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Often you will get homework that is tedious and frankly plain boring. You don't want to do it. Nobody really does. However, often, you have to do boring drills to achieve mastery. Think of all the athletes who practice routine after routine, many of them just boring, to improve their skills. You have to do the same. Fortunately, there is some help for you. Try these six hacks if you are having difficulty maintaining focus to do your boring homework.
1) Move Around
Walking around while studying can help you get energized and maintain your focus. You can walk around and talk aloud, or even walk with a book in your hand. Try to find out what works for you. Walking around listening to music for 5 minutes might help you deal with your fidgets.
2) Speak Out Loud
If you don't want to walk around, just talk! This will support your auditory learning style and help improve your learning. Speaking out aloud also slows things down which helps you retain more material. Paraphrasing out loud what you have read is an excellent way of learning and retaining important information.
3) Change Position
If you are at home, you can easily change positions while doing homework. Instead of sitting on your desk, do it on your bed, or on the sofa. Heck, you may even climb a tree and do it there! At school, it is difficult, but you could request a change in your seating arrangement or bring a new notepad or bag with you—just to change something.
4) Work in short Bursts
Work in short bursts. Working intensively for short periods of time will be more productive for them. One successful method is the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro Technique teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it. Spend 25 minutes on a task uninterrupted. Then take a 5-10 minute break. Continue doing two or three more Pomodoros and then take a longer break. Your brain will thank you.
5) Shift Subjects
“Shifting” is not multitasking. When your attention drifts, change the subject. This will help with boredom and will renew your interest in learning. Also, it gives you a mental break from one subject and helps you integrate the material better by giving you a break from the subject.
6) Find out the Bother
If you still can't stay focused, something must be bothering you. Are you tired? Sad? Ecstatic? Bored? Whatever it is, write it down. Just writing what is bothering you will help calm you down and help you focus. If you still can't focus, go do something else and come back later.
There are usually three categories of students: the anxious, the bored, and the prepared.
Many students are anxious before and during a test. It is very normal and natural. You don't take tests everyday, especially those with high impact on your future. It is almost like the Olympics!
Other teens might wonder about sitting in a seat for four hours answering questions that have no relevance to a teen's life? Boring? Uncool? Unfortunately, welcome to the world of test taking. You have to do take the test in order to get into a great college. During the test, you'll lose interest. Your mind will wander and lose focus. You'll feel tired. What to do?
And then there are the prepared teens, those who have invested or plan to invest in taking test prep courses and lessons and are fully prepared. However, just knowing the content is not good enough. You have to have strategies to maximizing your test taking abilities and efficiency. And even the most prepared will feel some anxiety or nervousness during or before the test. This is all normal. In fact, if you feel something, that means you don't care.
Use these seven tips for teens to maximize your efforts on the ACT and the SAT tests and earn the high scores that colleges want.
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According to Harvard, prior to the start of the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative (HFAI), fewer than 20,000 students applied for admission. This year, nearly 40,000 students applied to Harvard.
One big reason is the availability of financial aid by the HFAI. According to Sarah C. Donahue, Griffin Director of Financial Aid. “The majority of Harvard students receive need-based aid, and their families pay an average of only $12,000. Students are not required to take out loans.”
Since launching HFAI in 2005, Harvard has awarded nearly $1.6 billion in grants to undergraduates. Over that time, Harvard’s annual financial aid award budget has increased more than 114 percent, from $80 million in 2005 to more than $172 million in 2016.
The majority of undergraduates receiving financial aid pay just 10 percent of annual family income, and this standard holds for families earning up to $150,000 per year. Families with higher incomes can also receive need-based aid, depending on individual circumstances, including other children in college or unusual medical or other expenses.
Another big reason is outreach. According to William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, most students — about 80 percent — go to college within 200 miles of their homes, so outreach—domestic and international—has been critical for recruitment to maintain the excellence of Harvard's student body.
Theater and Dance
Countering a national trend, interest in the humanities has been rising at Harvard. This year, applicants with an interest in the field saw a 3 percent increase from last year’s applicant pool. Students are drawn to Harvard by the opportunity to pursue a top-notch liberal arts education along with strong, almost conservatory-like training in theater and dance. The revamped Harvard Art Museums, myriad programs sponsored by the Office of the Arts and the American Repertory Theater and the new theater, dance & media concentration have created excitement and interest.
The Harvard Paulson School and the computer science concentration also continue to drive student interest in Harvard, with a 12.3 percent increase in the number of students intending to concentrate in computer science. In November 2014, the University announced plans for a 50% increase in the size of the CS faculty, thanks to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer AB ’77.
Do you think you cannot afford Harvard?
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College admission committees want to know who is getting into their college. It is just like anything else. You want to know who is coming to your house. Right?
GPAs and test scores helps them determine how well you are doing academically and the probability of how well you will do in college, but they also want to get to know you beyond that. They want to learn your character, your interests, like, how you spend your time outside of the classroom, how you would deal with a challenge, etc. They are interested in getting to know your personality and the life experiences you may have had up until this point. They also want to learn why you are interested in going to their college. They want to learn from your teachers or counselors their perspective on who you are as a student and human being. They can’t get all that information from numbers: GPA and test scores.
Admission to top colleges is ultra-competitive. They are many, many qualified students who are applying to top colleges—from all around the world. Colleges do not have spots for all of them. Many students have excellent grades and test scores—some perfect grades and test scores. So they have to use qualitative measures such as essays, projects and letters of recommendations to make distinctions among the many excellent candidates.
In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.
A perfect essay appeals to both systems. Here are two steps to write your perfect college essay.
Why the Power of the Pen can Make You an Invincible Learner
Cognitive neuropsychologists, Audrey van der Meer and Ruud van der Weel, from the renowned Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), are experts in the field of how technology and learning intersect. They have studied the differences between using a pen and using a keyboard and how it impacts learning and they have some fascinating insights to report.
Does long-hand note-taking using a pen deepens the mind’s ability to retain and process information?
That is the question the researchers asked and carried out a two-month research project with students. Their project aimed to find out whether note taking by typing versus note taking with a pen would bring about differences in brain activity, thereby affecting a student’s ability to learn.
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After spending more than seven hours in school, five days a week, most students are given homework. Although homework is viewed by most educators and parents as an essential component of reinforcing what has been taught in the classroom, for most students homework is a chore that often frustrates and angers them.
How can you help your child with homework frustration? Following are some tips. Find out which ones will work for you and your child.
This is perhaps the most important tip and often hard to implement. Try to find out what interests your child and connect the homework to his interests. For example, a friend's son loves Halloween and wants to work at the Halloween stores! The friend asked his son, how he could he work there if he doesn't know math? How will he run the cash register? The son got motivated and starting doing his math homework!
2. Build a Routine Around your Child’s Daily Rhythms
Does your child like to do homework in the morning, right after school or in the evening? Each child is different. Don't fight your child's nature daily rhythms. Some are early risers, some stay up late. Find out the best time for them to do their homework.
3. Create a Daily Structure
Create a structure by sitting and strategizing the day’s homework with your child: How much has to be done? What looks easy? What looks hard? Keep it simple. Eliminate distractions.
4. Break Down the Material
Often children have difficulty breaking projects into manageable “chunks.” This is why studying for a major test or a large project becomes an insurmountable task. Sit down with your child and a calendar and divide up the material he must master. Break it down to their level, not yours. Find out what your child feels is doable.
5. Start a Homework Group
Invite one or two kids from your child’s class to come over and do a little homework together. Maybe, it is your car pool kids, or your child's friends. Your child can learn from other children's studying strategies and habits, and the chance to play with their friends while doing homework is an added incentive to get homework done.
6. Reward Accomplishments
We believe in small, tangible rewards for small, tangible accomplishments. Finish your math homework, and you’ll get a cookie. Finish all your homework, and you can go play. With the assignments your child really hates, sit down with her to help her navigate through it. Find out why she hates it. It is often bad teaching at school or a complex concept. And then reward her for sharing her problems and working through them.
7. Don’t Over-schedule
If you fill up every afternoon with activities, then as the evening arrives, children will get tired. How about moving some of these activities to the weekend? Does your child take a nap after school? When she wakes up, that might be a good time to schedule the homework.
8. Get Them Moving
If your child is having problems focusing, get her moving. Physical activity increases alertness for mental activity. Encourage your student to walk around the house reading aloud from a book. Chances are, she will soon settle down and be able to focus on her work.
9. Give Them Regular Breaks
The brain is a muscle. It needs to relax, so after half an hour of study, give your child a 5 or 10 minute break. That will increase his productivity and reduce stress.
10. Talk Out Loud to Solve Tough Problems
Experts have pointed out that, when students are required to explain their thinking, elaborate their ideas, or defend their position, they tend to gain a better understanding, and be more efficient at the problem they are solving. Talking out loud is a great method for you to move through a problem you are facing in a systematic way. It slow things down and helps with focus. It also prevents you from skimming over a particularly hard section, or skipping necessary steps.
11. Get a Tutor
If you are busy and/or having trouble getting your child to do homework, get a tutor! Often, children would listen to another adult and most tutors have more experience in teaching than the average parent. They simply have seen many more kids and do it all the time. Save your time and hire a tutor. Call us at Hillview Prep and we will be happy to match a tutor for your child.
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What if you could hack your brain to be brilliant on demand?
Research has found that the surge of brilliance you experience is when high-performance hormones dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin floods your brain.
How do you do that? You just have to ask yourself the following questions.
1. Ask "What's possible here?"
It's not reward that releases a flow of dopamine in the brain -- but the promise of reward.
2. Ask "What matters most to me in this situation?"
When you make a connection with someone on what matters most, you release oxytocin in your brain and theirs. Yes, even if you or they have ADHD or Dyslexia or ...
Focus on your conversation. Find out what matters the most. This helps your brain focus and also helps you make a connection with someone that builds rapport, trust, and bonding. You will acquire superb social skills.
3. Ask "How might we...?"
When you ask the famous "How might we...?" question used by seasoned innovators, you get the big release: a trifecta of motivation, connection, and confidence that can spark brilliant ideas.
The micro-surges of brilliance you create with these powerful questions can energize your brain, help you create new ideas, deepen your relationships, and--ultimately--make you happier and successful.
There is a science behind it. There are three hormones that create a powerful surge that helps you create your brilliance.
1. Dopamine: the motivation molecule
Dopamine is called the motivation molecule. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s a key factor in motivation, productivity, and focus. It enables us to plan ahead so we can achieve our goals.
2. Oxytocin: the connection chemical
Oxytocin is called the love molecule. When released, your ability to connect with people goes up and your stress levels go down. You need the molecule when dealing with people: rapport-building, trust-creation, and bonding skills.
3. Serotonin: the confidence chemical
Serotonin is a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer. It’s said to help produce healthy sleeping patterns as well as boost your mood. Without serotonin, the effect of dopamine and oxytocin in your brain would be muted and numb.
Serotonin turns up the signal strength of Dopamine and Oxytocin. This produces a powerful effect: You feel confident, optimistic and self-efficacious.
You don't need to take any drugs to use these hormones. Just ask the above three questions!
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Responsibility And Timeliness
Clark Brigger, executive director for undergraduate admissions, Penn State University, tells his kids, “Do not wait for the deadline to submit your applications.” Admissions officers see a huge spike in applications when the deadline comes around. That's when the procrastinators send their applications in. It is to your advantage to get ahead of the crowd, according to Brigger.
Think strategically. Thing about the poor admissions officer. She has to read thousands of applications. If you get yours in early, the reader may be more relaxed and in a better mood at that point in the process. You also show that you value their time and are responsible.
In today's fast paced world, we are told to move fast, read fast, do fast. We are supposed to be like superman — fast.
However, reading fast is not necessarily a good thing. It does not benefit your brain and increases stress. According to the Wall Street Journal, a growing movement of 'slow readers' is taking place around the world. Slow reading advocates want to return to the focused reading habits, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans.
There are many benefits to reading slowly and not rush through the text.
1. Slow-Reading Un-fractures Time
Do you feel tense? Rushed? Do you feel that your time is fractured? Time is just flying by and you cannot savor it. Moments are hard to capture. What to do in a fast paced world? Slow down and read a book—slowly, like on a lazy summer day. This will reduce your stress levels, improve your ability to think deeply, and allow you to savor your time and thus increase enjoyment. Get back your time, the most valuable resource you have.
2. Slow-reading uncovers “hidden” gems
A slow reader has an advantage over an abstract reader, because the former is more detailed—something you can't really teach. A detailed reader will get more out of a book. Reading slowly makes you stop and think. It makes you a thinker.
It helps you understand the main idea much better, because the details enhances the main idea. Superman is too fast and will miss the subtle nuances that gives richness to ideas. Being a fast reader and skimming does not really help you grasp the passage. Being a faster reader does not necessarily make you a better reader. Reading is not a race. Taking your time, soaking up the language and thinking about key elements can vastly improve the quality of the experience and your reading comprehension.
3. Slow-reading adds to your knowledge
Slow-reading gives you a chance to connect a new fact or idea to things you already know. This enriches your knowledge, your memory and the quality of the associations in your mind.
4. slow-reading Improves your writing
Reading more slowly not only improves comprehension, but also helps you improve your writing. In his article, “Heavy Sentences,” Joseph Epstein has this to say:
Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature. Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read:
(1) What is being said?
(2) Does it interest me?
(3) Is it well constructed?
Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them:
(4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And
(5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing?
5. Slow-reading improves your test scores
By not rushing through the passage, you increase your reading comprehension. A lot of test prep is about reading comprehension, even for math and science. See our blog posts here and here for more details.
Tips for reading slowly:
- Go to a place with no distractions
-Map out the context, just like on a map
-Understanding the purpose of each sentence
-Take occasional notes
-Focus on key points, key words.
-Dedicate 30-45 minutes to just reading