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What You Need to Know about the PSAT

The calendar has turned to October, and not only does October mark the start of fall, but it also means the PSAT is just around the corner.  I’ve written previously on the PSAT, but I had a question from a parent of a 9th grader the other day.  Today’s post is in response to that question: Question:  I have a general question since we are new to high school.  When do students take the PSAT?  Do they tutor for this?  I am not sure what the PSAT counts for, and I am not even sure my child is taking it [...]

Effective Strategies for All 9th Graders

  Now that school is officially underway and we have a couple of weeks of classes under our belts, it’s time for reality to set it. The thrill of coming back to school has likely faded. Now the work begins! As a high school counselor, one of my primary roles is to help students navigate their four years of high school and set them up for success afterwards. For freshmen just starting this journey it is important to get off to a good start. Time goes by incredibly fast, and the choices freshmen make definitely have an impact of their [...]

My Summer Vacation

It’s early August, and although summer doesn’t officially end for several more weeks, summer vacation has come and gone. School in Texas starts pretty early, and I’m already back to work in the office getting ready for another school year. While I’ve been in education for pretty much my entire adult life, it has only been the past couple of years that I’ve had a true summer vacation. This year I was off from June 14-July 24, almost 6 full weeks! So what did I do during that time? Travel! Ireland Several years ago my brother graduate from Trinity College [...]

Why Grades Aren’t as Important as You Think

I was flying home from San Diego yesterday morning, and I decided to buy a copy of USA Today to keep me occupied for the flight. As I was flipping through I came across an interesting headline: A's on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder The article centers around research conducted by Michael Hurwitz of College Board and Jason Lee, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. In an extensive study they found that the percentage of students graduating with an “A” average has risen to 47% from 38.9% since 1998. That’s nearly a 10% [...]

10 Books for Summer Vacation

Summer is a time to kick back and unwind, a time to let the brain rest and prepare for another 9 months of hard work during the school year. However, I do think students benefit from some form of mental activity over the summer to keep them engaged. Reading is my favorite thing to do over summer, and it’s a great way for students to keep their brains sharp but still get away from required school work. Whether on an airplane, by the pool, or on a road trip, a book provides great distraction and helps build students’ vocabularies and [...]

The Most Affordable Option for ADHD Evaluation Might be…

When considering whether or not to have your student evaluated for a potential learning difference or ADHD, there are many factors that come into play. Testing can be lengthy, so students may have to miss a day or two of school. Also, finding someone to do the testing can also be tricky, as many psychologists and other evaluators can be booked up weeks or even months in advance. Another, perhaps even more challenging obstacle to obtaining a diagnosis, is cost. In my experience, the cost of a full psycho-educational evaluation by a licensed psychologist ranges from $750-1500. That typically includes [...]

The Secret to a Good Letter of Recommendation is . . .

The college admissions process has become increasingly competitive over the past decade or so. Whereas many schools were once considered “safety schools,” meaning pretty much anyone could get admitted, those schools have also become more selective as the number of college applications has skyrocketed. Much of this increase is due to each individual student applying to more schools, not just more students applying. College admissions decisions are generally made on four bases: ACT/SAT Scores Grade Point Average Resume Recommendation Letters Those students who are strong in all four areas generally have an easier time getting into the colleges of their [...]

Do Private Schools Offer 504 Programs?

  I meet with countless families who are looking for guidance on which schools offer the best support for their students with diagnosed learning differences or ADHD. At public schools, students with diagnosed learning differences qualify for either 504 or Special Education, depending on their needs. Private schools, however, are not beholden to the same regulations and are therefore allowed to do whatever they want. I am fortunate to work at a private school that provides, in my opinion, the best support program in Austin. One of my colleagues and good friends Renee Blanchard has run it for the past [...]

Serving in Nicaragua

Serving in Nicaragua During this past week our entire school shut down as every single student and faculty member spent time volunteering with a different service organization around the world. This was our first ever “GOweek,” and I was fortunate to travel to Managua, Nicaragua with 15 students and 2 other adult staff members (our assistant principal and one of our Spanish teachers). The intent of GOweek is twofold: 1) to spend a week selflessly serving those in need, and 2) to expose our students to different cultures. In both regards this was a great learning experience not only for [...]

The Benefits of a Private School Education

A question I get asked quite often is, “Is tuition at a private school worth it for my child?” I have attended both public and private schools as a child, and I have also worked with numerous students from both public and private. Additionally, as a counselor at a private school in Austin I know firsthand the benefits a private school can provide, particularly for students with diagnosed learning differences or ADHD. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to define “private school” as any non-charter or non-public school and assume that they charge some type of tuition. Below are [...]

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