Steps You Should Take Now to Prepare for College

The long-term impact of the recent recession on college and university admissions means that developing a plan to get into the college as early as middle school is imperative. Budget cuts and reductions in funding often force colleges to adhere to stricter admission guidelines and accept only the most qualified scholars. Developing a step-by-step plan now is critical for future academic success.

The Basic First Steps

Learning is more than committing facts to memory. Certainly, knowing facts is part of being academically successful, but learning how to learn is what sets you on the right path. Improving your learning skills from middle school on will give you’re the tools you need to pass college readiness exams and excel after you enter college. Being a better student also enhances your enjoyment in class, helps you discover your natural talents and increases productivity.

Here are ways to improve your learning skills:

  • Sit close to the front in class whenever possible. Sitting in front is less distracting and enables you to be more engaged in what is going on.
  • Join in discussions and ask questions. Actively participating in class makes learning more fun. Asking questions keeps you from falling behind. Remember, other students probably have the same questions, so speak out when you don’t understand.
  • Sharpen your skills in every class. Practice writing in history class, apply your algebra knowledge in science and science in vocational classes. Each skill supplements multiple subjects.
  • Learn to take notes. Taking class notes is a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your educational career. Practice jotting down key points in an efficient, legible manner.
  • Lean to evaluate, proofread, rewrite and correct written assignments before turning them in. Computer spell checkers don’t catch inappropriate word usage or grammar errors. It’s up to you to make sure your written work is structured properly and is error-free.
  • Learn to take tests. Taking tests are part of student life. Standardized tests are required throughout high school and tests, such as the ACT, are used as an indication of your college readiness. Developing test-taking skills in middle school will help you feel more relaxed in the testing environment.
  • Talk to your parents, counselors and teachers about your goals and what you hope to accomplish. They can give you advice and support.

Your High School Curriculum

Each college has its own minimum course requirements and some major require more than the basics. Before planning your high school courses, check the requirements for the college of your choice to make sure you comply. The ACT, developers of the college readiness exam, recommends a basic college prep program.

The ACT recommends the following:

  • Four years of English.
  • Three years of mathematics, including rigorous course work in Geometry and Algebra I & II.
  • Three years of science, including Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
  • Three years of social studies.
  • Additional foreign language, computer science, dance, drama, music, theater or other classes that are required for specific majors.

Your junior year is a great time to think about options and possibilities. Good grades are extremely important during your junior year because it’s the last complete year admissions officials see when you apply for college. Many juniors take the ACT or SAT when it’s offered in the spring and take it again when they are seniors. There are several advantages to taking these standardized college readiness tests in your junior year. Taking the tests a year early not only gives you a feel for the testing environment, but it gives you a way to find out where your academic strengths and weaknesses lie. Also, if you haven’t already, open a savings account and start putting money into it. Working a summer job is a way to earn money and reduce college loan amounts.
The summer before your senior year is an ideal time to visit colleges, request school catalogs and obtain admission information. Senior year is hectic and it helps to enlist the help and advice of your parents, teachers and counselors. Most seniors take the SAT or ACT in October. October is also an excellent time to apply for scholarships and complete admissions applications by the stated deadlines. If your SAT or ACT score was not what you had hoped, register to take it again. Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after the new tax year as possible. Make sure all of your applications and documents are submitted on time. Watch your mail for paperwork and further instructions. Choose your college, mail your deposits and remember the lessons you learned as you begin your college career.

The Squirrel Club: Strange Facts About Some of America’s Top Schools

Here at the Louisville Tutoring Agency, our job is to help students acquire the skills they need to excel academically. A serious mission, indeed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t laugh from time to time. We recently came across some little-known, sometimes downright peculiar facts about a few of America’s top schools that are sure to make you smile.

Odd School Traditions

Squirrels who live on the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor campus certainly have it made. Every Sunday afternoon, the squirrels are treated to a peanut feast, provided by members of the popular campus Squirrel Club. Founded in 2002 by squirrel lovers Jason Colman and Justin Hyatt, the Squirrel Club now boasts over 400 members and is dedicated to the welfare and feeding of campus squirrels.

Carleton College, the school famous for its Primal Scream ritual, is also the home of the lesser-known Silent Dance Party tradition. Students download the same music play list on a portable music device, meet at the library, put on their headphones and dance to the music only they hear. Held on one of two designated reading days each semester, silent dancers leave the library and continue dancing throughout the campus.

The Happiness Club at Northwestern University is devoted to, as its name suggests, increasing the happiness of the campus community. Club members offer hot chocolate, lemonade, smiley face stickers and comforting hugs to those in need.

The Strangest Classes

Indiana’s Vincennes University is the oldest public educational institution in the state. It’s also the only accredited college that offers a degree in Bowling Industry Management and Technology. Students get hands-on experience at the on-site bowling center lab.

In an effort to interest more students in philosophy, Georgetown University came up with the always popular “Philosophy and Star Trek” class. Philosophical topics include human free will, time travel and brain and body connections.

Puzzling College Mascots

UC Santa Cruz is an NCAA Division III member in five sports. What, you may ask, is the UC Santa Cruz team mascot? A banana slug named Sammy. That’s right, a banana slug. Banana slugs are mollusks that naturally reside on the floor of the Redwood Forest. Sammy the Slug’s official rank as school mascot began in 1986, but he was the unofficial mascot for many years before. He survived a chancellor’s ousting attempt in 1980 when the student body refused to accept the newly appointed sea lion mascot.

No one remembers why, but the mascot of North Carolina’s Campbell University is Gaylord the Camel. The school teams are the Fighting Camels and Lady Camels. Campbell University is the only school in the United States with a camel mascot.

Just because a school is well known doesn’t mean it’s not weird. Think about Ohio State University’s team name, the Buckeyes, and mascot, Brutus Buckeye. Buckeyes are nuts. They grow in trees. Or, how about the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers? Gophers aren’t the most intimidating of creatures. The mascot, Goldy Gopher, with his smile and buckteeth, doesn’t exactly instill terror, either.

How to Give Your Preschool Child an Academic Edge

Recent research suggests that babies start learning before they are born. Researcher Christine Moon of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, found that newborns respond to words when they hear the language of their parents, but not when they hear words in a foreign language. Previous studies proved that babies recognize and respond to their mother’s voice immediately after birth. Fetuses begin hearing sounds outside the womb about 10 weeks before birth. Clearly, they aren’t just hearing, but learning to recognize words and familiar voices long before they have the ability to speak.

Recent studies show that preschoolers are much more capable of learning than previously thought. The new findings turn conventional thinking on its ear. Math is rarely taught at the preschool level. New studies in cognitive neuroscience indicate, however, that 4-year-olds have the ability to do elementary math problems. Researchers discovered that most preschoolers had the ability to solve basic division problems using visual demonstrations with candies and stuffed animals. A study that focused on a child’s ability to connect letter combinations and sounds found that the skill is not fully developed until age 11, much later than previously thought.

Traditional preschool classes teach very little math. As science continues to study the development of cognitive thinking in children, some schools are adjusting their curriculums to accommodate the new findings. An early mathematics program taught in the Buffalo, New York, school system is gaining attention because of its success. Innovative math programs use a variety of techniques to teach numbers. Numbers appear in lessons, artwork, computer games and share equal time with letters. Lessons are tailored to a student’s individual capabilities.

There is still much to discover about the learning abilities of young children. The newest research indicates, however, that children are capable of more complex thinking than previously believed. What does the new research mean for parents and teachers? What can parents do to put their children on that path to strong minds and academic excellence?

How to Help Develop a Young Mind

Cognitive thinking, or the process of reasoning and engaging in a conscious intellectual activity, was thought to be a process of older children. Children are capable of far more, as recent research reveals. Parents play a key role in helping children develop the curious, analytic and strong minds that make them smarter and ready for the greater academic challenges ahead.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a preschool age child is too young to learn complex concepts. It’s true that young children do not learn in the same way as older children do. Teaching scientific principles out of a book doesn’t work at the preschool level the way it would for a college-age kid. In fact, a 2012 study indicates that young children placed in highly stressful classroom instruction environments lack the development of desirable character traits, such as curiosity, perseverance, self-control, conscientiousness and optimism. What does work is capitalizing on their inherent thinking abilities. Preschool age children learn best when a combined approach using visual, audio, instructional and exploratory methods are used.

An excellent way to keep young children interested and engaged is by using music, visualization, art and physical activity that make learning fun. Math problems using stuffed toys and candies, marbles or other objects give children a visual way to explore and experiment until they figure out the answers. Exploring the outdoors provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the natural word. Help build explorative, analytical, reasoning and critical skills by asking questions, posing problems and listening to the answers. If your child asks a question that you can’t answer, use it as an opportunity to involve your child in the research process, such as looking a word up in the dictionary. Young children have the ability to test theories and conduct experiments. Water is a great tool for lots of different types of experimentation. A plastic tub with water and food coloring is a fun way to learn about colors and color mixing. Children learn about the properties of water when they experiment with floating and sinking objects.

Developing thinking and reasoning skills at the preschool age helps build self-control and character, as well as a solid base for kindergarten.

Moving Beyond Preschool

Children with a strong background in critical thinking have a decided advantage in school. Parents may notice that their child has a pronounced interest in a specific area, such as science or math. Now is the time to start building on that base. Parents and teachers who work closely together to develop a plan to build on interests and strengths ensure that the child learns and grows in the school environment and does not become bored. Now is also the time to begin addressing any weaknesses. Again, parents and teachers working together can help the child improve. Parents should keep in mind that pushing children beyond their capabilities is detrimental, but if there is a missing skill set, it’s best to deal with it now, rather than later. Most students do well with one-on-one tutoring when they are having problems. The individual attention and ability to ask questions without classroom distractions are often the boosts a child needs.

As the latest research points out, children are capable of more than conventional childhood teaching methods accept. Schools are changing curriculums to address the needs of young children, but it’s a slow process. It’s up to parents to help their children build the analytical, reasoning and intellectual minds they need for future success.

Giving Students the Competitive Edge

The Louisville Tutoring Agency (LTA), founded by Moshe Ohayon of Louisville, KY, uses a unique approach when it comes to giving students the tools they need to succeed on college entrance exams, master new concepts, build on strengths, overcome weaknesses, and learn to become leaders in their future fields.

A gifted teacher, he has always felt that the “cookie-cutter” method to teaching is rarely the most efficient way to bring out the best in each student. To maximize learning and academic performance, students require a customized approach that not only increases content knowledge but also conforms to the individual personality traits and learning style of each student.

In the area of standardized tests, Ohayon knows that a high score can often be the determining factor when it comes to acceptance to colleges, graduate programs, financial aid and scholarships. For this reason, the test prep programs at LTA emphasize the power of highly individualized instruction to maximize student scores on such tests as the ACT, SAT, PSAT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and MCAT through private tutoring and classes.

Not surprisingly, over the years, Moshe Ohayon has developed his own novel approach to the ACT, the most requested standardized test prep at LTA and an area where the agency has achieved remarkable results. His approach, which benefits from his own considerable experience tutoring for the ACT and from his natural teaching skills, has given his students the advantage they needed to achieve impressive boosts in scores. To share these techniques with students everywhere, he recently published The ACT for Bad Test Takers, which details his groundbreaking approach for helping those who struggle to perform well on this high-stakes standardized test.

When it comes to academics, however, Moshe Ohayon believes that building a strong foundation from elementary school onward gives students the greatest chance for success. Students who begin an academic tutoring program early not only learn to excel in specific subjects but also to master essential skills that will repeatedly serve them throughout their academic futures.

Tutoring young students in mathematics, reading and language, natural and social sciences, and foreign languages prepares them to achieve higher grades as they advance to middle and high school. An early start also gives students the skills to do well on standardized tests. High grades and test scores give students an edge when it comes to getting into college and obtaining scholarships.

Louisville Tutoring Agency was started to give students an individualized learning experience that maximizes their chances for outstanding academic achievement. Designed to address individual weaknesses and expand upon strengths, LTA offers unparalleled choices.

Ohayon and LTA offer a variety of programs that include private one-on-one academic and test prep tutoring, ACT Crash Courses and ACT Futures classes, summer enrichment options, and college admission counseling. Taught by highly experienced tutors who are experts in their fields, students learn how to develop and refine study habits as well as how to think analytically, thereby building a solid foundation to do well throughout their academic and professional careers.