Category Archives: College

Laptop, Tablet, or Desktop? Google Docs or Office 365? Which technology is best for high school and college?

What’s best for school, a laptop, tablet, or PC?

Heading back to school always feels like a fresh start. And like a new set of clothes, getting a new device just makes you feel good.

But for high school and college students, freshmen especially, the choice of technology can really impact academic performance. The wrong choice can make school difficult or, worse, become an excuse not to do well.

Into the start of the 2016-17 school year, I thought it’s time for an update from previous posts here on the topic. The technologies haven’t changed much, but there are more options — and most importantly, more affordable ones.


Here for previous posts on the best technology for school:
College bound: desktop, laptop or tablet? PC or Mac?
The Best Computers for College: desktop, laptop or tablet? PC or Mac pt 2


What has changed significantly, though, is the “cloud.” Continue reading

Beating back procrastination part 2: smoothing out your workflow

Start Now Finish LaterOne of the most effective strategies to defeat procrastination that we have used with students in our A+ Club academic program is what the procrastination experts call “just getting started.”

As posted in “Beating back procrastination pt 1,” the benefits of “getting started” include:

  1. Breaking down / overcoming barriers to work
  2. Identifying needs & concerns
  3. Identifying time required for task completion
  4. Makes getting started next time easier

“Getting started” can be so hard. We know that we should get to work on something, but our emotions get in the way because it can seem so big, and so far away, and, well, it’s easier — and makes us feel better for now — to put it off until later. Continue reading

Beating back procrastination part 1: start now and finish later

time_watch_msclipartFight the need to finish now!

Getting started on studying, homework and large assignments means just that: start a little now — and don’t worry about finishing until later.

Cramming is a difficult habit to break. The best technique for breaking the cramming cycle is to “smooth out your workflow” by just “getting started,” whether or not you’ll finish it now.

Yet getting started on homework, studying and tests can be so hard, especially when we pressure ourselves to get it done all at once.

Students who have trouble starting an assignment or project often put it aside for later because they feel they need to finish it once they start. Knowing they can’t possibly finish, they don’t bother to start. Here’s the logic: Continue reading

The Best Computers for College: desktop, laptop or tablet? PC or Mac? pt 2

Choosing technology, especially deciding between laptops, desktop, and tablets is not getting any easier.

The reason: they’re getting to be all the same! 

In my post a year ago, College bound: desktop, laptop or tablet? PC or Mac?, I analyzed the best bet for your college computer purchase. I hoped that students and parents would weigh carefully between laptops, tablets and desktops, as each has specific advantages and disadvantages. I measured price, utility, usefulness, and durability. Given the number of readers on that post, I’m hoping it has led to one or two more informed purchases. Continue reading

High school students getting smarter, or high schools getting easier?

Or just another case of grade inflation?

Bad news from the National Assessment of Educational Progress: as of 2009, a majority of high school students scored “basic” or “below basic” in reading and math skills.*

(*Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for not using “progress report” in its article or headline; here for the rest who fell into that trap.)

Hmmm: in the early Nineties, 74% of  high school students graduated. These days, it’s 81%. Clearly, the additional 7% of graduates aren’t driving those proficiency scores higher.

The report also informs us that based on SAT scores, only 43% of high school students are prepared for college.  Whether or not that number has been extrapolated to the entire graduating population is unclear. If not, the prepared-for-college students represent 43% of the only some 45% who take the SAT (as of 2007).

All of this means… Continue reading

AP Exams! Are these classes really all that “advanced”?

Welcome to the Advanced Placement exams. But is it really the blank check it’s supposed to be?

AP exams start in a week (May 5 – 16), so, yea.

(Oh, and btw, we can help you prepare: we have experienced high school teachers to work with you  — real teachers, that is, not the just anybody’s who work at “tutoring” sites.)

So, you suffered through the class all year — supposedly it’s “college” level — and now you have to spit it back for a few hours. Best of all, it’s not for a grade. So if you didn’t prepare it doesn’t matter… right? The College Board says it’s good for you (AP Exam benefits) and I’m sure it is. It’s good for your teacher, too, because teach gets to pretend it’s a real class for a change. Continue reading

Encouragement from Mischa Beckett: empowering yourself & your college experience

Encouragement from Mischa Beckett: empowering yourself & your college experience

Student Success Podcast No. 19, Apr. 17, 2014

Today’s Guest: Mischa Beckett, Ph.D. Political Science and college lecturer.

In this interview, Mischa discusses her work with high school students in the A+ Club program. Mischa brings the view of a college teacher to the high school experience and discusses how all students of all levels and struggles can use encouragement and help in raising their self-awareness. Continue reading

How to Turn a Bad Report Card Into a Learning Experience

arguing-over-homework_titlepageReport cards are a contentious subject in any household,

but a bad report card is something that parents (and kids) need to handle with tact and grace, as hard as that may sometimes be.

Avoid the common missteps like immediately yelling at or punishing your child for a bad report card. Instead, come up with a productive reaction which will have the best long term outcome. The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC is a comprehensive online tutoring service that takes a holistic approach to test preparation, remedial tutoring, and process oriented educational engagement. Continue reading

What do teachers really want?

apple-for-teacher_msclipartBribery?

Maybe, but flattery will work better. Seriously.

The highest and most effective form of teacher flattery is asking a teacher for help. The next highest is actually doing your work. You meet teacher expectations, you get an A. Easy enough.

Well, let’s start from there, anyway.  So what do teachers really want? And how can the student figure that out? Continue reading

Finally, a buyers market for college

coins_MH900305770Oh, my, colleges are suffering from low enrollment. At $40K a year, ya think?

The Wall Street Journal ran this article today,

From 2010 through 2012, freshman enrollment at more than a quarter of U.S. private four-year schools declined 10% or more, according to federal data The Wall Street Journal analyzed. From 2006 through 2009, fewer than one in five experienced a similar decline.

The trajectory reflects demographic and technological changes, along with questions about a college degree’s value that are challenging centuries-old business models. The impact is uneven: Some wealthy, selective private colleges are flourishing, while many others suffer.

Schools on the losing end are responding with closures, layoffs, cutbacks, mergers and new recruitment strategies. Many see these as the first signs of a shakeout that will reorder the industry.

Please read this with glee.  I do, especially after paying $45,000 a year for my daughter’s school in Boston. My son started at the very expensive music school, Berkley College in Boston, and decided not to return, telling me “it’s a waste of money.”. You don’t hear that line from your kids very often, but according to him it was. My daughter’s school, Simmons College, also in Boston, she and I both agree is worth every cent. But that’s a lot of cents.

Here’s the ugly truth about college expenses

  1. College costs have risen significantly faster than other cost-of-living increases in the last twenty years.
    1. Why?
      1. administrative bloat
      2. Federal rules and regulations
      3. People have been willing to pay these ludicrous costs, myself included
  2. College costs are subsidized by the wealthy and high school under-achievers who don’t qualify for scholarships or need-based discounts
    1. My uneducated guess is that 20% of students pay full tuition, 40% pay mostly full tuition, and those 60% subsidize the other 40% who are on scholarships or are heavily subsidized.
  3. Undergraduate college degrees do not guarantee a good job
  4. College graduation does not guarantee learning
    1. Our society has yet to decide whether or not college is a “life experience” or an education.
    2. High school education has been so dumber-down that much college education is remedial
  5. Post-graduate success is predicted more accurately by college admission than by college graduation.

Sorry to be cynical here, but let’s speak the truth here. But let’s also be glad that what goes around comes around, and the “college bubble” has hit a top. Enjoy the crash, and make sure you’re taking advantage, finally, of the new buyers market in education.

– Michael

The A+ Club from School4Schools.com LLC, based in Arlington, VA, is dedicated to helping students across the U.S.A. meet their goals and find the academic success the want and deserve. Contact us here or call now  to (703) 271-5334 to see how we can help.