A Tutor’s Take on the College Admissions Scandal

If you’ve spent any time at all in the past week watching, listening to, or reading the nightly news, entertainment reports, radio segments, or local and national newspapers, chances are that you’ve had more than you can take of the “Varsity Blues” scandal. Much more experienced minds than mine have already penned thought-provoking articles touching on the myriad considerations of wealth, privilege, parenting, diversity, etc. that this case has brought…

The Right (And Wrong) Way to Complete the Common App Activities Section

The Common Application officially opened for the 2018-19 application season on Wednesday, August 1, confirming what students have suspected for months: the start of senior year mania comes faster than you think. While many students are rightfully focused on the personal statement, [[click here for 21 application essay brainstorming exercises]] there are other equally important pieces of the Common Application. Today, we’re going to focus on the Activities section. First,…

21 Questions: Personal Statement Style

The Common Application is set to reopen in three days, and while many students probably planned to have their personal statements drafted by this time, we’re realistic enough to know this most likely didn’t come to fruition in all cases. For those students still stuck in the brainstorming stage, we’ve put together a list of 21 questions to get the creative juices flowing. While the answers to these questions won’t be…

A Closer Look at the Common Application Essay Prompts

With students finishing up finals, many rising seniors are turning their attention towards college applications. Besides compiling a college list, the first step applicants typically take is to complete their personal statements. Luckily, The Common Application has already released the prompts for the 2018-19 application year. Below, we’ve provided insights into creative ways to interpret and approach these standard prompts. 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent…

Two-Week SAT Prep Plan

May tends to be one of the most popular SAT testing months, so we’re safely assuming that stress levels of juniors across the country are steadily rising as the May 5th SAT draws closer. Most of our students at Y.E.S. have been preparing since March, but we’re realistic enough to know that not all students have begun this early. It’s not too late to review some essential content areas and…

Five Ways to Make Your College Tours More Effective

Spring break for college students means heading off campus for vacation, family time, or service trips. Spring break for high school students, on the other hand, often means heading to campus for college visits. Typically, these trips involve attending information sessions and taking college tours, leaving students and families with piles of glossy packets, bookstore souvenirs, and perhaps a photo or two. Most, if not all, of the schools will highlight…

How to Navigate College Websites Like a Pro

Now that many of our students have taken their first round of standardized tests, the time has come to get serious about college research. Spring break is right around the corner, and with that comes school tours and endless questions from parents, counselors, neighbors, and pretty much any adult in a student’s life about where they’ll be applying. Before putting together preliminary lists, or even visiting schools, though, students need…

Why Asking “Why?” More Often is Crucial for Better Test Prep

When I was little, stories have it that I never stopped asking questions. Sometimes, these were the standard inquiries of a three-year-old, such as “WHY do I have to wear mittens.” According to my mother, however, they usually went beyond the normal, into more murky territory, such as, “What would happen if they just never cut an umbilical cord and a baby was attached forever?” She never found an answer…

Three Standardized Testing Myths Debunked

Whenever we begin working with students on SAT or ACT preparation, we inevitably encounter a series of common misconceptions about standardized tests. Some of our favorites over the years have been that you should never test in January because it’s always the hardest one, the test includes concepts you’ve never learned before, and that the only students who earn perfect scores are complete geniuses. None of these are true of…