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When Interests and Strengths Don't Match

I received the following question:

I have a 9th grade who wants to be an actor, yet tests gifted in science and math. What do I do?

It's a tricky situation, and one that a lot of parents find themselves in at some point. Having worked with many clients where the student was interested in a field but the parent knew that they were stronger in other areas, here are my top 5 tips.

 

1. Ask Questions

Stop and ask your teen "why?" Why are you interested in that field? What draws you to that industry? What do you think that job consists of, and why do you believe that would be a good fit for you? Sometimes asking questions can uncover an underlying interest that may lead to other career considerations. 

 

2. Focus on Positives Rather Than Negatives

Sometimes it helps to turn the conversation away from what you don't think would be a good fit, and instead focus on what they are naturally good at! Taking personality or strengths tests and discussing the results can be...

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Do Service Hours Need to be with an Official Nonprofit?

I received a question asking if community service hours have to be done with an official nonprofit, or it can count if you are helping an individual or unofficial organization. 

It's a great question, and the answer is a little nuanced.

First off, what kind of school are you applying to? Do they have a holistic application process? If not, then you should have no problems at all. Highly competitive, holistically-evaluating colleges are more likely to care about the specific organization that you volunteer for. However, even in those cases, they are likely still willing to accept and count the service hours for a group that isn't a nonprofit, as long as a name for the group is provided (and possibly contact information).

A lot boils down to how you present the information. It helps a lot if you can provide a letter of recommendation from the individual or group you helped. You can also discuss and explain your volunteer efforts in your essay (depending upon the prompt).

...

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It's Not a Task, It's a Project!

 

I was listening to Scott Young, who is a productivity and study skills expert, and he made an important distinction on a recent podcast episode.

Many times we confuse tasks with projects.

This is SO TRUE for both parents and students! Many times we create to-do lists, and put down as tasks activities that are actually more complicated projects that have multiple smaller tasks involved. Even things that might seem mundane, like making a purchase, might actually involve a more complicated process of researching that item, understanding different features, comparing brands, reading reviews, deciding where to buy, determining your budget, making the purchase, and then learning how to use/install/implement the item.

It's a whole project! Yet by putting it down as a "task," we oversimplify and underestimate the emount of time, energy and brainpower that will be involved in that one activity.

This is especially true when it comes to school, academics and study skills! Many times...

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What if my teen gets a bad CLEP test score?

 

CLEP. Seems like just about everyone is taking advantage of this credit-by-examination tool. But

Got a great question from a parent:

If a student takes a CLEP exam and does not make a high enough score, will it negatively impact their college transcript? Do you still need to turn that test score in to the college? 

It's important that you have all the details when it comes to utilizing any college prep tool, and the last thing we want is to do is negatively impact their chances of getting into their desired school/program.

Here are a few things to know:

  • You can send scores for free to 2 schools every time you take the test.
  • After the two free schools, you can send transcripts of your scores for $20/transcript.
  • For each transcript you can specify which test(s) you want to include.
  • If you re-take a test and get a higher score, the new score replaces the old score on your records.
  • You do have the option to cancel a test score at the end of a test (before you see your score),...
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Homeschooling High School in Tennessee

 

What are the basics you need to know if you plan to homeschool high school in Tennessee? Here are some of the top questions I get (also check out my Homeschooling High School Resource Guide here!).

 

What Are The Three Ways to Homeschool in Tennessee?

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and this is not intended to give legal advice.

There are three ways to homeschool in Tennessee:

1. Register through your Local Education Association (LEA), basically your local public school. 

Advantages: Free, simple to do, only have to track the days you were schooling (minimum of 4 hours per day) for 180 days (the calendar you have to turn in can be found here)

Disadvantages: Have to test in 5th, 7th and 9th grade, do not have a homeschool-friendly advocate for you, the parent has to have a GED or high school diploma or utilize a tutor who has a GED or high school diploma, and there is no diploma/transcript issued (parents create diploma and transcript and have to send to colleges).

A...

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Ideal Course Load

college phase 4 phase 5 Jun 23, 2022
 

Guest post by Kimball Bullington, Ph.D.

When a new freshman enters college the question of how many hours to take is one that demands an immediate answer. Is there an ideal load? Should I take a light load to make the adjustment to college easier? Should I register for a heavy load and then drop the classes I don’t like?

The search for an ideal load for the beginning freshman begins with a look at the number of hours required to graduate. Divide the number of hours required to graduate by 8 to find the average number of hours you must take in order to graduate in four years without taking summer courses. For instance, if your school requires 120 hours that amounts to 30 hours per year or 15 hours per semester (120 / 8 = 15). The ideal beginning load would be the average number of hours to graduate in four years or slightly above average.

Isn’t it a good idea for beginning freshman to take less so as not to overload and give extra time for the adjustment to college? My...

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Give Up (Strategically)! - ACT Prep Strategy

 

ACT Prep Strategy:

I'm pretty sure you haven't heard fhis academic strategy before:

Give up!

Okay, there's a catch. Give up, strategically.

That's actually one of the tips that I've had for my ACT prep students for years, and I've had dozens of students come back to me and tell me that it really works!

Let me explain...

For most students, your target score on the ACT is not a 36, so your version of an "A" does not require tackling all of the questions! Instead, it's best to be strategic and selectively "give up" on certain questions/passages, so that you can bank the time to focus instead on the areas where you are stronger or just give you time to just slow down and have a better chance of getting things right.

This is especially true on the ACT math, which typically is increasing in difficulty as you go through the test. Of the 60 questions, questions around 41-50 are typically more difficult than the first 40 questions, and the last ten questions have some of the hardest...

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How do I help my teen determine a career route?

 

One of the primary things I focus on as college prep consultant is to actually get families to stop focusing so much on college, and instead start focusing on career routes.

After all, you aren't raising your teen to be a college student, are you? You are raising them to be an adult! The goal is that they are prepared for a career path.

I've created a 4-week Career Prep Challenge, but really the process I take in there is what I would recommend for students regardless of whether they are in the challenge or not.

1. Take some personality/strengths tests

One thing this does is move the focus away from a negative (what a student doesn't know about their direction/future) to a positive (a student's natural strengths/gifts/abilities). This is motivating and encouraging, and also gives students the tools to articulate who they are better to a career professional down the road. In my challenge, I have several personality tests that I recommend (you can also check out my...

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How I was Paid to Go To College - My Story

 

So how did I get here?

Well to start, this is not what I though I would be doing when I was in high school or college, though I still daily use the skills I acquired along the way.

I was homeschooled all the way through my high-school graduation, and was blessed to have an insider-track on college prep with a dad who was a college professor. This led to several steps that ultimately resulted in me getting paid to go to college:

1. I had a solid academic foundation

2. I had a clear picture of what career path I wanted to pursue

3. I knew the scholarship requirements early-on and set them as goals for myself in my test-prep

4. I was careful to meet the deadlines and make the right connections along the application process, and chose to go to an affordable school (even though I could have gotten into a higher-ranked college)

5. I didn't stop searching for scholarships once I got to college, but kept pursuing funding each semester

My second year of college I started tutoring...

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Resources for the July ACT

act phase 3 test prep Jun 17, 2022
 

At the time of posting it's June, and just a few weeks away from the July ACT exam date. Is your teen ready for the test?

Even though more schools have become test-optional, that still primarily just applies to admissions. There is a LOT is riding on the ACT or SAT when it comes to scholarships, so you want your teen to be prepared! So to get ready for the July exam I wanted to pull together some resources to help you make sure you can make the most of this test. You can also grab my FREE 10-page ACT Prep Guide here, or check out my online ACT Prep Course here.

 

Does the ACT or SAT Make More Sense for Your Teen?

When it comes to standardized exams, you have options! Should your teen take the ACT or SAT (the two most widely accepted tests)? You may have already decided on an exam, but if you haven't (or if your teen has struggled with the exam they've been working on so far) then you should check out our video and blog article that...

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