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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!? 

245: Do Aptitude and Interest Tests Help with College Admissions and Choosing Majors?

Do Aptitude and Interest Tests Help with College Admissions and Choosing a Major?

Many high school students feel pressured to choose a college major before they ever arrive in college — during the application process.

Megan walks us through whether it makes sense for students to take aptitude and interest tests to figure out what they want to study in college, and whether this helps with the college admissions process.

Specifically she discusses:

  • What aptitude and interest inventories are
  • The two different ways to take these inventories — through a profession, and on your own via an internet search
  • The benefits of having high school students take these kinds of inventories, including insights, ideas, possible areas for exploration, and a source of open conversations between parent and student
  • The drawbacks of these inventories, including the potential low quality of the data, things that these tests don’t consider, like personality or job skill match, is not a quick fix or exact answer
  • Why Megan didn’t have her daughter take these kinds of tests during her college admissions process
  • Additional suggestions for parents 

Listen in as Megan discusses aptitude and interest tests and whether this helps with the college admissions process.

4 Ways to Connect with Teachers

Do you struggle to connect with your teachers? Does it feel like they are scary strangers to you, rather than friends, mentors and cheerleaders?

In today’s video I tell you about a conversation I had recently with a client who is a junior in high school. Every week in our coaching session I ask him what teachers he has connected with over the past week. In the past he has often blamed his teachers for not being “good” or “organized” and has often had difficult relationships with them because of this judgement. Even if he’s right about some of these judgments, the fact that he felt cold towards the teachers did not help him in getting the support he needs.

This year he is starting fresh by building strong relationships from the start. Here is a list of four ways to connect with teachers that we came up with during our session today. Can you think of additional ones?

244: Finding a Good “Safety” School

You’ve likely heard the advice to make sure you include a “safety” school in your college list. However, what exactly does that mean?

Megan helps you understand the two types of “safety” schools you will want to consider, and provides tips for finding these types of schools. Specifically, she and Gretchen discuss:

  • The two kinds of “safety” schools you need on your list
  • how to tell if your school is a good “safety” school
  • How to adjust your  mindset about the importance of “safety” schools
  • Why we keep putting the word “safety” in quotes
  • How to plan ahead so you’re not left in a lurch,
  • And more!

Click to listen in as Gretchen and Megan discuss safety schools!

243: The Power of Atomic Habits (and How to Skim a Nonfiction Book)

There’s a new book about habits that’s all the rage right now: Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Gretchen does two things at once in this episode: teaches you how to skim a nonfiction book effectively while also introducing you to some key tips and tricks about developing stronger habits. Specifically, she and Megan will:

  • discuss the importance of skimming to give you an overall picture of what you’re about to read
  • practice skimming Atomic Habits by reading and discussing the table of contents
  • explore how to tell what parts of the chapter to read, when you’re ready to skim in more depth
  • share their take aways about how to tweak their own habits to be more effective
  • and more!

Click here to listen in as Megan discusses tricks about developing stronger habits!

242: The Most Important Factor in College Admissions

Are you surprised by what the “most important factor” in getting into college is? Gretchen was surprised when Megan told her that it’s the high school transcript.

This episode contains everything you need to know about your high school transcript. Specifically we’ll discuss:

  • what the core classes that you need on your transcript are
  • what other people think the most important factor in college admissions is, and why they’re not
  • whether the high school classes you took in middle school count
  • how to decide which electives to cut if you need to
  • how to think about advanced level classes
  • how to develop your passions without getting in the way of core classes,
  • and more!

Click here to listen in to learn more about your transcript too!

7 Small Tasks to Do Over the Holidays

We’re smack dab in the middle of our winter holidays right now! I know you want to simply relax, and I want you to, too.

I ALSO want to encourage you to consider doing one or more of these small tasks. This is a great time to organize your life, so that you can hit the ground running when you go back to school in January.

Check out my detailed thoughts in this video:

Or simply read through the list on my whiteboard:

Are there other small tasks that are useful to do over a holiday from school? Please tell me! 

Gifts I Sometimes Give Students

It’s gift giving season! I’m actually TERRIBLE at giving gifts at specific times of the year — birthdays, holidays, etc — but I’m GREAT at giving them when the spirit moves me, and I see that one of my clients has a need.

In today’s video, I thought it’d be fun to show you the contents of my “Gifts” basket that I keep on my office bookshelf. I love to purchase fun or useful things when I”m out and about, and then I have them available to pop into the mail when the spirit moves me.

Let’s take a peek in my basket!

Do you know of other gifts that are fun to give students? I’d love to add them to MY basket. Please hit reply and let me know.

P.S. Here is a link to the little Habit Tracker booklets I showed you: https://myclasstracker.com/collections/notebooks

P.P.S. And here is a link to the Memorization Set that I love to give to some students to help them study for tests using old worksheets and quizzes: https://www.amazon.com/Memorization-Green-Sheet-Eraser-Included/dp/B00WEGCR7W

Don’t Freak Out Over Finals

It’s finals time for many students around the country and world! Are you freaking out?

Self care during this stressful time is super important, and recently I ran across this awesome resource. It’s an infographic for how to take care of yourself during finals. You can go to the inforgraphic directly by clicking here. Or… check out this video where I walk you through it, and make some commentary about some of the suggestions.

What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself during stressful times?

241: Six Unusual Ways to Save Money on College

The cost of college continues to skyrocket!

 

That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t all kinds of ways to save money wherever possible.

 

Tune in to hear Megan’s wisdom about each of these money saving tips:

  1. Work as a Teaching Assistant or Resident Assistant
  2. Graduate in 3 years
  3. Say no to pricy social spending
  4. Find the colleges that will give you more money
  5. Earn as many inexpensive credits as possible
  6. Maximize free resources

Click here to tune in while Megan talks about these money saving tips!

Are You Stuck in a Crappy School Situation?

Does school feel crappy a lot of the time? And do you sometimes feel hopeless that you’re going to spend the rest of your teenager years (or young adulthood) in the slog of school?

One of my clients was feeling this way last school year during final exams, and I got to ask her one of my FAVORITE questions that I ask clients: “Are you stuck?! Are you the victim of a crappy school system? Or are you choosing school?”

Check out this video, where I share more details about how this conversation went.

 

How to Be a Supportive Parent Without Micro Managing?

Do you try to be a supportive parent to your teen? But suspect that you still do a lot of micromanaging?

Well, one of my clients’ parents emailed me the other day asking how to follow up on some advice I’d given her daughter. I LOVED that she asked me this question, because it shows that she’s trying very hard to do the right thing by her teen.

In this video, I share more background on the situation and then tell you the suggestion I made to her about how to remind her daughter about the tips from our session… without micromanaging her.

 

 

Should You Wait for the Study Guide to Start Studying?

Do you usually wait for the teacher to hand out a study guide before you start studying? Are you a frustrated parent who’d really LIKE your student to be studying regularly but they keep on saying, “The teacher hasn’t handed out a study guide yet!”

I just got this question emailed to me, and I’m excited to share some reflections with you all. It’s not a straightforward answer, because it depends on how well you’ve been keeping up with the information you’ve been learning this semester.

However, there ARE some concrete ways you can figure out whether you need to start studying early. So watch the video, and let’s check it out!

238: Colleges Love Good Grammar!

Too many students have poor grammar, and it weakens their writing. This has become increasingly obvious to Megan as she works with students on writing their college admissions essays.

If you are looking for skills to build or strengthen with students grades 6-12, consider following some of Megan’s advice to improve students’ grammar and usage.

In this episode, Megan breaks down:

  • three reasons why it’s important to improve grammar sooner rather than later (hint: one of them is the SAT and ACT tests)
  • the importance of not just acquiring knowledge of grammar rules, but of ALSO practicing this knowledge so that it becomes fluent, and
  • some tools and tips for how to get this practice regularly.

Megan also recommends the following resources:

Listen in as Megan shares advice in improving students grammar!

How to Schedule Your Studying So You Stay Sane

Do you sometimes feel a little insane trying to schedule all the little and big tasks that go into being a student?

I worked with one client who discovered something really important about how to get herself to follow through with her study and project plans — rather than habitually wait until the last minute.

She realized that if she builds these three things into her schedule, she’s more likely to follow through.

Check it out!

What to Do When You Hate An Assignment

Do you hate your assignments sometimes? You are not alone!

So many of my clients detest working on certain assignments for school, so much so that some of them just ignore the assignments completely. That certainly doesn’t help their grades, but it’s a perfectly understandable reaction. Hate is a strong feeling, and it’s not a culturally appropriate feeling to feel!

Accept That You Hate It | Gretchen Wegner | Academic Life Coach

In today’s video, I share with you how a client of mine learned, through our sessions, to let herself hate her assignments. She actually found them EASIER to get done if she let herself hate them, as opposed to trying to convince herself NOT to hate them.