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For Their Future, Too: Creating a College-going Culture

Creating a legacy and leading by example may be concepts that some of us keep in the back of our minds, especially if we have children or grandchildren. Instinctively, we want their lives to be fuller, richer, maybe even easier. And trying to set a good example as parents is no easy feat — it can cause us to feel disappointment in ourselves if things don’t work out the way we planned. But there is at least one area where our hard work, even our setbacks and how we handle them can leave a lasting, positive effect on our peers and on younger generations —pursuing higher education. There are many benefits to being life-long learners, as successful people can attest. There are tangible rewards such as good salaries and benefits that help families stay healthy and happy. Adults who thrive can help create viable com-munities with options for the future and time for creativity and recreation. Important, too, are the less tangible rewards of interesting careers... read more

SAT Subject Tests--the Frequently Missing Piece

As parents of rising seniors plan standardized testing schedules for the summer and fall, one very important standardized test for most highly selective colleges sometimes gets forgotten: the SAT Subject Tests.  The majority of the nation's highly selective colleges and universities require or strongly encourage students to take 2-3 of these tests to demonstrate their subject knowledge.  The actual content is unlikely to be much of a cause for concern for students who are competitive for these colleges, since it is likely to overlap with an AP course, but students should still make time in their schedules to take the tests if they wish to aim high in their admissions.  Now is the time to check websites of your preferred colleges to see whether they require or advise the SAT Subject Tests, and whether they have any specific guidance for which subjects they would like to see.  As general advice:   If only 2 tests are required, they should preferably... read more

2013 College Admissions for My Clients

This was another banner year for my client admits: Amherst, University of Alabama, Arcadia University, Art Institute of Chicago, Barnard, Coastal Carolina University, Columbia College Chicago, University of Delaware, Drexel University (multiple admissions), Fordham University, Guilford College (multiple admissions), Hofstra University, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign (multiple admissions), Ithaca College, Johnson & Wales University,LIM College, Loyola University Maryland, University of Maine, Marist College (prestigious freshman year in Florence program), University of Maryland-College Park (multiple admissions, including honors college), University of Baltimore County (all honors and Meyerhoff winner), University of Maine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Massachusetts-Boston, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, McDaniel College, Miami University -- Oxford, University of Miami (multiple admissions), University of Florida, New York University... read more

Out-of-state public colleges

One topic on college choice that hasn't been discussed on this blog is out-of-state public colleges.  This can be tricky territory.   On the one hand, there are a small number of extraordinary public colleges at which you can get a top-tier education.  Some of the University of California campuses (especially Berkeley and UCLA), the University of Michigan, or some colleges of Cornell University (which is a unique hybrid of private and public--check the website for the complicated details) are good examples.  These are well worth considering if you can get a scholarship, though, because of bad state finances, this may be more difficult than at a comparable out-of-state private college.  Also, if a student can somehow LEGITIMATELY make a case for residency in another state with better public colleges (divorced parents are the most likely scenario), then this can be a huge savings.  Or if your plans involve a PhD, these can be very good aspirational... read more

Is Standardized Testing Effective in Determining Success in College?

Test prep companies have been teaching students how to beat standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT for years. The simple truth is that these exams measure how well you take exams, not your aptitude or your ability to do college work. In some cases there may be a direct correspondence: students who have excellent grades have correspondingly excellent scores. And yet, there is a not-insignificant group of students with outstanding grades and poor scores. Does this mean standardized testing is unreliable? Or that it fails to consistently predict student success? Not exactly, and yes, respectively. Let’s back up for a moment and talk about the single best input for determining college success: the high school GPA. Time and time again a high correlation has been shown between success and engagement in academics in high school (as represented by an unweighted GPA) and performance in college. That’s because the GPA is a many-faceted guage. It samples various different... read more

Which College Is Right for You?

You’ve studied and you’ve prepared, but what comes next? Determining what colleges to apply to and attend is difficult as there are so many factors to consider. At Augmentus Tutoring, we aim to help you achieve your highest possible test scores that provide you with the ability to choose the school that is best for you. There are a multitude of considerations that contribute to this decision, including your goals and personality. We’ve narrowed it down to two top decision making factors: Size and Location. The benefits and considerations listed below are generalizations, so do not hesitate to reach out to a specific school to learn more about their programs. The size of the school affects the size of classrooms, size of athletic programs, and numerous other activities that will impact your overall experience. Attend a Big University Benefits that come with big colleges include a seemingly unlimited list of majors and minors, well-funded sports teams,... read more

Rude Awakening: About My Freshman Year in College

As I held the crisp white letter with the university’s insignia in my hand, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I read the letter once more to ensure that I understood the cold words. If you do not improve academically within the next semester, you will be expelled from this institution. I stood at the mailboxes in my residence hall… suddenly awaken (rudely I would argue) from my cozy assumption that, “I am smart and that’s all that matters”.   Back in 2001 I didn’t realize that peacefully drifting as I did in high school would not serve me well in college. No matter how smart I really am I would not have made it college by simply paying attention and doing my homework. Study skills are imperative for maximizing success potential. This is no major secret but sadly studies of freshmen revel that my experience was not isolated. Many students may suffer a blow to their self-confidence when they encounter the more rigorous academic work of higher education . Even... read more

The complicated word of not-need-blind admissions

This is an awkward place in the financial aid process.  As I've mentioned before, for a student capable of attending a top-tier private institution with a huge financial aid budget, this is often the best option financially, even beating state systems in many cases when the cost of room and board is considered.  However, for students in the high-middle and middle, the private v. public question is a little more complicated.   This article from Yahoo Finance explains the reduction in genuinely need-blind admissions at lower tier private colleges in much more detail.   In short, if you are a strong applicant for a second- or third-tier private college, you still stand a chance of getting in regardless of your aid status, and hopefully getting some decent aid.  But if a less than first-tier private college is your stretch school and your family income is on the... read more

January is National Mentoring Month

Greetings,   Students can benefit exponentially from a mentor.  A mentor is far more than a tutor.  A tutor will work through the coursework an try to make sure that the student grasps the material and is ready for upcoming quizzes and exam.  A mentor has real world experience and can lend guidance to the student as an individual who will ultimately need to go out into the world and make something of themselves.  The education or the diploma that he or she earns will not translate into a job or career automatically.  The hard work and real world experience that accompanies an education is where a mentor defines how they are much much more than a tutor.  I hope that every student has someone like this in their life.  For they will do their best to not let you stray from the proper path.   Joseph A., MD

Why a top university is your best bet, financially

I've said this before on this blog, but it's useful to see it reflected in a purely financial source such as The Motley Fool.  If you have the ability to get in, an elite university is probably the most cost-effective college choice you can make.  It usually outranks state universities in actual out-of-pocket costs, except for children of affluent parents.  So if you are a high schooler from a family of average or below-average means, do NOT reject top colleges because you're scared by the sticker price.  You will never, ever pay it.   (Just a note: while this article focuses on the literal Ivy League, always keep in mind that the Ivy League is not a group of the best universities in America; it's a sports league that happens to include many of the best universities in America.  But the same principles apply to an elite and wealthy university that isn't in the Ivy League simply because it's too far away for its students to play Harvard... read more

PPSS: PostPartum Statistics Stress; A Guide for Prepping for a Statistics Class

See if there is one thing that I cannot stand, is seeing a student rush into a Stats class and stating that this class is remarkably easy because my friend said so. Too many times has a student come up to me and asked is statistics easy, and I reply "it most certainly is... for myself, because I studied my content for two years before retaking the course.". If you know that you are going to start a statistics class anywhere at any time your going to need the following items.   1. TI-83 or 84 preferably Now why one of these calculators? Students, if you are going to take a stats class be aware that there is a lot of data or numerical values that can be used to find the measures of central tendency and measures of dispersion. These calculators excel for data entry and double checking your answers on the very first test.    *If your teacher says you cannot use this calculator, then get its cheaper cousin. TI-30XII Hint there... read more

Writer's Anxiety and the College Application Essay

I’ve been thinking lately about why college application essays—any personal writing, really—triggers so much anxiety.  Andrew Ferguson gives us a marvelously personal perspective when he describes his experience as a father shepherding his 17-year-old son through writing the college essays during their last holiday break. He calls this process “the Great Extrusion,” where parents brace themselves “while dragging, pulling, tugging word after word and draft after draft from the insides of their mulish offspring until something presentable appeared.” Ferguson first gently, then more forcefully, offers stacks of books with sample essays to his son, as he does all he can to help without actually writing the essay for him.   By contrast, Robin Mamlet, a former Dean of admission, and Christine VanDeVelde, a journalist, offer a professional perspective. Their clear, step-by-step approach to the college essay advises 10 drafts written over the span of at least one... read more

Common Application software issues   If the problems with Common App software are affecting you or your child, perhaps the easiest way to do an end run around it is. . .don't use Common App.  Elite colleges all have their own application forms as well, and with more money behind them, they won't be subject to this level of software-based misery.  In addition, particularly if you are interested in quirky or liberal arts schools, I'd advise using the college's individual form in preference to Common App anyway.  It will show commitment to the school, and you, the student, can read between the lines of what questions they ask to get more insights into whether a particular school is a good fit for you.  This may be helpful come April if you have multiple offers and need to make a good choice with the information to hand.   Yes,... read more

The importance of looking outside your college comfort zone

While this article takes in many issues relevant to high school education and the college process, the point made about halfway down by Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby is hugely important.  An expensive college degree AT A GREAT COLLEGE will pay off; an expensive degree at a middling or substandard school may not.  Especially here in Florida where most students are physically isolated from the country's top universities (news flash--even UF is nowhere remotely close to many states' flagship public schools, and there is no Florida school in the current US News and World Report Top 50), it's critical for high performing students to look outside their comfort zones.  Read college websites.  Talk to your school counselor, and not just when you have to.  Don't be afraid to apply to a school you haven't physically visited.  But make sure that your expensive education is the best that your high school record can manage.  And if your high school... read more

Nice clean breakdown of SAT v ACT

While taking both can also be a valid strategy, it does limit time for taking the SAT II, which can be important strategically.  This article provides some beautifully clear insights into the deep structure of both the SAT and ACT. X

Notes for all seniors and parents of seniors on FAFSA changes via Investopedia

Good summary of changes to the FAFSA for this year.  Particularly helpful for parents who are sending a second or later child to college after doing FAFSA before.  Unless you are multimillionaire-type wealthy, do NOT miss out on the FAFSA.  The number of families in the Central Florida area who would not qualify for any need-based aid at all, especially at private colleges, is small.

Which Career to Pursue...

Isn't interesting how some people know what they want to be when they grow up, while some of us can't decide which career to pursue? Don't despair! I was in this same situation many decades ago. While times can dictate what is acceptable or popular for a career, YOU must follow your heart. There are a few things you can do before deciding on a Major in College (or a Career): go to a College first, not a University. research a few interesting careers, ask friends and families what you would be good at doing, review your list of skills, get a part-time job, volunteer to learn a job skill, or audit a college course to see if it is your calling. You can do one or more of these suggestions, but whichever you decide, keep a journal of your notes. Write down your experiences and thoughts. After reviewing or experiencing 2 or 3 different career paths, review your notes and see how you feel. It may take a few tries and a few career paths before you find your... read more

Time to Get Ahead!

Summer is an awesome time to be a student - free time and less stress can help you clear your thoughts and really establish your goals. Regardless of age or reason, there is no better time than summer to really hone your skills. If you'll be applying to college in the coming school year, now is the time to really set your goals in stone and get working on those applications. Personal statements take time to craft and make perfect, and if you haven't caught on by now, let me repeat it: there is no time like the present to get started. The earlier you begin planning, the more prepared you will be when the application deadlines start rolling in, and ultimately, that means you will be less stressed and more likely to succeed. Or, if you're just someone looking to get better at a particular skill, you can think of summer as an "off season," of sorts. You have a ton of skilled professionals at your disposal to help you sharpen your presenting skills or communication... read more

BOOST YOUR SKILLS - Adding an Email Signature in Microsoft Outlook

NEED-TO-KNOW Know How To Add an Email Signature in Microsoft Outlook   Once you’re in MS Outlook: 1. Click on the “File” menu in your top task menu. 2. Click on “Options”. 3. In the dialog box, click on “Mail”. 4. Find and open “Signatures” on the right side of the page. 5. Create your signature by choosing “New” and type a name for it in the text field. * Now you’ll create the signature you want displayed at the bottom of your emails. You can personalize fonts, insert images and provide hyperlinks (company logos, website URLs, etc.)   Items You May Want to Consider Including: - Name - Job Title, Department - Office Phone, Fax Number - Company Name, Location - Logo or Website Link for the Company   Once you've finished & saved your signature, you can select which emails you'd like it to be automatically added to. It can be set to populate on every email sent from your Outlook account or you... read more

School’s Out! School’s Out! Now what?

Unless you or your child attends a year – round school, summer vacation begins sometime in the next week or so. College students have read more pages than they thought humanly possible, taken many exams, written research papers, and stayed up way too late over the past 10 months. Parents of school – aged children have helped with homework, gone to parent/ teacher conferences, E-mailed teachers, and maybe volunteered for one activity too many. This article will help you understand the importance of continuing your/ your child’s learning over the summer and lists several suggestions on how to make the fall back - to - school transition much easier! Suffer No Setbacks Educational researchers agree that students need to continue their education over the summer or they stand to lose up to three (3) months worth of the previous year’s learning. Think about that for a minute. It’s like going to class from March to May for no reason! Unless you keep learning over the summer,... read more

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