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Buy These Supplies to Make Studying More Anti-Boring

It’s almost the end of the school year! For some college students, semesters end next month; high school students have another couple months to go.

Regardless, everyone is exhausted, and likely a lot of your school supplies have been used up by now!

I recommend that you take a little shopping trip to replenish some school supplies so that when final exams come, you have a lot of creative supplies to make your studying anti-boring.

In this video, I list some options for you. Take a look, and then let me know if you have any questions!

If you want to know what the supplies are now here is the whiteboard:

255: Mindfulness Tools for Upping your SAT & ACT Performance

There’s an important yet overlooked ingredient to performing your best on standardized tests!

In this episode, guest expert Logan Thompson details how to apply some simple tools from the world of mindfulness to turboboost ACT and SAT performance.

In a fun and wide-ranging conversation, they discuss:

  • How Logan began his journey with mindfulness
  • What mindfulness is and what it isn’t
  • How Logan accidentally started teaching his test prep students tools for observing their own thoughts, and how it helped them
  • A powerful metaphor Logan uses to teach these tools to test prep students,
  • and more!

Check out Logan’s book Beyond the Content here on Amazon. Feel free to access these sample mindfulness recordings at Logan’s SoundCloud.

After earning his MBA from Vanderbilt University, Logan Thompson pursued his passion for mindfulness by moving to a meditation center, where he lived and practiced for over two years. He then began teaching test prep for Manhattan Prep, a unit of Kaplan Test Prep (he has a 99th percentile score on the SAT®, GMAT® and GRE®), where he still teaches. He is also an adjunct professor of mindfulness at Endicott College and a Master’s student at Harvard University, studying Human Development and Psychology. Feel free to email Logan  at LoganJThompson [at] Gmail [dot] com.

Click here to listen in now!

How to Study Overwhelming PowerPoints

Do your teachers and professors primarily use PowerPoint during their lectures? Do you find yourself overwhelmed when it’s time to study, because you have 60 or 70 slides to review for each test?

Lately, I’ve had a number of folks working with graduate school students come through my training program (The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically), and they’ve been asking me to give some more concrete ideas for how these students can work with the massive amounts of information that they are exposed to each week.

In this video, I suggest that students work on making one-page sheet sheets for each power point deck, and I provide four different options for how to do that:

Heads up that next week I’ll be sharing a video about what kinds of supplies to buy and have at home that will help you create these cheat sheets in an anti-boring way! Stay tuned for that.

254: Finding Scholarships – Specific Steps and Realistic Expectations

Finding the right scholarships takes planning!

Megan breaks down how sophomores and juniors in high school can consider scholarship potential as they’re narrowing down their list.

Specifically she shares:

  • How to have realistic expectations for how much money is and isn’t available
  • How to identify your educational goals, so you can find complementary scholarships
  • How to apply to the right schools where scholarships are available
  • How to organize yourself and apply to the schools on time, so you don’t miss out on opportunities.

Click here to listen in!

When You Feel Ashamed and Can’t Take Action

Do you ever struggle with feeling ashamed at school? You totally INTEND to turn in homework and show up for makeup tests, but then you. just. don’t. Then shame sets in, and you KNOW you should probably go talk to the teacher, but you can’t bring yourself to face it?

I have a college student who is facing a similar situation, which I explain more in the video below. I found myself asking her a question that really helped her navigate the situation, and find the bravery to take action.
Here are all the details:

And if you want to skip the video and get right to the question I asked, here it is:

Got any questions about this? Any other ideas about how YOU would handle this situation? I’d love to hear.

3+ Ways to Productively Procrastinate

Did you know that there are some GOOD ways to procrastinate?

Recently I checked in on a client (a sophomore in college) about how well she’s following through on a project plan, and she told me that she was doing terribly. However, it was a “productive” kind of terrible, because she was getting something else important done as well.

This made me curious about how many ways there are to procrastinate productively, so I made a little video musing on this issue. Check it out!! Make sure you watch until the end so that you hear the warning about how not to overuse this sneaky way of procrastinating.

And if you don’t feel like waiting here’s the whiteboard:

252: Two Straightforward Steps to Taking Great Notes

Too often educators teach specific note taking strategies like Cornell Notes without teaching students WHY they work.

Tune in to hear Gretchen outline a straightforward approach to helping take better notes.

Specifically, she discusses:

  • Review the Study Cycle, which summarizes the three steps the brain needs to learn
  • Understand where good note taking fits into the Study Cycle (hint: encoding!)
  • Discuss the two steps to note-taking
  • Learn tips for how to put each of these steps into practice.

At one point in this episode, Gretchen references the excellent graphic organizers at www.ThinkingMaps.com.

Click here to tune in to hear Gretchen outline a straightforward approach to helping take better notes.

If Procrastinating on a Digital Project, Try This

I know that you probably procrastinate a lot (I do!), but I wonder if you identify with this scenario:

Sometimes I have a hard time taking action on projects that are digital, boxed up inside my computer screen. I feel cooped up and have such a hard time getting going.

Today I finally got momentum on a digital project, and I noticed it’s because I did a very specific thing — I got the project OUT Of the computer.

Check out the video to hear all the gory details.

Here’s a pic of the white board:

Do you have any questions? Or additional ideas about how to get started with a project that’s stuck inside your laptop? Please reply and let me know!

251: An Overview of How to Prepare for the ACT & SAT Admissions Tests

There are 5 key steps to take when planning how your high school student will take their college admissions tests.

In this episode, Megan gives a detailed description for how to make a 4-year plan for managing your college admissions tests.

Here are each of the steps; listen in for more thorough instructions:

  • Take the PSAT
  • Choose whether to take the ACT, SAT, or both
  • Plan ahead about WHEN to take the tests
  • Decide whether the subject tests are worthwhile
  • Make a plan ahead of time
  • And more!

Click here to listen in as Megan gives you a detailed plan on how to manage your college admissions test.

Why It’s Important to Hide Your Phone While Working

Parents of teens often ask me where their students should be putting their cell phones while they’re doing their homework! I’ve often given a specific answer (which you’ll hear about in the video), but I’ve never read the research that backs my advice up!

This New York Times article about the dangers of having your cell phones out while you’re doing work. It’s humbling, and something that we ALL should consider, adults and teens alike. In fact, as I’m writing this blog post right now, I’m noticing my cell phone in the corner of my eye, so I’m not even following the article’s advice!

Gosh, it’s hard to be human in this digital age. Check out the article here, or watch the video for my commentary.

250: How to Nurture Mistake-Friendly Environments at School and Home

How to Nurture Mistake-Friendly Environments at School and at Home

The science shows us that mistakes are an important part of learning and growing, yet our schools and homes are often structured to punish students for making mistakes.

Why is this, and what can be done to create environments that celebrate mistake-making?

Join Gretchen and Megan tin this wide ranging discussion that explores:

  • Some science behind why mistakes are a crucial part of learning
  • How the Study Cycle mirrors this science
  • Tips for creating a mistake-friendly environment
  • and More!

This is a topic that Gretchen is just beginning to think about with more depth, so if you have any thoughts to add, please email her at gretchen [at] gretchenwegner [dot] com.

Click here to listen in as Gretchen and Megan discuss How to Nurture Mistake-Friendly Environments at School and Home!

How One College Student Learned From Her Mistakes (and Made Me Cry)

Can you tell I’m obsessing about the power of mistakes right now?! This last week a client’s reflection about HER mistakes brought tears to my eyes. More about that in a sec.

First, though, I want to make sure you’re aware that IN EXACTLY A WEEK I’m starting up a new round of my course for educators The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically. Please join us!!


And now, back to that college student…


Thank GOODNESS it’s a new semester right now, and my clients and I can sit back and reflect about their difficult experiences last semester. The slate is clean, and there’s nowhere to go but up.


However, I usually meet these students when they’ve dug themselves into a BIG HOLE. That was the case for this college student last semester. Her hole was ginormous — missing assignments, tons of late work, a backlog of reading, mountains of anxiety. This semester, though, she’s risen to the occasion! I asked her to reflect about what’s different this time around, and her answer brought tears to my eyes.


In this video I share her breakthrough moment with you, and also reflect a little about the difference between what I call “Triage” and “Proactive” coaching. Listen in to discover why I LOVE students who come to me in Triage mode.

Can you think of a triage situation you’ve been in… a bottom of sorts… that felt sucky at the time but then taught you a big lesson? I’d love to hear about it.

P.S. If you’re a teacher or academic coach and have been thinking about joining me for this course for a long time, I urge you to reach out and schedule a conversation with me!! Let’s talk one-and-one and figure out whether my course is a good investment. I’ll be super honest with you!!

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249: The Limitations and Realities of Taking AP Classes in High School

Many AP Coordinators at high schools list all the benefits of taking AP classes, but rarely do they list the drawbacks and limitations.

Megan spells out for families a number of reasons why you might not want to take AP classes if your goal is college admissions.

In this episode, Megan will talk you through:

  • The real benefit is not saving you money in college, but actually the higher level thinking skills you’ll gain
  • The problem of “qualifying scores” (3 versus 4 versus 5) and that not all classes get the same credit
  • The lack of consistency about what those credits will count for when you get to college,
  • And more!

Click here to listen in as Megan discusses The Limitations and Realities of Taking AP Classes in High School!

What If Every Student Did Test Corrections Like This?

?Last week I did a video about the two biggest mistakes I made last year. Apparently, y’all love hearing about my mistakes because I got a LOT of emails in response.

I’ve been thinking about mistakes a lot over the last few weeks because I’m preparing for my FREE masterclass for educators and parents, all about how to foster mistake-friendly environments in our classrooms and homes. If you’re inspired by this conversation, please join me!


One of the email responses I received last week came from a high school student who has been emailing me her thoughts about my videos for several years now.


In today’s email, she was reflecting on how her physics teacher helps his students embrace their mistakes, and how much MORE physics she’s learning because of this.

In today’s video, I read the student’s email out loud, share her physics teacher’s process for doing test corrections, and share my own thoughts about why this is so successful.

Can you think of any examples in which mistakes have helped YOU learn faster and more effectively? I’d love to hear about them. Please reply!!

P.S. One of the things I love about my masterclasses is that it gives me an opportunity to MEET the people who watch my videos every day. Please do join us live!

248: Why Teens Tell Fibs and How Parents and Educators Can Respond Effectively

Why Teens Tell Fibs and How Parents and Educators Can Respond Effectively

Teens tell fibs more often than parents wish. Some of them are pre-meditated and manipulative, but often they are a primal response to fear, especially in students with learning differences like ADHD.

In this episode, Gretchen walks you through her notes from a great presentation she heard at last November’s International ADHD Conference. The presentation was called “Beyond Fight, Flight & Freeze: Is There a Fourth F?” and was presented by Barbara Brikey Hunter and Monica Hassal. 

Specifically, she shares Hunter and Hassal’s thoughts about:

  • How the original three F’s of Flight/Fright/Freeze are connected to the nervous system’s primal response to fear, and why Fib might be the fourth F
  • How to talk to students about the effect that primal responses have in the brain
  • The acronym SPEED and how it represents fiver different reasons why students might be afraid in the moment, prompting them to Fib
  • The acronyms WIN and COOL, which represent how to support both the student and the parent in responding a fib when it’s taken place
  • Some specific phrases parents and educators can say when “catching” a student in a fib
  • And more!

For more information about these presenters, please visit Barbara Briskey Hunter’s LinkedIn Profile, and Monica Hassal’s website www.connectadhd.com

Also note: the conference where Gretchen heard them present was the 2018 International Conference on ADHD in St. Louis, sponsored by ACO, ADDA and CHADD.

Click here to listen in so that you can learn how to respond effectively!

My Top Two Failures of 2018

The New Year — a time when we often think about successes and achievements. Instead, I’ve been thinking about failure. Mine in particular.

Last year (like every year) I made a bunch of mistakes! It’s tempting to gloss over all the ways I effed up in 2018 by making the traditional New Year’s list of successes and achievements from the past year.

More and more, lately, I find myself tired of those lists, of reading people’s curated successes without the balance of their difficulties. Maybe you’re tired of those lists too? I thought it might be more fun to talk about my mistakes instead.

Perhaps I’m just selfish and/or too sensitive, but when I see others’ successes I most often think “I guess I don’t measure up.” However, when I read their failures — especially when they also reflect deeply about what they learned from their failures — I feel empowered. Isn’t that odd?

Anyway — because I’m also celebrating mistake-making in my upcoming free masterclass for educators (and parents!) — it seems fun to reflect today on my two biggest mistakes of 2018.

In this video I share:

  • What I mean by “mistake”
  • The two biggest mistakes I made in 2018
  • What the horrific consequences were (one financial, the other health),
  • What I learned from the experiences that will transform my future choices, and
  • Why this kind of mistake-friendly reflecting is IMPERATIVE for teachers and parents to model for students.

Take a watch:

What mistakes did YOU make last year? What were the consequences? What did you learn? Hit reply and practice doing this kind of reflecting now. I’d love to know, and I promise I’ll reply.

To join me in a discussion about how to create mistake-friendly environments in our classrooms, coaching sessions and homes, click here to sign up for next week’s Masterclass.

247: What Megan Did Right (And Wrong!) as the Parent of a Senior Applying for College

What Megan Did Right (And Wrong!) As the Parent of a Senior Applying for College

As a college consultant who guided her own daughter through the college application process, Megan realizes there are some things that she would have done differently if she could do it over again! 

Tune in to hear how her personal experience differs from some of the professional suggestions she makes to clients.

Specifically, she discusses:

  •  When it’s best to complete applications (and it’s not what she originally thought)
  • How to consider a student’s ability to focus well when planning SAT prep and planning vs. her focus
  • The importance of not visiting schools you don’t want your kid to go to
  • The importance of considering the money component BEFORE you apply
  • The importance of including the other parent (in this case, dad) earlier on in the process,
  • and more!

An Antidote to Students’ Chronic Busyness

Do you sometimes feel that you NEVER get a break? That you’re far too busy to give yourself some time off, even an afternoon off? 

I find that many students feel this way. We are breeding more generations as addicted to busy-ness as we are! 

I have this issue as well, and I’m often catching myself delaying a walk in nature, or even a nap, because I have just one more email I need to write. 

Well, in today’s video I take you on one of those rare moments when I actually succeeded in getting my butt out the door! And share some reflections about why it’s important for students to get out into nature too. ?

246: 8+ Non-Boring Ways to Study for Tests

8+ Non-Boring Ways to Study for Tests

The key to effective studying for tests is a brain-based trick called “retrieval practice.” 

Most students forget to do this when studying. They might review their notes or text book, but they forget practice “retrieving” it from their brain (which means looking away from the source of the information and testing yourself to see how much you know).

Tune in to hear 8+ non-boring strategies for putting this technique into action, just in time for final exams (for some of you) and for the new semester (for the rest). 

Note: This podcast was originally published on May 15, 2015 as episode 53.

Click here to listen in to these studying tips!

Is a Paper To Do List Effective?

Some people — and most teens — think they really love online To Do lists. Other folks — mostly adults — love purchasing the latest, hippest paper planner to try and track their To Do’s that way.

Recently I had a client, a 16-year-old young man, who decided that the online To Do? apps are just not working for him, and he’d like to go with a paper To Do? list instead. He asked me for suggestions for how to organize it.

In this video, I give you the same demo I gave my client. Check it out, and see if you think this might work for you!?