Start Now to Plan Meaningful College Experiences

Start Now to Plan Meaningful College Experiences | Gretchen Wegner | Megan Dorsey | Teens | Parents | Summer | Colleges | Universities | Volunteer | Experiences | TravelTeens and parents! What will you do this summer to have experiences that are both meaningful and impress colleges on your applications? Looking for free and low-cost solutions?

Now is the time to start planning. We know it seems super early, but the truth is that many of these opportunities have application deadlines mid-semester. We don’t want you to miss out just because you put off planning.

Here are the 5 types of experiences that Megan suggests students and parents consider; tune into the episode to hear details about how to find each of them:

  • Subject-specific camps at colleges and universities
  • Hands on work in the field of study that interests the student most
  • “Big” volunteer experiences that meet or exceed 80 hours a week
  • World travel through organizations like your local rotary club or the state department
  • Full-time jobs that actually clock 40 hours per week

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

Safe, Fun & Life Changing Adventure Travel Trips for Teens

Gretchen Wegner | Megan | Claire Perrone | Adventure Travel | Teen | Teens | Moondance Adventures | students |

This week on the College Prep Podcast with Gretchen Wegner and her co-host Megan Dorsey:

Ever considered adventure travel as an interesting summer option for your teen?

There are many companies that take teens on cool trips around the world and build their life and leadership skills, to boot.

On today’s podcast, we interview an expert in the field of adventure travel. Claire Perrone, of Moondance Adventures, started off as a 12-year-old on her first Moondance adventure. Since then, she has transitioned from the role of student to a leader to Community Service Director; so she can speak about adventure travel for teens from a few different perspectives. Specifically, she, Megan and Gretchen discuss:

  • What is adventure travel?
  • What are the benefits to students of participating in these types of trips?
  • How can you tell if your child is ready for this type of experience?
  • What should parents look for when finding the right trip for their child?
  • How is a Moondance trip different from the hundreds of other travel opportunities?
  • What is the affordability of adventure travel trips?

Moondance is a teen adventure travel company based in Nashville, TN. They offer 25 awe-inspiring summer programs for high school aged students, domestically and abroad. Check them out on their website or their popular Instagram feed.

Click here to tune into the podcast and learn more about adventure travel.

How to Create Your Personal Brand and Other Tips to Rock College

Megan | Gretchen Wegner | Brian Robben | Personal Brand | college | students | career

This week on the College Prep Podcast with Gretchen Wegner and her co-host Megan Dorsey:

Do you know what a “personal brand” is? Any idea why learning how to be a good storyteller is an essential 21st-century skill that students should develop in college?

Guest expert (and recent college grad) Brian Robben shares insightful tips on “how to college” such that you score excellent grades, have fun, and set yourself up to get the job of your dreams. 

Specifically, Brian, Megan, and Gretchen chat about:

  • What a personal brand is, and how to establish one as early as high school
  • The most obvious things that most students DON’T do, and how this could change their college game,
  • How to choose paid work in college that will actually help you further your career AND provide spending money, and
  • A number of other helpful ways for a student to “do college” in a way that will set them up for career success.

Brian Robben graduated summa cum laude from Miami University in 2015. While at college, he started the popular blog TakeYourSuccess.com and went on to write three Amazon bestselling books on college success, resume and interview mastery, and financial freedom. Here’s the link to his books, and here is how you can follow Brian on Instagram and Twitter. 

Click here to listen to Gretchen, Megan, and Brian over at the College Prep Podcast website.

8 Tips for When to DIY vs. Hire an Academic Professional

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Should you hire a tutor, coach or consultant? Or should you DIY for just a little longer?

During this episode, Gretchen and Megan help you decipher when it makes sense to spend the big bucks and get professional help…and when you don’t need to!

Specifically, they discuss the following 5 types of academic experts that families often like to hire, who work outside the school systems:

  • Tutors
  • Standardized test prep professionals
  • College application consultants
  • Academic life coaches
  • Mental health professionals

In considering when it makes sense to hire out, and when it makes sense to DIY a little longer, Megan and Gretchen discussed these 8 questions families should ask themselves to decide:

  1. How important (e.g. life or death!) is the situation?
  2. What resources does the school already provide, and is it enough?
  3. Is this a topic for which there is limited time and chances in order to succeed?
  4. Are your home relationships deteriorating because you’ve been doing it yourself for too long?
  5. Will it be more convenient to work with this other person, and are you willing to pay for convenience?
  6. How motivated is the student who will be receiving the support?
  7. What are your family’s finances?
  8. Would you save more in the long run if you had a professional help you get started?

Got any questions or concerns on this topic, or any other? Want them addressed on our podcast (free coaching! yes!)? Please email us at collegepreppodcast.com and tell us all about it.

“This podcast was originally on www.collegepreppodcast.com

8 Tips for When to DIY vs. Hire an Academic Professional

8 Tips for When to DIY vs. Hire an Academic ProfessionalShould you hire a tutor, coach or consultant? Or should you DIY for just a little longer?

During this episode, Gretchen and Megan help you decipher when it makes sense to spend the big bucks and get professional help…and when you don’t need to!

Specifically, they discuss the following 5 types of academic experts that families often like to hire, who work outside the school systems:

  • Tutors
  • Standardized test prep professionals
  • College application consultants
  • Academic life coaches
  • Mental health professionals

In considering when it makes sense to hire out, and when it makes sense to DIY a little longer, Megan and Gretchen discussed these 8 questions families should ask themselves to decide:

  1. How important (e.g. life or death!) is the situation?
  2. What resources does the school already provide, and is it enough?
  3. Is this a topic for which there is limited time and chances in order to succeed?
  4. Are your home relationships deteriorating because you’ve been doing it yourself for too long?
  5. Will it be more convenient to work with this other person, and are you willing to pay for convenience?
  6. How motivated is the student who will be receiving the support?
  7. What are your family’s finances?
  8. Would you save more in the long run if you had a professional help you get started?

Got any questions or concerns on this topic, or any other? Want them addressed on our podcast (free coaching! yes!)? Please email us at collegepreppodcast [at] gmail [dot] com and tell us all about it.

“This podcast originally ran on www.collegepreppodcast.com

How to Read a 400 Page Book in under Two Hours, Part 1/4

What if I told you it was possible to read a 400-page book in under two hours?

You wouldn’t believe me, right?

This summer I had a stack of books I wanted to catch up on, but I only had limited time. So I challenged myself to skim each of the books as quickly as possible.

In this week’s video, I walk you through the first step in how to read efficiently and effectively. You don’t have to read every word in order to walk away with the main idea, after all! Enjoy.


Stay tuned for Part 2 in this four-part series next week.

For more time management and study solutions for students, parents and educators, please sign up for the Anti-Boring Approach to Successful Studying Course HERE

How to Like Your Teachers and Get Better Grades, too!

Do you ever feel as if your teacher hates you?

I can’t tell you how many of my clients complain of this. In fact, it’s their number one excuse for why they don’t like their teacher! However, taking the time to get to know a bit more about your teachers helps you connect in class and get better grades.

Recently, I had a wonderful conversation with a client, who is a senior in high school this year. I just had to share with you his insight and reflection on how he shifted his relationship with a teacher last school year — for the better!

If school is overwhelming and stressful for a teen you know, please check out for the Anti-Boring Approach to Successful Studying. If my clients are reliable proof, these tools may just be the “magic wand” you need to start feeling more confident and in control, at school and in life.

Tips to Wrap Up the Summer without Stress

Tips to wrap up the summer without stressThe beginning of the school year is always crazy and stressful for families.

But if you follow these tips for wrapping up the summer, you’ll save yourself some stress later on.

It’s an investment of time that’s well worth it. 

Here’s the basic checklist:

  • Update your resume
  • Get basic school supplies before stores run out
  • Finish the summer assignments
  • Make appointments to talk to people from school
  • Put all the dates from the school’s calendar into YOUR calendar
  • send thank you’s to anyone who helped you
  • Ask for recommendation letters
  • Attend orientation
  • Write goals for the year

Now listen in so that you can hear Megan and Gretchen’s commentary about each one!

Why Teens Should Stop Being Afraid of Librarians

Why are so many students hesitant to talk to Librarians?

Have you (or a teen you know) ever had a burning research question but been afraid to talk to a librarian? So many of my clients would prefer to spend hours alone googling for resources than spend 20 minutes with a knowledgeable librarian.

However, librarians are there to help and they love to answer questions. Research is definitely in their wheelhouse!  In this video, I share a few fun and creative ideas for helping students overcome their reluctance to ask for help. Getting past this minor roadblock will definitely benefit students in the future when more complicated research is needed for lengthy high school and college essays.

Would you like to learn more great tips like this? My online course The Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying is filled with 30+ tools for rocking school…and is perfect for teens, parents, or educators.

Why Your Disadvantages May Be Your Biggest Asset

Why Disadvantages might be a big asset in college admissions

Would you rather be the smartest person in an average school or the middle student at the smartest school?

Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath has a wealth of wisdom about how to approach college admissions sanely.

Megan shares key insights from reading this book and turns them into an interesting list of tips for families about how to choose the right college for you. Specifically, she and Gretchen talk about:

  • the need for legitimacy and why that’s a good thing
  • research that shows why dyslexic students may be better of in some regards than neuro-typical students
  • how to support kids who encounter challenges without breaking their spirits
  • why, in the college admissions process, it isn’t always better to choose “more”

If You Want to Be A Better Writer, Improve This First!

Does your poor typing slow you down when writing essays?

During client sessions, I often have an opportunity to watch my clients type. They often make so many mistakes that they are constantly deleting what they typed…and rarely can their bumbling fingers keep up with their brilliant minds.

Poor typing skills are not only frustrating but it is also stifling to creativity and the natural thought process. In this video, I discuss the possible reasons you or a student you know may be having difficulty as a writer. There are many resources out there to help sharpen your typing abilities, speed, and accuracy. I love to hear success stories. Leave them in the comments section above!

With the school year suddenly looming, now is the perfect time to get yourself some more tools to rock your grades this year. Click here to check out my favorites! 

Four Awesome Apps to Learn To Use This Summer

Do you have trouble keeping track of all of your To Do Lists and School Projects?

There are so many awesome apps out there to help you manage your time. Since it is summer, this is a perfect opportunity to discover and play with new time management applications.

In this video, I discuss a flashcard tool “Anki”, newly improved “Habitica”,  alert app “Way of Life” and organizational tool, “ToDoist”.

Would you like more creative solutions to time management and study woes? Check out my online course the Anti-Boring Approach to Powerful Studying. It’s great for grown-ups and teens alike.

What the Heck Is InterPlay?!

So, I do this thing called InterPlay. And it’s kinda hard to explain exactly what it is.  People still scratch their heads and say “huh?” when I try to describe it.

Officially speaking, it’s an active, creative approach to unlocking the wisdom of the body.  Sounds great to me! But there are tons of people out there who have no idea what this means.

So, I’m devoting the summer to this problem: How do I describe InterPlay so that people get it!?

Why Do I Care About InterPlay?

But hold the phone — why does it matter if people “get it”?  Why do I care?

Partially because I want people to get ME. And InterPlay and its philosophy of body wisdom is a big part of who I am.

But I also care for this reason — I’ve found a great deal of freedom in my life thanks to the InterPlay philosophy and practices.  I think it’d be most excellent if other people got to experience this freedom too.

New Agey Blah Blah Blah?

I’m a pretty open person, and I’ve gone to a lot of new agey workshops on personal development and body/mind/spirit integration.  So much of it is really good stuff, and I’m a better person for it.

But this stuff also inaccessible to a great number of people. The language used by gurus and their followers is often so insular. Not to mention “airy-fairy” or “hoity-toity”. Their practices — for example, gazing into another person’s eyes for minutes at a time, or sharing deeply personal pain stories in public — feel threatening and uncomfortable. Most people (myself included) don’t like to dive head first into transformation.

Good for Average, Regular People

InterPlay is one of the first workshoppy things I’ve done that made me think — Wow! These folks have figured out how to bring body wisdom to your average, regular person.  There’s no need to be ultra spiritual or liberal to benefit from InterPlay.

Those of us who love it share bits and pieces everywhere we go.

Bobbie just called me yesterday to share how she used the babbling activity in a recent church meeting (Result: a group of people who’ve been friendly-but-distant for years starting feeling more connected).

Dorothy even got Iraq veterans doing — and loving! — a hand dance. (Result:  “It’s a new way to express myself,” one of them reflected gratefully. Yes!! More about that in a guest post soon.)

Uh oh. Look what I just did! I’d intended to try to explain what InterPlay is briefly and clearly. Instead, I used a bunch of wierd terms like “babbling” and “hand dance.” Does it put you off, because you have no idea what these things mean?

Come On, Already, Gretchen — What the Heck is InterPlay!?

I really do have a commitment to talking simply, directly, and clearly about InterPlay.  I just don’t know how! So, before I end, let me take a stab at some more statements:

  • People often practice InterPlay by gathering in groups in dance studios. But it can actually take place anywhere.
  • In any InterPlay experience, folks get together (community), do stuff (play), and then notice about it (reflection).
  • The “stuff” that they do includes improvisational storytelling, movement, and playing with the voice. I’ll be describing these forms in more detail in future blog posts. The “noticing” includes anything a person is comfortable saying about their experience. Often people don’t say anything at all.  Luckily, in InterPlay you don’t have to articulate your experience in order to have it.
  • In any InterPlay class, you’ll experience the 5 daily requirements — tell a story, use your voice, move around the room, have some stillness, and have easy, playful physical contact with others.
  • All activities in InterPlay are broken down into small, bite-sized pieces that are easy and comfortable for participants to do. (For example, “Take 30 seconds to tell your partner what you had for breakfast this morning”).

Please Give Me Feedback:

To those of you hearing about InterPlay for the first time, I’m curious: what have I said here that resonates? What confuses you?  What questions do you have?  Your feedback will really help me get better talking about this thing that I love so much.

Stay Tuned…

Starting this weekend and every Monday throughout the summer,  I’ll be blogging about the InterPlay core elements.  My goal is to provide clear, non-jargony descriptions of the core elements of InterPlay, including:

Body Wisdom Tools: Easy Focus, Body Data/Knowledge/Wisdom, Internal Authority, Physicality of Grace, Exformation, Spiritual Practices, Incremenality, and Affirmation

Body Wisdom Practices: Warm-Up, Babbling, Big Body Stories, Circle Stories, Contact, DT3s, Following and Leading, Group Toning/Singing, Hand-to-Hand Contact, “On Behalf of” forms, One-Breath songs, One-Hand dances, Shape & Stillness, Side-by-Side Stories, Solo Movement, Walking/Stopping/Running, Warm-Up, Witnessing, Noticing

Or Just Come Play

The truth, though, is this: no matter how much I say about InterPlay, you really need to experience it to get it.  Here is a quick brainstorm of ways to try it live and in person:

Goodness, this has been a long post.  Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. Please DO leave your feedback! Here are those questions again:

What have I said here that resonates? What confuses you?  What questions do you have?

Your comments will really help me get better talking about this thing that I love so much!

As always, playfully yours!

Outsmarting Desire?

Smore

Do you want more self-control?  Or less of it? I can’t decide.

I got thinking about delayed gratification thanks to a recent New Yorker article titled Don’t! The Secret of Self Control.  It’s all about the marshmallow experiment that was done back in the ’60s.

Give 4-year-olds a marshmallow; tell them not to eat it for 15 minutes; reward them with a second marshmallow if they’re successful.  The guy who wrote the study followed up with the subjects as adults.  He discovered that the kids who were able to delay their gratification also scored higher on the SATs, earned higher salaries, and were more conventionally successful than the subjects who ate the first marshmallow.

The article concluded: Self-control is more important than IQ in helping people lead successful lives.

Outsmarting Desire

Throughout the article I was more-or-less on board with this whole “self control” thing. But then I read the following paragraph:

…even the most mundane routines of childhood — such as not snacking before dinner, or saving up your allowance, or holding out until Christmas morning — are really sly exercises in cognitive training: we’re teaching ourselves how to think so that we can outsmart our desires. (Don’t! The Secret of Self Control p. 32).

Really? Is that the goal?! I’m all for cognitive training. And there’s certainly value in learning how to wait for what I want.  But — outsmart desire?

Why Would I Want To Do That?

On one level, I get it. It’s important to learn how to control my desires, rather than letting them control me.

Last week I made the unusual choice to wait to eat the Ben & Jerry’s icecream until after I folded the laundry, as a reward.  Usually I do it the other way around…but then never end up folding the laundry!

The reason the phrase “outsmart desire” stopped me in my tracks is this: it suggests that “desire” and “smartness” are diametrically opposed.  Desire happens in the body.  Smartness happens in the brain. Conclusion: The brain needs to control the body.

This is a dangerous assumption. The body has so much wisdom. Desire is a teacher, not an unwelcome visitor who needs to be controlled.  And besides, there really is no such thing as a body that is separate from brain. We’re really one, big, holistic system.

Being in Relationship With Desire

I’m left with this. I do want more self-control. So that I can have more of what I desire, not less.  So I can be strategic about how I prioritize my many desires.

Yes, I want to eat all the ice cream right now! But I also value clean, unwrinkled clothes that are organized in my dresser drawer.  Fold laundry first. Eat icecream second.  All my needs get met.

Yes, I’d prefer to dive right into writing another blog entry. Writing’s fun! But I also desire to have a heathy body — and buying health insurance will help with that. (Not to mention, having health insurance meets my needs for security). Maybe I can send off an email to the insurance agent first, and then write for half an hour.

It’s less about control. And more about an ongoing relationship with myself and my desires.

Or perhaps I’m trying to out-desire my smarts! That’s a curious thought to ponder.

Meditation and Social Media

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Social media is eating away at my attention and my self-control. I’m sure of it.

As I bounce between facebook, twitter, and blog stats, I’m clear that my attention is increasingly fractured.  It darts about, trolling for cool people and  interesting data. Almost like a nervous tick.

In fact, just as I was writing the last sentence, I had an attention-lurch. You see, I got stuck about what to write next.  In the ensuing pause,  I experienced a strange “twitching” sensation. I opened a new Mozilla tab and checked my twitter messages.  All before I was conscious of what I was doing. Do you experience this too?

On the one hand, Twitter has proven to be the best professional development I’ve ever experienced (after all it’s where I’m finding about all these articles that inspire blog entries).  On the other hand, I’m out of control.

Why I Care About Self Control & Attention

The topic of self control and social media is relevant to me for at least two reasons.

(1) As a newly self-employed entrepreneur, I no longer have the structure of a 9-to-5 job to control my time.  The great part of this is I actually have time to pursue my passions.  The hard part is I have so many passions, that my attention is increasingly scattered.

(2) I coach teenagers, many of whom are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD.  Parents are constantly asking me to help their kids control their IM/textmessage/facebook habits.I’d love to, I tell the parents, as soon as I figure out how to control my own social media habits!

Right on cue, two relevant articles have flitted into my universe: one about attention and meditation (I’ll talk about that one today) and the other about self control and outsmarting desire (I’ll blog about that on Thursday).

Meditation and Attention

The first one came as a tweet from my dear friend Meri Walker:

Good idea to put meditation in the same sock drawer of mind as you put exercise: http://ow.ly/6DA6

Huh! As a lapsed meditator, this tweet stood out.  I clicked on the link, and read about a study about the brains of Buddhist monks engaged in different forms of meditation. Turns out that people who meditate really do have significant control over their attention compared to those who do not meditate.

However,  it matters what KIND of meditation you do. Evidently compassionate meditation (focusing on the suffering in the world) was not as successful as “one-point” meditation (focusing on one part of their experience; the breath, for example). At least in regards to helping the monks perform better on attentional tasks after they meditated.

This makes total sense! To have more control over how we place (and sustain) our attention, perhaps we ought to practice placing (and sustaining)  a single-pointed focus.  Meditation is not the only way to do this.  But it’s sure a straightforward approach.

And you can meditate almost anywhere. Inspired by the article, I practiced that evening while taking BART to my Bollywood dance class in San Francisco.  Eyes closed while the train rattled through tunnels, I tried hard to keep my attention on my breath, even though it was being pulled every few seconds by interesting sounds around me.

What Do You Think?

I don’t want to stop using social media, that’s for sure. And I don’t think my students should stop either. But I AM interested in how we can find balance.  So I’m left pondering: So reading this study leaves me pondering:

  • Will I experience better control over my beloved social media habits if I meditate regularly?
  • To what extent would my students with ADD and ADHD benefit from learning simple meditation practices?
  • What other tricks do ya’ll have for stabilizing attention amidst the social media frenzy?

I’d love to hear from you…especially about that last question!