All posts by triciarascon

The Big Test: Tips for SAT & ACT Preparation

Is your SAT or ACT testing date around the corner? Here is some advice I give to students who are preparing for the big day:

Focus on using your strengths versus fixing your weaknesses. There is not enough time to become a math whiz before your exam or to master critical reading skills that perhaps you have struggled with throughout school. And, I would argue, this is not the best use of your time. Research has shown that focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses is often more productive and results in greater success (here is a good Forbes article that explains this further). Honing in on those natural talents and applying them to the task at hand is the key to preparing for the parts of the test that make you the most nervous.

Student to Scholar has Strengths Sessions that will help you identify these skills and apply them to your college journey.

Actively prepare for the test environment. As with all things, knowledge is power. Having all the details and preparing for them ahead of time can make or break your exam performance. The College Board provides a nice overview of the SAT test day, as well as a test day checklist.

 Schedule your study time, and stick to it. Most college students I know have a lot going on, so simply saying that you will study for the SAT or ACT during “down time” usually doesn’t cut it. Grab your calendar or weekly planner and schedule study time like you would any other extra-curricular activity or big event.

A bonus tip on study time: people tend to lose concentration and productivity after more than 45 minutes, so try to avoid study periods that last longer than this.

Best of luck on the big day!

SAT & ACT Tutoring!

Students, it’s that time of year…time to gear up for your ACT and SAT tests! Lucky for you, Student to Scholar is ready to get your testing muscles in shape and ready for the big game.

All tutoring is one-on-one (unless group tutoring is requested and arranged ahead of time) and can take place in person or online.

Sign up now as spaces are limited and going fast!


It’s that time, seniors…time for your Admissions Essay Boot Camp!

Trust me: you do not want to be that person frantically writing your college essay the night before the application is due. You have put so much time and energy into your academics and extra-curricular activities in the hopes of impressing those admissions readers. Why should preparing your college application be any different?

Admissions Essay Boot Camp is comprised of two half-day Saturday workshops, with one-on-one consultation in between to review drafts and receive feedback. These writing boot camp sessions will include:

  • “Mind Mapping” techniques for organizing and tailoring a strong admissions essay
  • From Drafting to Submitting: a comprehensive checklist (that we will complete together!)
  • One-on-one feedback on essay drafts in between the Saturday sessions

Sign up for a boot camp today. Those end-of-the-year application deadlines will be here before you know it!

Mark your calendars!

Student to Scholar has some great workshops coming up!

July 12 & 26, 1-5pm: Admissions Essay Boot Camp (Thousand Oaks)

Free Parent Workshop Series in August:

The Brochure Battle: Helping Your Student Find the Right College Campus Fit
Saturday, August 2, 11am-12:30pm
Oak Park Library (Oak Park, CA)
Wednesday, August 6, 5:30-7pm
Carpinteria Library (Carpinteria, CA) 

A Parent’s Guide to Navigating the College Application Process
Saturday, August 16, 11am-12:30pm
Oak Park Library, (Oak Park, CA)
Wednesday, August 20, 5:30-7pm
Carpinteria Library (Carpinteria, CA)

August 9 & 23, 1-5pm: Admissions Essay Boot Camp (Santa Barbara)

Don’t forget to sign up for our e-mail newsletter, which includes up-to-date information on all our events and workshops.

Deciding on the Perfect Campus Fit

Congratulations! The waiting period is over and you have finally heard back after several months of anxious waiting. Your hard work has paid off, and now you might find yourself in the position of choosing amongst a variety of great options. If you are like Kwasi Enin, these decisions involve selecting from a variety of highly respected institutions of higher learning.

So, where do you start? Here are a few ideas:

Don’t underestimate the power of a good pro-con list. I know it may sound cheesy (or outdated), but this can be a very effective method as it allows you to visually process both sides of your decision. Check out this article by the blog Unclutterer on how to make the most effective pro-con list for your college decision process.

Drown out the noise around rankings and prestige. I have spoken to students whose college decisions were based around rankings, and many of these experiences were either miserable or ended with a transfer to another university. It is great to be excited about a particular academic program or specific faculty from whom you would have the chance to learn. This shows that you’ve done your research and are truly looking for a solid academic fit. However, basing your personal college experience on what the Princeton Review or U.S. News & World Report believes to be the “best” institution is a very large gamble. This Huffington Post piece about college rankings summarizes this issue nicely.

Schedule an appointment and let us help you! We would love to chat with you about the exciting options before you, and how to most successfully select a campus that fits your needs and educational aspirations.

When the Decision is No…

Choosing the right college or university is a difficult process for many students and their families; so many factors have to be considered (affordability, distance from home, campus environment, just to name a few). Many students are then left with the task of narrowing down their admissions offers to the final campus that they will call home for the next four years.

I want to address the students who are grappling with the letters that regret to inform them they have not been selected to the universities of their choice. For many of you who are facing this, it is the first time you have experienced what feels like real rejection. It is an uncomfortable and overwhelming feeling. While I know there is little that can be said to immediately relieve this, there are important things to keep in mind as you navigate this experience.

Give yourself the space to process and feel upset. In a previous blog post, I talk about the importance of celebrating others when they receive good news. It is just as important that you make time to work through the emotions you feel and allow yourself to be disappointed. Acknowledging and sitting with the emotion you are feeling is really the most effective way to move forward. 

Resist the urge to call the Admissions office. In the majority of cases, an admissions officer will not be able to give you a concrete reason for denial into their incoming class. This is because application review processes are much more complex than a simple “you needed a better grade in Algebra 2” or “we wanted more community service hours” answer. Unless you have a very compelling reason to request further review (and this reason or circumstance was not already stated in your original application), or the college has encouraged you to be in touch with them, I would not recommend calling. It only prolongs the frustration and disappointment.

Your academic future is far from over. There are many options if you do not get into your university of choice. Taking a “gap” year has become a common experience after high school, and some of the best college applications I have read were from gap year students whose passions and educational goals were discovered during that time. Spending time at a community college and re-applying as a transfer student is a legitimate option as well.

Whatever direction you choose to take, do not give up. What feels like a setback now is really just a different  path leading you exactly where you are meant to be.

The Big Wait

As I described in my earlier blog post, this time of year is known to many high school students as “the Big Wait.” In addition to my advice to celebrate with those who receive early admissions news, here are some tasks to keep you busy:

  • Thank you cards: get them written and in the mail! Thank you cards can be easy to forget once the excitement of your acceptance letters and planning for the fall sets in. Sending them now also tells people that regardless of where you end up attending, you are grateful for their support. Remember to include helpful teachers and guidance counselors, individuals who served as essay readers and editors, and hosts for college visits.
  • Final senior grades do count. I know—I’m not the first one to remind you about this, so I will keep it short and sweet. Ending your high school academic career with the same strength and gusto with which you began is the best way to prepare for your next academic chapter.
  • Organize and de-clutter your space. College residence hall rooms tend to be on the smaller side; start de-cluttering now and preparing for your physical transition. This is also a way to overcome anxiety about the future and instead put positive energy towards the exciting next chapter that is about to start. Here is a helpful Becoming Minimalist blog post with ten ways to approach this task.

 Tip of the day: Today’s easy online access means you could probably log in and find out your admissions status anywhere (as most universities have moved to an electronic notification process). When the big decision does come in, wait until you are at home or in the company of family and friends to check.