Tag 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

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

Communicating dedication & success with Julian Oribe

presentation_conference_msclipartCommunicating dedication & success with Julian

Student Success Podcast No. 10, Dec. 12, 2013

Today’s Guest: Julian Oribe

Julian discusses his experiences in college in America from the perspective of a foreign, non-native English speaking student. It took dedication and courage to overcome his language barriers and, especially, as Julian discusses, to write 15-page essays and public speeches and presentations. Julian helps remind us about not taking anything for granted and the importance of dedication to one’s goals and never letting barriers or excuses get in our way. Continue reading

No B.S. from J.P.: what makes a good teacher?

st-johns_brother-martinNo B.S. from J.P.: what makes a good teacher?

Student Success Podcast No. 8, Nov. 13, 2013

Today’s Guest: J.P. Cassagnol

Now that he’s about to graduate from college, JP discusses his experiences in K-12 and college and how it all fits together to make him the student and person he is. J.P. cuts through the B.S. with excellent critiques of his K-8 and 9th-12 Catholic education, and what worked, what didn’t and, most importantly, what makes a great teacher.  In J.P.’s case, those teachers are Brother Martin and Prof. Carlander, teachers who inspired, pushed, and turned JP into a real student with real learning.

An important challenge J.P. brings to education is his K-8 experience, which he found entirely lacking once he came upon Brother Martin’s 9th grade Honors English class. Are we underserving our K-8 children? And what of those kids who didn’t get into Brother Martin’s class?

 student-success-podcast_cover_1800Subscribe to Student Success Podcast RSS
or find us on iTunes

 

Guest Biography

J.P. Cassignol is a senior at Salisbury University, Eastern Shore, MD, with a concentration in History. J.P. Graduated from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., and prior to that was enrolled in a Catholic school K-8 program. J.P. loves history and literature, and he works as a tutor in those and other subjects.

Topics Discussed

  • St. Johns College High School: what’s the “college” thing about?
  • JP was not prepared for 9th grade
    • his K-8 did not prepare him
    • never had written anything more than a few paragraphs
    •  9th grade: what do kids bring to it?
    • why are elementary schools all so different?
    • why should 9th grade be so much harder?
    • Elementary: seeking universal standards
    • JPs 9th grade was challenging
    • Big gap between elementary and high school
    • are we pushing kids hard enough in K-8?
    •  “Excellence Gap” study by Dr. Jonathan Plucker
  • J.P.’s school competitive?
    • Catholic school admissions: an incestual orgy? (lol)
  •  Public school kids more prepared?
    • depends on the demographic
    • are outcomes defined by zip codes?
    • Rte 50 / Univ Blvd: the dividing lines
    •  do charter schools drain talent?
    • lowest common denominator v. the cream of the crop
  • Was his high school worth the money? maybe not
    • Would rather have gone to college twice
    • But he did go there, it is who he is
    • What if he had gone to public school?
    • would have lost all the expereinces of a catholic school
  • Brother Martin: English teacher
    • heavy workload
    • read a book a week
    • not reading in class… taking turns lol
    • depth of analysis that he had never encountered
    • English class was no longer about structure, was about literature
    • then next year, teacher was back to reading out loud in class
  • so teachers matter?
    • should any teacher be able to teach anything?
    • JPs definition of a good teacher?  Hope Brother Martin is listenng to this
    • the difference between a teacher who knows everything but can’t teach and a teacher who may not know everything but can teach and lead you to where you need to go
    • why do some kids like certain teachers and others not?
    • kids look for easy teachers = business major etiquette
    • but they won’t remember those teachers
  • a good assignment is powerful
    • has assignments from high school that he still thinks about
  • Bromley’s best teacher: Prof Wright who threatened to fail him Senior year of college: 1st teacher who ever “kicked my ass”
  • Dr. Carlander at Salisbury: they’d get into for 3 hours .. he’d rip up his paper … they’d argue with each other.. inspiring!
    • always read the prof’s book!
    • knows his stuff: and “a real teacher”
    • Prof got JP to write a grant application: got it & went to a national conference >> all because of a real teacher
  • What make a good teacher:
    • learning is supposed to be rigorous
    • “no pressure no diamond”
    • teachers who earned respect, who mentor, who respect kids
    • unlike teachers who just put notes on the board
    • good teachers: challenge, drag, empower
    • learning is a fight! “I’m a 13 year old kid, what do I give a shit about Julius Caesar?”
    • You could see it in Brother Martin’s brow lines … but patient and caring … loved his students

Resources

Credits

Host: Michael L. Bromley
Original Music by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Background snoring: by Stella
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck & Stella

WP_20130914_018

Happy dogs with new beds!

 

 

 

 
Here for Puck & Stella slideshow

 

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.

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.

Gaby’s dinosaur tree

Gaby's Dinosaur Tree
Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree

Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree

Show Notes

Today’s interview: Gaby Bromley, student, Simmons College 

Guest Biography:

Gabriela Bromley,  Senior, Simmons College, Boston MA, Biopsychology Major.  Gabriela has worked in various hospitals and psychology wards since high school. She is fascinated by neuroscience and aims to apply her learning in real world situations to help others.

student-success-podcast_cover_450Subscribe to Student Success Podcast RSS  or find us on iTunes

Topics Discussed

  • Mindfulness and its five facets:
    • observing
    • describing
    • awareness
    • non judgment
    • non reactivity
  • Procrastination
    • Coping strategies
    • Conditioning
    • Setting priorities
    • Anxiety
  •  Thinking strategically
  • Critical Thinking through Art
    • visual thinking strategies
    • Homer’s Hunter and the Hound painting
    • Gaby’s Dinosaur Tree
  • Social emotional  learning: to discuss in the future

Additional Resources and Links

Gabriela shares the following links:

Mindfulness and Learning: What’s the Connection?

Visual Thinking Strategies: What’s going on in this picture?

Credits

Host: Michael L. Bromley
Dinosaur Tree photo: by Gabriela Bromley (copyright 2013)
Original Music: by Christopher Bromley (copyright 2011, 2013)
Best Dogs Ever: by Puck & Stella

WP_20130926_007

Here for Puck & Stella slideshow

 

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.

SAT Time!

scantron_MH900402266Is it really possible to improve your SAT or ACT scores?

If you’re like me and you spent good money on SAT prep classes for your child and you came away unsure about whether or not it was a good thing, know this: any preparation and practice for the SAT or ACT tests is a good thing.  But do those SAT prep classes and programs really help students get fundamentally better or do they only help them perform somewhat better on that exam day?

I’ve been asking everyone I can about what it takes to innately improve SAT scores, and those answers are guesses at best. Practice, practice, practice is the rule. Not very scientific. But neither is any other solution out there. The best we can tell, student improvement comes from more careful and more practiced reading of SAT / ACT questions themselves, and not just from vocabulary or math practice. That helps, of course. But without understanding the questions as fully as possible, without the most comprehension of the questions and the information conveyed, there is no improvement beyond just knowing the answer, which, of course, is memorization and not skill — and skill is what these tests are designed to measure.

At The A+ Club we call this “Question Attack.” In the work we have done with our SAT tutoring students, we have seen some nice gains in scores. Our tutors, either high-level college students or high school teachers, work with students to address their question comprehension. Doesn’t matter if it’s math or verbal — it’s understanding the question, getting information from it is crucial for better performance. Reading can be improved upon, so reading questions more strenuously is a matter of confidence, focus, and practice.

Reading!

To back up our view of reading, I just learned this weekend that students of Latin outperform students of other foreign languages on the SAT verbal tests, and that includes Spanish, French, German, Italian and Hebrew students. See here for The Latin Advantage. The reason for it is simple, in that Latin empowers word comprehension which then empowers holistic comprehension so that students understand more of each question and thereby avoid the tricks built in to the multiple choice format.

SAT questions operate by presenting five possible answers. Of these, generally, two are wholly wrong (although tricky about it), two are plausible in that the question text suggests or references them so that incomplete reading of the question can mislead, and only one is fully or precisely correct.  Try out this Critical Reading: an analysis of right and wrong answer choices discussion post.  Understanding that there is no single strategy or trick to scoring better on these exams, our point, fairly well addressed at this website, is that better scores will result from better reading of questions, including — and especially  — in math. I’m not a math person, and I scored higher in math than verbal. I never understood why until we recently began this investigation: my math scores were the result of careful reading of the questions and not a reflection of my math skills.

Spelling and More Latin

Just now the Wall Street Journal runs a book review of “Spell it Out” by David Crystal, a history of English spelling. It’s fascinating stuff, especially such things as the origin of the “h” in ghost and ghastly. It came from Flemish printers who were hired by the first important English publisher, William Caxton. The Flemish experts knew the printing press better than the English language, so they adjusted some words to look more like their own language, thus the “gh” in some words. They also spelled goose “ghoose, and goat “ghoat,” but those spellings didn’t take. Still, we’re stuck with “ghost.”

Elsewhere, the review of Crystal’s book explains how Latin comprehension helps make sense of English words:

Later, etymology played a part in spelling reform. Mr. Crystal paraphrases the Renaissance attitude: ‘If a word comes ultimately from Latin, let’s see if there’s anything in the Latin spelling that would help fix it in the English mind.’ This is why there is a b in debt and a p in
receipt. A knowledge of Latin helps with other English spellings. If you know that supercilium was the Latin for “eyebrow,” you will spell
supercilious with a c rather than an s at its heart. Admirable ends “-able” because it derives from the Latin admirare; audible ends “-ible” because it comes from audire.

Truly, it’s worth it to spend some time in that dead old, ancient Roman language.

Test Dates

Well, here come the tests, as per the charts below. To help you along, you may wish to take advantage of our 2-hour SAT tutoring special: 50% off for two hours with one of our high-level college student tutors. Normally $40/ hour, we’ll give you two hours for that amount so that you can try it out and see the power of attacking and comprehending questions.  Our college student tutors, by the way, are marvelous. They are caring, motivated, and want to help high school students succeed.

Let me know your thoughts and questions!

– Michael

SAT .S. registration dates and deadlines for 2013-14

Test Dates Test U.S. Registration Deadlines
(Expire at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, U.S.A.)
Regular Late (a fee applies)
October 5, 2013 SAT & Subject Tests September 6, 2013 September 20, 2013
November 2, 2013 SAT & Subject Tests October 3, 2013 October 18, 2013
December 7, 2013 SAT & Subject Tests November 8, 2013 November 22, 2013
January 25, 2014 SAT & Subject Tests December 27, 2013 January 10, 2014
March 8, 2014 SAT only February 7, 2014 February 21, 2014
May 3, 2014 SAT & Subject Tests April 4, 2014 April 18, 2014
June 7, 2014 SAT & Subject Tests May 9, 2014 May 23, 2014

ACT Test Dates in the U.S., U.S. Territories, and Canada

Test Date Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required)
September 21, 2013 August 23, 2013 August 24–September 6, 2013
October 26, 2013 September 27, 2013 September 28–October 11, 2013
December 14, 2013 November 8, 2013 November 9–22, 2013
February 8, 2014* January 10, 2014 January 11–24, 2014
April 12, 2014 March 7, 2014 March 8–21, 2014
June 14, 2014 May 9, 2014 May 10–23, 2014