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Parlez-vous français? ¿Hablas español? Well, why not?
Most high schools and some junior high schools today require students to take foreign language classes. When I was at Valley Christian, I studied Spanish for four years: from the simple “Hola. Cómo estás?” of Spanish 1 to the more tricky conversations discussing films and narratives in AP Spanish Language. I feel that I have gained an invaluable tool from those years, and I even took Spanish courses in college for fun. Yet, I am certain that if I were to call any one of my friends from my high school, only a handful would be able to speak the foreign languages they learned today. Even fewer would practice it frequently.
Why is it that so many students don't take language learning seriously?
It's all a matter of perspective. If you're taking a class because you have to, you probably won't really spend time investing in it or enjoying it for that matter. That needs to change. In today's culturally diverse world, having multilingual abilities can benefit you in so many ways. Here are few reasons why you should want to take your language classes seriously:
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As a sophomore in high school, I remember my first days sitting in my AP Human Geography class uncertain of what I was getting myself into. What in the world was “Human Geography”? In my mind, it seemed to be either a course about anatomy or about maps. It was really neither. Instead, I found a course that gave me a sample of subjects and fields I had never encountered before: ethnic studies, religious studies, anthropology, political science, urban planning, environmental studies, demography, economics, and development studies to name a few.
The course was an introduction to analyzing human social organization and alteration of the Earth. Over weeks of new chapter readings and class discussions, I began to see my eyes open to possibilities: I was given tools by which I could understand the world around me.
Needless to say, my genuine interest and curiosity for the course gave way to natural success. I initiated a student study group to prepare for the May AP exam, working through a review guide. For at least a month, I and a handful of others worked hard in studying the vast topics within Human Geography and were dutifully rewarded with the coveted score of 5. At the time I planned for a premedical focus in college, something my teacher regretted. “I wish you weren't going into medicine. I think you would be a great human geographer. You belong in the social sciences.” At the time I shook the comment off, but appreciated the honesty and appreciation in his words. Looking back, I am impressed that my instructor had foresight into my interests in a way that I would not understand until many years into college.
Human Geography offers a sampling of many subjects, allowing students to explore new interests that they have never been exposed to prior. Sadly, it is an extremely underrated subject. Only a handful of universities recognize Human Geography as a significant academic course and give AP credit for it (e.g. the UC system does but many private universities do not). At my university, the University of Pennsylvania, I did not even receive any formal credit for all my hard work. However, I did gain something that was quite priceless - my intellectual stimulation and academic confidence.
Learning what we enjoy learning about is an ongoing life process. Over the years, my interests have led me from medicine to public health and now to international affairs/development. Ironically, my latest interests have brought me full circle, back to many of the same topics I had once covered in that AP Human Geography class many years ago. The learning process is not direct, even frustrating when you have to revise your five/ten year plans for an uncertain future and trust the unknown. Yet through my experiences, I have learned that following your changing passions is one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. It is something that allows me to enjoy my studies today, and has recently rewarded me with a full-scholarship for my masters at Yale and an internship with the United Nations in Indonesia.
Just like I realized through AP Human Geography the value of educational exploration, all of us at Hillview believe that all students should realize their unique intellectual passions. In this way, our students can ensure their own success.Through our personalized planning for high school and college, we help them formulate a plan to make the most of required courses and test prep options. We take education seriously, and work with students like you to ensure that they thrive in each and every class. Who knows? One course could even change your life.
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When I was a junior in high school, I remember watching the newly released movie The Social Network, which tells the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and his brain child - Facebook. During the clips of his college years in the brick yards of Harvard College, I became enthralled with an idea - what if I could get into those spaces with those same influential people like Zuckerberg? Why not shoot for those same crazy opportunities? Why not me?
To be honest, at the time I didn't even know what the “Ivy League” was. Now looking back having graduated about a year ago from Penn (or UPenn as some people also refer to it), I have a lot more perspective on those Ivy League dreams I once had. Here are some Ivy League myths worth debunking:
1. The Ivy League is impossible to get into.
Obviously not. For many of the schools, there is a below 10% acceptance rate. If you want to increase your chances of getting that coveted acceptance letter, trying applying Early Action or Early Decision. Usually early admits have acceptance rates closer to 20%. For the Class of 2019, schools like Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth filled 40% or more of their classes with early admits.
2. You need to have perfect grades to get into the Ivy League.
Though there are plenty of seemingly perfect fish in the Ivy sea, not everyone who gets there is a perfect student. Ivy League admissions officers do care about your grades, but as a more holistic view of all your accomplishments. I myself was accepted to some schools with an SAT well below 2400.That being said, you can get your acceptance letter without having academic perfection. (But still aim for it...)
3. If you're smart, it should be easy to get accepted.
Every year Ivy League admissions shock a number of overly-qualified students that are certain of their acceptances. Why? Because there are just too few spots for all the students who apply! Once you are sure your grades, personal statements, extracurricular activities, and resume are flawless, you just need one more thing: good luck!
4. Everyone is super competitive there.
The academic culture at every school is different. Certainly, Ivy League students will be highly motivated and active in their classes. But truth be told: not everyone will be competitive (whew! what a relief). In fact some of the most relatable and down-to-earth people I know, I met in college. You'll meet people from all across the personality spectrum. So relax!
5. The best schools are in the Ivy League.
Not at all! One can find a quality education at a number of non-Ivy schools including MIT, Duke, Berkeley, NYU, Caltech, UCLA, Emory, Rice, etc. Depending on the ranking, most of these schools top the list around the world and outshine many Ivy League competitors in any given year.
6. All Ivy League professors are the best in their fields.
While at Penn, I took courses with professors who inspired others and some who only tired others. Most of your courses will be taught by the crème de la crème, but some will be taught by graduate students who are working as teaching assistants. Yet, sometimes these same grad students will change your whole academic career in ways that some of your other professors would not. Regardless of whether you are learning form a professor or graduate student, your teachers want to see you grow and challenged intellectually. Because of your small class sizes, they will become your future colleagues and, sometimes, your friends for years to come.
7. All Ivy League courses are hard.
Yes, this is somewhat true. Yet, so is any course you take at most colleges! After you graduate high school, your course load will pick up tremendously and you will have more independence with more academic responsibility. Luckily, you will not have to go it alone and be able to struggle alongside your classmates. After a semester or two, you will already be better adapted to college-level rigor. That's something that's true regardless or not if you attend an Ivy League school. (But there will also be some easier courses. They exist. Trust me.)
8. You need to be rich to afford an Ivy League school.
The marble halls of the Ivy League are filled with students of all income backgrounds: from the world's economic elites to those without a penny to their name. Most Ivy League universities adopt a need-based financial aid policy and not a merit-based one (because everyone is overqualified!) It's always a good idea to pursue external scholarships to supplement and prepare for costs at your future university, and for those without aid or preparation an Ivy League diploma can cost a pretty penny.
9. Stanford is in the Ivy League, right?
Actually, it's not! The Ivy League is historically a sports league comprising of eight universities on the East Coast, almost all of which are colonial colleges that predate the founding of the United States: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. Want more information on colleges or application consulting? Reach out to the Hillview Prep team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can work together to help you get into your dream school.
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Procrastination(n): the action of delaying or postponing something
Time Management(n): the ability to use one's time effectively or productively
From my earliest days in school, I remember teachers telling me to never to procrastinate. If an assignment was due, I had to have it neatly polished and ready to turn in by the due date.
No delays. No excuses.
Any excuses, aside from serious illness or family matters, usually meant negligence on my side - that I had put off my scholastic duties as unimportant. At times, this was actually true. Usually if I procrastinated, my finished paper or test would be less than the result I wanted (as would my grades). Additionally because there was less time to work, procrastination had a way of putting unnecessary stress on me. But honestly there were also times when putting off an assignment was in my best interest. Sometimes different classes made demands of me at the same time, and I had to use my scarce time wisely.
Time is limited and our tasks are many.
So when is it okay to put off work and when is it not?
When you convert tendencies for procrastination into time management, you can transform a destructive study skill in a constructive one. The main difference is that you are taking control of the situation and not letting it control you. You are using your time responsibly and effectively.
Here are a few examples of how to tell the two apart:
- binge-watching shows on Netflix for hours
- playing Pokémon Go trying to “catch them all”
- spending too much time finding the right Instagram filter
- focusing on your Snapchat story instead of your English literature
- not using your free time to do important upcoming assignments
- prioritizing and organizing your limited time on assignments
- scheduling time for your self-care and mental well-being (it's okay to take breaks!)
- skimming/scanning through large amounts of readings
- balancing your leisure time accordingly with your academic demands
Time management is a highly underrated study skill and indicator of academic success. It is a skill that needs to be learned as early as possible, as students will carry it into high school, college, the professional environment and beyond.
The process of changing your habits from procrastination to time management is one that takes time and, at times, may be challenging.
Luckily, you do not have to go it alone! Through 24/7 support and study strategizing tailored to your academic needs, staff at Hillview Prep can walk with you towards better time management and academic success every step of the way. If this is a skill you need to learn ASAP, contact us today so we can work with you. Don't procrastinate!
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By: Ken McCandless
Are you stronger in English or math?
This is the question that I often ask students before any type of course. I ask this question not to understand if the student is actually better at math or English, but to understand his or her “perceived” strength. That perceived strength only reflects confidence over the other subject rather than an actual higher ability. In reality, every student has the capability of being strong in both academic disciplines.
One way to discover the commonalities: Test Prep.
Test preparation is one of the easiest ways to discover the commonalities that exist between the two disciplines. Like so many cases, I once had a student enter my SAT prep program who was scoring exceptional marks in his advanced math course. His greatest complaint about the SAT was its reading comprehension and language skills section, “The math feels easy for me, but I hate reading comprehension and writing.” Needless to say, high confidence in math was very high, but he felt helpless in his reading comprehension and grammar abilities.
Finding the similarities.
Given his confidence in math, I realized that finding the similarities between math and English was the best way for him to find common confidence in both subjects. Starting with simple realizations such as, “the most simplified structure of a sentence is always the most correct, just like in math, where the simplification is so important,” or, prioritizing keywords in a math word problem is no different then consolidating keywords in order to read more efficiently.
His improvement was striking; he began to realize that he could use his same strategies and comprehension style for approaching math to conquer his perceived weaknesses in English. We concluded that English was never a weakness of his.
The Hillview Prep Difference.
Every student is unique and has his or her academic advantage. That student can use his or her advantage to become a more well rounded academic. No matter what type of learner you are, where you confidence lies, or what your current academic benchmarks are, Hillview Prep can unlock your fullest potential.
Visit www.hillviewprep.com to learn more!