Eli Judges BUILD NYC's Business Plan Competition Semi-Finals

Last week, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge at the BUILD NYC Business Plan Competition Semi-Finals. This was put together by BUILD NYC, a college preparation non-profit that "uses entrepreneurship to ignite the potential of youth from under-resourced communities and propel them to high-school, college & career success."

At this event, the students - who are only in 9th grade - presented the business plans for the products they had made. Their pitches covered everything from market research to customer personas to pricing strategy - material that most people don't even hear about until well into college. 

The products that the students developed also ran a wide range. From an organic skin lotion to the swiss army knife of kitchen utensils to pots with a coating that turns red when the pot heats up, they addressed issues that they themselves dealt with and wanted to find a fix for. After each group presented, including one that was just one brave girl by herself, they responded to questions from the judges before receiving feedback. The students all had incredibly well thought out answers to all of the questions thrown their way and were very prepared for this presentation.

If you are interested in seeing the next stage of their competition on June 3rd judged by celebrities including John Starks, Ebonie Smith, Alysia Reiner and Ron Shuler, you can find out more information here.

 

-Eli S, Director of Academic Consulting

It's Graduation Season!

We couldn't be more thrilled for our high school and college grads this season. The end of this chapter means the beginning of a new one, and we can't wait to see what opportunities our LogicPrep students take advantage of. 

Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to attend Sean's graduation. Sean was a former LogicPrep student, team member, and Truman Scholar, who just graduated from Yale! 

Congrats, Sean! We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. The sky's the limit!

You Need These 3 Apps

I’m somewhat minimalist when it comes to my iPhone’s layout. I keep almost all of my apps in a single app folder with most of their notifications turned off, and access them my using the search bar. This keeps me from checking Facebook and Snapchat every 3 minutes and just feels cleaner to me. There are a few that I keep on the home screen though mainly because I use them so often. Without further ado, here are my favorite apps:

 

HabitBull

Forming new habits can be difficult and it can be challenging to keep yourself accountable especially in the early days of habit formation. I use this app as a reminder system for various new habits I’m trying to form or bad habits I’m trying to kick. For example, I’m trying to get back into urban dance choreography and hip-hop so I use this app to track my times in the dance studio; I’m currently on a 34-day streak. Sure, you can use a calendar or notebook as a tracker, but this is nice because I always have my phone with me and there’s even a small forum shared by others tracking similar habits which serve as further motivation.

 

Duolingo

This is an awesome language learning app, particularly for helping with your reading and writing. Nothing truly substitutes for actually traveling to a place where they speak the language and immersing yourself, but I’ve found that Duolingo turns language learning into more of a game for me rather than a chore, which keeps me consistently using the app. You either start a language from scratch using their guide from day 1 or take a test that assesses your current skill level and accelerates you in the program. They just released Japanese and I’m super excited to pick up from where I left off in college!

 

Stronglifts 5x5

This app is great for anyone thinking about including weightlifting in their exercise regimen. It focuses on 5 core lifts: squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, and bent over row. The website has incredibly detailed explanations about the different lifts and how to perform each with proper form to keep you injury free, and the app has videos on how to perform the lifts as well. The app functions as a workout tracker, tracking what you lifted each session and tells you what you should lift the next workout. You can view all of this information in graphical form too so you can monitor your progress. There’s a weight plate calculator so you know how much to add to each side of the bar, and a warm-up routine included for each lift based on how much weight you’re currently lifting. If you miss consecutive workouts for any reason the app tracks this and will suggest lighter weights for your next workout so that you don’t hurt yourself. The only downside to the Stronglifts routine is that proper weights and equipment is a must so you have to find a gym that has these things.

 

-Henry M, Instructor

Say hello to our newest instructor!

Introducing Elizabeth!

From English to Science to Italian, Elizabeth has you covered.

Elizabeth, who goes by "Bits", graduated Cum Laude from Princeton with a degree in French and Italian Language and Literature, accompanied by a minor in Theater. Her thesis work, an original bilingual play, perfectly married these two interests and was awarded the American Legion of Italian Scholars Merit Prize her senior year. A storyteller at heart, Bits seeks to help develop students' unique narrative voices in their writing. In her free time, she can be found penning sketches at UCB, watching any and all documentaries, making short films, or holed up in a coffee shop with her journal. 

NBA Meets Combinations and Permutations

I've only had NBA on the brain for the last 2 weeks.

How many possible outcomes can there be in a 7-game series?

You might assume this is a straightforward combination/permutation type of question, but it's a bit more complicated than that. 

Usually, to determine the difference between a permutation and a combination, you'd have to ask yourself, "Does order matter?" If yes, you're dealing with a permutation. If no, it's a combination. 

In the case of a Best-of-X series, does order matter? The answer is... sort of. 

In a best-of-7 series, if one team wins 4 games and the other wins 3, you may assume the order in which these wins happened doesn't matter.

But, if one team wins all of the first 4 games, the series ends there, and never makes it to 7 games. In that case, the order of the wins affects the possible outcomes. 

To answer the question of how many possible outcomes exist for a 7-game series, you have to consider that it might not end up being a 7-game series after all. 

A best-of-7 series can end in either 4, 5, 6, or 7 games, considering each of those outcomes individually is necessary for determining the possible outcomes. 

Let's say the series ends in 4 games. There are only two ways that happen, with team A winning all 4 games, or with team B winning all 4. 

4-game series outcomes:
AAAA
BBBB

With 5 games it gets a little more complicated:
AAABA
AABAA
ABAAA
BAAAA
ABBBB
BABBB
BBABB
BBBAB

There are only 4 ways each team can win a 5-game series. Here, you see another reason why using a straight combination doesn't work: the team that wins the series MUST win the final game. 

Using a combination approach would lead you to believe that there are 5 ways each team can win a 5-game series. 

5C4 = 5!/(4!•1!) = 5

But that would give us a result like AAAAB, which can't happen in a 5-game series, as team A would have swept after the 4th game. The way around that hitch is to assume a win in the 5th game for the winning team and make the combination 4C3, which equals 4. That's the number of ways each team can win a 5-game series, equally, 8 total outcomes that end in 5 games (4 with team A winning, and 4 with team B winning). 

Here are the ways a 6-game series can conclude:
AAABBA
AABABA
AABBAA
ABAABA
ABABAA
ABBAAA
BAAABA
BAABAA
BABAAA
BBAAAA
BBBAAB
BBABAB
BBAABB
BABBAB
BABABB
BAABBB
ABBBAB
ABBABB
ABABBB
AABBBB

For each team, there are 10 possible ways of winning in 6 games. Following the pattern from before, we assume that game 6 goes to the winning team, then apply 5C3 to each team, which gives 20 possible outcomes. 

Finally, for a 7-game series, here are the possible outcomes:
AAABBBA
AABABBA
AABBABA
AABBBAA
ABAABBA
ABABABA
ABABBAA
ABBAABA
ABBABAA
ABBBAAA
BAAABBA
BAABABA
BAABBAA
BABAABA
BABABAA
BABBAAA
BBAAABA
BBAABAA
BBABAAA
BBBAAAA

20 possible results just for team A winning, reverse the letters to get the additional 20 results for team B winning. 

To use a combination approach for a 7-game series, assume the winning team wins game 7, and use 6C3 to calculate the outcome of the other 6 games. 6C3 = 20, and then multiply that by two to get results for either team winning. 

So in total, there are 2 possible outcomes if the series ends in 4 games, 8 possible outcomes if the series ends in 5, 20 possible outcomes if the series ends in 6, and 40 possibly outcomes if the series ends in 7.

Add them all up and there are 70 possible outcomes for a best-of-7 series.

 

-John P, Instructor

How to Maximize the Summer Before Your Senior Year

Summer is almost here, which is a time for the beach, ice cream, sunshine, hiking, sleeping late, hanging out with friends...and did I mention ice cream? But you also need to be thinking ahead. With senior year and college applications coming up, we figured we’d share a few tips to get you on the right path to hit the ground running in the fall:

 

Read

Colleges (I’m looking at you Boston College, University of Chicago, Columbia, Wake Forest, and University of Southern California) ask what books you like, so why not use this time to read a few for yourself instead of for class? Need some suggestions? Ask one of your instructors or advisors. Bonus: if you’re still studying for the SAT or ACT, reading for pleasure will help improve your comprehension.

 

Work

Not only is it nice to have some spending money, but colleges also love to see you involved outside the classroom - especially if it is something you’re passionate about. Bonus points if you’re able to do something new and unique! Volunteering is a great alternative if paying jobs aren’t available.

 

Take a class

If you can’t enroll in a local college’s course for credit, there are plenty to find online. Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy all have great options. Colleges appreciate you challenging yourself and going above and beyond with coursework; additional classes can help show further proficiency and mastery of subjects.

 

Test Prep

This is a perfect time to work on standardized testing so you can focus on school come fall. Our tutors will help you strategize about how to maximize your time before the August, September and October tests so you can reach your goals. 

 

Map Out the Road Ahead

Look up when all the deadlines are for the colleges you are applying to and work backward. You should give yourself enough time for all of the essays, supplements, and recommendation letters, which means July and August are the right months to start.

 

Think About Your Common App Essay

You will have to write an essay at some point, so why put it off until the last minute? Check out the essay topics (found here) and see if any of them stand out to you. Write down some thoughts for each now; you can always come back to them later.

 

This may seem like a lot, but it is very manageable when you break it down. There will be plenty of time to enjoy an ice cream cone this summer - but trust me, when school starts up again in the fall, you’ll be glad you thought ahead.  
 

 

-Eli S, Director of Academic Consulting

College Admissions Process is a Team Sport

While all instruction at LogicPrep is 1-on-1, behind the scenes, preparing for the college admissions process is a team sport. This is actually one of my favorite aspects of teaching at LP; collaboration is an essential component of the LogicPrep method. Not only do instructors share tips and review students’ progress during the commute together (I promise we only say good things!), but we also hold weekly check-ins where we discuss all of the students on our rosters. These sessions allow each of our instructors to confer and collaborate with each other and with their students’ advisors. 

Just like on any team, each member has something unique to add—whether that is the quant-heavy “money ball” approach of some of our STEM-leaning instructors, the close reading of subtext our literary-minded colleagues, or the insight into the emotional quotient of the test taking experience (one of our advisors is a licensed psychologist!). Furthermore, after students receive results on their real tests, we hold team-wide meetings to debrief and develop personalized, actionable study plans. 

In essence, we have inverted the structure of the traditional classroom setting. Instead of having one teacher address the needs of multiple students, we have multiple teachers address the needs of each unique learner. 

 

-Adam T, Instructor

Calling All Grammar Nerds!

There are plenty of apps out there to support the college process. There's just one I believe every single student should have. 

That app is Grammarly.  

Basically, it's a plugin that reviews your emails, social posts - and anything else you write – checking more than 250 grammar rules and offering suggestions. Consider Grammarly your personal proofreader. 
 
I've learned from Grammarly that I'm a major comma offender. According to my weekly summary, I'm most prone to miss commas in compound sentences. And, well, I might misuse a colon every now and then. (In my defense – my report did tell me that I wrote more words than 97% of users last week.)
 
No matter our age or experience, we can all become better writers – and it’s amazing to know that an app exists to track and course-correct our grammar as we go. Not only does Grammarly make for better emails, but I’d also like to think it makes for better writers. And any form of technology that can enhance good writing – rather than detract it – is one I fully support.   

Decorating Can Be Methodical (Who Knew?!)

So, after years of living abroad under a brutally minimalist regime and then a year with roommates who already had the apartment fully furnished (mid-century modern became a new word for me) well before I arrived, I’m confronted with having to furnish and decorate (decorate might be a strong word here) my new one-bedroom apartment.

I like to think that I have good taste. The validity of that aside, I definitely have strong preferences about the finished product. But I’ve never had to furnish an apartment from scratch before - any “decorating” that I’ve previously done consisted of having a provided knickknack that I moved around rooms in a trial-and-error fashion. So I turned to the internet for help - the internet had a lot to say on the subject.

Below are some of the “rules” of decorating I found. Perhaps they will be helpful for all you graduates about to move into your first dorm room.

“Start with a simple base”

Ok, wood floors and trims and white walls are what came with the apartment. Simple enough?

 

“Layer lighting”

I’m taking this to mean I should buy some lamps, and they shouldn’t all be the same height, and at least one of them should have “accent lamp” written on the box.

 

“Find your room’s focal point”

Right now it’s the unpacked boxes.

 

“Take risks with accessories”

As you like, magazine.

 

“Mix textures”

Ok, seems useful. I’ll buy something upholstered.

 

“Always measure your space”

Didn’t need anyone to tell me to measure the space inside my apartment. But I just realized in NYC you have to measure the doorways too…

 

“Create a center”

Martha Stewart has this as distinct from “focus on the focal point.” Still working out why.

 

“The rules are a place to start. How you break them is an expression of your individualism.” 

Thank you, kind left-leaning decorating website.

 

“When it comes to sofas, you'll never go wrong with these two styles: a square-armed tuxedo or the curvier, more traditional Charles of London. I'm issuing a moratorium on gigantic roll arms!”

Taken from the top ten decorating rules of the editor-in-chief of Southern Living, presented without interpretation.

 

-Sami Y, Instructor