What To Do When Assignments Seem Pointless

Do you ever struggle to follow through on an assignment because it feels pointless?

A client of mine was recently complaining about the pointlessness of his English class assignments, and you’d better believe this isn’t the first time a student has struggled to find his teacher’s assignments meaningful or relevant to his life.

I helped him explore whether it is true that his class is pointless, and at the end of the investigation, we came up with a fascinating way to make it pointFULL instead. Tune in to find out what we came up with.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, here’s a short summary:

My client a couple of days ago was complaining that the assignments in his English class felt pointless. He has been finding that the class feels like it’s moving slowly, and the “do now” assignments seemed meaningless. He said that he didn’t feel like he could respect the class, it just felt so meaningless and he noticed he was doing less and less of the work. Then we talked through it a bit and went through some strategies I have for investigating the things that we tell our selves and seeing if they are true or not, and one the things I had him really think about was ” is it really pointless?” Now we went through far too many layers for me to go over, but what we came to at the end of it all was a key question. I asked him, “what would give it a point for him?”

He said, “Oh, maybe with every question the teacher asks I could give a class analysis for it.” Class analysis, not like “school classes” but societal classes. Anyways, I said sure, why not? Maybe not in writing each time, but in his head, he could definitely be thinking about the questions from that point of view, that way it would feel to him more meaningful. So he’s going to be trying that this next week, and I’m super excited to see how it goes for him.

In the meantime, I want to walk you all through these 3 steps that he and I went through.

What To Do When Assignments Seem Pointless, Gretchen WEgner, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying,

  1. You are the one responsible for the sense of meaning in your life. Not your teachers or parents. Sure it’s nice if they contribute to the meaning of your life, but you are the one who’s responsible for the meaning.
  2. Be clear on what ideas or activities will give you a sense of meaning. For my client, thinking about class and governments is interesting and thus thinking about questions or assignments in a sense of the effect of the subject matter in different classes gave it meaning. For me, I enjoy making artful creative notes. So as long as I can take fun notes, I can make any subject matter meaningful. It’s all about finding the ideas or activities that will give it meaning for you.
  3. And finally, talk about it with others. My client talked with me, and I love showing others my notes. By sharing it with others we can help keep our interest high.

I hope you all found this to be helpful, and if you want more tips on how to make school and homework less boring, please consider checking out my course, The Anti-Boring Approach.

Get Into the Perfect College for You with Megan Dorsey

Do you have questions about College Admissions? Want to know the secrets to getting into College and get all the tips and tricks others wish they knew?

Well, luckily that’s what I’m here to tell you today, along with guest host, Megan Dorsey – who some of you might recognize is from The College Prep Podcast, which we co-host weekly together.

This recording is from a webinar Megan and I did in the summer of 2015, so sit back and strap in, because this recording is packed full with information.

Now, as I said above Megan Dorsey and I co-host the College Prep Podcast, which is a weekly podcast where we discuss advice for everything ranging from College Admissions to Study Skills, and everything in between in the field of education. It’s aimed any students from Middle School up to University, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone in education still.

With that said, I’d like to give you a little information about Megan Dorsey. Megan is a former SAT essay reader for the College Board, a Texas Education Agency, a certified highs school teacher and counselor, and a successful educational consultant. She earned her B.A. from Rice University, her M.Ed. at the University of Houston, and her Certificate in College Counseling at UCLA. She went on to found College Prep, LLC, and now offers a variety of services to help families navigate all aspects of college admission, including:

  • My Vocabulary Success Coach
  • Online SAT prep classes
  • SAT and ACT private tutoring (in person or via Skype)
  • College admissions counseling

You can find out more about Megan’s programs and sign up for her free newsletter at CollegePrepResults.com.

And if you need help with school, whether it’s raising your grades, studying, getting homework done, or managing your time as a student, please consider checking out my course, The Anti-Boring Approach.

The Only Thing You Need to Know to Ace Tests

Hey there, do you have trouble with tests? Do you study by rereading your notes or textbook? Even if you don’t, it’s very likely that you use the same method every time you study right?

Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that the way you’ve been studying is most likely being wasted. The good news, I have the solution right here, and I’m going to share it with you.

Hey there, while I HIGHLY recommend watching this particular video in full, here is a summary:

The Study Cycle is composed of 3 steps and is the most effective, efficient, and anti-boring method I know for studying. So before we begin going over the steps, I have a little image here, which we will be referencing.

 

The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically | Gretchen Wegner | Teacher | Teachers | Tutors | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching | Academic Coaches | Tutors | Tutor | Study Skills | School Administrators | Parents | Parent | Student | StudentsWe start with the basket of knowledge and skills at the bottom of the image, this is what we need to learn, and we need to get this into your beautiful brain at the top. So step 1 is encoding the information from the basket into our brains. In this step, we are getting the information into our brains, whether we are teaching it to ourselves or it’s being taught to us.

Step 2 of The Study Cycle, which the majority of students skip, is practice retrieval. This is the process of getting the information out of our brains and assessing what we actually learned. By doing this, we get two very important pieces of information. The first is what we do know, what we actually did learn in step 1. The second is what we didn’t encode in step 1. What we didn’t learn, or encode, we put back into the basket of knowledge.

Then we have step 3. Step 3 is one of the least practiced steps, but just as important or more important than the other 2. Step 3 is to encode the information we assessed we didn’t learn in step 2 in a NEW way. The important thing is NOT just to try to re-encode it the same way you did in Step 1, but to encode the information in a new way.

My course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, for students, and The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically, for Educators, both are filled with a wide variety of tools to help students encode information in new ways. So check them out, and I look forward to hearing from you.

 

College Prep Podcast #164: Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate – Should We Do It? How? Why?

Megan Dorsey, College Prep Podcast, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, AP, AP courses, Advanced Placement Courses, High School, Student, CollegeAdvanced Placement courses can provide a huge advantage to students when they hit college, but they can also be a huge drain on a high school student’s schedule and sense of balance.

Recent a mom named Tamra wrote in with the following question:

I’m listening to podcast 160, about all the AP and other exams in May, which has me wondering about AP courses in general. My first child will start high school in the fall, in a new school district. When we’re looking at course options do you recommend choosing AP courses to get requirements “out of the way” in subjects he doesn’t particularly enjoy, or is it better for him to focus his efforts on getting ahead in areas that do spark his interest? 

In her wide ranging answer to this question, Megan covers:

  • What is the difference between Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes?
  • What to ask your school when you’re an incoming freshmen to learn about how AP and IB classes work at that school.
  • How to research college requirements to have an idea of the role AP classes might play in your high school student’s life
  • How to put all these answers into a plan for what AP courses to take when in high school

Click here to tune in and find out the answers to all these questions, and more!

How to Make a Final Exam Study Plan

Do you ever feel lost or stressed when it comes time to start studying for final exams?

I know a lot of my clients have over the years, and so I wanted to share with you all my favorite technique for how to organize your final exam study plan.

Don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:

In this video, I show you my favorite way to organize how to study for final exams and get it all on one page. And this, especially when you have multiple final exams, is very important as you have a LOT of details you have to prepare. So to start, you want to start about 3 weeks out, even if you haven’t received all your information for the final exams, and draw out on a sheet of paper a calendar as seen below.

Final Exam Study Plan, Gretchen Wegner, Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, Final Exam Studying, Time Management, Organization, Calendar, Planner,

Basically, you want to start out with a blank sheet of paper or white board, and then draw a table that has 7 columns and 3 rows (or more or less depending on how many weeks out your finals are. Then above each column put the day, and I like to start on Mondays and have the weekends grouped together. Then we want to number the days, so Monday the 1st, Tuesday the 2nd, etc. Next, on the final week we want to put in when our final exams are, so if you are in high school you likely have 2 exams a day and it might look something like above, with English and History on Monday, Math on Tuesday, Science on Wednesday, etc. Then in the weeks prior we plan out what we are going to do to study. In the example above I said that on Tuesday we’d study English with 10 flash cards, math on Wednesday with 10 flash cards, and then take a math sample text on Thursday. And my final tip is to leave Friday’s empty that way you can really focus your studying on the weekends when you have free time and give yourself Friday afternoon’s off; because let’s be honest, no one wants to do anything on Friday afternoon.

If you found this tip helpful, you can find a LOT more tips for studying and time management in my course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, so please go check that out!

Should You Remind Your Teen To Do Homework?

Hey there teens, do you feel like your parents are checking in on whether you’re doing your homework or not too often? Parents, do you feel like your teen isn’t getting their homework done – and are you checking in on them regularly?

As an Academic Life Coach, I meet with both my clients (who are often teenagers) weekly and also their parents for checkups. And so I have a client I just had a session with who is finishing up his freshman year in high school, and one of the things we were talking about this week is how often his parents should be checking in on him regarding his homework. This week’s video is for both you parents and teenagers out there, regarding parent’s checking in on their teen’s homework.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:

As teenagers, and we’ve all be there, we start seeking our independence. It’s not unusual that when we hit our mid teens that we start wanting to fend for ourselves, and this includes academically. As I was saying, I have a client, who is just finishing up his freshman year in high school, and he feels that his parents are checking in on his homework way too much. Now, he has ADHD and a bit of a perfectionist, and therefore in his previous years he’s had a history of not getting homework turned in on time or at all. As a result, his parents would regularly check in with him regarding his homework to make sure he was getting it done, and in middle school, this worked great. However, now he’s pushing back against them, and he said something that I felt was very insightful.

Should You Remind Your Teen To Do Homework?, Parents, Teenagers, Adolescents, Teenage Stubbornness, Homework, Accept Consequences of Actions, Independence, Freedom,

“I don’t want my parents to be right. I don’t want them to think that I’m doing my homework because THEY told me to.” He wanted to be doing it because he knew he needed to for his future. And I can totally relate to this, and I’m sure a LOT of parents out there if you think back to your teenage years you’ll have a similar story to mine. I remember in high school I had an Algebra teacher who told me and reminded me regularly, that I could have an A in his class. My father, who is a mathematician, also was convinced I could have an A, and so they both regularly were checking in on me and pushing me to get an A in that class. As a result, I pushed back, and decided, “No, that’s their goal, I don’t care, and I’m not going to get an A.” Sure enough, I got a B in that class. Similarly, my client says that most of the time when his parents check in on him he’s already doing his homework, but because they check in with him, that makes him feel stubborn and he will often STOP doing his homework because of it.

There comes a time when teenagers want to start feeling more independent, and we as parents and guardians need to let them accept the consequences of their actions so that they can learn from it. Now, of course, this advice isn’t applicable to all families, as I don’t know the specifics of your situation and your parent/child dynamics; however, I did think this was a theme worth sharing – that sometimes when we as a family check in too often on our teenagers we are getting in the way of them experiencing their own independence.

As always, if you found this tip useful, or if you have any questions feel free to email me at Gretchen@GretchenWegner.com and if you feel you need help with your academics please consider looking at my online course!

College Prep Podcast #161: Advice Parents and Students Don’t Want to Hear

Advice Parents and Students Don't Want to Hear, Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, College Prep Podcast, ACT, SAT, Planner, Course Selection, Change, College Admissions, Note TakingSometimes educators have to dish out advice that families simply don’t want to hear.

In this episode, Megan and Gretchen detail their most unpopular advice for students and parents.

The advice folks don’t want to hear includes:

  • Course Selection: You need to take more courses than you’re planning on.
  • How Long Change Takes: I can’t make your student perfect right away. It takes time.
  • College Admissions: You’re clearly not going to be admitted. Adjust your college list.
  • Daily Note-Taking Habits: You’re going to need to spend some time honing your notes after every lecture.
  • Improving SAT/ACT Scores: Simply taking the SAT/ACT again and again won’t increase your score, and
  • Writing in Planner: Yes, you need to write things down on paper, even if your school keeps all your assignments online.

Although parents and students often don’t want to hear it, this is the best advice we have! Tune in to hear the details about what exactly the advice is and why it’s importance for parents and students to take heed.

College Prep Podcast Episode 162 – Summer Programs, Study Guides, Improving Vocab, & More

Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Q/A, Q&A, Q & A, Questions and Annswers, Summer Programs for college prep, Teachers, Incomplete Study Guides, Apps for Vocab Improvement, Singing to Music When Studying, What's Wrong with my college application?, University, Universities, You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers! Join us as we discuss the following questions:

Summer Programs for College Prep: We are looking at the Stanford University “High School Summer College” program for our son. The classes are interesting, and it looks like a good experience. My question is will this help him get into Stanford or other similar schools when he is a senior?

When Teachers Give Incomplete Study Guides: What do you do if your teacher doesn’t list some facts/ideas on the study guide but does put those questions on the test? How do you study?

Apps for Vocab Improvement: I’m wondering if you know of any apps or programs that would help a high school student develop a deeper understanding of words… I imagine through word study including roots, prefixes, and suffixes. I have some old=school tools but would like to give her something a little more user-friendly for working on at home. Ideas?

Singing to Music When Studying: I’ve heard you say that it’s ok to listen to music while studying, but what about if you are singing along with that music? Can you really concentrate and use your full brain if you are singing while doing your homework?

What’s Wrong With My College Application? My son is completing his 12th grade and has applied to several good universities. He did his 9th and 10th from a school in India and will graduate from high school in Texas. He scores A*s in all subjects. His current GPA is 4.1. He scored 800 in SAT Math and 760 in English. He plays guitar, is a black belt in Karate and knows multiple languages- English, French, German, Hindi. With all these qualifications he is still not getting selected by Universities. Why? What is missing for him? How can we supplement his existing applications in other universities? Can we appeal?

Click here to listen in as Gretchen Wegner and Megan Dorsey answer your questions!

Do You Get Bored When Studying? Try This!

Do you ever get bored using the same studying technique over and over again?

I have a client who, until recently, has used nothing but flashcards when preparing for all her tests. Because we’d developed a number of fun ways to use flashcards, she enjoyed this as a study technique. In her most recent session, however, she revealed that she’s finally getting bored with flashcards and wants some alternative methods for retrieving information. Watch this week’s video to see what solution we came up with for her.

Hey there, don’t have time to watch the full video? No worries, here’s a short summary:

I’ve been working hard this year with a client, who is a freshman in high school, to understand the Study Cycle, and to fill her toolbox of study techniques. And until recently she’s really only used flash cards, and this was fine for a while because we found a variety of different ways to use the flash cards. However, she came to me this week and said, I have a history exam I need to study for, and I don’t really feel like using flash cards.

The awesome thing is, that since she’s been working through the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, she had already chosen and started using a new study technique. In this case, she was using what I call a T-Chart. And she reported that studying felt fresh and new, and she was enjoying using this new technique more than the flash cards.

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, Do You Get Bored When Studying? Try This!, Toolbox, Study Techniques, Study,

In this instance, the flash cards were like a screwdriver in her toolbox. Up until now, it’s worked fine to help her unscrew (dissect and learn) the materials she needed to study; however, now she needed to hammer something in (study for her history exam) and the T-Chart was just the hammer she needed.

So, I recommend that you spend some time thinking of different study techniques and start building your toolbox. And if you don’t feel like you have enough tools, then you can always check out The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying.

Do This FIRST When Assigned a New Research Project

Do sometimes find yourself panicking when you sit down to write a research paper? Perhaps you selected a difficult topic?

One of my clients, a freshman in college, did just that. He chose a subject, and then a week later when he was starting to work on it, he realized it wasn’t a good topic, and he wouldn’t be able to research it adequately. So he ended up in a blind panic and pushed off the rest of his homework to try and catch up on this project. So we reflected on this, and you can find out what came of our session in this video.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

So I’m curious if this has ever happened to you before. I have a client, a freshman in college, who has a big research project he’s had in the works for a few weeks now and he had already selected his subject a couple of weeks ago. The problem was that last week he was supposed to be working on some other homework; however, when the session came he said, “Oh… no, I didn’t get to that, cause it’s not the priority. You remember that research project I thought I knew?  I started doing the research for it and, oh man, the topics really not a good one. It’s going to be very hard to do. I think I need to change my topic. And I’ve been panicked about that all week, and so I didn’t do that other thing I was supposed to do.” So we reflected about this a little bit and we came up with this tip:

Research Project, Gretchen Wenger, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, Research Topic, Research Subject,

When you are first given a research project and you are deciding on your research topic do a little preliminary practice finding sources for your chosen subject. You can go to your library and talk to your local librarian, look on google scholar, get on your college databases, and see how easy (or difficult) it is to find sources for your topic within your time constraints.

If my client had done this two weeks ago when he chose his research topic, he would have realized this wasn’t a very good research topic, and he would have had time to come up with a new one. Then he wouldn’t have had to push off his other homework in a panic.

If you found this tip helpful, there are much more like it in my course, so please feel free to check it out, or email me.

Teachers, Can You Do Your Students This Favor?

If you’re a teacher, do you struggle to help your students grasp what you’re teaching and raise their grades?

I have a request for you that could greatly help the students that are struggling in your class but are trying to do better. In fact, it’s one of the keys for students to be able to study effectively.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back with this summary:

This week’s video is for you teachers out there. I just got finished with a client, a sophomore in high school, who has a test coming up next week (at the time of recording it’s Wednesday). She got a “D” on her last test, which was on photosynthesis, and this upcoming test is on cellular respiration. Anyways, in order for us to come up with a better study plan since her last one didn’t work, we’ve been waiting on one key ingredient. We knew she got a “D” on her last test about two weeks ago; however, she didn’t get the test back until this week, and it was effectively blank.

To come up with a better study plan we were planning to use her old test, to see what she got right and what she got wrong, and determine a new method of studying based on the types or questions and information she got wrong. The problem is, even though she finally got her test back, she still doesn’t have any of the correct answers. The test had no markups, as her teacher grades the tests on the computer. So while we have the test, we have no way to figure out for sure what she got right and what she got wrong, so we can’t use that key information to determine a better method of studying for her.

So my request for you teachers out there is twofold. 1. Give your students back their tests a couple of weeks before the next test. And 2. Make sure they have the correct answers to those tests. This might be a challenging request for some; however, it will greatly help your students succeed in your class.

If you have any questions about this, or these requests seem impossible in your context, or you don’t understand why this is so important, PLEASE email me at Gretchen@GretchenWegner.com. I would love to converse with you to help you help students be better studiers so that they aren’t just making better grades in your class, but are actually learning what your are teaching.

Why the Word “Study” is the Worst Word to Write in Your Planner

Never Write the Word “Study” in Your Planner. Here’s Why.

It doesn’t take long for a teenager who’s just started working with me to learn this — I hate the word “study.”

Well, obviously that’s not completely true. My passion is teaching students to study strategically, and I couldn’t do this work if the word “study” weren’t involved. However, I do believe strongly that the word study does NOT belong in a student’s planner or To Do list. Neither does the word “review.” Check out the video for a full description of why.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

I was working with a client recently on the skill “verberizing,” which is about finding really strong specific words for the tasks that you need to do when you are doing homework or studying to make it an easy instruction for you and your brain to know exactly what you need to do next. Now before we continue, I want you to look at the following four options and think about which of these would be the best way to verberize “study french” in her planner.

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, Academic Life Coach, Academic Coaching, Academic Coach, Why the Word "Study" is the Worst Word to Write in Your Planner, How to study, How to use a planner,

My client had written, “Study French,” to which I cringed and said, “Eeeh, I don’t like that.” Of course, she responded, “Oh my god Gretchen you always make me change these,” and I thought it was rather funny, but said, “I know, so let’s do it.” Next, she erased “Study French” and wrote “Review Subjunctive.” I still said it wasn’t clear enough. Then she wrote, “Go over Subjunctives.” This was getting there, but “go over” still doesn’t tell me what she needs to be doing. It’s very broad, and I can’t picture in my mind what the steps would be for “go over subjunctives.” So I had her change it one more time. This time she wrote, “Finish subjunctive worksheets.” This was MUCH better. You see she realized she had unfinished worksheets for subjunctives, and what better way is there to study subjunctives than to finish the worksheets – a readily available tool. Not to mention this tells her exactly what she needs to be doing next.

Now you might be wondering, why is writing super specific instructions in your planner so important. Well, the answer is that “verberizing,” or making sure your planner has crystal clear instructions, is important because it helps ensure that your brain has no excuses about following through on your plan/to-do as the instructions are so simple and crystal clear.

If you’d like more instructions and information about “verberizing,” including an extensive list of verbs you can use in your planner, you should check out my course!

How to Find the Theme of a Book Quickly So You Can Write That Essay Already!

Does your heart sink when you notice that the essay prompt asks you to find the “theme” or the “purpose” of the book you’re reading? Do you often think to yourself, “I have no idea!!” and then BS your way through the essay?

Well, I have a hint for you! Of course, the best line of defense is to listen during discussions in class, take good notes, and also talk to your teacher. But if none of that helps, this trick will take you the rest of the way. And who knows, maybe what feels like BS might be pretty smart stuff after all!?

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

I received an email earlier this week from a senior in high school that was having a difficult time with a prompt she received in an AP English class. She needed to find the purpose of a novel so she could write an essay about it. Another way we can look at this is: What is the theme, or meaning, of the novel?

How to Find the Theme of a Book Quickly, Gretchen Wegner, Essay Writing, Purpose, Meaning

So I wanted to give you all a little trick I use with my clients. See when I’m coaching I have very little time to help a student push through work on their essay, so I have to make quick decisions how to help a student find the theme or purpose of a book when I haven’t read it myself. As such I’ve developed a bit of a trick. I like to use a list from the Center for NonViolent Communication that’s called the Needs Inventory.

Universal Needs Inventory, The Center for Nonviolent Communication, Gretchen Wegner, How to Find the Theme of a Book, Purpose, Meaning, Essay Writing,

What I have found is that it can be really helpful to look over this list with a student and ask, “What are the universal needs that are represented by the characters in this book?” For example, is there a need for order because things are really chaotic, and the characters are trying to create order but it’s really hard. I’ve found that students can pretty easily find 1, 2, or 3 needs that are really active in the book, and then find concrete evidence why those needs are a big deal in the book and how it plays out for the characters. Then you can use this to write an essay about how the theme or purpose of the book was about “insert universal need here”.

If you found this tip useful and you’d like more tips for writing essays or understanding the theme or purpose of books, click here!

How to Feel More Confident As a Student

Are you the kind of student who does OK at school? Parents and teachers sometimes nudge you, telling you that you’re not quite living up to your potential because your grades could be even higher than the B’s they are now?

I have a client like that who was tired of feeling that he could probably perform even better at school if he were only more motivated. We worked together for a quick eight sessions — and then he took his final exams. Voila! What he told me amazed me, and shows that just a few skills can make some major changes in a student’s self-esteem. Watch the video, where I tell you the full story of this client and what he discovered.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? Don’t worry I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

I’ve been trying a little experiment that I want to tell you all about. I have a few clients who may have a learning disability of some sort but are extremely high functioning. They average decent grades, typically B’s but A’s as well sometimes. The reason they come to me, especially the client I am focusing on in this video, is that he and his family felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential in school. He said that he didn’t feel motivated to put in a lot of effort and that he felt he could be more motivated, but he wasn’t sure how to get there. So what him, his family, and I decided to do was to run him through The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying in only eight sessions, just to get him setup with the time management, organization, and studying skills he needed to be able to really give school his all.

At the time I recorded this video I’d just heard back from him, and for reference, he’s a junior in high school, about his final exams. Now in the past, he’s always just coasted through school, as we talked about above, and that included his exams. However, exams have always caused him anxiety as he’s felt he should be doing more but wasn’t sure exactly what to be doing to prepare for them, and lacking the motivation to do anything. This year, on the contrary, he said he went in feeling like he was ready and that he knew what he was doing. His confidence was a LOT higher this year around, now that he had the skills he needed to really put forth his best effort. And while his grades have only had minor improvements from the short time we’ve worked together, he told me,

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach To Powerful Studying, How to Feel More Confident As a Student, Studying, Time Management, Confidence, Self-Esteem, Tools,

And that’s the important thing here. His confidence and self-esteem as a student have skyrocketed. With just a few short sessions and a handful of tools and skills he’s gone from “doing okay but having low self-esteem” to “doing okay with high self-esteem.” That’s what we, as teachers and parents, want for the children we love, to see them feel good about the hard work they put in.

So if you want to access these tools and skills for yourself, click here, and see how they might be able to change your life.

A Destructive Myth That Makes Students Miserable

Hey there, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do at school? Does it feel impossible to do it all alone?

This is a video I made last summer, but it’s just as relevant as ever. I’ve seen TOO MANY of my clients buckle under the stress of thinking they have to do school by themselves. That your work doesn’t count unless you accomplish it all by yourself.

This is a destructive myth! And it’s unrealistic, too. Watch the video to hear more.

Hey there, don’t have time to watch the whole video? Don’t worry; I’ve got your back, here’s a summary.

One of the biggest and most DESTRUCTIVE myths in our education system is that people must do everything themselves. I have a friend and client who’s a grad student, and she’s doing a presentation on some research she did in a recent class. We were talking, and she said, “I’ve been discouraged, though, (she was sick the previous week) since I fell so far behind, but this morning I met with a profession on campus who gave me lots of great ideas and feedback I want to incorporate. […] I get overwhelmed at how to incorporate and communicate all my ideas. […] I’m glad this woman was a resource that I could use, though. Basically, I can’t write these alone, which is kind of discouraging, but good to know.”

She was feeling discouraged that she couldn’t do it alone, but that’s the myth. Think about this: Professors have their undergrads helping them, researchers have their teams, and authors have editors. If the professionals have assistance, why should students feel they must work alone? As I told her, you don’t have to. Don’t fall prey to this destructive myth. You can always ask your professors, or teachers, or parents, or friends for some help. You can revel in the community, and enjoy the help and insight of a team of people rooting for you as the spokesperson for your ideas.

Q&A: Math Mistakes, Gap Years, Distracted Studying & More

Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | College Prep Podcast | Q&A | Q/A | Math | GAP Years | Scholarships | Early Action school | Studying | Study | Universities | Communication |

It’s another Q&A Show! Here are the questions that we tackle in this episode:

1. Weird Mistakes in Math. My math teacher is a little confusing, which gets me doing weird things that complicate matters on simple problems. Mom thinks it could be that I’m making it complicated in my head, and I can see that, but I don’t know exactly. Thanks for the offer, and I think I’ll try it, ~ Ella, Middle School Student

2. Gap Years and Scholarships. I have been a fan for years and really appreciate your podcast. My daughter is a senior, and she was accepted to her highly selective Early Action school, so things are looking good and the pressure is off! Now we’re waiting for the other schools to respond from the regular decision round. My question is about applying for scholarships when you are planning to take a gap year. My daughter has not told any of her schools that she is planning to take a gap year, but she will ask the ones that she is deciding between if it’s OK after she has all of her acceptances. We already know that the Early Action school is a very pro-gap year and I think the others will be fine with it too, they’re all private liberal arts schools. As she’s been looking into scholarships, she has found that they all apply to students who are going to start college this fall. So, if she applied and received one of these scholarships, would she then have to tell them she’s taking a gap year and then have to re-apply for it next year? If so, there’s no point in going through that, and maybe she should just wait to apply for scholarships next year.

3. Distraction When Studying. I got distracted every time I sit to study. I need some suggestions. ~Aish

4. Sports Communication. I have heard you mention in 2 previous podcasts that you have a student you are working with that is interested in Sports Communication. My son Sam is a junior, and he is interested in Communication, sports or political journalism or broadcasting, and we are also in Texas. He is homeschooled, and we do not have a high school counselor. I would love to know any helpful information you have found for this student and what this field looks like regarding universities, especially in Texas.

Click here to head over to the College Prep Podcast to listen to this episode.

How to Make Time Visible… and Feel Less Anxious Too

All too often, the teens with whom I meet tell me, “Oh, I don’t have much to do. I can remember it all in my head.”

Sometimes that’s true! But more often, we discover that they DON’T have their “to do list” as down as they think they do.

In this video, I share a story about a client who recently gave me this line, how I handled it, and what he discovered in the process!

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back. Here’s a summary:

With the start of the new semester, a client I’ve been working with a couple of years now was telling me how he was sure that this year he didn’t need to get any time management systems going again this year. So I shared some brain facts I have in my Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying and then I asked him, given the facts I shared and how the working memory needs things to be as clean and clear as possible if he’d be up for just practicing a planner to make time visible. So we devised a time tracking sheet that worked for him.

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

After we created this blank chart, which we called the week sheet, he looked up everything he needed to do and what he needed to take care. After a little bit and it was all mapped out, some of which he needed to my help to be reminded of – mainly the major due dates for the future – I asked him, “How does it feel now that we’ve put all of this out there?”

Gretchen Wegner | How to Make Time Visible | Reduce Anxiety | Time Management | Organization

His response, I felt, was absolutely amazing. He said, “Before it felt fine, but now it feels better. I couldn’t actually tell how much anxiety I was feeling before, but now that we have it all mapped out in that chart, I don’t have to struggle to remember anything anymore and I didn’t realize that was causing me anxiety, but now that I feel better I realize it was.” I thought that was so smart of him, as a junior in high school, to be able to articulate that kind of understanding of his experience.

If you want more tips to reduce anxiety or time management, then I have tons of them in the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, which you can learn more about by clicking here.

3 Tips to Make Worksheets More Than Just “Busy Work”

3 Tips to Make Worksheets More Than Just "Busy Work" | Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | College Prep PodcastWorksheets may seem like useless “busy work,” especially to bored students.

But actually, they are great tools to help you score well on tests if you use them in the right way.

Tune in to find out more about how to:

  • Be less bored when filling out worksheets
  • Turn worksheets into quizzable study tools so that you can better prep for tests
  • Make sure you’re answering all the questions correctly so that you can…
  • Use your worksheet as a quizzable study tool,
  • and more!

Learning how to maximize worksheets as a learning tool is an underutilized habit for both students and teachers alike, which makes this a particularly important episode. Click here to listen to this episode!

How to Prep for an Essay When You Don’t Know the Prompt

Argh! It’s annoying having to prep for timed essays when you don’t know the prompt, isn’t it?

Recently I got this GREAT question from a student who stumbled across my videos on YouTube:

A junior in college named Yaya asked, “I have a timed essay coming up in January and don’t know the prompt. However, I do have the readings which are 4 different articles, and all kinda surround Angela Duckworth’s idea of Grit. Any ideas on how I can prepare for such essay??”

Yes! I DO have an idea. Watch the video for my complete answer to Yaya.

Hey there, don’t have time for the full video? No worries, I’ve got your back, here’s a summary:

The problem we’re looking at this week is how do you prepare for an essay when you don’t know what the prompt will be? For Yaya, this was causing her stress, and that’s completely understandable, after all, how do you prepare for something when you don’t know what you’re preparing for?

Well, the first thing we can do is look at the 4 articles she was assigned to read. We can note that they all revolve around Grit, and there are some themes we can see right away just from reading the subtitles, such as “The limits of grit”, “Is grit overrated?”, “how grit helps with perseverance and passion for long-term goals”, etc. So when you start reading you should be looking for these themes and marking down stuff like, when is their passion showing up, what are some limits to grit, when are long-term goals brought up, etc.
Gretchen Wegner | The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | How to Prepare for an Essay When You Don't Know the Prompt | Essays | Writing | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching

Then I’d create a chart like the one above. I’d list each of the readings and the themes, and I’d annotate every time I found the themes and I’d fill out the boxes. This way, I have a good understanding of the building blocks of each of these articles. Once you understand the core themes of the articles you should be very well prepared to write any essay on these readings.

An added step you could take is to consider or ask others, what some potential essay prompts from these articles could be, and then practice making an outline for them. Just from reading the titles and the subject matter, I could make an educated guess that one potential prompt they would give you is, “Analyze Grit, is it a good thing? If so why or why not?”

I hope this is helpful to you all, and if you want more tips like this, click here to check out my course which has a lot of tips for preparing for essays.

Every Student, Teacher, And Parent Should Memorize This ASAP

Hey Y’all, I’ve got a very special video for you today. I strongly believe that every student, teacher, and parent out there should memorize what I call The Study Cycle. It needs to be a part of the daily language in classrooms and households. Normally I keep this video locked up in my paid online courses, but today I’m releasing it for you to watch for FREE!

Check out the video here. And then — if you’re a teacher, tutor, school administrator or academic coach, please considering joining me for my upcoming course The Art of Inspiring students to Study Strategically. We start on February 27th. You will learn everything you need to know to ensure that students have the tools they need to rock their learning with or without you!

Hey there, while I HIGHLY recommend watching this particular video in full, here is a summary:

The Study Cycle is composed of 3 steps and is the most effective, efficient, and anti-boring method I know for studying. So before we begin going over the steps, I have a little image here, which we will be referencing.

 

The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying | The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically | Gretchen Wegner | Teacher | Teachers | Tutors | Academic Life Coach | Academic Coach | Academic Coaching | Academic Coaches | Tutors | Tutor | Study Skills | School Administrators | Parents | Parent | Student | StudentsWe start with the basket of knowledge and skills at the bottom of the image, this is what we need to learn, and we need to get this into your beautiful brain at the top. So step 1 is encoding the information from the basket into our brains. In this step, we are getting the information into our brains, whether we are teaching it to ourselves or it’s being taught to us.

Step 2 of The Study Cycle, which the majority of students skip, is practice retrieval. This is the process of getting the information out of our brains and assessing what we actually learned. By doing this, we get two very important pieces of information. The first is what we do know, what we actually did learn in step 1. The second is what we didn’t encode in step 1. What we didn’t learn, or encode, we put back into the basket of knowledge.

Then we have step 3. Step 3 is one of the least practiced steps, but just as important or more important than the other 2. Step 3 is to encode the information we assessed we didn’t learn in step 2 in a NEW way. The important thing is NOT just to try to re-encode it the same way you did in Step 1, but to encode the information in a new way.

My course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, for students, and The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically, for Educators, both are filled with a wide variety of tools to help students encode information in new ways. So check them out, and I look forward to hearing from you.