A Small Study Tweak That Saves You Time Later

Are you (or a student you love) naturally good at taking tests? Do you have to do minimal, or no, studying for your chapter tests… but then suddenly discover you’re not ready for final exams?

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?! The info got into your short term memory enough for the chapter test, but then disappeared by the time finals rolled around.

A client of mine discovered he was in this situation related to his Spanish final exam. In this video, I tell you more details about how I worked with this client over the course of the semester, knowing full well that he might have a harder time come final exams, but wanting him to see it for himself.

My patience paid off, and now he is motivated to do a new study tweak this upcoming semester that is going to save him time NEXT time finals roll around.

Check out the video for the whole story:

Don’t have time for the full video? No worries, here’s a short synopsis:

In this video we learn that even if you do not have to study each test during the year you may need it in the end when it comes final exam time. The best way to overcome this in the future would be to create a quizzable study chart after each chapter for the review for your final exam!

If you are a teacher, tutor, or academic coach, or perhaps even a parent, interesting in learning more about not only tiny habits but about how to help your students become independent learners and test-taking powerhouses, please consider checking out my course Should I Grow My Biz As An Academic Coach?

College Prep Podcast #199: How to Make a Family Nag Plan

Sometimes nagging is necessary! So how can parents do it in a way that will make teens receptive to their reminders and prodding?

In this episode, Gretchen tells stories about how 3 different clients made agreements with their parents about how and when they are allowed to nag them.

These “family nag plans” can make a big different in terms of helping teens follow through and also preserving the peace at home.

Tune into the episode to find out more about how to create a family nag plan that will work in your unique circumstances!

Click here to listen in as Gretchen tells stories about how 3 different clients made agreements with their parents about how and when they are allowed to nag them!

College Prep Podcast #198: Rock Your College Visits With These Advanced Strategies

College visits are a time consuming part of the college search process, so how do you make sure you are getting helpful information when you are on campus?

How do you look past the college’s marketing messages to see what is really going on?

Megan provides her Top Ten list strategies for rocking your college visit. Tune into this podcast episode for “truly highly advanced” information about how to rock each of these tips:

  1. Make sure to book the basics: an informational sessions, a campus tour, and lunch in the dining hall.
  2. Visit with the specific college and/or department that you are considering.
  3. Meet with a professor in your intended major.
  4. Attend classes.
  5. Visit with students in your major, program, and/or sport.
  6. Spend the  night.
  7. Meet with financial aid.
  8. Tour the campus at night.
  9. Visit the campus on the weekend.
  10. Do a scavenger hunt to look for potential problems.

Click here to listen in as Megan provides her Top Ten list strategies for rocking your college visit.

College Prep Podcast #197: Three New Academic Coaches Talk Candidly About Starting Their Biz

Thinking about starting your own academic coaching biz?

Maybe you’ve already started, but you’re frustrated with how slow moving it is?

Maybe you’re a parent curious about hiring an academic coach?

Listen in as these 3 newly minted academic coaches (who’ve just completed Gretchen’s Anti-Boring Approach Coach Training Program)  talk about the challenges and joys of marketing their services and working with new families to support scattered students.

Together we discuss:

  • their unique backgrounds and what made each one of them decide to start academic coaching businesses
  • challenges they’ve experienced in the first year of business
  • success stories from their first coaching clients, and how they feel they’ve been of the most service
  • tips for families thinking about whether  to get a coach to support their teenager
  • tips for folks thinking about starting their own businesses
  • what kinds of people are the best fit for Gretchen’s year-long mentoring program, and how it benefitted each of them
  • and more!

If you are curious about working with any of these amazing new coaches, feel free to reach out to them. Marni Pasch and Nicole de Picciotto can be found through their websites. Lindsey Permar can be emailed directly at lindseypermar [at] gmail [dot] com.

Click here to listen in as these 3 newly minted academic coaches talk about the challenges and joys of marketing their services and working with new families to support scattered students.

College Prep Podcast #196: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life

How do we motivate teens to take little actions that offer big results?

Megan reports in about a book she read recently that has lots of great advice for teens: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe Even the World by Admiral William H. McCraven.

Even though it’s written for grown-ups, Megan sees the ways that this little book could be an inspiring gift for teens, or be a great conversation starter at dinner.

Here are the “little things” that the author covers in his book, which Megan adapts for teens in this episode:

  • Start the day with a task completed.
  • You can’t go it alone.
  • Only the size of your heart matters
  • Life’s not fair. Drive on.
  • Failure can make you stronger.
  • You must dare greatly.
  • Stand up to bullies.
  • Rise to the occasion.
  • Give people hope.
  • Never, ever quit.

 

Click here to listen in as Megan talks about little things you can do to change your life.

College Prep Podcast #195: Watch Out for Fake Practice Tests for the SAT & ACT

Megan Dorsey, The College Prep Podcast, Fake Practice Tests for the ACT & SAT,Did you know that many of the practice SAT & ACT tests offered by companies to help you study — are fake?! Don’t fall for fake tests!

Megan walks you through how to make sure the practice tests you are taking are legit… and will actually help you study effectively for the ACT and SAT.

Specifically, she walks you through:

  • What advertisements to watch out for so you don’t get bamboozled by fake practice tests
  • Legitimate methods for taking practice tests
  • Creative ways to get your teen to take “kitchen table” tests proctored by you
  • How to get a baseline result
  • Whether or not the PSAT will be helpful for you to take
  • and more!

Click here to tune in as Megan reviews how to tell a fake SAT/ACT test from a real one.

College Prep Podcast #193: What’s REALLY Important in College Admissions? Myths and Realities.

What's REALLY Important in College Admissions? Myths and Realities. Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, College Prep, College Application, College Admission, Many families are confused about where to start with college admissions, and Megan has noticed there is a lot of faulty information out there.

In this episode, she lays out, in concrete terms, what’s important when prepping for college and corrects some myths that many families have.

Specifically, she and Gretchen explore:

  • 3 great underutilized resources for getting accurate information about colleges
  • 3 main criteria colleges look at when determining if you are a good fit for their school
  • 5 myths about the college admissions process (like: “you have to have top grades and great scores to get into any school”) and what is actually true instead

Click here to listen in as Megan and Gretchen discuss these key topics about College Admissions.

College Prep Podcast #191: Strategic Extracurriculars – Make Your Activities Work for You in College Admission

Megan Dorsey, The College Prep Podcast, High School, College Admissions, Extracurricular activities, extracurriculars, school, student, students, kids, Do you worry whether your high school student has the right kind of activities to impress the colleges to which they’re applying?

Megan lays out an easy way to think about extracurriculars to help teens make the most of their time outside of school.

She shares:

  • what it means to “start with the end in mind” with thinking through a teen’s activities
  • choose an activity that makes sense for your kid without forcing them to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do
  • four ways to find the right activities for your student that will be a) aligned with your kid’s interests and b) show them off in a good light to colleges

Click here to tune in as Megan discusses extracurricular activities and how they can benefit teens.

One Way to Get Better Help From Your Teacher

Do you ever need to email your teachers because something they did or said is confusing, and you need clarification?

One of the skills I work on with teenagers is how to communicate respectfully with teachers without sounding like you are blaming or accusing them. This is a HARD lesson for many teens to learn and takes some practice.

Listen in as I share a story about a recent young man (sophomore in high school) who caught himself writing some blaming language to his teacher, and figured out — all by himself! — how to correct it.

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

One of the skills I end up working on quite often with students, that I hadn’t originally thought I would, is writing emails. And this week I was talking with one of my clients, and he needed to write an email to one of his teachers. He was walking himself through it, and while I usually walk my clients through the email writing process, this young man is a good communicator and his parents work hard with him to help him be a good communicator. Anyways, here’s something that he caught himself doing that I wanted to share with you.

Gretchen Wegner, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying, Email, Emailing Teachers, Communication, Teacher and student relationships, student email, teacher, teachers, students, teenagers, high school

As you can see above we have a little image of my client typing up his email and what he noticed was that he was starting to write “You were confusing in class today”, but he stopped himself and rewrote it as “I have confusion about what we were doing in class today.” And this is something he said his mom drilled into him last year ad nauseam, the importance of not blaming the teacher with your language; regardless of whether you think it was the teacher’s fault or not. We want to try and take ownership as much as possible in our email communications, as we will get better help from our teachers if we are generous with our communication.

So I just loved that he caught himself there and the truth is that “I have confusion” was very true, as he is confused, regardless of what the cause of the confusion is. And by checking his language and tweaking it so he took responsibility for his experience, he is much more likely to get help from his teacher now, and in the future.

I hope this tip is helpful, and if you want more tips and advice on communicating with your teacher, please consider checking out my course, The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying™.

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.

 

5+ Oddly Effective Tools That Build Great Habits with Thomas Frank

Back in July 2015, I presented a webinar, “5+ Oddly Effective Tools That Build Great Habits” with special guest Thomas Frank, from CollegeInfoGeek.com. This webinar was to help introduce high schoolers and college students to some unique and potent tools that they could use, and Thomas was excellent, showing us a wide variety of tools that were unique, creative, and very effective that everyone could add to their toolboxes.

So tune in to see what crazy ideas Thomas shared with us.

The tools demonstrated in this video are quite a few, and a summary wouldn’t do the video justice; however, I do want to give you all the links to the different applications and sites mentioned in the video.

Buffer, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, CollegeBuffer is a social media management suite. It allows you to schedule posts, set up a queue of repeatable posts, etc. for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.

IFTTT is an application that allows you to connect two different websites/applications. In the video, IFTTT is used to connect Beeminder with Buffer, so that when a post from Buffer goes live, a data point gets added to Beeminder.

Beeminder, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, College

Beeminder is a website application that allows you to have a system of accountability for your goals. You can set up goals, and if you don’t complete the goals, then you have to pay Beeminder. So, for example, if you don’t send out one post on Facebook a week then you have to pay $5 for each one you miss per week.

Habitica, HabitRPG, Habit RPG, Tool, Tools, Habits, Habit, Thomas Frank, Gretchen Wegner, High School, College

Habitica/HabitRPG is a habit tracking website. Effectively this website is a game based on your habits. The more habits or routines you complete, the stronger you get and the better you do. You can do a wide variety of things here, so here’s an example of what you can do: Let’s say you want to make sure you do your HW every day. You can schedule out your HW that you have in your planner, and then every day you can check it off, and you’ll gain EXP, items, etc.

ToDoist is a great place to keep track of all your tasks that you need to take care of. You can add tasks here to keep track of everything that you need to take care of.

Google Calendar is basically a planner that’s online. You can use it to schedule out all your time in a visual schedule. This offers a wide variety of features, including multiple calendars that can be turned on/off easily, time slots that can be overlapped and color coded, and much more.

As you can see there were a variety of tools listed in the video, and the system surrounding these were even better, not to mention starting at around 39:00 minutes into the video, Gretchen and Thomas answer a wide variety of questions from high school and college students. For a little sample, there’s one discussion about part-time jobs, another question about meta-habits, and so much more!

If you found this useful, I highly suggest you check out Thomas’s site, CollegeInfoGeek.com. He has a regular blog, podcast, and more for college students with tips and advice. And you can get even more tools and tips in my course, The Anti-Boring Approach.

College Prep Podcast #165: How to Help Students Budget Their Money Before College

Megan Dorsey, Gretchen Wegner, College Prep Podcast, Budget, Budgeting, Money, Teens, students, college, financial, financesBudgeting is a skill that many adults don’t have! However, it’s a super important skill to teach your students before they go off to college.

On today’s episode, Megan and Gretchen discuss some tips for how to get started helping teens practice how to take care of their finances.

We discuss:

  • what specific skills do students need to master before leaving for college
  • how to talk to your teens about how to make financial choices
  • what financial problems to look out for in their first year of college,
  • and more!

Click here to tune into Megan and Gretchen’s discussion on finances, budgeting, and preparing your student for college.

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!

College Prep Podcast #163: Why Perfectionism in Teens Is Not Always Healthy

Perfectionism, Teens, Students, Gretchen Wegner, Megan Dorsey, Ann Marie Dobosz, SchoolAlthough perfectionism can seem like a good thing, students with perfectionist tendencies can struggle with exhaustion, poor self-esteem, and unhealthy habits related to school/life balance.

Guest expert Ann Marie Dobosz sheds insight into how perfectionist students can transform their perfectionism into healthy striving instead.

Tune in to hear more about:

  • What perfectionism is and isn’t
  • What the underly beliefs are that provide the root of perfectionism
  • What behaviors in teens are signs of unhealthy perfectionism, and
  • What teens and parents can do about perfectionist tendencies, including when to address the behaviors versus the underlying beliefs

You can hop over to The College Prep Podcast and listen to this episode by clicking here!

Ann Marie Dobosz is a psychotherapist and writer in San Francisco. Her book, The Perfectionism Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Reduce Anxiety and Get Things Done, was published last year by New Harbinger. She specializes in helping people who are really hard on themselves feel calm, happy, and “good enough.” She works with adults and adolescents who struggle with mental health issues that arise from perfectionism and self-criticism, including anxiety, depression, obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors. You can find more about her at www.annmarietherapy.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter

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 #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!

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,

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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.