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The Importance of Internships for College Students

Internships are a great way for college students to get real world experience in their field of study. In today’s academic sphere, internships are becoming more important than ever – especially when it comes to gaining future opportunities. Here are some reasons why Tutor Doctor recommends all college level students to explore internship programs!

Get hands-on experience in your field. This is usually the most common reason students pursue internships. Academic environments can be quite a bit different than real world applications, and internships give students an opportunity to experience that firsthand. A nursing student, for example, will certainly be expected to take classes on general health, anatomy, etc. However, an internship may provide opportunities to see how an actual hospital operates, from checking in patients to emergency services. Real world experience is invaluable when making future career choices!

Prepare for graduate programs. If you’re planning on pursuing a graduate level degree, having internship experience looks great on your application. Not only does it show you’re passionate about the field, but the extra experience may give you that extra edge when trying to get into a master’s program!

Make future connections. This is probably the most important reason for college students to pursue internship programs. Internships can provide you with valuable connections in your field, which are especially helpful when planning a career later. Being able to form a network of professionals in your area of interest is critical, and many students find internships end up being stepping stones toward later employment opportunities.

Earn extra income. Although many internships are unpaid, there are plenty of paid internships out there as well. If you are a student that is looking for a way to make extra money while simultaneously attending college, the compensation received from paid internships can be a great way to do both. Although we must admit – even if internships are unpaid, we still recommend them to all college students. Some of the best experience in highly competitive fields is only available through unpaid internships. After all, you can’t put a price on knowledge!

Meet prospective employers. As we touched on before, internships can be a great way to make connections with other professionals in your field of interest. These connections may very well be the bridge that leads to future employment! Many students report that connections they acquired through internships directly led to future job opportunities. Having these personal links to other individuals in your area of study can make all the difference in getting your foot in the door for an interview.

The Importance of Internships for College StudentsThe reality is that most college students don’t always know what they want to do as a career – let alone a major! In fact, upwards of 80% of students will change their major at least one time during undergraduate education. Some fields are very broad, and internships are a great way to narrow down your interests. You may even find yourself changing career paths!

Tips for Getting and Staying Academically Organized

With back to school right around the corner, many students will find themselves rushing to get ready for the new school year. Staying academically organized throughout the semester can sometimes be tricky, but the results are well worth it! Students that stay organized tend to get better grades and avoid unnecessary stress in school. To make life a little easier, here are some great tips for getting and staying academically organized!

Make an agenda. Many students believe they can mentally “jot down” their assignments throughout the day to be recalled later. The fact is, this approach simply doesn’t work. Even in lower grade levels, students are expected to complete homework in multiple subjects. High school students may have up to seven classes a day! It’s just not realistic to try to remember a long list of due dates. Write down important assignments, projects, and upcoming exams in an agenda to ensure you’re always on top of your work and prioritizing appropriately.

Create a to-do list. To-do lists are a bit different than agendas and are more appropriate for individual projects or assignments. If you have a large project coming up, a to-do list can help you plan out the steps needed to complete your final goal. For example – let’s say a student has a science project with a presentation coming up. A good start to a to-do list might look like…

  1. Choose research topic
  2. Start taking notes
  3. Get poster board and art supplies from store
  4. Write first draft of presentation
  5. Plan out the poster layout
  6. Practice presentation speech

…and so on and so forth! One more tip: on your to-do list, you may also find it helpful to add dates or checkboxes to each step.

Separate your materials for different classes. Try not to use one notebook, binder, or folder for multiple classes. Colored paper folders are an inexpensive and effective way to keep all your classes and assignments separated. You don’t want your spiral notebook to have geometry problems on one page and history notes on the next! This causes unnecessary clutter and makes it more difficult to locate notes you may later need to look back on. Keeping all your materials separated goes a long way for staying organized!

Take advantage of technology. In today’s day and age, many teachers and professors will make themselves available for questions and support electronically using technology. If your professor has an email address, contact them this way for important questions. This gives you (and your teacher) a record of what was discussed and provides you with information to look back if further clarification is needed. Many teachers also have websites where you can access the class syllabus, assignments, and sometimes even grades. Take advantage of these amazing platforms and use them to your benefit!

Keep your backpack organized! Although this may seem rather obvious, don’t forget keep your backpack clean and tidy! Surprisingly enough, we’ve seen students that return to school with used notebooks and old, crumpled assignments in their backpack from the previous school year. Ideally, you should clean out your school bag after every semester!

From all of us here at Tutor Doctor, we wish you all a happy and productive back to school!

The ACT & SAT: Which Test is Right for You?

At Tutor Doctor, we know choosing between the ACT and the SAT can be a difficult decision. When it comes down to it, students should take the test best suited to their needs. To make things a little easier, we’ve narrowed it down to six important questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding which of these challenging exams is right for you!

1) What are my college choices?

In general, this is the biggest factor in deciding which test is best for you. Some schools may require specific tests for all applicants. College application requirements for test scores can be divided into three categories.

The best thing to do is to check what test requirements your college of choice specifies.

2) What are my academic strengths?

Students that are strong in mathematics may find the ACT preferable. Although both exams test high level math concepts like algebra, the ACT is known to have a wider array of questions and significantly more geometry and trigonometry problems. In addition, math questions on the ACT have five multiple choice answer options, whereas the SAT’s questions only have four. This gives the SAT a slight advantage over the ACT when it comes to guessing.

Probably the biggest difference is that the SAT provides you with a page of mathematical formulas, whereas for the ACT does not (meaning you’ll have to memorize them).

Another important difference – if you hate doing math by hand, the good news is that a calculator is allowed on the entire ACT math section. On the SAT, however, a portion of the math section is strictly no calculator.

3) Am I comfortable with science?

Another important difference between these two tests is that the ACT has a science section whereas the SAT does not. Despite the name, the ACT’s science section doesn’t necessarily test knowledge of specific scientific material, but rather critical thinking and a student’s ability to interpret data and graphs. Due to some of the scientific terminology used in this section (density, mass, solutions, solvents, etc.), students that excelled in science or biology classes may be more comfortable with this portion.

4) What is my test taking style?

The SAT and the ACT both cater to different test taking styles. If you have trouble managing time during tests, the SAT may be a better option for you. The SAT has significantly less questions (154 in 3 hours to be exact), which allows students to spend more time on each. The ACT, on the other hand, has 215 questions in 2 hours and 55 minutes, so the test is quite a bit more compressed. According to The College Board, the SAT averages to 1 minute, 10 seconds per question, whereas the ACT clocks in at 49 seconds per question.

5) Do I enjoy writing?

Another important topic to mention is the optional essay section both tests offer. This is required by many colleges and universities, and both tests have different styles of essays. On the SAT, you will first be given a source text to read, and then asked to write an essay that examines your comprehension of the source material’s argument. On the ACT, the essay focuses more on critical evaluation of complex issues, and the student is required to form their own argument or opinion. Neither is necessarily easier – it all depends on what writing style you feel more comfortable with!

6) Can’t I just take both and be done with it?

Absolutely! There is a misconception that some schools “weigh” one test more than the other. In reality, all U.S. colleges accept both tests. As mentioned before, some colleges may be “test flexible” and allow students to choose one over the other. Both tests cost roughly the same, and both focus on similar concepts.

In conclusion, investigate what test your college of choice requires (if any), and take the test that is best suited to your academic strengths and test-taking style.

If you need help deciding which test is right for you, please contact us and one our Tutor Doctor education experts will be happy to assist! Click here to learn more.

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Five Ways to Help Your Student Feel Less Frustrated

Students are extremely talented in many areas, but sometimes their emotions can get the best of them. What do you do when your student gets frustrated with schoolwork? Here are some reasons they might be upset - and ways to help them out. 

  1. There's something else going on.  When a student has trouble focusing on work, they oftentimes have something else on their mind. Check in with your kids regularly and give them a safe space to share feelings - all the time, not just on "off" days. A quick "how was school today?" or "how are things with your friends?" can help your student decompress before a study session. Making check-ins a part of your routine means that when your student has something heavy on their plate, they'll feel more comfortable sharing. School is as much about social and emotional development as it is about grades! Make sure your student knows you care about their well-being first, and schoolwork second. 

  2. Too much work! Students can feel overwhelmed by their classes, especially elementary students transitioning to middle school or middle school students transitioning to high school. You can offer your student many skills to combat work overload. First, encourage your student to keep a planner where they can write down due dates, tests and assignments. Second, break work into chunks: for example, if your student has a science test on Wednesday and a math test on Friday, study for science for 40 minutes and math for 20 minutes on Monday, and slowly shift the time frame towards math. Ask your student how much time they think they need for each thing- they'll know! Set timers and make study time focused and productive. After they've finished one chunk, take a brief brain break before moving on. This helps students focus on each challenge individually and climb that mountain of work one step at a time. 

  3. Too much energy! Kids have to sit still all day- they need to move! If your student has the wiggles, take a walk around the block, shoot some hoops, or have a mini dance party to get out some anxious energy. Set the expectation of 10-20 minutes of pre-study play and stick to it. They can have more play time after work time. This works for adults too!  

  4. Not enough energy. After a whole day of peer interaction, your student might need a little alone time to recuperate and tackle new challenges. Have reading, knitting, listening to music, drawing, painting, or other hobbies available for quiet time. TV does not count! Naps can help too- just make sure they don't disrupt your student's sleep schedule. Make sure your student is well- fed before attempting a big study session and bring snacks - nutrition and rest are basic needs!

  5. They gave up. If your student feels there's no way to bring up a low grade, they try to opt out. Emphasize knowledge over grades. Reference an upcoming semester when they will have a fresh start in the grade book. Find an aspect of the subject your student feels confident in, like addition in math, or vocabulary in English, or an aspect of science or history in which they have interest. So much learning happens intrinsically- chances are, studying one part of a subject will help their overall grade in the long run. Remember, there are more important things in life than just grades- like learning!

We all have our stressful days and your student will have them too. Addressing the root cause of their frustration makes your student's life more productive- and your life easier!  

Start Planning Now: Tips for Developing a Strategy to Boost Your GPA

Grade point average, more commonly known as GPA, can be described as a numerical representation of a student’s overall academic achievement. Of course, there are many objections to this mentality – grades themselves aren’t always an accurate representation of a student’s abilities! Despite this, GPAs remain an important figure, especially for high school students.

Tutor Doctor has some great tips for developing a strategy to boost your GPA! These tips are meant to help you plan – we’re not going to be discussing the more obvious practices for succeeding in school (participating in class, completing all assignments, etc.)!

Familiarize yourself on how GPA is calculated. GPA is essentially an average of your grade points earned over a given number of credit hours attempted. It’s important to know how GPA is weighted, because not every school is the same. Some schools only have full letter grades, so the difference between a “B” and an “A” is essentially 3.0 to 4.0. However, some schools/classes will offer “plus and minus” grades, which are weighted differently. For example, a grade of “B+” is often weighted as 3.70 grade points, which is substantially higher than a standard “B.” Knowing how your school calculates grades and GPA is crucial!

Set a target GPA as your goal. Before developing a strategy to boost your GPA, you need to decide what your target is. If your goal is a 3.5 and you’re currently sitting at a 3.0, having a clear target in mind helps to make the right choices, especially when it comes to what classes you should give extra attention towards – which leads us to our next tip!

Consider taking AP or honors level classes. Grade points are weighted differently for advanced classes. Typically, honors classes are ½ a grade point higher, and AP classes are 1 full grade point higher. This means that a “B” in an AP class is actually worth 4.0 grade points – the equivalent of an “A” in a regular class. This also means that an “A” grade in an AP course will net 5.0 grade points, which is how some students end up with GPAs over 4.0 upon graduating!

Make an appointment with your counselor. The best way to get an accurate report of your GPA is your school counselor. Nearly all schools now use computerized software to calculate course credits and overall GPA, and your counselor can provide you with a helpful printout of all your classes. In addition, school counselors can help you plan a course schedule to aid your GPA-boosting process. Counselors are a free resource at school, so take advantage of this support!

Focus on test-taking skills. Test taking skills generally focus on core academics – mathematics, language, reading, etc. Practicing these skills obviously improves class performance and GPA – but for high school students applying to college, there’s something else to consider! Standardized tests, like the SAT, are weighted heavily in college admissions. If your GPA isn’t what you’d like it to be, it’s always better to set a realistic goal while also focusing on your test-taking skills. A great score on the SAT, for instance, can totally outweigh your GPA in some college applications.

For more information about grade point averages, check out Back to College’s informative article and interactive GPA calculator!

Tutor Doctor Success Story: Closing the Confidence Gap

As soon as I began working with this student, I knew she desperately wanted to succeed. A high school sophomore with aspirations of becoming a nurse, she knew this was a pivotal year and that her grades would be a critical factor for colleges considering student applications. But she was struggling in school, and believed she wasn’t capable of improving her grades to the level necessary to achieve her goals.

Reading comprehension was a major stumbling block. When she was assigned homework that involved reading a particular text and answering questions about it, she would often give up after reading the first few lines. Lengthy written pieces containing multiple paragraphs were especially overwhelming for her, and she was convinced she would answer the follow-up questions incorrectly and fail the assignment.

I knew she needed my help, but was faced with the obstacle of where to begin. I decided to print reading comprehension worksheets, starting at the third grade level and working up to 12th grade worksheets. I taught her how to properly outline a text, to highlight key words during a particular reading assignment in order to make answering questions easier. Suddenly, she was bringing home A's and B's instead of C's and D's. Looking at her face, I could see she was ecstatic.

One day, while studying key terms on index cards, I intentionally chose not to shuffle the 75 or so cards and kept them in the order we had previously gone through. When we reached the third card, she stopped to tell me I’d forgotten to mix them up. Impressed by her memory skills, I created 10 additional key terms and had her study them for several minutes. I then asked her what each word meant, and she was able to tell me the exact definition verbatim. I was amazed!

The experience made me realize that she was extremely intelligent, but she no longer believed in herself. As her tutor, the greatest value I could provide was to help her regain the confidence she had lost along the way. Today she is a straight-A student and has received multiple scholarship offers from top colleges in her area. She has decided to follow her dream and pursue a nursing career, confident that no matter how hard it will be at times, she is going to succeed.

“Understanding that this student was extremely bright but had somehow lost confidence in her abilities was the key to providing the support she needed to unlock her full potential. I hope her story inspires countless students by proving that as long as you are determined and want to excel, anything is possible.” – Anna Farrell, USA

Learning Is Not Just For School – It’s a Lifelong Skill

This blog post summarizes the great insights from the 'Learning for Life' chapter in our Academic Success Formula book.


Lifelong learning is about so much more than just simply learning to pass required exams to move on to the next level. Although we often focus on making others proud, gaining degrees, or pleasing our employers – it’s really about learning new ideas and gaining an understanding of different concepts and topics throughout our entire lives. At Tutor Doctor, we don’t want to just prepare our students for the next grade. We want them to look forward to a lifetime of learning!

So what exactly is Learning for Life? We like to break it down in two ways:

  1. A lifelong learning perspective is more than training and continuing education: it forces us to rethink and reinvent our schools and universities.
  2. Learning for life should benefit the community and the environment.

In other words, learning for life isn’t just about academic prosperity, but also the many skills we acquire throughout our lives. In order to be productive members of society, students will also need to practice skills used in everyday life – from written word to verbal interaction. We believe students should to learn how to positively interact with others, whether it is in an academic or professional environment, or even just personal relationships.

The Lifelong Learning Council of Queensland describes four “pillars” of learning for life:

Life skills are acquired in many different ways. Although we as a society often tend to focus on formal education, knowledge is also acquired from many other sources. Knowing how to utilize this information to form new skills is absolutely critical. Here are some ways besides formal education that we might also acquire life skills:

We try to encourage our tutors to embrace holistic learning. In other words, we want our students to appreciate the learning tools themselves. Nobody can fully prepare someone with all the information they will need throughout life, but having the tools to acquire new knowledge is necessary to being a happy and productive member of society – both now and in the future. Learning for life is about learning for your own life, and not someone else’s! In the words of this classic Chinese proverb:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;

teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Are you ready for Back to School? Tutor Doctor’s Tips to Get Organized!

Back to School will arrive before you know it, so it’s best to get organized now! Making sure you are ready in advance helps to alleviate the stress of starting a new school year. Tutor Doctor has some helpful tips to make sure you are prepared:

Make a list of all the common supplies you will need. Writing down everything you’re going to need is a sure-fire way to avoid forgetting anything when shopping for school supplies! There are certain items you already know you’re going to need – pens, pencils, erasers, ruled paper, notebooks – so you can safely purchase them knowing they’ll go to good use. More advanced classes, however, may require more specific materials – which leads us to our next tip.

Consider classes that may require special equipment. Certain subjects will require you to have materials that are specific to that course. Many teachers will provide a list for students at the beginning of the school year, but there are certain items you can buy in advance. For example – geometry classes will always require a compass and protractor.

Hold off on expensive materials until you have received instructions. Although some higher-level algebra classes may also require more advanced items (like graphing calculators), these devices can be a costly investment and may be better to wait on. Your child’s teacher may require a certain model of calculator, and some schools may even provide these materials to students. However, you can still purchase inexpensive items that are guaranteed to be required.

Clear out your backpack of last year’s work. Although this may sound obvious, we often see students using the same notebooks and binders from last year. Avoid doing this! It’s always best to get new materials for upcoming classes to avoid any confusion. Don’t use the same spiral notebook you used last year, even if you’ve got leftover pages – save that for scratch paper and doodling!

Plan for summer prep if an upcoming class requires it. Many AP classes will require prep work during summer vacation. AP English teachers, for instance, will often assign a “reading list” to prospective students at the close of the prior school year. It’s important to stay on top of these requirements – you don’t want to find yourself rushing to read a long novel at the last minute!

Use school resources to make sure you’re prepared. It’s not uncommon for schools to have a list of common course materials on their website. In today’s day and age of technology, teachers will often have links to their own personal web pages where you can view specific requirements for the class you will be taking. Take advantage of these resources to better prepare yourself for the upcoming school year!

From all of us here at Tutor Doctor, we wish all our students an exciting and stress-free Back to School!

The Summer Slide is in Full Effect! Now What?

The “summer slide” refers to a student’s loss of academic gains during the summer months, usually due to a lack of practice and engagement with material they learned the previous school year. Summer learning loss is a serious issue for many students that don’t partake in educational activities throughout these months. Studies of this phenomenon have shown that summer learning deficits can leave some students months behind when entering the new school year. At Tutor Doctor, we highly encourage summer learning! Here are some benefits of summer learning programs:
 

The facts don’t lie – summer learning improves academic skills

The Wallace Foundation spent 50 million dollars to fund the National Summer Learning Project, a complex study that examined whether voluntary summer learning programs actually helped students. The study examined over 3,000 individuals and found that students who attended summer learning programs outperformed students that did not attend these programs when starting school again. Even more impressively, the study cited a 25 percent gain in competency for students that attended such programs. There’s no doubt about it – summer learning really helps!

Summer learning improves attitudes towards school

Perhaps a more interesting result of the National Summer Learning Project study is that students who attended summer programs had a notable increase in positive attitudes towards school and learning in general. According to the study, “High-attending students also were rated by teachers as having stronger social and emotional competencies than the control group students.” Summer learning undoubtedly helps foster positive attitudes towards education!
 

Summer programs help to avoid forgetting material from the previous year

As we mentioned before, students often fall behind after summer vacation due to several months of not being in school. The summer slide is not specific to any one type of learner, either – forgetting material can happen to any student. The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, another nationwide initiative that examines the benefits of summer learning, has this to say:

“Most children, regardless of socioeconomic status, lose 2 months of grade-level equivalency in math computational skills each summer.”

In other words, a student’s background and prior performance have little to do with how summer learning deficits might affect them. Whether your student is average, struggling, or already succeeding in school – summer learning programs can be beneficial to everyone!
 

Summer programs give students time to go back and revisit unclear concepts

It is very common for students to have been confused at a certain point in the schoolyear, but because of the pacing of the class these issues were never dealt with. For example, if a student is struggling with fractions but their teacher is already moving on to decimals, important concepts are left never being fully understood. A clear benefit of private tutoring is the ability to cater to each individual student’s needs! Summer vacation is the perfect time to go back and revisit old subjects that may have needed more attention during the schoolyear.

Overall, we can’t stress the importance of summer learning enough here at Tutor Doctor. Please reach out to us if you are interested in summer tutoring and let us help avoid the summer slide!

Turn Planning Your Summer Trip Into A Learning Experience With These Simple Tips

Although many students consider summer to be an escape from learning, vacation travel provides many teachable moments. Like a classroom syllabus, your journey will include stepping stones and milestones rooted in the basics:

Identify the goal or purpose

Is this trip for business, pleasure, leisure or some combination? Will you be scoping out potential colleges for your next educational chapter? Your answers here will likely determine how long you’ll be away, how you’ll travel, types of lodging and more.

Determine the destination

This will influence every other step along the way. If it’s a one-stop trip, there may be a one-stop solution, like an airline that provides lodging or ground travel services. If there are intermittent stops, it may be more of a road trip. In either case, you can use a nearby library or online tools to research the associated logistics.

Who’s traveling?

Again, another single variable with potentially big impacts. A father/son or mother/daughter trip will be very different than an all-family vacation, changing your lodging from a single hotel room to perhaps an Airbnb. If travelers have special needs or disabilities, account for those as you plan.

Consider the budget

Is there a budget? Most will have one. While this can be a moving target, knowing the general amount and other variables will train you to seek cost-effective solutions. We all can’t fly non-stop at 10 a.m. and return at 10 p.m. to avoid sleep disruptions or inconvenience. Accordingly, you’ll want to learn the give and take of costs vs schedules, best days to travel, how to set up alerts, become aware of cancellation or change fees and the fine print about trip insurance.

Expect the unexpected

Plan for the must-haves, like-to-haves and doesn’t-really-matter aspects of travel. If it rains at the beach, are you watching Netflix in your hotel room just as you would at home, or, are you quickly pivoting to see a site, visit a university or otherwise optimize your resources? Savvy travelers have a Plan B to respond to bad weather, mechanical breakdowns, overcrowding or other uncontrollable factors.

Use apps and other technology to your advantage

Websites like Expedia and KAYAK, or an app like Waze, can be especially helpful. Gone are the days of bulky paper maps and coupon books. Bookmark your transit, lodging and sightseeing destinations to save time - which is irreplaceable - and money. Capitalize on food, drink and admission specials. Get familiar with geofencing, where a smartphone has the ability to attract discounts from attractions you may have been considering.

Be an active participant

By definition, trips are an escape from the day-in, day-out of home. Use technology as a tool, not as entertainment, and instead enjoy your new surroundings. Take in the sights, discover new interests, visit museums and observe the nuances of alternative cultures or communities. Try to imagine if the locale you’re visiting might be a place where you’d enjoy living someday.

By using foresight and a few tools of the trade, you can have not only a memorable summer trip, but an experience to learn from for many years to come.

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