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!

How to write a college essay

April 23rd, 2013

How to Write College Essays

As a lifelong student, there a few characteristics you know are important to a good college essay. Strong diction, clear writing structure, and correct grammar – but there might be a few illusive aspects of an outstanding college essay.

First, try to come up with a relatively unique storyline for your main essay. I know that is challenging; and you probably will not come up with anything an admissions officer has not read before.  But try to say something unique.

At minimum, try to say something moving. Reach deep down within yourself and pull out something you are passionate about, or an event that really impacted your life.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, great admissions officers everywhere want to see young/potential professors. The want to see the deep inquisitiveness, curiosity, and desire to learn that is prevalent in academia. This can all be summed up in one word: drive.

Are you driven about your field of study? Academics? Leading other people? A particular public policy issue? A particular pursuit? Life?? The essay only has to be one of these sections – but this drive has to shine through somehow.

It helps the admissions staff see how you could fit in at their university if it is an issue/section that can directly relate to a field of study they offer. If you love travel, and you love learning about different cultures, maybe you will be an International Relations major or Anthropology major. They like to see that there is some sort of direct connection between your displayed passion and their college.

Make sure at least one of your essays is about your chosen field of study. If you do not know which field you want to major in yet, just pick one. Do not worry about not knowing. Many young adults do not know what they want to do when they go to college. But the school does not want to hear “I have no interests” they want to hear “I’m really interested in a lot of things” or “I’m really interested in this one thing.” But if you go with the “interested in a lot things” essay – be sure to narrow it down to top two or three interests. Top two is better, especially if the essay is short.

Good Sample Topics

  • How travel abroad changed your opinion of the world/opened your eyes?
  • How has working/volunteering with those less fortunate changed your view of the world?
  • How did struggling with working in high school to help your family change you for the better?
  • What was an adverse event you thrived under? How?
  • A personally traumatic event, and how you succeeded anyways, can actually make some of the best essays around
  • Leadership roles (sports, student government, club leadership)
  • Something you are incredibly passionate about – if you can write a long essay about it – it can be your chosen field of study if you want

AVID year-end site team meetings!!

April 18th, 2013

What is AVID?

AVID is an Advancement Via Individual Determination: A 4-year elective that helps kids get ready for a 4-year college experience. 
AVID is a bi-weekly tutorial which helps kids keep their GPA up, SAT and ACT tutoring starting in 10th grade, and the rest of the time is focused on expanding their horizons and getting them ready for college.

From their website it says: AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance. The AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) accelerates student learning, uses research based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for systemic reform and change.

AVID began in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, then-head of the English department at San Diego’s Clairemont High School. The federal courts issued an order to desegregate the city’s schools, bringing large numbers of inner city students to suburban schools. While applauding the decision, Swanson wondered how these underserved students would survive at academically acclaimed Clairemont High.

Her answer was AVID, an academic elective. But it’s more than a program – it’s a philosophy: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge.

AVID is having their year-end site team meetings. 
Peninsula High School’s meeting was today and Palos Verdes High School is tomorrow
the AVID year-end site team meetings are where parents, students, teachers, and tutors get together to discuss how the year went
and discuss goals for next year. 
The Peninsula High School Avid seniors set a record: 100% of the kids that applied to a 4-year school were accepted to at least one.
They had a record high for applications for next year’s freshman that is. 
The AVID Program is increasing the amount of tutors they are going to have next year – so the ratio will be 7 students to 1 tutor in tutorials.
This year it was about 12 tutors to 1 student. 
They also have a record high number of kids going to their overnight college trip – which is where 41 kids spend 2 days to go see  Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and University of California Santa Barbara. 

STAR Testing!

April 16th, 2013

Let us help your student put the “Star” in STAR Testing!!! 

Each spring, students in grades two through eleven take a STAR test. The STAR Program looks at how well schools and students are performing. Students take tests in math, reading, writing, science, and history. Teachers and parents can use test results to improve student learning.

The STAR Program includes four tests: the California Standards Tests, the California Modified Assessment, the California Alternate Performance Assessment, and the Standards-based Tests in Spanish.

The STAR Program for 2010–11 has four components:

  • California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)—The CAPA is an alternate performance assessment to the CSTs in English-language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science. It is an individually administered assessment for pupils with significant cognitive disabilities who have an individualized education program (IEP).
  • California Modified Assessment (CMA)—The CMA is an alternate assessment to the CSTs in ELA, mathematics, and science for eligible pupils who have an IEP and meet the CMA eligibility criteria adopted by the SBE.
  • California Standards Tests (CST)—The CSTs are criterion-referenced tests that assess the California content standards in ELA, mathematics, science, and history-social science.
  • Standards-based Tests in Spanish (STS)—The STS are criterion-referenced tests aligned to the California content standards for reading/language arts and mathematics.

STAR Testing is just around the corner with test being given between April 17th and May 3rd, depending on your school.

STAR Testing is important because:

– Helps place kids in the appropriate class each year

– Used to appropriate funds in the district

– Can identify subject weaknesses in a student

– Colleges are starting to look at them to help determine admittance

– Some teachers give extra credit for doing well. 

We have access to past tests and can help your student prepare to do their best and knock it out of the park. 

Don’t wait… book your appointment today (7 days a week)! 

Contact samantha@studyhut.com or call 1-310-546-2408

Going away to college

April 11th, 2013

Yesterday, our RB Office Manager had a meeting with a student named Claire and her dad Jeff!! She is a Junior in High School and about to be a senior… and JUST now decided that she wanted to take the ACT.

The girl does well in Science and scored a 27 on her ACT Diagnostic test. Claire told our RB Office Manager that she had taken the SATS but about a year and a half ago, so not very recently.

The problem the student had was that she has been so focused on her grades and pin pointing exactly what she wants to major in, instead of focusing on what school she wanted to go or the area she want to live in.

Claire was focused more on her future and where her major was going to take her, that she did not stop to think about what location she wanted to go to college at, or the area she wanted to surround her self by.

When going to college, you have to think about not only what school you want to go, but also the area you want to live in. From LA to New York, there are so many schools across the United States, and each city is so different and unique, and each offer different things.

Make sure to spend time at the colleges of your choice, because it’s not only about the education, the classes, and the majors a school may offer, but the city it’s it or the surrounding area can also make a huge impact on your college life in either a positive or negative way.

College can last anywhere from 3 – 6 or more years and you want to make sure you choose a college where you are going to get a great education, but you have to make sure you can feel at home and feel safe and secure in the area that you want to live in.

Free AP Diagnostic Test

March 14th, 2013

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! THE MANHATTAN BEACH STUDY HUT IS OFFERING FREE AP DIAGNOSTIC TESTS!!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get a 5 on an AP test? Well now is your chance!! We are offering free AP Diagnostic Tests and the first one is only 10 DAYS AWAY!

March 24th (Sunday) and April 20th (Saturday) are the two times that we will be offering the exams for all subjects.

If you would like to sign up please contact samantha@studyhut.com or call 1-310-546-2408.

For those of you that don’t know, AP stands for Advanced Placement – a program in the United States created by the College Board offering college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. American colleges often grant placement and course credit to students who obtain high scores above a certain number on the examinations. The AP curriculum for the various subjects is created for the College Board by a panel of experts and college-level educators in each subject. For a high school course to have the AP designation, the course must be audited by the College Board to ascertain it satisfies the AP curriculum.

Some colleges use AP test scores to exempt students from introductory coursework. Each college’s policy is different, but most require a minimum score of 3 or 4 to receive college credit. Typically this appears as a “CR” grade on the college transcript, although some colleges and universities will award an A grade for a 5 score.

Grading the AP exam is a long and complicated process. The multiple choice component of the exam is scored by computer, while the free response and essay portions are scored by trained Readers at the AP Reading each June. The scores on various components are weighted and combined into a raw Composite Score. The Chief Reader for each exam then decides on the grade cutoffs for that year’s exam, which determine how the Composite Scores are converted into the final grades. During the process a number of reviews and statistical analyses are performed to ensure that the grading is reliable. The overall goal is for the grades to reflect an absolute scale of performance which can be compared from year to year.

ACT vs. SAT Prep Fair at Mira Costa High School

March 1st, 2013

 

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! There was an ACT vs. SAT Prep Fair at Mira

Costa High School Wednesday night !

Our Manhattan Beach Office Manager Sam and Adam attended the SAT vs. ACT Prep Fair on Wednesday at Mira Costa High School  from 6:15 p.m. until 8 p.m.  The Study Hut set up a table and talked to many students and parents – mostly Sophomore and Junior level students who are getting ready to plan for college.

There was a speaker there on Wednesday night along with other businesses including Kaplan, Blue Train, The Princeton Review, PJ’s Test Prep Service, and many others.

The Study Hut offers SAT prep – both group courses and private one-on-one tutoring. Right now are are in the 4th week of a 6 week SAT group course. We offer classes up to 10 students and the class is offered Mon/Wed or Tues/Thurs for 2 hours each night.

If you are interested in taking this course, you can sign up to take a free SAT Diagnostic test on Saturday mornings proctored here at the Study Hut. The next dates will be March 2nd and March 23rd. We offered a Diagnostic this past Saturday as well on February 23rd and had a great turn out since students are gearing up for the real SAT test on March 9th!!

Once you’ve taken the diagnostic test – we will then schedule a consult with Co-Owner Rob to go over your scores and sign you up for either the group course or the private one-on-one sessions.

Our next SAT group course will start on March 12th and will be offered Tuesday and Thursday nights for two hours each.

You can e-mail samantha@studyhut.com if you are interested in taking the Diagnostic Test/being in the SAT group course or private one-on-one sessions.

Good luck to all the students who are taking the SAT exam on March 9th!!

 

Should I Choose a Major Before Submitting My Application?

December 4th, 2012

Most colleges are looking for particular students with particular sets of skills, but not all them.  It is important to research what your top choices are looking for.  Stanford is looking for different types of students than is Berkeley, for example.   Many universities are eager to accept students that fit within a narrow range of strengths and weaknesses which means that often times, they want to see your strengths articulated into the major that you’ll be studying.  If you are quite strong in a particular area, you will be showing your potential university that you are committed to that strength and show a particular passion in that field of study.  At the end of the day, universities want to see dedication, diligence, and passion based on your strengths in high school.  Choosing a major upon applying to a university is just one more way to “brand” yourself as a unique student with a real drive for the subject matter.

However, some statistics show that around 80% of college students change their majors, and on average, a college student will change their major THREE TIMES during the course of their college education.  While this may be “normal” it is one of the main reasons college is taking students closer to five years to graduate.  When we get to college each major has specific classes that we need to take, so if we have been studying Psychology for two years and switch to Marine Biology, we are going to have to take a whole new set of classes, rendering the majority of the classes we took for Psychology useless.  While we may have enjoyed the classes we took, we are now two years behind in our Marine Biology coursework.  So in order to get the most for our time and ourselves it is most efficient to pick something we will love to do and stick with it.

If you are not so lucky as to know what you want to study right when you get accepted, there are important strategies that can help us use our time efficiently and not waste priceless time on taking unnecessary classes.   Many undecided students tend to study Psychology and Business, both very popular choices with a large range of opportunities in the future but they may not be what we really want to do.  Here is one strategy that will work well:

There are two main types of classes in college, General Education and Major Specific classes.  General Education classes are usually entry level and have few or no prerequisite classes (classes you need to take before you can take your major class).  While Major Specific classes usually build on themselves so they take more investment time wise.  If we do end up going into a major we are unsure about, it is best use of our time to take mostly General Education classes, and perhaps one major class our first semester.  This way we get our General Education classes (the classes we have to take no matter what) out of the way while still getting a little taste of how we like the major.

If we pay close attention to the classes, we may find there are some major classes that overlap with General Education, these would be best to start your Freshman year with because they give us a taste of the major while also chipping away at the General Education classes we have to take anyway.

But again the number one thing you should consider before you choose your major is “What do I LOVE to do” because in the end that is what will make you happiest, and when you are happiest you will perform your best.  Good Luck future of America!

Senioritis – A Cautionary Tale

November 28th, 2012

Senioritis (n): a disease, primarily afflicting students that are about to graduate, that causes them to feel like they no longer need to do their work because “We’re almost outta here! Woo!”

Senioritis is an epidemic that sweeps the nation every spring. High School seniors, looking forward to the summer and, beyond that, college, are particularly susceptible to the senioritis bug. Once infected, students become lazy, and often fail to turn in their work. Many feel that, because they have already been admitted to the college of their choice, they no longer have anything to fear from High School. Their quality of work slips and, along with it, so do their grades. But these students are not, in fact, immune to bad grades. Unbeknownst to many of the afflicted, colleges do in fact pay attention to spring semester grades. Known side-effects of senioritis include reduction or loss of scholarships, getting dropped from the admissions list of their college of choice (this does happen), and even failure to graduate. The outlook for sufferers of senioritis is often grim.

Don’t let senioritis get you too! There are many ways to shield yourself from the adverse effects of the disease, but the most effective preventative measure is to stay motivated! Remember that your grades still matter right up until the last day of school! We all know that school can be tough, and boring, and that the promise of summer is already glowing brightly. But that doesn’t mean that it’s time to take a break.

To look at it another way, senior year is actually the most concentrated year of your career! Due to graduation practice, yearbook signing days, AP Testing, CAHSEE tests, Senior Ditch Day, Capstone Project, and cramming in some final volunteering hours, the amount of time you actually have to study and earn points in your senior year are limited. Therefore, every moment counts, so buckle-down, suite-up, strap-in, and finish up your final year on a good note!

Good luck!

The College Application Process

February 9th, 2012

Your junior and senior years of high school are two of the most important years of school you’ll ever attend. You have to study for and take your SAT, you have to choose the colleges you want to apply to, and then you have to make that final step—surviving the dreaded college application process.

This does not have to be an overwhelmingly stressful period of your life. Yes, you do have to put forth a lot of effort to get into college, but there are people that can help with the process and ease your stress. When you’re sitting there looking at that mound of blank application materials on your desk, you may ask yourself, how can I ever do ALL of this by myself?

Well, the good news is that the tutors at the Manhattan Beach Study Hut are here to help you! You can get help from the college graduates at Study Hut that have been through the exact same, grueling process. You can’t find this kind of one-on-one service anywhere else.

We can help with in-depth SAT and ACT preparation and general organizational strategies sure to lessen your overall stress. We have the resources you need to succeed in this important time in your life. For example, one of the most difficult aspects of the college application is perfecting the application essays. We provide you with the support you need to write a unique, well-written essay that is sure to draw attention to how spectacular you will be as a college student. The strategies we teach our students in everyday tutoring include all of the study skills a high school student needs in order to succeed in college. Perfecting your study habits with Study Hut now is the best way to ensure future success in college.