Independent Educational Consultant

Five Essential Components for Success on the ACTScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.29.02 AM

A

Attitude - Success requires a positive attitude.  Think, “If it can be done, I can do it!”.  You need to really WANT to do well and you must squash the ANT (Automatic Negative Thinking) Eliminate all negative thinking during prep and during the actual test.  There is no room or time for negative self-talk during the ACT.  

Application - Work through retired ACT questions and take retired ACT practice tests before sitting for the real test. Understand the correct answer to every question you miss as question types repeat themselves on standardized tests.

C

Content - Fully understand the content that is being tested

Commitment - Make the test a priority.  Commit yourself to dedicated preparation and focusing on areas of weakness.

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Time - Finding time for quality test preparation is usually the biggest challenge in the life of high school students today. ACT success requires quality focused preparation time:dedicated work on content and retired ACT questions, timed full length practice tests, time put into reading and studies. Testing time is tight on the ACT.  You must work at a fast pace. Pace increases when you know what to expect on the test and have confidence solving similar questions - practice questions from retired tests.  Pace increases with practice under timed conditions - time yourself when taking practice tests and working on practice test sections.  Read this post for suggestions specific to increasing reading speed.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

The Secret to Effective Time Management on the ACT

ACTThe ACT is a test of content, speed, focus and time management.  Once the content is learned and preparation is complete, the test of time management remains.  A last-minute concern about running out of time on this test can quickly derail all preparation. To manage time during the ACT, I provide my students with an ACT watch.  This gives them the security of knowing that they will be able to pace themselves through the ACT and always know exactly how much time has lapsed and how much time remains in each section.  This video shows how this ACT approved watch works.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

Gap Year Information, College Affordability Information, Standardized Testing Updates, College Admission Represenatives ... all in one place

Since the role of an Independent Educational Consultant is still unclear to many people, I thought I'd share some of the sessions that I attended at the IECA Fall Conference last week.  The conference included break-out educational sessions, two keynote addresses, hosted receptions, round table discussions, committee meetings, a vendor hall, a college fair and numerous other networking events.

I attended the following Break-out Educational Sessions:

  • Gap Years:  What’s Out There, How to Structure One, and Simple Vetting Options
  • Testing College Readiness:   What are the Redesigned SAT and ACT Measuring and How Do We Best Prepare Our Students
  • Anatomy of a Financial Aid Award
  • The Fading of Facebook: the Evolution of Teenage Online Social Interactions

I heard Keynote Addresses from:

  • Justin Bachman - 17 year-old high school senior with Tourette’s Syndrome, severe ADHD and dysgraphia
  • Ashely Merryman - Best-selling author and award-winning journalist (NurtureShock:  New Thinking About Children Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing)

I attended Hosted Receptions/ Presentations from:

  • University of New Haven
  • Oak Meadow Independent Learning
  • Warren Wilson College

I Visited the Following Booths at the Vendor Hall:

  • Colleges That Change Lives
  • American Gap Association
  • Summit Educational Group
  • YouScience
  • IECA Foundation
  • American Institute of Certified Educational Planners
  • College Affordability
  • College Cost Navigator
  • Guided Path
  • Wintergreen Orchard House
  • Human eSources, Ltd.

I Met Representatives/Admissions Representatives from the following Colleges and Universities:

  • American University
  • Bucknell University
  • Eckerd College
  • Rollins College
  • University of Miami
  • University of Richmond
  • University of South Carolina
  • New York University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Ursinus College
  • Susquehanna University
  • University of New Haven
  • Warren Wilson College

It was an action-packed educational week.  I met great people and learned a lot.  In future posts, I will share, more specifically,  some of the key information I learned.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

An Important Word to Remember When Leaving for (or sending your child off to) College

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Last week I participated in a webinar presented by Harlan Cohen, author of The Naked Roommate.  In his presentation, Cohen reminded us that the transition to college WILL BE UNCOMFORTABLE.  As counselors, parents, and teachers, we tell our students and children how lucky they are to get to go to college - that they are headed off to the best four years of their life - that they will be among people just like them - that they will have the opportunity to learn interesting material - that top-notch facilities will be at their fingertips…  Our students and children know that - BUT it doesn’t change the fact that UNCOMFORTABLE can not be avoided. UNCOMFORTABLE comes with the territory of change and newness.

Navigating the UNCOMFORTABLE in the college transition is an important hurdle.  The skills students learn and use in this transition go into their toolkit for the future.  The fact is, we are faced with uncomfortable situations throughout life.

I felt the freshman uncomfortable feeling just this week when I attend the IECA  (Independent Educational Consultants Association) conference in Orlando, Florida.  At the happiest place on earth, amongst people whom I knew I had a lot in common with, presented with a candy shop full of information and learning opportunities, I felt uncomfortable.

Business travel uncomfortable parallels college freshman uncomfortable in many ways.  I entered a new and exciting environment, which I chose, but where I did not know the lay of the land or a single person.  I had no safety net to turn to, no wing-man by my side, no familiar paths or comforts.  I had to pull out my toolkit and manage the uncomfortable.  I’m thankful that I had this experience because it reminded what my students feel when they head off for freshman year. As a counselor and parent, it's easy to forget.

As I navigated the uncomfortable this week, these were some tools I used - the same tools I recommend for students transitioning into college.

Tools to Navigate the UNCOMFORTABLE

Have the Right  Attitude:

  • Feel confident in the decision you made to attend this particular school.
  • Plan to succeed there.
  • Expect it to be uncomfortable at first and plan to step out of your comfort zone.

Practice Self-care:  Do what you need to maintain your personal balance.

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Find quiet safe places to retreat when time alone is needed.
  • Be there to learn about what interests you. Do not feel pressure to get good grades right off the bat.  Interest in soaking up as much knowledge as possible, makes grades came naturally.

Practice Controlled Caution:

  • Before going out think about possible scenarios and have a plan... it takes time to learn who you can trust in a new environment - the one person you can truly trust is yourself. Remain in control of your decisions.

Make Connections and Initiate Conversations:

  • Introduce yourself and make connections - other people are feeling uncomfortable too.
  • Attend ice breakers and freshman activities.
  • Take advantage of the programs offered to acclimate.
  • Join a small group where you will be among people who share your interests (sports team, band, chorus, prayer group, action committee, poetry club, service organization, book club…there are many groups and clubs )

Know yourself - Be yourself - Expect the Unexpected - Be Patient - Remember, it WILL be UNCOMFORTABLE at first.

As a follow-up to this article, the IECA Conference was a huge success.  I learned a lot and made great new friends.  I will be sharing my new knowledge with you in future posts.

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

Attention High School Athletes: The Academic Index

Ivy League Pennants What is the Academic Index (AI)? - The Academic Index is a tool used by the Ivy League Schools to measure a high school athlete's academic performance and to determine whether or not the student has the academic credentials necessary to be admitted to the school.

Why is the Academic Index Important? - In order to be accepted by the admissions office of an Ivy League School, high school athletes who plan to play their sport in college must meet the school's Academic Index.  It has become more important to understand the AI early in high school as high school athletes are being offered early verbal commitments from coaches as early as freshman year of high school.  If a student has his/her heart set on any Ivy League school, it is essential that the student knows whether or not he/she can meet the Ivy League's AI before making a decision on the early verbal offer from another school.

Two New York Times articles by Bill Pennington are great resources on the topic of the Academic Index (AI) -

Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math The Graphic on the left of the article show sample calculations.

A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

To Get a General Idea of your AI:

Add the results of 1, 2 and 3 below together:

1.  SAT or ACT Index Number:

  • If using SAT scores to calculate AI, add reading and math scores and divide by 20
  • If using ACT scores to calculate AI, multiply the ACT Composite Score by 2.23

2.  The GPA Index Number (this index number used to be based on class rank)

The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:

  • 3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
  • 3.7 weighted is 71 points
  • 3.3 unweighted is 70 points
  • 3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points

3.  SAT or ACT Index Number from step one or SAT II Subject Tests:  Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20.

Another article with valuable information about affording an Ivy League education:

Financial Aid Changes Game as Ivy Sports Teams Flourish by Bill Pennington

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal- EDNavigators LLC

 

Homework, Sleep, Habits

  Ghandi - HabitsEdutopia's blog post today,  Homework, Sleep, and the Student Brain was right in line with a recent discussion I had with my students - about what homework was like “back when I was in high school”…a book, a pencil, a notebook - no phone, internet or social media distractions…It was easier to go to bed by 11PM in high school, stay healthy and earn good grades.

The distractions technology presents to students today can not be eliminated.  Students need internet access to complete school assignments.  For today's student, time management and the ability to stay on task are essential skills for success. To ignore distractions, students need a positive Mindset and powerful habits.

Books I recommend that address these topics include:

Sandy Aprahamian, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators, LLC

Rising Seniors - Summer Timeline for College Applications

College Application Checklist for Rising SeniorsFirst semester senior year is busy.  Class rigor and grades for senior year count toward college admissions. EDNavigators encourages students to remove some of the senior year stress by beginning applications over the summer. What can a rising senior do over the summer in preparation for college applications?

June and July: 1. Plan and adjust college by researching and visiting colleges. 2. Prepare for the SAT or ACT if taking it in the fall. 3. Go to the website of or call the college of interest to find out: • If it accepts The Common Application - If yes, are supplements required? Are they available yet? Supplements to the Common Application become available on a school-by-school basis. Princeton University’s Supplement to the Common Application for the Class of 2015 is available now as well as Purdue, Amherst and Penn. • If it accepts The Universal College Application - If yes, are supplements required and are they available yet? • If it has its own application - If yes, is it available? For schools with rolling admission, the sooner you complete and submit the application, the better your chances of getting in. Penn State's application becomes available September 1. There are different application requirements and different timelines for each school. The only way to get the information you need specific to each school is to go to the school’s website or call the school’s admissions office. 4. Write the common Application Essay. The Common Application Essay prompts will remain the same as they were last year. They are available now. 5. Take time to do things you enjoy

August: 1. On August 1, The Common Application and The Universal College Application go live for the next school year. Complete the core sections during the month of August. The Common Application and The Universal College Application for Fall 2015 will be available August 1, 2014 2. Continue to adjust and revise the college list 3. Continue with test-prep 4. Take time to do things you enjoy.

 Specifics for the Classes of 2016 and 2017

Common Application Essay Prompts for 2014-15

2014-15 Common Application Essay Prompts Rising Seniors, use this summer to write your Common Application Essay.  The Common Application itself will go live on August 1, 2014 but the essay prompts are available now.

As stated in The Common Application Knowledgebase:

"The Common Application will retain the current set of first-year essay prompts for 2014-15, without any edits or additions. The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words. The feedback received from member colleges and school counselors has been positive. The essay prompts will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that they continue to serve students and member colleges well.

The essay prompts are as follows:

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family."

EDNAvigators offers assistance with the College Essay Process

 

Important Information for College Bound High School Students with ADD/ADHD or any Learning Disability

education-labyrinth1.jpgKnow your standardized testing accommodation options and deadlines early - as early as freshman year of high school.

SAT and ACT Testing Accommodations - Frequently Asked Questions

When should accommodations be requested?

  • For accommodation for sophomore PSAT or PLAN, requests should be made spring of freshman year.
  • If accommodations are not needed for tests given in the fall of sophomore year of high school, accommodation requests should be made in the spring of sophomore year.

Who submits the request?

  • The school disability coordinator or guidance counselor - When making the request, the counselor should be specific about what the student needs.

What must be included in the request?

  • Evidence of a professionally diagnosed disability and documentation proving how the student’s limitation impacts both daily functioning and the ability to take standardized tests Formal psychological testing for the ACT must be no more than 3 years old.  Formal psychological testing for the SAT must be no more than 5 years old.  Generally, testing should be repeated for students when they are 16 as the tests are then given on the adult scale.

What are the differences between the extended time accommodations for the SAT and the ACT?

50% Extended Time:

  • SAT: Time and a half is given per section. The student must wait for the time to expire for each section before moving on to the next - The full-time spent on the test is 1.5 times as long as it would be without accommodations.
  • ACT: Student self-paces through the test, going on to the next section at his or her own pace. The test ends when he student finishes OR when the 1.5 time has expired.

100% Extended Time / Special Testing at school (typically for students with more severe deficiencies than ADHD)

  • ACT - The student takes one section per day. He/she is given double the standard time for each section. For example, English would be 90 minutes, Math would be 2 hours etc.

When will I hear if the accommodation has been granted?

  • ACT Response Time: about 4 weeks
  • SAT Response Time: about 7 weeks

Who grants a higher percentage of accommodation requests - ACT or College Board (SAT)?

  • ACT

When accommodations are approved, what tests do they include?

  • College Board Accommodations Include: SAT, PSAT, AP Exams
  • ACT Accommodations Include: ACT, PLAN

EDNaviagators suggests that students with disabilities get the wheels in motion for accommodations spring of freshman year of high school. Have the request submitted before the end of freshman year. Submit requests to both College Board and ACT since the only way to know which test is better for the student is for the student to take full practice tests of each.

Since these guidelines and procedures are subject to change, it is always best to confirm with the official websites: Services for Students with Disabilities: The College Board Services for Students with Disabilities: ACT

Sandy Aprahamian, Independent Educational Consultant, EDNavigators

 

How to Access Free SAT Math Test Prep on Khan Academy

Next week, on April 16, the full blue print and sample questions of the New SAT will be revealed. We were told in March that Khan Academy will be providing free SAT test-prep. Khan Academy has already loaded SAT prep to their site. Khan Academy is a valuable tool which I recommend that all of my students take advantage of.  Fifteen to thirty minutes of independent practice a day goes a long way.This two-minute video shows how to access Khan Academy and use its free online SAT Math preparation materials.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuBlkfO8vwE&feature=youtu.be

Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators

The College Put Me on the Wait List. What Does that Mean? What Should I Do?

cropped-gold-boy-in-grad-cap.jpgI attended an outstanding webinar today hosted by Cyndy McDonald of Guided Path and delivered by  Peter Van Buskirk  of Best College Fit . Peter shared many valuable insights into the college admissions process from the perspective of the school’s enrollment management and yield. Peter Van Buskirk holds a wealth of knowledge.  I encourage you to visit his website BestCollegeFit to see when he presenting at an event in your area. Below are some key points Peter shared about Wait Lists.

  • The Wait List is a DEFINITE MAYBE  NOT a POLITE DENIAL.
  • Many schools use the wait list as a means to improve the yield that they report for rankings.
  • You are still in the game, but you need to continue to play your best.

If you are truly interested in a school that puts you on its Wait List:

  • Act NOW.  Don’t wait.  Some schools go to the wait list as early as mid April.
  • Get on the radar screen of your regional recruiter.
  • Visit the campus.  Yes, AGAIN if you have already been there and be sure the admissions office knows you made the visit.
  • Clarify your need for financial aid.  If you have figured out a way to pay for the college without financial aid, let the college know this in writing.  Money matters when it comes to the wait list.
  • If you make it off the wait list, he school will most likely call you and ask you if you would like the spot.
  • Be ready because you most likely have only 24-48 hours to respond.  Your official offer won’t arrive until you verbally accept the spot.

Most importantly, remember, the best college for you is the one that fits YOU best.  Don’t be swayed by glitzy advertising and don’t let a college’s decision shape your opinion of yourself.

Best,

Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators, Independent Educational Consultant

AP Exams - Quick Facts

AP Exams are the cumulative final exam for students who take AP classes in high school.AP Exams 101 Test takers do not have to have completed an AP course to sit for the exam.

For some colleges, AP exams can earn the student college credit.  For other colleges, AP courses and successful exam scores are expected for admission - no college credit is earned.

AP exams are scored from 1-5  a minimum of three is required to earn college credit but many schools require a 4 or 5 on the AP exam to award college credit.  This varies by school, by subject sometimes by department within a school.

AP exams are offered in high schools over a two week period in May.

For a full description of AP exams and the dates they are offered, visit The College Board's AP Website.

Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Consultant, EdNavigators

Is it better to get a B in a difficult class or an A in an easier class?

This list from the Independent Educational Consultant Association answers this and other questions about what strengths and experiences colleges are looking for in high school students. Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.53.42 AM

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Advice from Seth Godin - Applies to Test Prep and College Applications too

I subscribe to Seth Godin's daily blog post which I really enjoy.  Yesterday's post was, The self-defeating quest for simple and easy.  In creating college lists, standardized test prep, the college essay, the college application process, high school classes and college classes, this applies.  Take the time to do it right.  There are no short cuts and it is a waste of your precious time to look for them. As it relates to test prep, take practice exams, take the time to analyze what you missed and work on weak areas.  Take the time to READ and review.

In high school, take the time to learn the material.  Short cuts may work short-term, but, in the long run, they usually hurt.

In college, seize the opportunity to absorb as much as you can.  You are given the gift of TIME in college. Use it wisely.  You never know what it will benefit you to know in the future when you do NOT have the time to re-learn it.

Time spent productively pays off.  Enjoy the process.