Importance of Extracurriculars after Supreme Court Decision

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 18, 2023


Extracurriculars Still Matter for High School Students

photo courtesy of Byram HIlls High School Facebook page.  

Summer is a great time to get involved with extracurricular activities, a crucial piece of the college application!

There are 3 components that are valued by the most selective colleges:

  1. Metrics – GPA, Rigor, SAT/ACT, Recommendations
  2. Main Character Essays and College Specific Supplements
  3. Extracurricular Activities
    1. School-Sponsored Extracurriculars – Sports, Clubs, Theater, Dance, Debate, Model UN, Band/Orchestra, Math, Chess, Robotics, Science Research, Newspaper, Yearbook, etc.
    2. Other Extracurriculars that are local, but outside of school—volunteer, work, internships, summer courses, research, starting something (business, non-profit or for profit), working on a political campaign.

For rising HS Seniors, summer is the time to start college applications and look back and compile their high school year extracurricular activities. And this time is not wasted as most colleges weigh extracurriculars as a key factor in their college decision.  In fact, most colleges look for student involvement in activities through a lens of longevity and leadership. 

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, admission advice, college process, college activities plan, SAT prep, ACT prep, college test prep, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, college application, college freshmen, extracurriculars, extracurricular activities, high school freshman

Getting Ready for Final Exams – How to Study “4.0”

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 04, 2023


Have we been taught the wrong way to study for all these years?

For high school students It’s the season for AP tests, finals, and tests like the SAT and ACT. But college and graduate school students are also going through the same study motions.

Notecards, crib sheets, highlighting, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

A NY Times Opinion article “There Are Better Ways to Study That Will Last You a Lifetime” challenges the way most of us learned to study. The premise, offered by author Daniel T. Willingham: “Students get studying wrong because they don’t assess whether a method works in the long run. Instead, they pay attention to whether the method is easy to do and feels like it’s working while they’re doing it.”

Willingham’s focus in his assessment is that the superficial nature of how most students study, rereading notes, or textbooks, doesn’t get to the most effective goal of understanding the meaning of the content.

“And so, as students reread their textbooks, the increasing familiarity makes them think they are learning. But because they are not thinking about the meaning of what they read, they aren’t improving the knowledge that actually builds understanding.”

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Topics: college test prep, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, college freshmen, high school freshman, study habits, final exams

How parents can help students prepare to leave home

Posted by Neal Schwartz on May 25, 2022

With the summer season upon us, many students are making their final decisions about where they'll be attending college in the fall. Even if it's still undecided, students can and should already start preparing for their new lives on campus. Leaving the nest can be just as difficult for students as it is for parents. Under the guise of excitement for their new independence, many students can quickly feel overwhelmed by all of the changes, no matter how small.


What comes to mind to most of us are the basics: first of all, have they ever done their own laundry? Start making this a regular practice if it's not already one. Being less available to the student as early as now will start training them to rely on themselves more. This is a simple adjustment that can make things a lot easier down the line. Adjusting habits now will carry over when the student is on their own and has to learn to take care of things independently.

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Topics: college counseling, high school senior, college freshmen, college planning, co-op program, time management skills, major life change, empty nester, college readiness, Separation anxiety, college roommate, independent student, college orientation

Why High School Students Should Embrace Change Now

Posted by Neal Schwartz on July 01, 2021

Summer is here, but the impacts of the pandemic are here to stay

Most high school students start planning for college very early on, and even as early as their first year of high school. However, the pandemic has clearly gotten in the way for many. With tests cancelled or postponed, budgets reduced, and fear of being far from home on the rise, students are being forced to be flexible and adapt their college plans. Here are several ways that students are changing their college plans and how we can teach them that flexibility will help them to achieve in spite of the circumstances.

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Topics: college preparation, college admissions, SAT/ACT, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, GPA, education gaps due to covid, pandemic impact on education, college freshmen, college financial situation, career path, college majors, college location, paying for college

6 Predictions on Post-Pandemic Academia

Posted by Neal Schwartz on June 27, 2021


Summer is here, but the impacts of the pandemic are here to stay


School is out, and that well-deserved summer vacation is finally upon us. This year has been nothing short of exceptional, and students, parents and teachers should all be proud of how they’ve coped and adapted to the unique challenges of the pandemic. As we head into the summer season, it’s important to reflect on the lessons the pandemic has taught us and predict some of the short and long-term impacts. Here are some of our thoughts.


Teaching through a pandemic has met with various levels of success. But overall, the shift to online learning proved to be a big and often unrewarding challenge. One of the strongest impacts of the pandemic on teachers is that more and more of them may leave, retire, or adapt their methods. K-12 Teachers who first struggled with the Common Core, and later with the online learning modes that were forced on them, will leave in greater numbers. The pressure of following a curriculum and learning entirely new teaching methods proved to be too much for certain teachers. Similarly, college professors who were caught off-guard by online learning and obtained negative reviews from students will re-evaluate their future and either retire or learn from the experience. It seems that very few found online learning fruitful, and there will be a negative connotation towards online learning unless there is a modification to gauge involvement and engagement from individual students.


Due to the flaws in online learning and little time to test trial and error, high school and some college students will discover serious academic gaps. With unequal connections to the Internet and difficulty following classes that are less and less hands-on and engaging, the difference in academic success is measurable. As a result, both high schools and colleges will discard online learning motions that failed and invest in online learning that can still be used post-pandemic to complement courses and overall curriculum.

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Topics: College Essays, College Applications, college preparation, ACT, college admissions, SAT/ACT, SAT prep, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, test optional, GPA, education gaps due to covid, college finances, pandemic impact on education, college freshmen, college financial situation


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