Blog

22 May 2020

How to Have a Productive Summer 2020

This summer is going to be a bit unique between face masks, social distancing, and cancelled events. For those of you whose summer internships, courses, or other opportunities have been cancelled or gone online, we want to acknowledge how unsettling that must feel, especially if you’re working to strengthen your college application. As devastating as this disruption may be, don’t despair! We want to help you get the most out of this summer amidst COVID-19. We’ve pulled together some suggestions for how to use all of that newly-free time in a meaningful and productive way.

Test Prep

For the high schoolers out there, you may not be surprised (coming from us) that we highly recommend using this summer to strengthen your SAT / ACT portfolio. Hear us out: since most classes have gone pass / fail this past semester, Spring 2020 transcripts will not sufficiently reflect your academic strengths. When there is no distinction between an A+ and a C, it is impossible to demonstrate what subjects set you apart with a transcript alone. 

This marks a great opportunity to differentiate your transcript by loading up on SAT Subject Tests to prove that your competency far exceeds a basic “pass” grade. A “pass” on your transcript coupled with a corresponding 800 Subject Test score will paint a much clearer picture of who you are as a student. Need help figuring out which Subject Tests to take and when to take them? Don’t hesitate to reach out at info@sentiaeducation.com

Volunteer

There is so much need in the world right now. If you feel able to give back to your community in a meaningful way, go out and do it (at a safe distance while wearing a mask, of course)! Maybe you have elderly neighbors who need help grocery shopping, gardening, or running errands. Maybe you know a family with young children who could use some help with remote tutoring. Perhaps this sounds counterintuitive given the mandate to “social distance,” but this is an excellent time for community building. Take some time to reflect on how you can be of use in your community this summer. And, if possible, look for opportunities that are connected to your academic or extracurricular activities to increase the depth of your existing commitments. 

Volunteer work can be tremendously fulfilling for all parties involved. If you feel moved to scale up your community service efforts, why not put together a fundraiser to support a charitable organization? Not only will this be a rewarding experience for you and your community, but colleges look favorably upon those who seize an opportunity to make a positive impact. 

Check out VolunteerMatch, a great place to start your search for local volunteer opportunities. They even have a COVID-19 Resource Hub, where you can explore a directory of COVID-related and remote volunteer opportunities. 

Independent Projects

If you are someone with many extracurricular interests, now is a great time to dive deep into those hobbies. Give yourself permission to think creatively here! Just because your independent project is not associated with a mentor or a university (though it could be, if those connections are feasible for you or if you’d like to enlist the help of a Sentia Mentor), does not mean it is any less worthwhile. In fact, independent projects can be very valuable from an admissions standpoint because they demonstrate the ability to take initiative while highlighting your talents and passions. 

Learn a new art form, teach yourself how to play an instrument, start learning a new language or computer program… The possibilities are endless. Need more personalized ideas? We’d be happy to brainstorm with you. 

Read

Do you love reading, but haven’t found the time to read for pleasure recently? Now is the perfect time to hit the books — for fun, academic enrichment, or both! If you’re feeling (understandably) overwhelmed by the world right now, get lost in a fictional world. If you’re thinking about a college major, consider reading some material in subjects of interest. Maybe you will discover a new academic passion or learn something new about yourself as a student. 

Check out our blog next week for both classic and contemporary suggestions or contact us for some customized suggestions. It’ll come as no surprise that we’re all big readers at Sentia! 

Summer Classes

Okay, we know that this might not be the most popular option! But many selective summer programs have moved online and have reopened their application deadlines. If you act quickly, you still have time to enroll in selective programs, like Stanford’s Summer Session, NYU’s Pre College, or UPenn’s Pre-College.

There are many other options and we’re always happy to provide customized suggestions. Our advice? Prioritize university affiliated programs that offer college credit. 

This is a difficult time. Admissions committees, professors, and advisors alike know this to be true. If you are struggling, please know that we are a resource and we want to help you feel intentional about the way you’re using this time. If that means writing about your experiences with COVID-19 as a way to process: go for it. Be sure to be kind to yourself, too, and build in plenty of time for relaxation. 

As always, feel free to send any questions or concerns our way. We hope you’re all staying safe and well! 

14 May 2020

COVID-Related News: Grad School Exams

For those of you who have been preparing to sit for the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT in the coming months, we know how unsettling it must feel when a global pandemic disrupts your carefully calculated grad school preparation. Fortunately, each respective entity is working hard to keep us informed about modifications made to the format, administration, or schedule of their exams. Identifying the information that is relevant to your situation might feel daunting. Here’s what we know about the official changes made to the following popular grad school exams: 

GRE Update:

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) is now offering a GRE General Test at-home option. The at-home option is identical in content, format, and on-screen experience to the GRE exam taken at a test center. During the online exam, test-takers are monitored by a human proctor. Per ETS, at-home administrations are currently available around the clock every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday through June 30th. Appointments may be available as early as 24 hours after registering for the exam, but in our experience, most students wait 2 – 3 weeks for an appointment, so be sure to plan accordingly. Looking to take the GRE at home? Start the registration process here

Please note: If you are planning to take the GRE, you MUST take the test on a PC or laptop with a Windows operating system. If you attempt to take the exam with Mac iOS software, you will be denied access. This is crucial. If you have any questions about whether your software is sufficient for the at-home GRE, check out this equipment and environment checklist, where you will also find info on what constitutes a suitable testing environment (private room, built-in camera, microphone, and more). If you still have questions, feel free to reach out to us! 

GMAT Update: 

Like the GRE, the GMAT Online Exam is becoming widely available as the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) continues to support students who are working to meet upcoming business school application deadlines. The GMAT Online Exam is remotely proctored and open to all prospective test-takers. The most notable change is the omission of the Analytical Writing Assessment Section. The online version will include the Quantitative, Verbal, and Integrated Reasoning sections, with the same number of questions and time per section as the in-person version of the exam, for a total exam time of approximately 3 hours. 

In an impressive feat of flexibility, appointment times are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can schedule an appointment up to 24 hours before an available testing window. Registration is now open until June 15th, at which point public health conditions will be re-evaluated and future appointment dates will be added as needed. 

Please note: The GMAT Online Exam can be taken on both Windows and Mac PCs or laptops, but do check out their system requirements before registering. 

LSAT Update: 

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has announced the unveiling of an online, remotely proctored version of the LSAT: the LSAT-Flex, which has been on the horizon for some time now. Check out what we have to say about the new LSAT in-home administration. In short, candidates who were signed up for the April LSAT have been automatically registered for the May LSAT-Flex (administered during the week of May 18th). Likewise, those who were registered for the in-person June LSAT as of April 29th can opt to take the June LSAT-Flex (administered during the week of June 14th). 

Registration for the June LSAT-Flex is now open! LSAC encourages prospective test-takers, especially those who prefer to test at a certain time of day or have scheduling conflicts, to sign up as soon as possible. Slots will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis — so nail down that time slot while there are still plenty of options available!

LSAC notes they do plan to resume offering the in-person LSAT once public health conditions allow. However, if the LSAT is in your future, stay tuned because this online, shortened version of the LSAT may prove to be a welcome change. As the world adjusts to a “new normal,” the LSAT may transition permanently to an online “new normal.”

MCAT Update:

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has not made any indication that the MCAT will be moving into remote territory. All May test dates have, of course, been cancelled. As of May 8th, three new test dates have been added to the calendar (June 28th, September 27th, and September 28th). Three test appointments will be held per date. Registration for these dates is now open. 

The AAMC has temporarily shortened the exam in order to increase testing capacity while following social distancing protocols in test centers. For more info on how this notoriously lengthy exam is being shortened, here is a breakdown of the new version. Test-takers can still expect to be tested in all four sections with fewer questions in each, for a total exam time of 5 hours and 45 minutes (rather than the typical 7 hours and 30 minutes). The scoring for the shortened exam will be identical to that of the full-length exam. 

As we all experience the daily sensory overload of COVID-related news, we hope our updates provide some clarity as you take these important steps towards graduate school. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are seeking additional academic or test prep support during this challenging time. As always, at Sentia we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™! 

07 May 2020

Last Minute AP Exam Study Tips

We know that the changes made to this year’s AP Exams may feel jarring to students who have been preparing (both academically and mentally) for their exams all year long. The biggest change, of course, is that all AP Exams will be taken online and will only be 45 minutes in length, with no multiple choice sections. We know that you have the potential to succeed on this year’s AP Exams, however unsettling these changes may be. We’ve pulled together a few last minute preparation and study tips that will help you go into your exams feeling ready to perform your very best.

Know the format of your exam(s)! 
The best way to avoid feeling intimidated or stressed about the new exam format is to understand it. Familiarize yourself with the format of the AP Exam(s) that you will be taking. The College Board has broken down the format of each exam. Check out their “Course Specific Exam Information,” where you will also find info on which specific topics will be covered on your exam. The College Board will not expect students to have learned all of the material on their original syllabi. Exams will only cover content that students would have learned prior to early March. Knowing what to expect will eliminate any mystery associated with the new exams and allow you to focus on what is most important on test day: staying calm and recalling course content. 

Shift focus to essay and short answer questions.
Because the College Board has narrowed down the kind of questions that you will encounter on your exams, it’s time to shift focus to the open-ended questions. Use the essay and short answer questions from previous exams as your guide. You will get a sense of how the College Board likes to ask these questions and, with practice, a feel for how you can best demonstrate your mastery of the AP content. 

Don’t overwhelm yourself with notes. 
Yes, this year’s AP exams will be open note. No, that does not mean that having all of your notes from the entire semester in front of you during the exam will be the best course of action. Have you ever taken an exam where you’re allowed to use one notecard full of notes? Oftentimes, the process of creating the notecard is the best study exercise. 

In other words, it’s important to make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the quantity of information at your fingertips during the exam itself. During your final days of studying, it may be useful to go through your class notes and create an abbreviated study guide in a format that makes sense to you — perhaps limit your guide to one sheet of paper, front and back. Familiarize yourself with your study guide. Make sure you know where you’ve located certain material on your study guide. Color-coordinating your notes and/or including visuals might be an effective way to commit content to memory, ultimately increasing your testing speed. When test day comes, regardless of how much you use your study guide, the process of tying together all of that course content into a manageable test-taking tool will pay off. 

Need to brush up on a particular topic? There’s no better source than the College Board itself.
AP students and the College Board are navigating this new online terrain together. The College Board has an excellent YouTube Channel where they are streaming online lessons for each AP course, which can be re-watched at any time for review. In the description for each video, you will find links to handouts and resources related to that content. Use these resources! Practicing with content put out by the College Board is the best way to feel prepared on test day. So, if you know you have areas of weakness in your AP course material, check out a lesson from the College Board and see what they have to share. 


Despite the unforeseen changes, with these tips we hope you will feel confident going into the upcoming at-home AP Exams. And of course, if you could need an expert to walk you through a specific content area, you can contact info@sentiaeducation.com. Our team of AP specialists are ready to help with any last-minute questions!

01 May 2020

COVID-Related News: ACT / SAT / AP

We hope you’re staying safe and well. With daily updates and changes on the standardized testing front, we are here to provide the most up-to-date COVID-related news. As always, we want to ensure that you feel supported in the test prep process. At this unprecedented time, having clarity on the when’s, where’s, and how’s of taking your SAT, ACT, or AP exams is essential. Here’s what we know: 

ACT Updates: 

Though ACT June test dates have not been officially cancelled, there is still a strong likelihood of June cancellations. We recommend that students registered for the June administration utilize the Flexible Scheduling option to change their June test date to July for free. At this time, July seems a safer bet and officially changing your test date may relieve some of the uncertainty-induced stress and allow you to create a more productive test preparation schedule.

Without any formal announcement, ACT has also opened up their July test date to New York state! Currently, there are no available testing sites in NYC, but this could change, so keep an eye on your registration portal. 

Looking ahead to the fall, ACT will be offering three previously planned test dates on September 12th, October 24th, and December 12th. While we don’t have full details on timeline yet, ACT will also be unveiling their new at-home digital testing option in the late fall / early winter. 

This option would allow students to take the test at home on a computer, which would certainly be a game changer. (This is becoming a trend in the world of standardized testing, check out what we have to say about the new online LSAT.)

In other ACT news, starting in September 2020 students who have already taken the full ACT exam will have the option to retake one or more specific sections of the test. Section retakes will eventually be offered digitally as well, which will be a test-taking timesaver and speed up the wait time for receiving scores. 

SAT Updates: 

Continue preparing for the August exam! (See our previous post about June cancellations and recommendation.) The College Board plans to provide weekend SAT administrations every month through the end of 2020 beginning in August, public health permitting. This means that students will be able to test on August 29th, September 26th (new!), October 3rd, November 7th, or December 5th. Remember, most colleges will accept scores through the November administration for early applications, so rising seniors still have four remaining opportunities to test.

According to College Board, students will be notified during the week of May 26th about registration for these test dates, but we recommend keeping an eye on your email and the website in case anything changes. Rising seniors without test scores and students registered for June test dates will be granted priority access before registration opens up for everyone else. The College Board will be sending out clarifying information on what that priority access looks like on the week of May 26th, as well. 

AP Exam Updates: 

AP exams will look very different this year: all exams will be delivered online, to be taken at home. The tests will be limited to 45 minutes and the multiple choice portion of all exams will be eliminated. Additionally, exams will be open note. Check out these tips for success on open note exams and stay tuned for more tips on how to approach the new exam format. 

AP exams will be offered May 11th – 22nd, with make-up exams offered June 1st – 5th. Though having more time to prepare for your AP exams may seem appealing, all students should plan to take their tests during the May testing window. If you encounter any issues in May, the June testing window will serve as a contingency plan. No additional make-up dates will be offered, so it is crucial to plan to take your exam(s) in May! 

This year, AP exams will only include content that is typically covered by teachers through early March. The College Board assures us that they are committed to upholding the integrity of their AP exams, especially under such unusual circumstances, which will mean extra attention to exam security and fairness. They will be utilizing tools to detect plagiarism and other testing irregularities. 

Despite these major changes, the College Board is determined to honor the time and effort that high school students have poured into their AP classes this year. They are enthusiastic that colleges will give credit to students with qualifying 2020 AP scores. Many top colleges including Yale and the UC schools have publicly pledged support for granting 2020 AP credit. Many other colleges, however, are still evaluating how they will handle incoming scores. Because of the changes made this year, it’s possible that there will be no official mandate for schools to offer AP credit. As more colleges comment publicly on the matter and set a precedent, the landscape of 2020 AP credit will become clearer.

We know this testing season holds many unforeseen changes. As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need additional support. At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™ — especially in such uncertain times.

16 Apr 2020

Coronavirus: ACT over SAT?

Billy Wheelan, Founder

ACT’s June administration, though in doubt, remains on for now. We should know in the coming days if testing centers will be able to accommodate June 13 testers. Now that there are officially no SAT administrations scheduled until August, the July 18 ACT is becoming a more attractive option for students who want to test over the summer instead of waiting until practically the fall. We can’t know for sure what will happen in the coming weeks but the July administration (not offered in the state of New York, so New Yorkers should register in a neighboring state), should it be offered, would provide an opportunity for students to test earlier in the calendar year than if had they waited for the SAT in August.

For students applying to the most competitive schools in the United States, the decision to switch to the ACT brings with it another big benefit: more Subject Test dates. Because a student must choose between taking the SAT or up to three SAT Subject Tests on each test date, making the switch to the ACT frees up testing dates in August, September, October, November (not available to international students), and December for Subject Tests should The College Board administer them on all planned testing dates. That factor alone provides a compelling reason to consider switching test prep from SAT to ACT for those students who score similarly on a concordance table between the two tests. 

Finally, ACT has more experience offering their exam digitally than does The College Board. We believe if the global pandemic continues and both organizations are forced to develop in-home options, ACT is better prepared to make that rollout happen more smoothly than The College Board. 

As always, we invite you to contact us if we can be of service to you.

15 Apr 2020

SAT June Administration Cancelled

Earlier today The College Board announced that the scheduled June administration of the SAT and SAT Subject Tests will be cancelled. While the news was expected, The College Board’s revised testing plan will significantly impact rising juniors and seniors. Rather than adding summer testing dates, The College Board instead plans to offer its first administration on the previously scheduled August date, with additional dates rapidly falling in the fall: one administration in September, October, November, and early December. Should schools remain closed and unable to administer the SAT by August, The College Board has suggested it will offer a digital version of the exam to be administered at home. The College Board has been late to offering digital versions of its exams (the PSAT 8/9 and 10 can be offered digitally in schools but paper-based testing remains the norm) so the digital version, reportedly already under development, would need to be rapidly rolled out. 


The schedule change means students will need to be extremely well-prepared for the August administration as there will be limited time between administrations to adjust preparation schedules. Our students often take the May and June administrations and then decide whether or not to continue to prepare for the August administration given their Spring scores. Without the June administration, students should anticipate a preparation schedule through the summer and into the fall. And while we anticipate many colleges waiving or reducing testing requirements for this year’s applicants, strong SAT, SAT Subject Test, and ACT scores will make the prepared candidate stand out even more. 


While the change intensifies the summer test preparation schedule, it also provides the prepared student with the opportunity to take and retake College Board exams in the late summer and early fall with less risk of score backslide. 

We know this change will likely add importance to test preparation at just the time students are feeling most uncertain about their newly-established online schooling and uprooted summer plans. For rising seniors, writing college applications only adds to the anxiety. Rest assured, we are here to provide you with reliable and thoughtful revisions to your test preparation plans. We’re ready to collaborate with our partners, students, and parents to ensure our students are as prepared as ever come test day. 


At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™ 


Warmly,
Billy Wheelan

Founder

09 Apr 2020

New LSAT In-Home Administration

Billy Wheelan, Sentia Founder & Eduardo Villalta, Sentia Master LSAT Tutor

The Law School Admission Council, purveyor of the most popular test for US law school admissions, announced on April 7th that LSAC’s upcoming April LSAT administration would be canceled and replaced by a shortened version of the test to be administered on personal computers in the test taker’s home in the second half of May. 

LSAC was a late entry into the world of digitally administered exams, lagging behind competitors that offer the GRE and GMAT in rolling out a computer-based version of their signature offering. So the speed with which LSAC has pivoted to what might soon become a new normal of home administered tests is leaving prospective law school students in uncharted territory. (The GRE, an alternative to the LSAT, began offering an in-home option last month).

LSAC left open the door to additional administrations of the updated LSAT, dubbed LSAT-Flex, to be offered in the spring and summer “if the situation warrants.” Candidates registered for the April 2020 test will be automatically registered to take the new version of the test in the second half of May unless they choose to apply the credit toward a future LSAT date. 

The shortened LSAT mimics the organization’s practice tests and will include three scored 35 minute sections: one each of reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. Test takers who struggle with the stamina to complete the traditional LSAT’s five sections (including one unscored experimental section) will likely welcome the change.  

Caroline Scott, Director at Sentia Education, calls the new offering a game changer but warns that while students may be more comfortable in a home setting, “distractions and connectivity issues could add stress to an already high pressure situation.” Still, most test takers will likely welcome the opportunity to sit for an exam in an environment that closely resembles that of their  practice tests. “Overall, the prepared student will benefit from this change.”

19 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Survival Guide for Students: what to do when your school moves online, PART 2

Well, we’re back and ready to provide you with some more exciting tips on how to manage your (unexpected) transition to online learning. And, don’t forget to join us on Friday, March 20th at 1pm EST for our webinar on how to make these SAT / ACT schedule changes work to your advantage!

Here we go…

#6 Use your screens, then put them to bed

We know it might feel like your phone is your lifeline to the outside world. And we love our screens too! But as educators we recognize that there are times when screens just need to go off. Rather than play another round of Plants vs Zombies, grab the whole family and try a board game or maybe even a classic puzzle. Trust me, you won’t find a better distraction from stress than searching for that exact tiny grey piece in a 1,000 piece puzzle composed mostly of clouds and sky. (Can you tell how I’m spending my free time during this quarantine?)

And, Dr. Monica Lewin, Sentia’s Director of Learning and Teaching, reminds us all (me included!) to avoid bright artificial light before bedtime. Instead, do some journaling in an old-fashioned notebook to jumpstart your creativity, take notes or to organize your tasks for the next day, or just read a book. 

#7 Learn something new

We all have something on our list that we have been “planning” to do for ages. Mine is to learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. 

Listen, I know that technically your day is already spent learning, but this is your chance to learn the exact thing that you want! Fascinated by Japanese culture? Learn how to draw anime. Ready to step up your breakfast game from a hastily grabbed Cliff bar? Let Thomas Keller show you the art of cooking the perfect fried egg. Obsessed with sports? Become a master statistician and learn how to predict game outcomes

#8 Read

Remember reading for pleasure? It was that thing you did before you had to read a hundred pages a night for History and English classes. Well, now’s a great time to get a few pages in. Sure, you can work your way through some of the greatest works in the English language. But if you want to read Harry Potter for the first time (meaning: again) I won’t judge. Just pick up a book, put your phone on airplane mode, and get lost for an hour.

#9 Practice gratitude

These are challenging times and it’s normal to feel anxiety. Write in a notebook three things you feel grateful for today – maybe it’s your family, friends, health, even a beloved pet you now have a bit more time with. Whatever you choose, big or small, reflecting on what’s good in your life has the capacity to make each day a little better. 

If you need help staying on track with school assignments, getting ready for the ACT, SAT, or Subject Tests, or just learning something new, we’re here to help. Sentia’s Academic Mentorship tutoring is significantly discounted for families affected by COVID-19 school closures. Talk it over with your parents and then email or call us today to create a bespoke program tailored perfectly to your unique needs.

At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™.

17 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Survival Guide for Students: what to do when your school moves online

Ok, this isn’t what I thought my spring break was going to look like either. But now that we are all navigating some new learning environments, I wanted to share with you some of what we’ve learned over the past ten years working with homeschooled students and students who are temporarily unable to attend traditional school.

#1 Connect with your friends
It’s easy to get sucked into the TikTok spiral (we’re all guilty of it) but don’t forget that it’s important to meaningfully connect with friends, particularly in times of anxiety like these. FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype a friend from school just to say hey. PartyHub on Fortnite! Or even just pick up the phone and call. Whatever you do, make sure you take some time to be present with your friends even when you’re physically apart.

#2 Organize your time
It’s easy to end up “working from bed” when you’re not reporting to a classroom each morning. Fight the temptation to stay up late and join your class in your pajamas by keeping a schedule similar to the one you maintained at school. That means going to bed each night and getting up each morning at the same time, getting the sleep you need to function optimally (most teens need between 9 and 9½ hours – yes, really!), and making your mom proud with your showering and teeth brushing habits. And “get dressed” for school – even if that just means switching from one set of comfy lounge wear to another.

Your day at school was probably tightly scheduled, but not all schools are replicating that same structure as they move online. So it’s up to you to make a plan:

— Keep track of your day-to-day tasks with a simple planner. You could use something as straightforward as this one, an old fashioned notebook, or a digital planner.

— Maintain current organizational habits. If you have a special notebook for recording homework, keep using it.

— Be realistic. Don’t try and cram all of your schoolwork into less time than a typical school day. Create your own schedule equipped with breaks, snacks, social time and anything that normally keeps you sane during the school.

— Create goals. Maybe you have never felt like you have quite enough time to study for that AP Biology weekly quiz. Perhaps your Spanish vocab is a little too limited. Time is finally your friend – use it to your advantage to set and surpass personal academic goals to set yourself up for success when school is back to normal.

— Schedule time to meet with teachers. Online learning is new for your teachers too and it might be slightly more difficult for them to identify who needs an extra hand. Help yourself (and them!) by proactively checking in.

#3 Get a head-start on standardized test preparation
You know it’s true: test preparation is difficult enough without simultaneously balancing a heavy course load, extracurricular activities, and a busy social life. Use some of your found time to prepare for newly rescheduled ACTs (look for exams on June 13 and July 18) and SATs (likely in June and August plus one TBD in between – but only time will tell). And don’t forget about SAT Subject Tests! Literature, Math 2, and Physics are our most prepped tests here; take a practice test out of the Official Guide for all SAT Subject Tests and see how you do or contact us to get started preparing with one of our expert Sentia Tutors.

#4 Brainstorm college applications
Wait, what? Yes, I’m talking to you class of 2021. Now’s a great time to research schools, plan some enriching summer activities, and get a draft of your personal statement started. Identify some goal schools and the grades and scores you need to get in. No day but today!

#5 Don’t neglect your extracurricular activities
If you’re an athlete, being stuck at home without daily practice can be frustrating. Instead of bouncing a tennis ball off the wall on repeat (cue mom’s screaming), circuit train in the yard or an empty local park – if there’s one nearby that meets social distancing requirements – or get your sweat on at home. Am I doing that retro Cher workout my sister loves? No. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

I’m a theatre guy and love the arts. If you do too check out the newly-free opera streams at the MET (seriously, do this. It’s fancy but also fun!), take a Masterclass, watch famous live performances at OnTheBoards.TV (free with code ARTATHOME20), or practice the bassoon (N.B.: bassoon required).

Check out some more tips later this week in our Coronavirus Survival Guide for Students: what to do when your school moves online, PART 2 (catchy title, right?)

If you need help staying on track with school assignments, getting ready for the ACT, SAT, or Subject Tests, or just learning something new, we’re here to help. Sentia’s Academic Mentorship tutoring is significantly discounted for families affected by COVID-19 school closures. Talk it over with your parents and then email or call us today to create a bespoke program tailored perfectly to your unique needs.

At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™.

P.S. I’m doing a webinar on Friday March 20th at 1pm EST to learn how to use schedule changes to your advantage and get the scores you need for admission to your dream school. Join me!

17 Mar 2020

Coronavirus Survival Guide for Parents: Best Practices in the Transition to Online Schooling

If you’re reading this it’s likely that you have one (or more) kids suddenly at home all day, every day with no end date in sight. One of the comments we are hearing most frequently from the families with whom we work is the difficulty of juggling space and schedule. With so many parents working remotely and students attending school from home, the house is suddenly feeling a lot smaller.

We’ve been working with homeschooled students and those temporarily unable to attend day school for over a decade and many of the lessons we’ve learned are applicable to the unprecedented situation with which we are grappling today. Here are some suggestions:

#1 Figure out your space
If you’re working from home and the kids are too, you should spend a half hour deciding where everyone is going to work.

Particularly if your family is sharing a small space, it’s crucial to think about noise first and foremost. Are you taking work-related calls from home? Set yourself up in a space where you’re least likely to experience noise bleed, even if it’s not where you usually work from home. Issue everyone a “do not disturb” post-it – kids can use it when they’re in a tutorial session or online class and you can stick it on the door or wall when you’re on a work call.

Working from home can make it feel as if the work day never ends – and that’s true for students too. Designate a shared space in the home as a screen-free family zone to relax and unwind together at the end of the day.

#2 Plan your schedule
Stability and consistency are the key to emotional and academic growth, particularly for teenagers.

Students are reporting to us that their schools are fairly closely replicating their traditional day-to-day schedules for online learning. But where there is flexibility, decide together how you’ll use individual learning time and then allow your child the opportunity to fill those gaps with mentally stimulating work that will challenge them.

Most of our students are using some of this “found time” to get in some extra preparation for the rescheduled standardized tests that will be administered near the end of the school year. This is also a great time to practice a hobby – or even read a book simply for pleasure!

For students who need a little more structure, post each child’s daily schedule on a whiteboard or wall of a shared space and perform three check-ins each day: the first to set goals for the day, the second at the conclusion of the school day to discuss a homework plan, and the third before bedtime to strategize for the coming day. If you have multiple children, try to delegate some responsibility to your eldest child to “lead” these mini-meetings. Encourage your child to write out tasks and goals on a notebook before bed to release thoughts of nagging tasks to come and set him or her up a restful night’s sleep.

#3 Decide when screens go off
At Sentia, most of our tutoring is performed remotely; Zoom video tutorials are how our students learn from their Sentia Tutors. But as educators we recognize there are times when screens should, and must, go off. We love puzzles and board games (overcome the steep learning curve and try Settlers of Catan – it’s a Sentia favorite) or take a family stroll. And Dr. Monica Lewin, Sentia’s Director of Learning and Teaching, reminds us all (me included!) to avoid bright artificial light before bedtime. Instead, do some journaling in an old-fashioned notebook to jumpstart your creativity or take notes or to organize your tasks for the next day.

#4 Communicate with teachers
Find out how assessments will be performed: what constitutes “class participation” for a grade in an online lecture? Are “in class” exams timed and how will they be delivered? What about pop quizzes and daily homework assignments? Will slides be delivered digitally or are students expected to take free form notes? Ask your child’s teacher questions and don’t be afraid to request more frequent updates on grades than you might otherwise during the traditional school year.

#5 Help your kids communicate with teachers too!
We’ve learned that students who are temporarily unable to attend school can sometimes struggle to adjust to modified teacher relationships. With no study hall or individual meeting times, it’s harder to ask for extra help when students need it and even more difficult for teachers to identify who is struggling. Encourage your child to perform weekly check ins – by phone or email – with each of his or her teachers.

#6 Respect your tech
Manage your internet pipeline. Netflix and videogames take up a lot of bandwidth. If your whole family needs to work online, limit streaming activity to off peak hours so Zoom calls and google docs (two tools we use a lot with our students) continue to work seamlessly.

Digital natives are adept at using technology in and out of the classroom. If your daughter describes playing Fortnite as “hanging out with friends” or snapchats pictures of the floor to maintain “streaks,” ask her about it. Phones and computers are – for most teens – a central way in which they maintain friendships when separated by physical distance. That’s especially important in times of uncertainty and anxiety.

If your student needs help staying on track with school assignments, we’re here to help. Sentia’s Academic Mentorship tutoring is significantly discounted for families affected by COVID-19 school closures. Contact us today to create a bespoke program tailored perfectly to your family’s unique needs.

At Sentia, we don’t just tutor, we’ll be with you every step of the way™.

P.S. Join us on Friday March 20th at 1pm EST for a webinar with Billy Wheelan to learn how to use schedule changes to your advantage and get the scores you need for admission to your dream school.

Sign up now!