Tuesday, August 12, 2014

College Prep Genius Boot Camp— My Two Cents

Sitting in a College Prep Genius Boot Camp class today has been an eye opening experience for me, as well as my high school freshman.  

I attended Jean Burk's seminar at our recent Homeschool Convention, and loved it.  I found myself thinking over the last few months about things she said.  When I heard she was coming here to do an actual SAT seminar, I jumped at the chance.  If only I had been given the key to success when I was taking my college entrance exams twenty years ago. Effectively, Jean Burk did a fantastic job at uncovering the secrets to the SAT, PSAT, and ACT.

Amid a ten hour presentation over two days, she carefully used various teaching styles that kept our group of almost 20 high school students engaged and excited to learn.  (I should say that towards the end of each day it was a bit long, but 5 hours of anything gets long!)

This class is definitely something that I will be having my children attend so that they will grasp the importance of preparation for this test. Just like learning to read, play an instrument, or master a sport— preparing for the SAT needs to be practiced. College Prep Genius helps you to study smart!

Back in the day, my preparation was inadequate. 

I miraculously passed the test. My grades and my extra curricular activities in the PTSA and leadership in choir and church are what saved the day. I was awarded a scholarship for my first year! Before too long, I realized how difficult it was to hold a part-time job and attend school full time. Luckily, our families low income qualified me for grants. I ended up with having $8,000 in student loans when my four year journey was complete. It wasn't too bad, as far as debt goes. I still think back on those days of having lots of stress, headaches, and missing out on some extra curricular activities that would have been exciting to participate in.

In College Prep Genius, she encourages the kids through a “Funny Money” activity to see how many of them would love to earn $500/hr, or $80,000. She suggests that it would be a better return to spend 1-2 hours a week as a freshman, 2-4 hours a week practicing in your sophomore year, and the summer before your junior year, spend 6-10 hours a week preparing for your exams. Think of this as your part time job. Why didn't I think of that!

Adequate preparation could have equaled not having to compete for a stinky minimum wage job and it for sure would have meant fewer migraines.  Adequate preparation could have equaled a full-ride scholarship plus extras!

Uncovering SAT secrets at the Boot Camp Class. 

Many times I would hear the students all laugh, or sigh with an ah-ha moment. Some outstanding ah-ha moments were... 1. Never guess on a question. It will be held against you. 2. Fill in the bubble sheet a block of questions at a time. Doing it one question at a time is simply not fast enough. 3. In math, when going to test an answer, start at C first. And, never test more than two numbers. They assume you will start with A, and therefor you will be wasting your time going one by one.

Jean suggests to spend about 5 hours to learn her acronyms thoroughly so that you can fly through the Critical Reasoning, Math and Essay portions of the exam. Her class was done in an exceptional way, in that she teaches the information, she helps you understand it, and then the students apply what they learn by answering sample questions.

Applying what you learn is the most beneficial part of this class. The students love getting the right answers and looking around the room at the other answers held up on laminated flip charts. Uncovering tools of success happens flawlessly as she shares a ton of useful information!

Preparation, practice, and more practice. 

Who knew that the suggested number of taking the SAT / PSAT would be 25 times, at 3 hours a test! She shared an example of a student who didn't start seeing the patterns until the 15th time that they took the test. Then it was a miracle! Can you imagine how disappointing it would have been if they gave up on the 14th time.

She also suggests spending 2 hours correcting wrong answers for each test. These can be done with old test booklets, or SAT prep books that you purchase online. That's not just a suggestion. That's how you do it. You also need to take the test for real often. High school counselors can also issue up to 4 waivers a year for juniors and seniors that can help cover costs. Homeschool students can also use these. They just need to speak to their local high school counselor.

Whereas this may sound like all you need to do is take tests and prepare for tests and skip real learning, that is not the case. She recommends that if you focus daily on logic and reasoning, reading excellent books with exceptional vocabulary, and getting your consistent community service in there. It comes down to preparation, on the test sheet and in your normal life. Be well rounded, but be ready!

Take away from this class...
      1. This class is a must for kids to have a fighting chance on the SAT or PSAT.
      2. Preparation and practice = purchasing a College Board brand SAT prep book, and using it to prepare for the test. Think of it as a part-time job.
      3. Find a class to attend. You can find one in your area, or host one if you don't see one. If you host, your own high school aged kids can attend for free.
      4. Watch the DVD. This is a lot of info. Watch the DVD again and again to get the tips down. You can also purchase the DVD without attending the class- but you'd miss out on the synergy of the class members.
      5. Becoming a National Merit Scholar is possible for regular kids too. Meeting the paperwork deadlines is half the battle, and learning that this test is a logic test. It's within your grasp.
      6. Start your freshman year if you can. Pass it on!

I also found this helpful...
      1. It's OK for a parent to stay for the class. I particularly found the first 1 1/2 hours helpful for a parent to be aware of.
      2. She starts right on time. Arrive 10 min. early.
      3. Bring a lunch. Lunch time for us was 20-25 min. I'm sure it's not always that way, but we had a lot of questions during our session. She had 5 minute breaks dispersed throughout the day.
      4. Hosting a class is easier for us homeschool moms to figure out. We do this all the time. Churches work out well. Our class had about 18 kids, and about 4 parents who stayed the morning of the first day. 2 parents stayed for the entire program. They asked for a $10 donation for the church on top of the fee. The room was set up in a U shape with 5 folding tables to write on.  You need 12 students to host a class.

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