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.

Mischa then offers excellent advice to high school students and parents as they head into college. Mischa suggests that students and families be discerning consumers of this very expensive and important educational experience. She suggests that scheduling and course selection should follow student strengths, and that students should be very aware of the expense they or their families are facing. Big name schools are great, she says, but we often over-emphasize their experience when there are great colleges with great teachers all over the country.


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Guest Biography:

Mischa has taught history, philosophy and political science at Simmons College, Wheelock College, and Boston College. She has received numerous grants and fellowships and is a National Merit Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Mischa began working with A+ Club students while on a sabbatical from college to start her family. She loves working with our students, and she has become a valuable, positive force in their academics and in their lives.

Topics Discussed

  • High school students & the difficulties they face
  • Encouragement: we can all use it!
  • Importance of self-honesty & reflection
  • Learning styles and awareness
  • College advice from Mischa on college selection, scheduling and courses, and choosing a good advisor.
  • Also some ideas from Bromley on pre-course learning
See below for detailed Show Notes.


  • t.b.a


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

Some snoring from Stella in this episode, as she happily sleeps through the recording. Puck and Artemis kept quiet!

From left to right, Artemis, Puck and (snoring) Stella, all fluffy just after a bath.
From left to right, Artemis, Puck and (snoring) Stella, all fluffy just after a bath.






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.


  • t.b.a., below for draft:
  • asdf
  • Bromley: Mischa taught Bromley’s daughter who recommender her to work with A+ Club students
  • Mischa:
    • High school kids interesting, but not that different from college kids. More similar than not, especially the 12th graders that she is working with
  • Bromley
    • Taught 9th graders, and always reminded them that they made it that far.
    • So 12th graders have made it even further: = success
  • Mischa:
    • all kids need encouragement
    • it’s true of all kinds of kids, struggling, not struggling, high school, college
  • Bromley
    • Wow, we don’t hear that word “encouragement” very frequently
    • Kids are living what we already experienced, but they don’t know what’s coming next. It’s easy for adults
  • Mischa:
    • remembers high school & college fondly, but has idealized it.
    • It was tough at times
    • Sense of perspective lacking when there.  As adults we forgot how tough it can be
    • so difficult at time, and they can always use help
  • Bromley:
    • thus that word “encouragement”
    • remind kids that it will be okay
    • but you could use some tools, you could do a few things to improve
  • Mischa:
    • Hope that has helped them problem solve
    • hope that has helped kids learn how they learn and raise self-awareness and taking control of how you study and interact with  teachers
    • and position yourself to succeed with classes and teachers
  • Bromley
    • high school has 7 different teachers and other adults they see all the time
    • (more snoring from Stella, Bromley’s dog)
    • kids approach all these adults and classes the same, need to develop differnet starategies for each, adapt to them each differently
    • We raise awareness, remind htem of their work and put them into problem solving conversations, as Mischa has done for some of our kids
    • Any patterns that you have noted? I’ts so hard to break kids out of social pressures. How do we pull them away from it to focus on larger goals?
  • Mischa
    • especially in high school, and college, it never really goes away
    • get students to reflect honestly, a challenge for everyone, especially for kids
    • some that she has worked with are good at this, others struggle w/ that self-honesty needed
  • Bromley
    • self honestly is a prerequisite for success
  • Mischa
    • they are so focused on what other people are saying and thinking of them
    • everyone else tells them, which is fine, but they need to let go of the externalities and find their own choices
  • Bromley
    • kids get defensive when they can ‘t meet external expectations, can come to reject them
  • Mischa
    • college has gotten so competitive, that’s changed recently
  • Bromley
    • applied to only two colleges
  • Mischa
    • applied to 6 or 7, but it’s different now
  • Bromley
    • what is your advice for high school seniors heading to college?
  • Mischa
  • you don’t need an Ivy school to be successful and happy
  • there are hundreds of good schools with great teachers
  • name and reputation are to some extent over-wrought
  • we worry about it more than we should
  • advice for once you’re in school
    • be aware of yourself :
      • learn how you learn and what works for you
      • are you a morning person? if not, don’t schedule a class in the morning
      • if you procrastinate,  shcedule 1 hr between classes in order to study between those two classes instead of leaving campus
      • schedule  according to your strenghts and weaknesses
      • Set up your schedule to help you succeed
  • Bromley:
    • what about course selection
  •  Mischa
    • will have to deal with prerequisites…
    • but leave room to explore your interests,
    • narrow down your courses to find what you want to major in
    • but you don’t want to be a senior worrying about them
  • Bromley
    • beautiful procrastination adfvice! shcedule in breaks to be prodiuctive,
    • be aware of your workflow = part of self-honesty
    • helps studnets see themselves as participants in their own outcomes
  • Mischa
    • kids and parents don’t always think about it much, but your advisor can be a huge part of your college experience
    • shop around: find someone you are comfortrable with, who you can work with
    • hugely important
    • source of encouragement
    • can really make a big difference in their experences, positive or negative
  • Bromley
    • if you ar ea consumer, be careful what you are buygin: get a good product, don’t settle for a bad proeuct
    • in my experence, my freshman year advisor was hiostory dept chair, and we hated each other.  missed out on history classes in schools,… might have been different
    • You are paying for college >>> get value out of it
    • My daughter finally became concerned about school as a buyer when she had to pay for her last year… suddnetly she questioned why things cost
    • especially bad to waste money if you drop out of college
  • Mischa
    • a unique time in the world to have it be normal to have 4 years to explore and learn
    • should appreciate it and make the best of it
    • so many eople around the world will never experience anything even close to it
  • Bromley
    • many high school kids were ready for college in 9th grade, intrinsic learners who were truned off by rote classes in high school… how exciting for them to go to college and realy learn
  • Mischa
    • Financial considerations: it is getting so expensiver
    • admissions offices are not realistic with parents about it
    • college is not all about name and reputation: go to a good school but one you can afford and don’t take on so much debt, 30-40 years… make tough choices, be realistic ahead of time and it will lead to an allover better experience
  • Bromley
    • if college is about learning and experiencing smart people, why pay more for it when you have other options for the same thing?
    • example, why not get your requirements out of the way during the summer, instead of paying for it at an expensive school when it’s not a subject that’s important for you
  • Mischa
    • graduating in three years is becoming important and maybe necessary with such high costs of school.
  • Bromley
    • Enginering sttudents we hire as tutors pre-learn their courses
    • ex., one had a teacher who literarlly never faced the class, just wrote on the board
    • so they learn their classes in adfvance
    • in high school, why do we take summer school after failing? why not before taking the class?
    • will devlop PK
    • ex. Gaby struggled in Mischa’s class because she didn’t have the background in history, didn’t know the timelines, no context… she struggled.
    • imagine if all the kids had same preparation for a class?
    • invert summer school with prerequisites
  • Mischa
    • the conversation could go on at such a higher level, it could really elevate things
  • Bromley
    • to what extent is college replacing lost quality at high school?
  • Mischa
    • not sure if cause or effect, but the college degree is becoming something of a high school degree
    • but we want all students to have certain skill sets, orgnazing, reading, writing … even at the best colleges they have to work with kids on these things
    • it’s hard to teach writing, so who knows if standards are shifting, or we’re just more aware of the gaps kids have in skills and studying
    • but kids may be getting to college with out some important skills or knowlege
  • Bromley
    • again, we need to be conscious consumers of what we are getting out of college
    • Mischa has been such a positive voice for our students, just as she was for my daughter Gaby, so encouraging