Looking for a new podcast?

Although I live near Oxford and used to work for the University, this week I discovered something I didn’t know before: the University has a huge library of podcasts, available for free on iTunes. 

Browsing through, I was struck by the huge range of topics on offer. You can search by podcast series, by people, by college and by department: The Philosophy Faculty, The Mathematical Institute, The Physics Department, the Department of Experimental Psychology, the Law Faculty, to name just a few. 

My eyes scanned intriguing topics such as: Exploring the early universe with gravitational waves, Women poets in WW1, The Science of Mindfulness,  Torture and Human Dignity...

I settled on the series entitled “Big Questions with Oxford Sparks,” which are short talks and interviews with Oxford’s professors and researchers on the big questions we face today. I found plenty of interesting talks: How fast is Greenland moving? How do you teach a machine to drive a car? How do you turn an orange into a grapefruit? 

I listened to: Should I take a selfie with a wild animal? Conservationist and Ecologist Dr. Tom Moorhouse explains the impact of tourist attractions that take us up close and personal with wild animals (performing dolphin shows, riding elephants, etc.). Tom has been researching the effect of this on the animals and on conservation efforts that are in place. He encourages us to research these sites thoroughly before visiting them and read reviews online on sites such as TripAdvisor before considering visiting. He found that on TripAdvisor if 20% or more people gave bad reviews, that was a good indication of there being a problem with animal welfare at the tourist site. This was a really interesting talk that I learned something from in under 13 minutes! 

This resource is a great way to expand your knowledge and thinking and to provide you with a new viewpoint. If you don’t have iTunes on your computer, you can access all the podcasts here!

LogicPrep in Teen Vogue: Early Decision College Applications

Last year, many of the nation’s top colleges drew more than 40 percent of the incoming freshmen through Early Decision.

As if finding the perfect college for you wasn't daunting enough, there's also the choice between Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision. We hope you've read this article by Lindsay and this article by Grace talking about the importance and value of applying early to help you navigate the college application process as best as you can.

Well, we have one more article for you to read.

Lindsay was just featured by Teen Vogue giving her expert insight into the world of Early Decision college applications and acceptance. In the article, she answers all of your questions: What is it? How does it work? What are the pros and cons? Is it the right choice? Be sure to read the full article by clicking the button below.

As Seen in Forbes: Why and How Proper Preparation Makes a Difference

Proper preparation isn’t just something we teach our students; it’s at the core of how we run our business. Lindsay was recently featured in Forbes discussing how planning ahead can make a world of difference.

"Whether you are a freshly funded startup or an entrepreneur bootstrapping, every dollar counts. Yet what many busy entrepreneurs may not immediately realize is that making the most of your capital requires being prepared. Perhaps it’s because our organization specializes in education, but I think about this often: Not doing your homework can be inefficient and costly. Far too often, business owners hire a great service and fail to make the most out of their investment because they aren’t able to commit adequate time to prepare."

Improve Your ACT Score by Practicing This Skill

A lot of students starting out the ACT or SAT prep process freeze up when it comes to the reading section. They'll say, "I'm just not a fast reader," or "not a good reader," or "I don't remember what I read." Often, they're already better readers than they think they are ... but there are ways to get even better.

Reading is a skill you practice and improve at throughout your whole life. The more you do it, the better you'll get at moving quickly and absorbing what's on the page ... and you'll also get good at recognizing what your brain needs to hold onto, and what's less important. So here are some tips to maximize your reading skills, not just for the test but for life -- which, of course, is what it's all about.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE 

As with anything in life that you want to be good at, it all comes down to practice. Results don't show up overnight but over a sustained period of dedicated application. And the best way to build practice into your life is to ...

 

MAKE IT A HABIT 

If you just say to yourself, "I'm gonna practice my reading this week -- I really mean it this time," the week is likely to come and go (again) without you ever cracking that book. But if you say, "This week, on Monday through Friday from 7:00-7:30 pm, I'm going to sit in my favorite chair with [book that I'm really excited about] and try to get through X number of pages," your odds of actually doing it go way up. Best of all, before long it becomes second nature: instead of having to force yourself to sit down at the same time every day, you'll find it feels strange NOT to.

 

PICK SOMETHING YOU LIKE 

The best way to keep yourself practicing anything is to find the joy in it, and reading is no different -- so choose something you think you'll like. When I was going through a Stephen King phase in high school, I had a teacher scoff, "It's like chewing gum for the mind ... there's no substance!" Maybe, maybe not, but who cares?! It doesn't have to be "great literature" ... it just has to be fun!

 

GET A READING BUDDY 

Find someone who wants to read the same book, and challenge each other to get through chapters so you can talk about it, the same way you would about Game of Thrones or anything else you love. Even better: do it together, in the same time and place, so you can really hold each other accountable.

 

SEE, DON'T HEAR

Many people, when reading, hear themselves actually saying the words in their head as they go along ... meaning you're only reading as fast as you can talk, which is a fraction of the speed you're actually capable of. This is called "subvocalization," and you want to train yourself out of it. Instead of hearing or listening to the words, try to visualize what the words represent, and suddenly the book will become a fast-paced movie in your mind.

 

"CAST" THE STORY WITH YOUR OWN PEOPLE AND PLACES.

This is similar to the memorization technique called a "memory palace." Here's how a memory palace works: in order to memorize something -- say, items in a long list -- you envision yourself walking through a familiar environment, such as your house, and "placing" the different items at locations in the house. The premise is that, by linking these new items with places that are familiar to you, it will create associations that you can hold onto. The same idea can work when you read. If a new character is introduced, maybe imagine that she looks like your second-grade teacher, and it might be easier to remember the things she says because she has a familiar voice. If the book takes place in some grand mansion, maybe it can look like that art museum from that class trip last year, and you'll remember that the first scene in the book happens in the room with your favorite painting on the wall.

 

Whatever you do, recognize that your "inner reader" will really kick into gear when reading is not a chore, but a pleasure. If you've never liked reading, I can practically guarantee you it's just because you haven't found the material you click with or the reading habits that work best for you. So if this sounds like you, keep looking ... and keep reading!

How to Help Your Guidance Counselor Write the Best Letter of Recommendation

You’ve worked hard. You’ve received solid grades across all four years of high school in rigorous courses, studied intensively for your standardized exams, focused on creating an impact as a leader in your school and greater community, and wrote killer essays that reveal your true self in outstanding ways.

So you should be all set, right? 

Not necessarily; these are just the parts of the application that you complete. 

While an applicant and their families may not realize this, the recommendations letters your guidance counselor (and teachers) submit to advocate for you are incredibly important in the admission committee process. Regardless of how well your guidance counselor knows you, their letters provide an additional layer of authenticity to everything you’ve included in your application. Is there something you’re too humble to brag about? Your counselor can be the one to toot your horn for you. Is there a special circumstance you’ve experienced that might seem like an excuse coming from you? Again, that’s a chance for your guidance counselor to share your story on your behalf.

Some high school counseling offices will send out a “brag sheet” for the student and parents to complete. This is your chance to provide anecdotes about key characteristics your counselor can highlight in their letter. It’s a really good idea to spend ample time to thoughtfully complete these sheets. It’s possible that your counselor may even copy/paste specific phrases or responses that you or your parents have written, which saves them time, and simultaneously makes you look great (assuming that you’ve written positive things about yourself :))

If your school doesn’t have a brag sheet, consider sharing examples and stories about the following:

 

Your Personality and Character

Universities aren’t just looking for academically standout students. In fact, a student’s character and “fit” at the school matter more than ever. Your counselor may have already gathered notes on their impression of you from meetings you’ve had, but it wouldn’t hurt to provide examples of character-revealing stories from your life as well. Perhaps it’s through community service, participation in specific programs, or even experiences you’ve shared with friends. Whatever it may be, stories can go a long way, so dig deep and don’t be afraid to get personal.  

Your Impact in Your School Community 

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Are you the big (wo)man on campus? Does everyone know you as the mover and shaker, the doer of all things, the leader who rouses the crowd OR leads from behind (just as important)? Colleges want to know that you’re not just coming to their school to silently study in your dorm room. They want to admit students who are going to leave their mark on campus, enrich their peers’ college experience, and create new initiatives and programs while improving existing ones. How have you demonstrated that in your high school? What imprint have you left? Even small examples are worth noting just in case.

What Sets You Apart from Every Other Applicant? 

This can be your sense of humor, your family background, marked intellectual vitality, special personal experiences that have shaped you in significant ways, and/or simply your counselor’s impression of how you distinguish yourself from the rest of your class. What do you feel makes you special? What do your parents think makes you special? What about your friends? Siblings? Feel free to ask the people who know you well for their input as you gather the bullet points to share with your counselor.

Your Level of Preparation for This Next Stage of Life

Have you shown growth and maturity over your high school years? How have your actions proven this? Are there anecdotes your counselor can share that demonstrate that you’re ready for this next chapter and prepared to take advantage of all that a university has to offer? Consider sharing examples of selfless contributions, responsible decision-making, and/or thoughtful prioritizing.

Yes, universities know that there are some high school counselors with caseloads of 100 or more students. While they can’t (and don’t) expect detailed letters of recommendation from such counselors, there’s still a lot a student can do to maximize the chances of securing a quality, personalized letter. Sure, it’s one more thing to prepare, and you have so much to think about already. But considering how much weight these letters can carry, the time investment can very well be worth it.
 

The Truth Behind College Roommates

My freshman year in college; I had no idea what to expect really. I was going to a school where I didn't know anyone and, as a 17-year-old hadn't completely come out of my shell. I was an easy going guy, so I wasn't too concerned about making friends. I knew they would come. 

However, I was worried about my potential roommate. The idea of having a total stranger in the same bedroom as I was a totally foreign concept. I remember praying to the roommate gods the day before I moved my stuff into the dorm. 

Hands clasped. 

"Please Cthulhu, God of the Roommates. Bless me with someone who doesn't smell and has good taste in music." 

I knew I was going to do fine academically and socially but living with someone that I didn't gel with seemed like it could spell certain disaster. I had heard the horror stories before and thought I was destined for that same fate.

I was wrong. I took the chance on a total stranger and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I lugged my linens and carried my clothes up to my room. There he was. We exchanged routine pleasantries. Both a little wary of one another. But he offered to help me with my TV. Now in these days, we still had tube TVs and they were as heavy as they looked. I thought it was a nice gesture on his part. 

We finished setting up the room. Got some dinner in the mess hall. We talked music. We were both musicians and he was going to school for music production. It became obvious I was blinded by my own pessimism and fears. I had to learn to trust my peers, which is one of the more important life lessons you learn in college.

We went back to the dorm room and he set up a recording studio right in our room. We invited our suite-mates over and we had an icebreaker session. We recorded a rap song about our dinner. Not the most heavy-hitting material ever but everyone's personality came alive. And that's what I remember most from my first day at college. 

We ended up living together for all four years of college and remain friends to this day. He even ended up recording my band's full-length album for his final project. He got an "A" on it, thanks in no part to my music.

Why Apply Early?

It’s that time of year again, and our senior students are gearing up to submit their applications this fall. While most universities give students until early-to-mid January to do so, many also offer an earlier deadline by which students may apply and hear their admission results sooner (by December).

But why should you apply early? There are several reasons to consider doing so. To start, go ahead and see Lindsay’s post, which includes specific statistics on last year’s data. You’ll see from the graphs that a staggering percentage of the incoming class at these top universities is admitted in the early round. Why is this the case?

What it means to apply Early Decision or Early Action

There are two unique types of early plans: Early Decision and Early Action. These two deadlines both typically fall around November 1 but are distinctly different in an important way. 

  • Early Decision: This is the school for you. You’d possibly do irrationally silly things to join the incoming class. You’re putting all your eggs in one basket and keeping your fingers crossed that they’ll see that you bleed red/green/blue/gold/orange/black (whatever the school colors are) and would be over the moon with happiness if you were admitted. And if you are admitted, you’re 100% committed to attending, and completely done with college applications for good by mid-December.
  • Early Action: This is a school (or schools) that you’d be happy to attend. You feel that your application is going to be the strongest it’ll ever be by November 1, and you just want to know ASAP whether you’d be admitted to this school. If you are admitted, the decision is NOT binding, so you may still apply to more schools by their Regular Decision deadline. It’s important to note that some schools offer restrictive Early Action policies which prevent students from simultaneously applying early (action or decision) to other universities, so be sure to read the fine print.

 

But why are the chances of being admitted higher? 

The students who apply ED/EA are typically some of the strongest students who will apply to that school all year. They’ve already decided that their application is the best it could possibly be by the November 1 deadline, and they know with some level of certainty which university they’d like to attend for the next four years. ED schools admit close to 50% of their incoming class in the Early round because they know that student will definitely attend their school. Because remember? It’s binding.

EA schools have a bit more room and flexibility. On occasion, a university may deny an exceptionally strong student who they don’t think would actually attend their school because it would affect their yield (and perhaps, accordingly, their overall ranking). But most universities will admit students based on merit and will hope that the student will choose their school on May 1. The assumption is that because the student has applied early, the university must be close to the top of the student’s list of places they would like to attend. 

What happens after you apply early?

  • Admitted: Congratulations! If you applied Early Decision (ED), your admission is binding, and you will need to commit to attending that university. If you applied Early Action (EA), you may still apply to other universities by the Regular Decision (RD) deadline before ultimately committing to a school by May 1. Different universities will have either an ED policy or an EA policy, which is an important distinction to consider when planning your Early application strategy. Some schools offer both options, though this is not typical.
  • Denied: Although this outcome is disappointing, you can now focus your energy on crafting outstanding applications for the Regular Round (often Jan 1 - Jan 15) at your selected universities. Fortunately, you’ll have a quarter’s (or semester’s) worth of strong grades to submit along with your Regular Decision (RD) application, which will hopefully enhance your overall profile for consideration.
  • Deferred: This means the university saw a lot of strength in your application but wants to wait to see what the Regular round of applicants will look like before offering you a definite result. Universities have different statistics on how many deferred students are ultimately admitted in the Regular round, but rest assured, they will re-discuss your application in full with the Admission Committee when determining their ultimate decision, which is generally revealed around mid-March to early April. In this case, strong mid-year grades will be essential.

While it may seem too soon, it’s certainly a strategic move to consider submitting an early application. However, you should only do so if you believe that your application, by the November 1 deadline, is the strongest and most accurate representation of your academic ability and strength. That means you’re happy with your standardized test scores, you’ve consistently shown top-notch academic performance in your classes, and your essays represent you in the best and most comprehensive way possible. There’s no reason to wait, and you want to enjoy the December holidays with a potential admit letter in hand.

If that’s not the case, feel free to wait. With one more semester of strong grades under your belt (i.e. Senior Fall), or perhaps one more sitting of a standardized exam, you might have an even stronger application by the Regular round in January. And that’s totally fine, too.
 

LogicPrep Wins Audience Choice Award in Forbes Main Street Awards!

At the end of August, we asked you to vote for LogicPrep in the Forbes Main Street Awards competition. Now, we are thrilled to announce that we won the Audience Choice Award! 

We want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to cast a vote on LogicPrep's behalf. We couldn't be more excited and grateful to share our scholars' stories, which will be featured in Forbes in the months to come - stay tuned!

Thanks for helping us win!

The New Education Challenge

Education as we know it is over.

In an increasingly complex, digital, and connected world, the traditional way of learning no longer works. This is because the volatile, fast-changing scenario in which we live demands us to take the lead in our education process and to learn constantly. 

Reality has become more demanding in a way that, whenever you think you know all you need to succeed, a disruption happens and changes the whole context. Then, you find yourself again in the need of learning something new. 

When I was at school, teachers would use most of their time in the classroom to "download" new content on students. They were the "sage on a stage" who had all the knowledge and wisdom, but very rarely would give us the opportunity to put the information we learned into real-life context. 

Also, most of the exercises and practical work were assigned as homework, where we would struggle with our questions by ourselves, only to find out that in the next lesson content "downloading" would start all over again. There was a lot of telling and very little of sharing.

Fortunately, these days are gone. 

In 1995, the internet was launched and started a big transformation. Some years later, came social media to revolutionize the way we connect and relate to others. With social media, we are now not only content consumers, but we can also qualify, produce and share new content. This gives us a lot of autonomy, but it also brings along a lot of responsibility as we share our knowledge, thoughts, and ideas with others.

It has become clear that access to information is no longer an issue since a tremendous amount of content is easily reachable through the internet. You no longer need a teacher to tell you the formula to calculate the area of a circle. You can watch a video-tutorial on YouTube or, even better, ask a chatbot like Siri or Watson as artificial intelligence evolves. 

You can choose what, where and when you want to learn by accessing different devices and media: interactive videos, e-books, podcasts, games, infographics, etc. However, navigating through this sea of information to find what you need to solve real-life puzzles and challenges is not always easy. 

The good news is that change is leading teachers to take over a valuable and essential role: not a content downloader, but a facilitator who will guide you and your group through the process of finding meaning, relevance and use to what you've read, watched and learned by yourself. 

So what is the challenge of the new education?

For a teacher, it is to be the tutor on the side who gives context to content and who creates an environment that stimulates problem-solving through collaboration and experience learning.

For you, is to take charge of your own learning experience, as it will be everlasting if you want to succeed in this new world.

How Do Your Social Media Accounts Represent You?

Social media seems to be a millennial enterprise. However, it can be utilized in different ways for different populations. As teenagers age, and begin to enter their adult lives, social media will still be a central part of their lives- but perhaps can be used more productively and responsibly. And with numerous articles about how colleges are looking at your social media profiles, we've compiled a few ideas to consider when making your first moves as an adult in the world of social media: 

 

Networking

As a working adult, social media is largely used as a forum to connect with people who are potentially relevant to your career. While LinkedIn is the most widely used professional forum to literally network, things like Facebook, Instagram, etc. can also be platforms through which you can connect with people, who you want to maintain a professional relationship with.

 

Making Friends

As millennials enter the workforce this trend may change, but for now the way that older generations use things like Facebook, and connect with their friends is very different from the way younger generations connect with each other. For the working world, adding friends on Facebook is an important and personal decision, rather than something you do when you briefly meet someone once at a random event. Recognizing the boundaries of when to add someone on a more personal form of social media (such as Facebook) rather than connecting on more professional networks (Such as Linkedin) is an important issue to consider as an adult on social media. 

Posting Status Updates

As you do begin to add people who you encounter in your professional career on social media like Facebook, knowing when and when not to post as well as how often to post is an important consideration. The daily activities that you may or may not have been posting status updates about are no longer for public consumption; your professional friends don’t care what you cooked for dinner last night! Big life events and important milestones, trips, activities, etc. that you have historically posted about are still fair game so long as you present them in a mature way. The same applies for any pictures you have been posting historically; no alcohol, drugs, parties, clubs, etc., but all else is probably fine so long as you look put together. All in all, if you do not want your boss to see it, then do not let any of your other colleagues see it either. 

 

Being Yourself

While you should put a lot more consideration into your social media use now that you’re an adult, there’s no reason social media should stop serving as a platform for you to enjoy yourself. You might have goofy pictures with your friends, and you might like tagging your siblings in funny posts sometimes- and you shouldn’t stop doing that out of fear that you’re being judged. The most important part of networking and presenting yourself to others is being honest with yourself– you want to find people who are like you, and with whom you will fit in with, so you won’t be unhappy where you end up. Knowing your boundaries is important, and social media activity unrelated to business is fine, so long as it is in moderation. Keep your social media vibrant and interesting to make the most out of it!