally normal. If you want a specialized degree, such as engineering, it’s important to find schools that have the right program for you.
  • Cost- This is one of the most important factors in choosing a college. Talk with your parents about college costs, look into applying for financial aid, and research different scholarships.
Once you’ve come up with a manageable list of schools, go on some campus visits to get a feel for the school’s unique vibe. Each school has its own “X-factor” where even if it sounds perfect on paper, it might not feel right in person, or you might fall in love with a school you didn’t think you would. To make your search easier, the College Board website has a school search, information about schools, and background on the application process. Visit https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/find-colleges/how-find-your-college-fit to start searching for the school that’s right for you!

What Colleges Care About Beyond Your GPA and SAT Score

November 14th, 2012

Ask any high school student, or their parents, what they consider the most important things to work on when applying for college and most of the time the answer is GPA and SAT scores. While your high school GPA and SAT scores are extremely important factors in getting into college, in many cases, there exists a 3rd factor; a factor can get you into your reach schools or get you rejected from target schools. That important 3rd factor is your extracurricular activities. It should be stated that different school systems weigh extracurriculars different than others. For example, UC’s put a lot of weight into an applicant’s extracurricular activities, while the Cal-State Schools (SDSU, Cal Poly, long beach, etc) essentially do not. Although if you intend on going to a Cal-State, you should still invest time into extracurricular activities in case you change your mind about your college destination.
I cannot emphasize how important these application builders are, as they act as a double edged sword: having many activities significantly helps you, while a lack of them significantly hurts you. Colleges want to accept unique well-rounded students. They prefer not to fill their student bodies with mundane cookie cutter students. They want their student body to be diverse and full of students that have experienced more of the world than exists outside the schoolroom. Extracurriculars demonstrate this to colleges. They show leadership skills, your personality, and other qualities not measured with test scores and grade averages. They can take a student with less than average grades, and transform him/her into an interesting and accomplished applicant. As I stated earlier, the reverse is true. Just as a lot of strong extracurricular activities can say a lot of about you, so can a lack of them. Having no strong extracurricular activities makes you appear dull, boring, and uninspired; especially when you consider the fact that many of the other applicants you are competing with have them.
The best part about extracurricular activities is that they are abundant and easy to get involved with. They range from holding positions in clubs and other organizations, to volunteer work, to sports outside of school, to community events, and in many cases to your own hobbies. Do you feel particularly strong about an issue, subject, or cause? Chances are there is an organization you can get involved with that addresses it. When preparing for college apps don’t get too obsessed with your GPA and test scores that you neglect the 3rd piece of the application pie: extracurricular activities.