259: Is Getting Into the “Right College” Worth All the High School Stress?

Student stress is at an all time high! What is the cause, and what can parents, students and educators do about it?

Join guest Mary Hofstedt from Challenge Success to learn about the results of an interesting research project on student wellbeing, and find out what parents, students, and schools can do to reprioritize student wellbeing without losing rigor, though college and beyond.

Specifically they cover:

  • The interesting story behind how Challenge Success got its name (and how it involves a grown up shadowing students for a full year)
  • Some staggering statistics about what contributes to student stress being so high, including the results of a survey that includes over 175,000 students
  • Two of the biggest contributors to student stress (according to students!!), and how Challenge Success is working with students, parents and schools to address these issues
  • The myth that the more selective colleges will bring you more “success” in life
  • Practical tips for parents for how to support student wellbeing,
  • and more!

If you’d like to explore sending a school leader or administrator to Challenge Success’s conferences, here is more information about the Summer Leadership Seminar. For whole school communities who are interested in getting involved, here is more information about the School Program.

If you would like to read more research about college selectivity, the cheating epidemic, and more, check out these excellent White Papers.

Mary Hofstedt, Ed.M., is a School Program Director at Challenge Success. In her role, she works alongside Challenge Success school teams to advance student well-being and engagement in learning, and provides interactive workshops to parents, educators, and students. Mary has an extensive background in curriculum and program design, positive youth development, leadership of school and community-wide initiatives to benefit youth, and social science research. She is the parent of a recent high school graduate and is passionate about working with others to ensure our young people thrive.

Click here to hear more!

Spring Cleaning?! 10 Ways to Get Organized Before Finals

The final slide to the end of the semester can feel like a drag for students and parents!

Try a few of these simple “spring cleaning” tips to create some momentum, and also get organized BEFORE finals roll around:

  • 4 things to clean out of your binders, bedroom and backpack
  • 2 things to update on your calendar and in your resume
  • 2 things to plan so you don’t lose track at the end of the year
  • 2 things to collect so that you’re ready for final exams

Doing these things now will help you focus on studying and end-of-the-year festivities rather than rushing to find what you need last minute.

Click here to listen in and hear more!

257: Why Students Struggle on SAT / ACT Math & How to Improve Scores

Many students complain that they are not “math people” and therefore struggle on standardized math tests.

Join Megan as she breaks down three reasons why students tend to struggle needlessly, and five strategies for improving their scores.

Specifically, she explores:

  • the difference between knowing your math facts and understanding concepts
  • the importance of grapple time and developing a tolerance for not knowing
  • how to be mindful about whether you’re in a solution mindset or a process mindset
  • specific strategies for raising your score
  • and more!

Click here to listen in!

256: 6+ Ways to Study for Tests in Five Minute Bursts

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Students often worry that studying effectively for tests will take more time than they have!

In this episode, Gretchen takes a deep dive into retrieval practice, which is arguably the most important things students can do when studying.

Specifically she explores simple ways to do retrieval practice:

  • Before class or reading,
  • Right after class,
  • While you are doing already assigned pieces of homework
  • In addition to your homework

Click here to listen in!

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

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!

235: Is it Even Possible to Make School Work “Fun”?

At a recent speaking gig about how to tackle procrastination, students asked Gretchen how to make school work fun! They seemed incredulous that “fun” is even a worthwhile pursuit when it comes to school.

Listen in as Gretchen provides a few thoughts about how to take responsibility for making your learning by “anti-boring” no matter how bored you really feel, including:

  1. Two mindset tips, so you can change your THINKING about school work and fun
  2. Three practical actions to make your experience of class less boring.