Spring Break Essays

April 20th, 2015

Spring break is supposed to be a time for students to relax and enjoy a week or two off from the monotony and stress of school.  Unfortunately, some teachers do not see it that way and choose to assign homework anyway.  One student, Ken, came in for help on a monstrous essay that his teacher had assigned him over his spring break.  

 

Not only was this paper assigned over spring break, but the prompt was difficult and vague.  On top of that, Ken’s teacher told him that the grade for this paper would be put into the grade book forty times.  This caused Ken a lot of stress.  Ken and his tutors Charlsey and Laura brainstormed ideas for his thesis and concepts he could use for his supporting arguments.  The group session was very helpful because the three were able to bounce ideas off each other.  After Ken had a clear plan for his essay, he was able to draft an outline and have it looked over before he went home to find concrete details and develop his arguments.  



After taking a few days to flesh out his essay, Ken brought it back to revise and fine tune it with his tutor Richard.  They worked through the complicated topic to ensure that Ken did not have any logical fallacies in his arguments.  Richard read through the essay to make sure that Ken did not make any grammatical mistakes.  After hours slaving over his essay, Ken finally had a finished product he was very happy with, and could enjoy the rest of his now stress-free spring break.  

Transitioning to High School

February 22nd, 2015

George comes into Study Hut every week to work with his tutor Allie. Allie has been George’s tutor since he began coming to Study Hut. This year George made the tricky transition from middle school to high school. With Allie’s help, keeping his good grades was a breeze. She taught him how to balance all the work that came with his new course load.

Allie and George mostly worked on Geometry and English. Like most students, George was having difficulty grasping the concept of graphing. Plotting the points on and x and y graph was easy enough, but learning all the different forms of equations and finding the x and y intercepts were hard. Allie explained the difference between point-slope form and slope-intercept form. Point-intercept form is useful when you are only given two points on the line and no other information. However, slope-intercept form is more useful. You can immediately find the slope of the line and the y-intercept from a line’s equation that is written in slope-intercept form. Allie also showed George how to find the x-intercept of a line. To find the x-intercepts, you plug in zero for y and then solve the equation for x.

Allie also helped George develop his essay writing. She taught him the proper structure for a five-paragraph essay, as well as ways to create a strong thesis statement. They also worked on creating smoother transitions and engaging commentary for his concrete details. George did amazing and received all A’s and one B his first semester.

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

Your College Essay

December 14th, 2012

Tis’ the season for college applications. Completing college applications is a task that provokes stress in all high school students with the essays being the most stressful portion of the application to complete. The essays are where a student can separate themselves from the thousands of other students applying for the same college. The essays provide a chance to become more than just a name on an application. Here are some tips that will help students reduce anxiety and stand out:

Be smart about your essays. This sounds redundant but colleges are looking for the way a student’s mind works. When picking a topic for college essays write about something that is important to you. Pick a personal experience or subject that speaks to you and shows through your writing how it speaks to you. Talk about what you have learned and what you think, but give very specific reasons.

Be creative but direct.
This college essay is a story, and in this case it is your story. When writing college essays provide vivid details that will help create a picture in the reader’s mind. Help the reader visualize the setting through words. Also, provide names (or create them) for other people making an appearance in your essay. This will make the essay more real and human. The reader will appreciate the thought and attention you have put into your essay, and that it’s not just another essay you were forced to write.

Don’t try to cover an array of different subjects in your essays. Your essays provide a synopsis of who you are; it’s like covering one moment from many in your life. Stick to the one moment or subject. If you attempt to jump all over the place to try and cover many subjects your essay will be disorganized, impersonal, and hard for the reader to follow. The admissions department knows that the essay is a synopsis. They won’t dock you for it.

Be truthful about your experiences, accomplishments, and/or titles. It’s not going to make a huge difference whether you were the Editor of your school newspaper or the photographer. Every person has different talents and strengths they bring to the table; focus on this instead.

Last but not least, be mindful of the length of your essay. There will be a minimum word count, but don’t go overboard. The admissions department has thousands of essays to read. You don’t want to test their patience if your essay is extremely long. It’s better to be specific, detailed and to the point.

Finally, if you need help, Study Hut is here for you! We are open during the break so come on in and get those apps done!

 

Starting The College Essay: A letter to future college kids of America

November 9th, 2012

Dear High School Seniors:

The time has come to reap the benefits of all these years of classes, extra curricular activities, and sacrificing TV hours for extra study time. This time next year, many of you will be in your first semester of college … but where?

October and November are the crunch months for college applications. The UC Application, which opened October 1st, is due November 30th – a mere month away. Many of you are applying to multiple schools around the country, and you are currently in the midst of answering several open-ended prompts along the lines of, “What characteristics define you?” and, “Name an event that shaped your life.” Or, maybe you’re tackling something like the infamous University of Chicago prompt: “How do you feel about Wednesday?”

How do you even start to answer a prompt like that?

The best way to start is with a brainstorm. Spend a couple days just thinking before you even open a Word document and start to type. If the prompt asks you to reflect on an event in your life, or a quality that you possess, think honestly about who you are. Ask your friends and family what they think your best characteristics are, and ask for examples of how you embody those qualities. Look through photo albums, listen to your favorite music, think of events in your life that changed you and helped to build the person that you are today.

Next, narrow down your top options. Think: Does this story portray me in a good light? Does it make me seem smart and introspective? Do my actions embody attributes that would make me a good college student?

Remember that college admissions officers read thousands of essays each day during admissions season. They are looking for potential students who will thrive at their university, excelling in courses while adding insight and individuality. They want students who will enhance the university’s community by volunteering and becoming involved. Most of all, they want to see that you are a well-rounded person who is serious about education, but also has interests that extend beyond the classroom and can enrich the lives of other students. They’re building a community, not just a class.

So, just be you. Or – even better – be the most insightful and interesting version of you. Tell the truth, but tell it in an interesting way that will stand out from the other essays. The best way to do this is to try to show the readers who you are, rather than just telling them. Try telling a story that shows your best characteristics, or an example of how a Wednesday changed your life. Be unique, be concise, and be articulate.

And if you get stuck, be at The Study Hut. We’ll help you get inspired.

Summer Writing Workshops

June 13th, 2012

We’ve all been there.

It’s the dreaded blank sheet. The writing assignment stares up from the table, but you have no idea where to begin. Should you start with the thesis statement? Gather textual evidence first? Maybe it’s better to just wing it and worry about editing later.

It’s a frustrating situation, but there is help! Study Hut is offering a series of writing workshops this summer designed to review the different types of essays and prepare students for the next level of writing.

Each grade brings new expectations, particularly when it comes to writing. If a student enters the school year even moderately unprepared, it can turn from a small setback to a major problem in a hurry. It’s tempting to regard writing in terms of black and white; there are inherently good writers and bad writers. That, however, is far from the case. Good writing is a matter of discipline, strategy and lots and lots of practice.

The Hut’s summer workshop is designed to be all of those things and more. Each week, we’ll spend one-on-one time with students going over everything from correctly citing a source to crafting the perfect topic sentence. From college applications to AP tests to middle school lab reports, strong writing skills are always going to help students succeed.

Each student has one-on-one time with a tutor, so we can adapt the program to fit any skill level. We’ve put together instructional, age appropriate materials that will help any student prepare for the next step in the great journey of mega-awesome skillstastic writing! Also, we promise to discourage made-up words like “skillstastic.”

Contact us today by emailing Samantha@studyhut.com for more information on the writing workshop. Sample topics include: thesis writing, finding and citing sources, topic sentences and using evidence effectively in narrative, analytical, expository, synthesis and literary analysis essays.

Prep for Summer

February 28th, 2012

It may seem a tad premature to write about summer programs, but here at The Study Hut we are always thinking ahead of schedule. The sunny California weather also helps put in a good summer mood. This summer we are excited to introduce new programs for all ages!

Summer is a great time to get caught up on SATs, college apps, and enrichment for the younger ones. The Manhattan and Redondo Beach Study Huts are soon to be equipped with programs for each of those areas.

For starters, we will have reading and writing programs for kindergarten through 8th grade. For the youngsters, we will have reading workshops that target phonemic awareness to prepare them for reading. 3rd-4th graders will have the opportunity to participate in fluency workshops. 5th-8th graders will have the opportunity to take a writing workshop that will be geared toward writing perfected five paragraph essays. Each student will be provided with a private tutor that will guide them toward success.

As for the students at the High School Level we will have both math prep (Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 3/4) and SAT courses. These classes will be in a group setting and will give each student a preview on each of these subjects prior to enrolling so they can have the benefit of starting out with flying colors.

Finally, we will be offering one-on-one tutoring sessions specifically geared toward helping students with their college applications. Such topics to be covered are their personal statement, financial aid, the actual application, resume, and interview skills. Summer is always a great time to get ahead of the game with college apps. Who better to help your child prepare than a tutoring center that has helped numerous students get into college?

Although we just got finished with ski week, we are geared up for the future and can’t wait to implement our new programs! Stay tuned for more info!

xoxo,
The Study Hut Team

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.

FInals

January 16th, 2012

Ah, final exams. That glorious time of year. (I’m just kidding; I’ve heard finals called many things, and “glorious” has never been one of them). They are daunting, difficult, and above all, important to your final grade. But the good new is that they CAN BE BEATEN! (Huzzah!) It all depends on HOW you bring the fight to them. Luckily, that’s kind of a specialty here in the Study Hut.

Now, it’s difficult to write a catch-all strategy that will help you study for ALL of your finals. Mainly because you’re going to be using completely different methods for completely different tests. You wouldn’t study for a geometry test the same way you’d study for history. HOWEVER, there are similarities. Number one (and this should be completely obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do it): Give yourself enough time. Finals are not like other tests. You cannot start studying for them a few days before, and expect to be all right. Ideally, you should have started studying for each test AT LEAST 2 weeks before the test date. Remember, these tests include everything you’re studying now, PLUS everything else you’ve studied in the semester. You need time to review concepts, do practice problems, plan essays, ask questions, etc.

Number two: Organization. The very first thing you should do, before even cracking open your text book, is set up a schedule for yourself. This may sound like a chore, but you would not believe how much pressure it takes off of you. It’s a lot less scary to look at a list of things you need to accomplish than it is to stare at 6 months of notes and not know where to start. For example, I’m working with a student who has to study for a History final, covering 6 chapters and about 400 years of history. SO, we set up a schedule that he’d study exactly one chapter per night for six days (not too hard to do). Since he started so early (see Tip 1), by the time he’s done with those six chapters, he’s going to have a full week left before his test. Now, he can use that week to go more in depth, bring problems to his teacher, and make himself more confident before the test. It’s a lot easier to study a huge amount of material if you break it up into small pieces, and have ample time to do so.

And number three: Confidence. Finals are stressful. We’ve all been there. Make sure that you get a full night’s sleep the night before. And (this is huge), don’t go nuts cramming 15 minutes before the test. By that point, you know everything you’re going to know. Give yourself that 15 minutes to decompress. Just close the book, and trust in the fact that you’ve put in the proper work. You’d be amazing what a difference it makes to go calmly into a test.

If you follow this tips (and of course, come see your friends at your local, neighborhood Study Hut), you’ll greatly increase your chances at doing well on your final exams. Good luck!