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!

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

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.

234: Military Academies and How to Get Accepted

Military academies require a lot of extra work to apply to, but it can be worth it for the high quality free education they provide if you get in.

In this episode, Megan answers this listener question and details the steps it takes to apply and get accepted to these kinds of schools:

Dear Megan and Gretchen,

I have begun to listen to you at the end of this summer because I wanted to improve my act and sat score although I haven’t taken the sat. The start of this summer I’ve had the motivation to attempt and get into a military academy as in the naval academy and Air Force etc. I’ve found the basic requirements to get into those types of schools and have been working my way too achieve those.

I wanted to ask if there is anything you guys know that will help me have a better chance to get accepted. My current act score is a 24 but haven’t taken it in a while and am about to go into a class for it. My GPA is around a 3.7 but have a lot of upcoming AP classes and am determined to get all A’s. Lastly, I feel I have an edge up because by the end of high school I will have studied Chinese for 8 years with two AP Chinese classes.

I wanted to know what you guys think and I respect your drive to better students lives by providing them quality information. Thank you!!!

Braxton

Listen in as Megan answers a listener question on this topic!

224: Anti-Boring Tool #4 – Quizzable Study Tools

The most important part of studying is retrieval practice (in other words, testing yourself)…

…but how do you test yourself in new and interesting ways so that you don’t bore yourself to tears?

Tune in for Part 4 of the Anti-Boring Summer Series, where Gretchen walks you through how to create quizzable study tools, so you have lots of choices for how to test yourself .

If this anti-boring tip delights you and you want more from where this came from:

Don’t forget to click here to hear Part 4 of the Anti-Boring Summer Series, where Gretchen walks you through how to create quizzable study tools!

223: How to Apply for Testing Accommodations for ACT & SAT

 

It’s possible to receive accommodations on the SAT & ACT for students with physical or learning differences. However (and this is a super important point for families of these kinds of students):  you need to apply in advance.

Both SAT & ACT have tried to make the process easier, but unfortunately not all families know this is an option.

 

Listen in as Megan breaks down common issues related to applying for accommodations on standardized testing.

 

 Then, for more information, check out an article she wrote on the topic!

222: Anti-Boring Tool #3 – Hone It Notes

Do you ever review your lecture notes after you take them?

Most people don’t… mostly because it seems like a lot of work and they don’t know how.

This simple note taking tip could change your entire ability to learn effectively. It’s not easy, but if you could get yourself to do it — you’d e so much more ready for every test and feel that much more confident as a learner

If this anti-boring tip delights you and you want more from where this came from:

220: Anti-Boring Study Tool #2 – The Study Senses

Is studying tedious and boring?

Use the Study Senses as a simple checklist for how to engage your brain while learning, so that you learn more in less time.

Tune in for Part 2 of the Anti-Boring Summer Series, where she walks you through a simple model for how to mix up your studying so you’re processing information in multiple ways.

If this anti-boring tip delights you and you want more from where this came from:

219: Before You Write Your Admissions Essays, Listen to This

Essays are an important component of college applications, but most people– students, parent, and even educators– have little idea what a winning essay looks like or how to write one.

Check out these resources that we highlighted on the episode:

Don’t forget to listen in as we help you get started and share advice from some colleges.