K-State University

Name: Madison Huber-Smith
College: Kansas State University
Major: Anthropology and Spanish

1. What first drew you to K-State?

I liked that they emphasized the importance of academics. Dean Bosco was at every presentation letting us know just how many Rhodes scholars they had. It was also close to home but not too close to home. The price for what I got wasn’t too bad either.

2. What other colleges were you considering?

University of Evansville, KU

3. How was the adjustment from high school to college?

College is so much better than high school! In high school, I was in class every day, all day. In college, I got to make my own schedule and take classes at times that worked for me. I had more time to do homework and do the things I liked to do, like workout.

4. What was your favorite class? Why?

My favorite class was an anthropology class called Religion in Culture. It challenged me because we discussed really difficult theoretical concepts. I then got to turn around and apply these theories to the Little Mermaid (I know this seems like this has nothing to do with religion, but it did!).

5. What clubs or groups were you involved in?

Anthropology Club, Ultimate Frisbee, Group Fitness (I taught Pilates and yoga)

6. Anything else you want to tell us?

Manhattan can seem like the boonies to students coming from JoCo, but it has all the comforts of home PLUS awesome hikes in the Konza prairie (really!) and beautiful country roads outside of town that are perfect for cycling.

7. In one sentence, what do you love about your school?

I loved that it had a small-town /small-school feel but with all the amenities and academic opportunities of a larger university.

Author Madison Huber-Smith is a tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

Kansas State University

Name: Hannah Ford
College: Kansas State University; Graduation Year 2017
High School: Basehor Linwood High School; Graduation Year 2013
Major: Accounting and Finance


1. What first drew you to Kansas State University?

The first time I visited Kansas State University, I knew it was the college for me. K-State is about an hour and fifteen minutes from my house which is not too close to home but far enough away that I have a chance to really be independent. Everyone around campus was so nice and eager to help me with whatever I needed. I felt a very positive energy. I also loved how the campus was compact; everything was in a reasonable walking distance. It seemed easy to get around.

2. What other colleges were you considering?

I looked at the University of Kansas, Central Missouri State University, Pittsburg State University, and Creighton.

3. What clubs or groups do you plan on getting involved in?

I plan on rushing and being a part of Greek Life, which will give me a lot of opportunities to be a part of community service groups. I would also like to look into being a part of a religious group on campus.

4. What are you looking forward to most about college?

I am most excited for a fresh start. I am also looking forward to being a part of Greek Life and having the opportunity to meet so many new people. The whole idea of college seems pretty exciting to me- I can’t wait to have more freedom and independence. Lastly, I am most definitely looking forward to all of the extracurricular things that come with college such as football games, basketball games, and campus events!

Author Hannah Ford is the part-time Summer Office Manager at Get Smarter Prep and will be starting at Kansas State University in Fall 2013.


Preparation is the Key to Success

Whether you’re taking your ACT, SAT, AP tests or your History final, when it comes to education and testing, preparation is the key to success.  Here are some ways to be prepared for any class or test:

1)      Get organized.

Have a dedicated binder or folder for each class you are taking.  File each class’ notes followed by the assignments related to that material.  By keeping your school work organized, you will be able to refer back to your class notes and materials to review the concepts.  When you finish your assignment, put it in the appropriate binder to avoid forgetting to take it with you.

It’s also a good idea to keep a calendar at the front of your binder with all your assignment due dates written down.  For long term assignments, set a reminder to go off on your smart phone 2 weeks, 1 week and 3 days before the assignment is due to avoid procrastinating on the project.

2)      Put pencil to paper.

While you’re in class, take notes.  When you do your assignments, take notes and show your work.  There’s no point in taking notes if you can’t understand them later.

3)      Prepare your materials.

When you do your homework, find an uncluttered work surface, and organize your materials before you begin.  Have a pencil (or two) and an eraser handy.  Make sure your calculator batteries are working.  Get some scratch paper.

4)      Give yourself some time and some quiet.

I know you’re busy.  Volunteer hours and extracurricular activities don’t leave as much time for homework as you might like.  Write a homework appointment in your schedule, and don’t stand yourself up!  By setting aside time for homework each day, you won’t overbook yourself.  (Share your calendar with your parents, so they know not to schedule activities over your homework time)

When it’s time to do your assignments, turn off the TV.  Turn off the ipod.  Silence your phone.  Focusing on one thing at a time is a lost art in our multi-tasking, over-stimulated culture, but focusing on one task at a time and eliminating distractions makes you more efficient.  Because we aren’t used to focusing on one thing for an extended period of time, this might be hard for you at first.  Try this: set a timer for 15 minutes, and work diligently during that time.  When the timer goes off, set another timer for 5 minutes, and take a break.  Repeat.  When focusing for 15 minutes gets easier, gradually increase the work time by five minute increments.

Since everyone has a different learning style, your best method of preparation might look a little different than this.  You can learn what your learning style is and learn how to best apply that style to all your classes throughout high school (and on into college) with Get Smarter Prep’s Study Skills class.  Study skills like time management, organization, and homework planning will serve you throughout high school and college, and will even be great skills when you enter the work force.  Study skills also cover speed reading, reading comprehension, and writing skills.

Do you want mad study skills?  Check out our Study Skills class!

Gina Claypool is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

Finals in College

Finals in College

Unlike in high school, college finals are spread out across a week’s time, with each class getting assigned a particular day and time. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have two finals on one day, but it does mean that you’ll have significantly more time to study between tests than you did in high school. Sometimes students grow complacent and assume that they’ll have plenty of time to study for each class, but unfortunately, final exams in college tend to be comprehensive (ie. over everything you’ve learned that semester). Unless you’re awesome at last minute studying (many of my students think they are but their scores say otherwise), I suggest preparing your study schedule weeks in advance.

When I was in school, it seemed like all the final paper due dates and final exams happened at the same time. It seems like this is still the case as I watch my students start to glaze over and stop doing their homework right before finals weeks.

I suggest that, with your syllabi in hand, you sit down in mid-April with your calendar and figure out a game plan that keeps you on track to finish everything. Maybe you’re going to write a page a night to get that Econ paper finished by mid-May. Maybe you’re going to review anthropology lectures for 15 minutes after dinner to prepare for the final.

Planning makes sure that your future self, who could potentially be working into the wee hours of the night for a week straight (during what tends to be some of the most beautiful weather of the semester), is not going to curse your lazy, Game of Thrones-watching past self.

Madison Huber-Smith is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep and an Adjunct Professor at Johnson County Community College.

University of San Diego

Name: Henry Powell
College: University of San Diego; Graduation Year: 2012
High School: Pembroke Hill; Graduation Year: 2008
Major: Marketing


1. What first drew you to the University of San Diego?

When I was going through my college search, I knew that I wanted to find a school that fit three criteria: a small school in a warmer climate that was also respected academically. I found that school in USD. Or rather more accurately, it found me since I had never heard of USD or even been to Southern California before an admissions representative visited my high school.

2. What other colleges were you considering?

Tulane University, Elon University, Rollins College, Pepperdine

3. How was the adjustment from high school to college?

It was a little bit more of a challenge for me to adjust to the differences in culture between the Midwest and Southern California than it was to make the leap from High School academics. I was faced with this on the first day when I met my two roommates, who were both from Newport Beach and had more shoes and ironed t-shirts than I ever thought guys should have, but I quickly adjusted to it and then fell in love with it.

4. What was your favorite class?

Given the small class sizes (my largest class had 43 students), I had several classes that I truly enjoyed, but if I had to pick one I would have to go with Physical Aspects of the Ocean, which was a Lab course that took us on field trips to the beach and ocean every week.

5. What clubs or groups are you involved in?

Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity, Marketing Club

6. In one sentence, what do you love about your school?

I got a fantastic education while living at the beach, what else is there to know?

Author Henry Powell is a recent graduate of USD.


Asking for Recommendations

Many colleges require two recommendations; some even require three! Additionally, while a college may not require a recommendation for admission, it may require one for scholarships.

A recent article on the College Admission Book website gives three key pointers for asking for recommendations:

* Ask in person. No emails. A personal request is most thoughtful.
Do not ask for more recommendations than you need. Pick two teachers and use the same two for all your applications.
* Say “please” when you ask and “thank you” when the teacher agrees.

There are three more pointers I would like to add to their list:

* Choose your recommenders wisely.
* Make sure to send them a hand-written thank you note after they have written your recommendations.
* Let them know which college you decide to attend.

Recommendations are also important for internships and jobs. Future employers want to know that that information on your resume is truthful and true to your real life experience. They want to know not only if you are qualified for the job, but also if you will be a good person to have around the office. Different jobs and industries place differing levels of strength on the resume versus interpersonal skills. For example, a human resources manager works with other employees all day and needs to have strong communication skills, whereas a forest fire lookout does not interact with people as frequently. If you would like to know more about which jobs would be suited to your skills and interests, a good resource is our Career Assessment!

Although asking for recommendations can be intimidating at first, by following these simple steps you will get the hang of it in no time!

Linden Schult is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

University of Virginia

Name: Page Schult
College: University of Virginia; Graduation Year 2015
High School: Pembroke Hill; Graduation Year 2011
Major: History Major with a Minor in Media Studies

1. What first drew you to the University of Virginia?

The first time I visited the University of Virginia, I could immediately feel the passion and excitement that every student had. Walking around the beautiful grounds, I could feel the sense of tradition that existed at UVA as I saw students laughing on the way to class, tossing a frisbee back and forth on the lawn, and debating current politics over lunch. Everyone just seemed so nice and eager to be a part of such a wonderful academic environment.

2. What other colleges were you considering?

I was mainly looking at two other schools: University of Southern California and Claremont McKenna College. However, I also looked at a variety of other schools like SMU and Davidson.

3. How was the adjustment from high school to college?

The adjustment was actually much easier than I had anticipated. Everyone always says that when going to college, you have to remember that everyone else is in the same shoes as you: new to a place and just trying to meet people and make friends. Although this seems rather cliché, it is absolutely true. Any college that drew you in likely drew in other students who share similar interests with you so it is easy to find that common ground to build friendships!

4. What is your favorite class that you have taken so far?

I think the class I have enjoyed the most so far is a class I took my first year on the history of philanthropy in the United States. It was the first history class I had taken that was different from the typical high school history class. I loved that the structure of the class was a seminar structure, so every week we were free to discuss and debate different topics.

5. What clubs or groups are you involved in?

I am mainly involved in three different organizations around grounds. One is Greek life, where I am a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority here at UVA. Another organization that I am involved with is the tutoring program through Madison House. Madison House is the organization that houses all the different community service and volunteer programs available to UVA students. Lastly, I am a member of the Advertising and Marketing Association on grounds.

6. Anything else you want to tell us?

My advice for choosing colleges is that when choosing a school you must make sure it has everything you would want both academically and socially.

7. In one sentence, what do you love about your school?

I love everything about my school; mainly, I love that I have endless opportunities and have met fascinating and interesting people!

Author Page Schult is a Second Year at the University of Virginia.

Summer College Prep

Spring is in the air!  Prom is just around the corner, and finals are getting closer.  After finals, comes summer.  For many students, this means swimming pools, barbecues, camping trips, and general relaxation.  For the class of 2014, however, summer is the ideal time to write essays and complete college applications.

Imagine, if you will, going back to high school in August.  It’s your senior year.  You’re the top dog on campus.  It’s your last chance to participate in pep rallies, school plays, and high school sports teams.  Your friends start to ask you where you’re going to school next year.  Your teachers start to ask you where you’re going to school next year.  You still don’t know where you want to apply.  Your friends start to get acceptance letters.  You start to freak out.  Now, in addition to homework, tests, and all your extracurricular activities, you need to find time to complete your college applications.

Now imagine going back to school in August.  It’s your senior year.  You spent part of the summer deciding which schools would be a good fit for you next year.  You honed your essay writing skills.  When college applications were available on August 1st, you were ready to go.  By the time school started, you were well on your way to completing your applications.  Now with pep rallies, school plays, sports and volunteer work vying for your attention, you’re so glad that you have your college applications done.  By the time winter break rolls around, you already know where you’re going to school next year.  You no longer dread the question “where are you going to college?” because you know the answer.

Which student would you rather be?

Get Smarter Prep can help you navigate the college application process with ease.  Learn what majors and careers are a good fit for you.  Get help narrowing down your college list to the top schools that fit your personality.  Learn to write a college essay that admissions officers won’t easily forget.

By starting early on your applications, you not only reduce your potential stress levels, but you also have a better shot at getting the money you need for the school you want.  All financial aid has a deadline, and some aid is given on a first come, first served basis.  Plus, a lot of scholarships require an essay submission, so it is beneficial for you to have an essay you can be proud of.

You can still hit the pool this summer, but don’t forget to take a break for your college applications!

Gina Claypool is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.

College Entrance Exams: How colleges know what you scored

If I were to ask 10 different families about the submission process of their student’s ACT or SAT results, I would almost certainly get an equal number of different answers.  How do you know what will be seen by admission professionals and what won’t!?  My philosophy, always assume the college(s) will receive your official scores!  Here are a few key points in which all other assumptions can be effectively null:

  1. Transcripts – For the 89% of students that attend Public schools, expect your high school to submit your scores to colleges on your official transcripts.  There are even a few Private schools that include this info on your transcripts.  In fact, some colleges even accept these as official test scores – as they’re coming from an official source, ie.  not the student, nor the family.
  2. Application – You’ll quickly find out that when submitting College Applications – whether the Common App or to a particular school – it will ask about the student’s academic background and test scores.  At the end of almost every application, the student signs it, declaring the information provided was complete and accurate.  I have known students to have their acceptances remitted because a school found out the information from the application painted a different picture than what truly exists.
  3. Collected – Often times, when students attempt to only send the highest scores, all of their scores are disclosed to a college – again because the college expects a complete and accurate portrayal of the student’s achievements and scores.
  4. Purchased Lists – It seems to be a little known fact, but one of the primary ways in which colleges get a student’s information is from the ACT, SAT, PSAT, and EXPLORE.  Colleges often times purchase student’s information based upon a score range – so even if they don’t know your actual score – they will most likely know a narrow score range in which you fall within.


So, how should a student go about sending their scores?  First off – I would recommend taking a FREE Practice Test for both the ACT and SAT – so you can determine a baseline and develop a strategy that is right for the student.  These scores are not recorded in the student record, but provide an accurate measure of the student’s ability with these particular tests. 

Secondly, I would never recommend that a student take an official test unless they felt prepared and confident in their ability.  While an abnormally low score won’t necessarily affect admission at most universities – why provide any university with a reason to doubt their admission decision?


The Super Bowl and Test Prep

The Huffington Post Blog had an interesting post by Nancy Berk, Ph. D., titled “College Admission Tips to Learn From the Super Bowl.” It is a terrific, and timely, read, and we hope everyone gets a chance to check it out.  While all ten of her lessons apply to college admissions, a two of them apply to test prep as well.

Lesson 4: Have a strategic game plan.

Should you take the ACT or the SAT? The GRE or the GMAT? Is a standardized test required for entrance at the school(s) you are interested in? We strongly recommend you take a practice test before starting so that you can see which test fits your strengths. We offer free ACT and SAT practice tests every Saturday at our office – sign up here! For other testing, give us a call!

Lesson 2: Know the rules of the game. Do your research. Ask questions. Talk to those who’ve been there including college students, their parents, teachers and coaches.

Is there a guessing penalty on your test? How much time do you have for each section? Familiarizing yourself with the structure, timing, and scoring of your standardized test will help you feel more comfortable and confident.

Do your research, take a practice test, and learn the rules of the game!

One more important lesson: don’t wait until the last minute!

Author Linden Schult is a Master Level Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.