April 24th, 2014

For many years, our tutors have been helping seniors at Palos Verdes High School complete their senior projects called the Capstone. This project consists of a research paper on a topic the student is interested in or affected by and a corresponding research project or experiment. Study Hut owners Rob and Sean Patrick, together with Redondo Beach manager, Justin, are all industry partners and judge the Capstone projects at the end of the year to decide which students will receive prizes and scholarships. In the past, the entire project has been completed during the course of the student’s senior year, but during the 2013-2014 school year, the school made some changes. Now students are required to finish their entire paper in the last quarter of their junior year, leaving the entire senior year to dedicate to their physical project and research. As the school is aware that this can be a very stressful time for students due to Advanced Placement exams in May, AP students are not required to begin working on their Capstone papers until after they have completed all their AP exams.

Early in the school year, I worked with a senior named Cara whose project analyzed the effectiveness of three different teaching styles. She works as a swim teacher at the South Bay Aquatic Center, which was the perfect place for her to experiment with different teaching styles in her swim classes.  I recently worked with a junior named Halle who studied the societal influence on the evolution of music. While expanding on previously learned academic skills and preparing students for college level papers and projects, the Capstone also provides students an opportunity to pursue further education about a topic of personal interest.

The Value of Academic Reinforcement

April 16th, 2014

The Value of Academic Reinforcement


In almost two full years of working at the Study Hut, I’ve been able to see just how important supplemental education (in many forms) is for today’s young students. It’s nuanced at times, but there are myriad ways that seemingly inconsequential aspects of learning can change everything. Some of these things are just natural aspects of putting college students and grads in a room together and telling them to talk about academics, but in my tenure here I’ve watched the company grow and I’ve grown as a tutor and a person along with it. A particular session comes to mind here, and not because of how unique it was, but because it was extremely typical.


One of my weekly students, who we’ll call John Conner, came to me earlier this year to study for a history final. We hadn’t worked much together on history to this point, and John needed to catch up on almost everything covered on this test–we had our work cut out for us.


The first thing he asked me was: “Wait, so do you have this all memorized?” It was an honest question, and legitimate. Intuitively speaking, one would probably need to know a lot about US History to prepare someone study for a final exam nearly from scratch, but because of the way we work at the Hut, the way the Hut taught me to teach, and the very nature of supplemental academia, the session wasn’t about what I knew. It was about what John needed to know. We spent that hour combing through the text and his in-class notes to piece together what we agreed were the areas of importance. We spent the time looking for the questions, not the answers.


What I mean by all of this is that knowing is never part of my job. It’s about finding out, whether that means learning the material along with the students or just learning about the students themselves. The achilles-heel of today’s schools is the inability of schools to teach on a more personal level with each student. Of course, it’s a numbers game and it would be impossible for even the greatest instructors to personally teach lessons to all of their kids. But that’s the point. Because we’re in a unique position to help bridge the gap between teacher and student, concept and practice, we can always provide an invaluable set of tools for students of all kinds.


My knee-jerk reaction to John’s opening question was to say, “No, but you will soon.” This, to me, was the job in a nutshell. We don’t have the answers to the test your student will take, but we might know where to look.


March 12th, 2014

Title: Put the Phone Down


We need to have a technology intervention.


It’s time for students to put their phones down and disconnect. (And to be clear- this includes tablets, phablets, iPads, smartwatches, Chromebooks, netbooks, web-enabled eyeglasses, and all the rest of the gadgets.) In an era where education and study habits have been transformed by some pretty remarkable online tools and toys, there are still good reasons to disconnect.


For instance, in study after study, researchers have determined that multitasking simply doesn’t work. Multitasking is an especially terrible practice when you need to focus and study. Think about it, it is pretty difficult to think through your essay on Beowulf if you are constantly interrupted with urgent texts, snapchats, tweets, and instagrams all clamoring for your attention. A recent study [1] on college students’ study habits revealed that 10 hours or so of smartphone use reduced their empathy skills or the ability to put oneself in other peoples’ shoes. They became so self-absorbed with their multitasking and devices that they were not able to meaningfully understand and connect with their friends. It seems like multitasking with distracting technology is not only is a bad way to study, but if you are not careful it can also make you a jerk.


So what should we do, abandon our phones altogether when studying? It has been estimated that 75% of Americans are within 5 feet of their smartphones every moment of everyday [2]. There is simply no escape and the phones and their distractions are here to stay. What we need is a way to use these tools responsibly and in way that helps rather than hurts learning. A modern student must be proficient with these tools but we need to strike a balance.


Food for thought: some of the best learning happens when you have the opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on what you’ve studied…just for a minute, put the phone away and go for a walk

Why Study Hut is Awesome and Every Other Place is Awful by Comparison

March 20th, 2012

Let me begin by saying that Study Hut is awesome, and every other place is awful by comparison. There. That’s out of the way. Although this fact is nearly indisputable, I know some of you might be unconvinced. You might be saying to yourself, “Self, how do I KNOW that the Study Hut is the pinnacle of the tutoring world? How can I be SURE that it is, indeed, the apex of educational awesomeness?” To you, the doubter, I say to look at the evidence.

Part of the reason that Study Hut works is that it is NOT school. Kids aren’t sitting in classrooms, with 30 other kids, being taught en masse. They are being given one-on-one attention, with a tutor who knows them and works with them on a regular basis. They are able to specifically target the problem areas, and focus on what they REALLY need help on. And they can do all of this in an extremely comfortable atmosphere. If you’ve ever walked into the Hut, then you know what I mean. This is not a stodgy atmosphere. It’s a place where kids can come, decompress, study, but still have a bit of fun. We’ve got floor competitions, a candy drawer and the occasional flying bottle cap. It’s an atmosphere where kids can come in to learn, but feel free of the crushing pressure that can come of a strict school atmosphere.

The other thing that makes the Hut work is the tutors. Our tutors here are AMAZING. We’ve got so many different types of people, who know so many different types of things, that I’ve never seen a student walk out of here with a question unanswered. They’re friendly, knowledgeable, and know EXACTLY what their students are going through, because they’ve been there (recently, in most cases). We know our students names, their strengths and weaknesses, and are able to tutor in a way specific to each kid’s needs. Compare that to a place where kids have a different tutor every week in a crowded, strict atmosphere, and tell me which ones better.

I know that the Study Hut is a great place to work, and an AMAZING place to study. Stop in, and you can see for yourself.


October 18th, 2011

Ah, the SAT. No matter where you live, where you go to school, or what kind of grades you get, the SAT is an experience that bonds American students of all ages. It’s changed over the years, but the idea is the same: find a way to accurately gauge a student’s level of education through completely standardized means. Now, whether it’s an effective gauge is another debate entirely. What matters to you is how well you do on the test. And that’s what we’re here to help with.

First of all, you should understand what you’re getting into. The SAT is divided into three sections: Math, Writing, and Critical Reading. The Math section covers nearly everything you’ll learn in the first two years of High School, plus a little bit of Junior year. Basically, expect to be tested on all of Algebra and Geometry. Not to worry, though; nothing from Trig or beyond will be on the test. The Critical Reading section involves two main parts. First is Reading Passages, in which you’ll be given passages to read (duh.) and will have to answer questions based on the content of the reading. Second is the Fill-In-The-Blank section, where you’ll have to school SAT vocabulary words to complete sentences, based on context. Last but not least, there’s the Writing section. This begins with an essay, followed by MORE reading paragraphs (now based more on grammar and sentence structure than content), and correcting sentence errors.

The test runs just under four hours. This involves 6 25 minute sections (two from each subject, including the essay), two 20 minute sections, and one ten minute sections. You’ll receive breaks after each two sections (3 breaks total).

NOW, how do you prepare? This is going to sound weird, but studying the material is NOT the biggest way to prepare (but still important). What we do here in our SAT Prep Courses is teach you STRATEGY. We teach you how to solve any problem, and how to do it in a quick and efficient manner (which, on a timed test, is priority one). We’ll teach you when to skip a question, when to guess, how to mark up a paragraph, and how to write a proper essay that the graders will love. We’ll show you how to raise that grade.

SO, this is how to do it. Come in for a free diagnostic. This let’s us see what level you’re at. Then, sign up for either our group classes, or private SAT tutoring sessions. This is dependent entirely on you, and how you learn best. Either way, we’re gonna work hard to make sure you know what you’re doing when that SAT rolls along.