Category: College Preparation

College-bound high school students may feel burned out and just want to relax all summer long.  While that’s certainly one option, summertime can also be a great opportunity for rising juniors and seniors to have many interesting new experiences while also enhancing their college resumes.  This can be done in so many ways including learning and developing new skills, gaining experience in a field of interest as a summer intern or volunteer, earning some money for college, or just having fun in a structured program with other students.  Summer activities can influence a student’s admissions potential at some institutions.  Here are some of the seemingly endless possibilities for summer:

Obtain an internship or perform volunteer work

Internships and volunteer positions can give students opportunities to learn new information and develop skills, as well as help to solve problems they would never have known about otherwise.  Students can enter an internship in an area of interest, as a way to help figure out if they are indeed suited for that field.  They can find a volunteer position that enables them to pursue one of their passions.  For example, a potential pre-med student can get a position working in a research lab or hospital.  A potential business student can volunteer in a marketing or public relations firm.  A current or future environmentalist can work with rangers in a forest or as a docent in a zoo or aquarium.  The possibilities are endless.  All it takes is the will to figure out where these opportunities exist and how to access them.  Here are a couple of links where you can find many summer programs, volunteer, or internship opportunities for teens.

Attend an academic summer program

Summertime can be great for further developing current academic interests or pursuing new ones.  Many local, national and international colleges offer summer classes for high school students.  Here’s a link to some local or statewide university opportunities. Students can follow a passion, improve their academic prowess in a field in which they’d struggled or learn about something completely new and different.  The residential college programs can give students a taste of what it would be like to live in a dorm.  Local students can still get a sense of what a college campus is like and what they might prefer in the size of, or class offerings at a particular school.  Students can study computer and technology related subjects, as well as writing, science, movement and exercise, or they can even study ancient artifacts.  The highly academic programs can help students to develop their skills for the college level work that awaits them.

Attend a summer camp or travel program

These can be local, national or international.  They range from technology camps held on the University of Washington campus to rafting and hiking with Outward Bound in Costa Rica.  International volunteer programs can help students to see how people around the world live and enable them to be involved in solving global problems.  Here’s a link to one website that offers many affordable international volunteer opportunities for high school and college students.  International travel programs can also simply enable students to go to parts of the world where they’ve never been, although these basic travel programs tend to be the most costly.

Study for standardized tests and work on college essays

Both rising juniors and seniors can work on first taking or on improving their SAT or ACT scores, as well as their SAT Subject Tests.  Rising seniors can also start working on their college essays once the prompts are released from their colleges of choice or the Common App.  Studying for these tests and working on the essays can alleviate some of the stress of trying to both study for school and do test preparation during the school year.  Summertime test prep can allow students more time to keep up or improve their grades to make their high school transcripts really shine prior to submitting them to colleges during their application season in the fall of their senior year.

Get a job

This is a great choice for those students who need to help pay for their college and who want or need to provide for their own spending money.  College admissions officials will likely look upon a summer job as a sign that a student is a hard worker.  It will give the student an employment history, and if the job is actually in one of the student’s fields of interest, it may improve his or her job prospects in that field after college.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers summer SAT/ACT courses, as well as private tutoring and admissions consulting services to assist you in making the best decisions about your academic future. Contact us today to learn more.


Colleges and universities offer plenty of opportunities to help potential new students learn and love their respective campuses. Orientation sessions, department meet and greets, and high school open houses can give a good sense of the overall feeling and vibe of the school, but there are plenty of benefits of attending a group tour or shadowing a student for a day on campus. Here are 5 reasons to arrange a guide college tour this spring:

1. Better Sense of College Life

University officials and attending students likely have vastly different views, connections, and opinions on the lifestyle of the school. Having a guided tour by a student or friend can give you a much clearer perspective on what to expect going into your first year of classes.

2. Learn Beyond the Brochure         

Universities have a lot to gain by putting their best foot forward, but you can actually learn a lot more about the quality of a school or how in-sync your goals are with the offerings of various departments by talking with someone who’s experiencing it every day. Maybe one school’s computer science department looks good on paper, but they’re using outdated equipment or curriculum. You never know until you dig deeper.

3. Discover the Campus Itself

If your heart is set on one school over another, it would be prudent to show up to your alternative choices to see the campus for yourself. How easy is it to get from the furthest dorm to the most distant classroom? What’s the public transit like? How do off-campus students get around? What’s parking availability like? These are all questions to ask students who are attending that school right now.

4. Explore Academic Options

Talk with the admissions department about the various potential majors you’re interested in and reach out to those departments to see if you can sit in on a class or two. Getting a sense of what the professors are like, the students’ relationships with them, and what the coursework entails on a first-hand basis can help you make your final decision.

5. Venture Off-Campus

If you decide to attend, you’ll be spending a lot of time in the surrounding area and city over the next 4-7 years. Take time to find out about the town’s relationship with the school, extra activities available to students, and potential for part-time employment in the surrounding area. Looking beyond your first year of school could save you a transfer later on.

If you’re still preparing for your first year of college and haven’t taken your ACT or SAT tests yet, there’s still time to get fully prepared. Sandweiss Test Prep can be your guide through the stressful months leading up to the exam dates. Find an available slot in one of our comprehensive test prep courses or contact us to learn more about our services.

At Sandweiss, we help prepare students for a variety of tests. We cover a wide range of standardized test preparation and offer tutoring on many subjects customized to your specific learning needs. We also help students who are struggling with their studying process by offering tips and tricks that can boost academic scores and help them feel more prepared for test day. Here are our 5 study tips to ace your tests:

5. Prepare

This is the most crucial step and one that students very often ignore. By preparing yourself for a long-term studying process, you can better organize the material you need to review and still plan time for extra-curricular activities. In a recent New York Times article, researchers reported that students who regularly reviewed and were quizzed on the course material throughout their Intro to Psych course did significantly better on their final exam than did students who only reviewed the material at the end of the semester, just prior to the final. Why?

retrieving facts, formulas or concepts is a threefold mental act: finding the sought-after information in the vast catacombs of the brain; bringing it consciously to mind; and finally, storing it. That newly stored memory will be embedded in a host of additional associations and connections and will be much easier to recall later than if you’d merely read it again. 

The author, Benedict Carey, closed the article by stating: “Testing in all its permutations, subtle and otherwise, convinces the brain that the knowledge is useful, and important. And by varying one’s testing strategies, the actual final exam — the dreaded assessment — isn’t nearly as scary.” Practice tests, quizzes, and reviews of the final material over a long-term period haven been shown to increase final grades and improve memory retention in students.

4. Study Effectively

How much time do you spend checking email, your phone, or social media? It may not feel like much because they’re very quick interactions, but they build up throughout the day. Having the discipline to shut off your notifications and internet connection for a solid chunk of time could be the difference between studying effectively and not retaining enough of the needed information. Give yourself 25-50 uninterrupted minutes of studying, then take 5 minutes to goof around on your phone or get a cup of coffee. Taking breaks is important, but only if you’re truly using your time effectively.

3. Eat Well

The worst thing you can do for your brain and your body during intense reading and information processing is to consume unhealthy food. Soda, sugar, and fats feel like a good way to get a quick, easy burst of energy, but they lead to crashes (which many people counteract with caffeine). Throughout the day, make sure you’re eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates. You’re going to be burning a lot of energy, so making sure your body recovers after a long study session is also important. Think of long durations of studying like you would approach sustained athletic activity. Take care of yourself and your brain and body will reward you.

2. Try Different Techniques

Your brain is a muscle and muscles need different forms of exercise to grow and develop. Even if you have a tried-and-true studying technique, it may be helpful to try different strategies when facing tough material. Word associations, singsongs, or analogies that relate to your subjects may help you to remember complicated acronyms or formulas.

1. Get Help

Explaining the material to someone else and verbalizing complex information can help you understand whether you truly know a subject or are just getting by. Speak with your teachers, parents, friends and tutors if you’re struggling.  Find a classmate who is studying the same material as you and talk about it – or argue about it! Exposing yourself to different opinions on academic subjects can broaden your own perspective and open up different avenues of thought. Just don’t rely on Google to answer all of your questions; the Internet is a hit-or-miss resource for many academic subjects.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers individual tutoring and group tutoring on a variety of subjects. We can help you with your studying process or help prepare you for major exams like the ACT, SAT, or AP and SAT subject tests. Contact us today to discuss your academic goals and find out how a Sandweiss tutor or class can help you achieve them.

Image source 


Choosing an area of study is an important step when choosing a school, but it doesn’t have to happen right away. Having a few good choices when you’re college hunting is a good way to remain relatively flexible in your studies. Here are a few majors that pay the most:

5. Physics

NASA, the Department of Defense, and private scientific research firms all scoop up these majors and their starting salaries are generous. Research and development should be your modus operandi – not to mention a whole lot of studying in college.

4. Applied Mathematics

Calculating costs, estimations, predicting outcomes and designing systems are all future projects you can expect out of this career field. A practical degree that can be utilized in many different industries, graduates can expect work in finance, economics, and education among many others.

3. Medicine

Doctors and nurses are always in high demand, as it’s a major that’s science-heavy and requires lots of hands-on training. The specific fields of study are diverse in both career paths and get more specialized as you go further. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree could specialize in neonatal, family health, surgical, and geriatric care, for example.

2. Computer Science

Focused on the interaction between humans and computers, this admittedly broad field of study could translate into a career in several industries, notably computer system development, software publishing, research, video games development, or mobile application system development.

1. Engineering

Basically any specific area of engineering you study, you’ll probably wind up with a pretty spiffy salary. Some engineering fields include: biomedical, software, mechanical, electrical, industrial, aerospace, computer, nuclear, chemical, and petroleum engineering.

Ready to take the first step towards a rewarding and high-paying career? Contact Sandweiss Test Prep to help set you on the right path towards your college major.

Chances are that if you’re a junior in high school or are the parent of one, you’re probably starting to seriously consider college options. A great way to be more appealing to college admissions departments is to boost those SAT/ACT scores.

Why take the tests so early? Giving yourself time to get results back and allow for the possibility to retake them again in the spring will only help with your peace of mind and free you up to focus on other activities.

Students that aren’t prepared for either test shouldn’t feel rushed into taking one. Allowing time to prepare and seek any instructional guidance in advance is better than taking a test multiple times hoping that your score will improve.

The next SAT exam dates are December 6th and January 24th. The ACT tests are on December 13th and February 7th. If you’re going to be taking next available test and you haven’t been studying or you don’t feel prepared, consider enrolling in one of our test prep courses. Courses are still available for the ACT sections and we’re currently offering a condensed SAT course starting Saturday, November 1st for the December 6th exam for $499.

All course prices include a textbook and other study materials as well as access to our weekly Study Hall – perfect for a flexible homework help session! And if you’re unsure which test you should take, we offer diagnostic tests for both the SAT and the ACT. From there, you can prepare for the test that’s best for you.

Totally lost? Here’s a video that explains the differences between the SAT and the ACT tests.

Contact Sandweiss today to discuss your test preparation options and get a head start on the upcoming SAT or ACT tests. Don’t put this off until the last available date – these tests are important and could help determine a student’s future.

With college admission rates continuing to decline at the nation’s more selective schools, many students are taking advantage of Early Action programs. There’s a higher chance of acceptance to a higher education institution if the student applies early, but there are several important things to consider before applying for an Early Action plan.

First, there are two types of Early Action programs: restrictive (binding) and non-restrictive (non-binding). Restrictive Early Action allows candidates to apply to only a single Early Action institution. Non-restrictive Early Action permits candidates to apply to multiple schools on an Early Action basis. With both types of programs, the applicant is still permitted to reject offers.

Next, Early Action usually requires students to submit an application by November 1st or 15th of their senior year. If you’re a senior and are considering applying for Early Action, October is the month to complete it.

In order for SAT or ACT test results to reach the schools in time, applicants must take the exam no later than the October or November test date. Program specifics vary from school to school, so be sure to ask the admissions office what their policy is on the submission of test scores. Some schools will consider test scores received after the application deadline provided that all of the other application materials have been submitted on time.

Though the timing for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not ideal for Early Action applicants, you can still complete the CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which will detail your family’s financial circumstances. Some schools require that profile as early as October.

Another benefit of Early Action is the opportunity for students to apply elsewhere if they are denied admission at their top-choice school, or if the amount of the financial aid award isn’t sufficient even if they are accepted. Some schools that reject applicants for Early Action will place those students in the general admission pool and consider their applications again prior to the April 1st notification date.

If you have questions about how to prepare for early action admissions this month, contact the individual institutions or to get prepared for testing, contact Sandweiss Test Prep today!

Image source

So, you made it past all the applications, tests, and preparation that go into applying for college. Congratulations! Now time to think about logistics—how are you going to pay for your higher education? While many college-level students are lucky to have financial support from their family, many are not as fortunate. Attending university is expensive, so it’s important to know your budget and understand your payment options. Luckily, financial aid is available in a few different forms. The most common types of financial aid eligibility applications (excluding scholarships) are:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA): This federal form determines a student’s eligibility for federal aid. It’s required by most state and college financial aid programs because the majority of student financial aid in the U.S. each year comes from federal funds. Students can begin filing FAFSA forms January 1, 2015.
  • CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE: This online service allows students to provide a complete financial profile and family circumstances so that colleges can dispense aid to the most economically deserving students. Some colleges may require the PROFILE as early as October.
  • State & Institutional Forms: The process of granting financial aid varies from place to place, so some colleges may require specific state or institutional forms that are different from the FAFSA.  These forms may also be necessary for scholarship applications.

While student aid and non-federal loans for full-time equivalent students has increased by 33 percent over the last decade, the total student financial aid has decreased every school year since 2010-2011. The government’s share of student aid decreased from 74 percent in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years to 71 percent in 2012-2013.

For more information on financial aid, visit If you are not eligible for any financial aid, remember that student loans are also an option. For local financial aid assistance, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends Paula Bishop Financial Aid for College Advisor.

Featured photo found here.

More than 500 colleges and universities throughout the United States accept the Common Application for evaluating students for admission. Students can complete the one Common Application, and submit it to as many schools as they wish, along with their supplemental essays (specific to the school). This makes the college application process slightly more efficient.

However, the Common App essays do require a lot of thought and hard work. There are five essay options provided on the Common Application (click here to review them). Students applying to college through the end of the summer and into the fall should take extra care as they craft their Common App essays.

With the expertise they practice in college admissions counseling, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends these tricks for writing Common App essays:

  • Tell a story about yourself. All of your credentials are included in the application, itself. In your Common App essays, share an anecdote (short story) about something you experienced or did that exemplifies your character or personality.
  • Reveal something about yourself that is not otherwise evident. Your ACT score is meant to tell admissions officers how academically prepared you are for college. Your GPA shows them how hard you have worked and/or succeeded in high school courses. But your Common Application may not show admissions officers how deeply that semester studying abroad influenced your desire to pursue medicine as a career. Share that extra depth about yourself in the essays.
  • Be honest about your achievements. Do not inflate your accomplishments or make up titles for yourself to embellish your essay – be truthful. As much as plagiarism is detrimental to your high school record, lying or exaggerating the truth can hurt your college experience, and may exclude you from acceptance if caught early.
  • Choose your words carefully. Remember that college admissions officers are reading through hundreds of essays, and likely will not appreciate a wordy, long-winded essay. Remove extra words and be clear and concise in each sentence.
  • Remember to entertain. The college admissions officers reading your essay have read (or are reading) many other students’ essays in the short time they have to make a recommendation. To make your essays stand out, include an element of entertainment – serious, funny, inspiring, or quirky.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers college entrance and standardized testing preparation classes, academic tutoring, college admissions guidance and coaching, and more. Contact Sandweiss Test Prep for more information, or to schedule a consultation for your student.

Featured photo from Flickr user davedugdale