Category Archives: Admissions Consulting

How to Get the Best Letters of Recommendation from Your Teachers

Tips from an Anaheim Tutor: How to Get the Best Letters of Recommendation from Your Teachers


Letters of recommendation are a requirement for nearly every college application. The majority of these letters tend to come from high school teachers who can give insight into how the student performs and acts in the classroom. These letters can be valuable to admissions officers because they are often the only second-party accounts of the student’s abilities and personality – book your private Anaheim college admissions consultant for the summer.

As such, having good letters of recommendation is important for your applications. However, asking for letters is a topic of significant stress for many students. Which teachers should I ask? When do I ask? How do I make sure they write me a good letter? How should I ask them? These are all common questions, but luckily, they have relatively straightforward answers:

Which teachers should I ask?

Ask the teachers who know you best. It is not vital that you got an ‘A’ in their class (though it is preferred). The letter of recommendation doesn’t have to talk about specific grades. What you want from a letter is for it to be personal and stand out. Many applicants will have letters from teachers that are very generic and surface-level because the teacher doesn’t know the student well. You want a teacher who you are closer too and who can write a more individualized and detailed letter.

If you don’t have a teacher you feel you are close to, don’t worry. Ask the teachers whose classes you did well in and who seem nice or helpful. We’ll discuss how to get a good letter from these teachers soon.

When do I ask?

As early as possible. Ideally, you ask sometime in your junior year. You can also ask over the summer. Teachers get the most requests from procrastinating students shortly before deadlines. A letter is extra work for a teacher. If they have a dozen extra letters to write two weeks before application deadlines, then they are unlikely to be putting in a huge individual effort into your letter. Ask early, and send occasional (friendly!) reminders.

How do I make sure they write me a good letter?

Show them what you want. Many teachers don’t know how to write good letters. It is very common to receive a poor letter from a teacher who had the best intentions. It is also very common to receive a poor letter from a teacher who didn’t know enough about you to write a detailed one. The letter of recommendation should be an opportunity for you to highlight the skills and qualities that you want to be emphasized on your application. Here are two ways to help guarantee:

-Give a list of things you would like mentioned in your letter. This way they know what you want written about and have a reminder of things you’ve done. You can also include what you don’t want to be mentioned if there is something you’re worried about being included.

-Write your letter for them. This is slightly controversial as you are not supposed to be writing your own letters. Here is how you do it ethically: write an example letter that is exactly what you are hoping that the teacher would write. Don’t be humble in it; it may feel embarrassing, but now is the time to brag about yourself. Then, give it to your teacher as an example of what you’re looking for. Ask if they could write a letter similar to the one you gave them and that they can use your letter for reference.

How should I ask?

In person, early, and with material for them to use. If you can’t ask in person because it’s the summer, then it is okay to email rather than waiting for the year to begin. Make sure you include either the list of things you want to be included, or an example letter. When you ask, don’t ask if they can just write you a letter. Ask if they would be comfortable writing a letter touching on the things that you provided them.

It is okay if they say no, or that’s not how they write letters, or that they don’t accept input from students on letters. At that point, it’s usually better to ask a different teacher, unless you are confident that this one will write a good letter on your own. You will find that many teachers will be more than happy to use the guidelines you provide or to simply edit a letter that you already wrote. It makes the process easier for them and better for you. Now is not the time to be embarrassed.

These recommendations are important parts of your application. Do what you can to make sure your teacher is writing a good one.

Our private Anaheim college admissions consultants have a 97% success rate. Book your consultant today.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Tips From an Interviewer: How to Ace Your College Interview

How to Ace Your College Interview (from a College Interviewer)


You submitted your college applications a few weeks ago and had just received some fantastic news: you have received an interview invitation! But that raises a few questions: how do you go about preparing for your interview? What are the most important topics to discuss? What should you wear? Here are a few tips to get you started – our private Irvine college admissions consultants are only a call away.

1. It’s Better to be Overdressed than Underdressed

Since I recently graduated from college, I tend to be a little more laid-back when I am interviewing a student to make them feel a bit more comfortable. But this does not mean I expect them to show up in jeans and a t-shirt. A good rule of thumb for all interviews is that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. When I was going through my own college interviews, I would usually wear a dress shirt and slacks and bring a blazer in case my interviewer seemed like she meant business. During my time as an interviewer, I have interviewed students in all types of outfits, from full-on suits to board shorts and sweatshirts. And even if the students who were more casually dressed had amazing things to say, my opinion of them was definitely affected by their outfit of choice. And vice versa, even when my conversations with the suited students were not the best, I appreciated the effort they put into their appearance, and that reflected in my report (READ: College Admissions Essay Crunch Time).

2. Be Conscious of your Interviewer’s Schedule

I am aware that many of the students that are applying to these top-tier schools have a million things on their plate so I try to be flexible with interview scheduling, but often students don’t return that flexibility. I’ve emailed students with a few possible interview dates and students only to have them respond “I can only do X time on X day.” Now, there is a better way to go about asking for a different time slot, and that is not it. Many of the people who conduct interviews are busy professionals who have been kind enough to volunteer their time to meet with you, so be conscious of that. Remember to be respectful of your interviewer’s time and if you cannot do the time/date they offer, apologize and offer other options always making sure that you are not inconveniencing your interviewer.

3. Bring Only a Copy of your Resume/CV

The only thing you need to bring to an interview is your CV/resume in a nice folder and yourself. As much as I appreciate you bringing the 20-page paper you published on why soda is bad for you, am I going to read it? No. Interview reports are usually written right after the interview so I do not have time to read any additional material. If you want me to know about that paper you published, bring it up during the interview!

4. Give Specific Reasons as to Why you want to attend that particular school

I cannot stress this specific point enough. I attended a college in a big city with many other colleges, but whenever I asked students “Why X school?” They only ever answered: “Because I want to live in X city.” Well… what about all of the other schools in that city? You could use that argument for any of the other schools in that city.

Give me a specific reason as to why you want to go to X school. Maybe you want to go into architecture and you know that X school, in particular, has an amazing architecture program. I am especially impressed when students cite a specific class or professor that they are interested in taking or working with. The more specific you can get, the better because that shows that not only do you know what field you’re interested in, but also that you’ve done your research.

5. Bring Specific Questions about the School

Again, relating back to doing your research about the school, bring school-specific questions. Don’t ask me generic questions that you could ask about any school. Or, if you do, pepper them in between specific questions. I volunteered to be an interviewer because, as a recent graduate, I can give students a very clear idea of what the school is like and answer questions about the curriculum, specific classes, the learning environment, etc. This is especially helpful to students who are unable to visit the campus, so try to take advantage of that! I know it’s harder to do this with older interviewers who graduated 20+ years ago, but some things do tend to stay the same so don’t be afraid to ask them specific questions about a class or professors! I remember during my interview I asked my interviewer who had graduated in the 90s about a specific professor and, lo and behold, I had that same professor in college!

I know the idea of an interview can seem scary and daunting, especially if it’s the first ever interview you’ve had, but don’t worry! Just remember to research the school, your interviewer, and common interview questions beforehand. And, most importantly, be yourself!

Book your private San Diego college admissions consultant today! Our admissions tutors are experienced and have a 97% success rate.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

How to get into an Ivy League School

How to get into an Ivy League School from an Ivy League Grad


With the college application cycle in full swing, high school seniors are seriously researching and considering all types of schools – book your private Irvine college admissions consultant today. For those students who are aiming for Ivy League or similarly ranked schools, here are a few tips to consider when making your college application plans, writing college apps, or simply selecting which schools to apply to:

• Be consistent in your activities

Schools would much rather see you invested in a single activity for all of high school than bouncing from activity to activity throughout your four years. For example, starting on your high school’s fresh/soph soccer team freshman year and then working your way up to varsity captain by senior year makes a better impression than being on the softball team freshman year then jumping to the swim team sophomore year and ultimately landing on the tennis team senior year. Why is demonstrating commitment important? Because college is challenging long-term commitment that they want to make sure that you are prepared to take on, and the best way to show that you are ready is by being invested in an activity throughout all of high school.

• Don’t do things just for the sake of doing them/putting them on your resume

While the opportunity to be the lead volunteer at the soup kitchen probably seems like an enticing prospect (leadership AND volunteering, sign me up!), don’t participate in activities solely because they seem like a great addition to your resume. If you love working with underserved communities and getting to know the members of those communities then go ahead and take that leadership position. Many college applications ask questions specifically about your activities and, if you aren’t actually invested in that activity, it will show in how you write about it. If you love dogs and want to volunteer at the animal shelter but you think volunteering at the hospital will look better on your application, guess again! If you can demonstrate your passion for animals as well as any skills you developed while volunteering there – such as patience, communication, interpersonal skills, etc. – that will be a much more valuable experience than half-hearted hospital volunteering and ultimately a better activity to write about on your common app.

• Put serious time into studying for the SAT/ACT

This probably seems obvious enough but it is a practice that is important not only for the SAT/ACT but also for college and beyond. Prepare for the SAT/ACT as if it were a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of cramming for the test the night before, take a few hours every week to do a few practice questions or take a practice test. You probably won’t see any major changes in your performance immediately, but you will see a steady increase in your scores over time leading up to the test. Another important part of studying for the SAT is going over the questions you get wrong. Students tend to get back their wrong answers, toss them aside, and move on. Instead, take the time to see why you got that question wrong because, chances are, a similar question will come up on the actual test and you will be prepared to get that answer correct this time around!

• Do something that will stand out

Now, I don’t mean go out and try to cure cancer- but if you do accomplish that, that’s awesome keep up the good work! What I am referring to is that, all of my college classmates and their dogs played the violin in high school (including me). So, while playing the violin is a great activity to have, try to participate in an activity that is more “out there.” For example, one of my classmates started a small environmental science club at her high school and, through reaching out to companies big on sustainability, she was able to grow her club into a massive international organization. Not only was she clearly passionate about sustainability, but she was also able to demonstrate that in a unique way.

All of that being said, even if you do not end up attending an Ivy, please remember that going to college is a huge accomplishment, and you should be very proud of yourself and how hard you worked to get there. Good luck on this next big step in your life!

Fernanda P. graduated from Columbia University and is attending medical school next year. She is a private tutor with Tutornerds in the south Orange County area.

Don’t wait to book your experienced Irvine college admissions consultant today.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Why You Need an Irvine College Admissions Consultant

Four Reasons Why You Need an Irvine College Admissions Consultant


For many high school students, applying to college is the main focus right now. Whether you are applying to as many as possible or sticking to your top two or three, putting together a college application can be a lot of work. From a high GPA to extracurricular activities and sports, you’ve done all you can to put your best foot forward, but that still might not be enough to woo the admissions director. Fortunately for you, our private Irvine college admissions consultants are highly educated and experienced.

Though college applications vary, most consist of more than one piece. For example, a college might require you to submit your high school transcript, test scores (SAT & ACT), an essay, letters of recommendation, and possibly an interview. That’s a lot to put together, all while trying to present it in a consistent manner that makes you look exceptional.

The best way to get into the college of your dreams is to work with a private Irvine admissions consultant. Here are four reasons why you should get some extra help

1. Help You Stay On Track

As mentioned in the intro, applications require an assortment of documents, essays, test scores, and recommendation letters. A private admissions consultant has been through the process before and has the credentials to prove they know what they are talking about (you can book our Harvard-educated admissions consultant today). Your consultant will help you create a plan that fits in with the due date of the application. That way you won’t be rushing last minute to get a missing piece of the puzzle. Further, your consultant will be there to answer any questions you have along the way, which will save you the time and stress (READ: College Decisions: 3 Things to Think About).

2. Help You Stay Calm

Applying to college is stressful. While you’re busy writing essays and preparing for interviews, your friends are getting acceptance letters. It can be overwhelming for students as well as disheartening. Thankfully you’ll have the help of a highly educated consultant who knows what it takes to get into the top universities – you can get the assistance of a Harvard educated admissions consultant when you call TutorNerds today.

3. Take Your Application from good to great

College is getting more and more competitive. We do not doubt that on your own you can come up with a proper application. The bad news is that good doesn’t cut it anymore; If you want to get into the college of your dreams, your application needs to be great. Usually, admissions advisors spend more time on applications that catch their attention in the first few seconds. They can spot the great from the good better than anyone. A private college consultant will make sure your application catches their eye and keeps their attention.

4. Prepare for Your Admissions Interviews

Not all colleges require or offer an interview for admissions, but if you have the opportunity for one, we advise you take it. Whether it’s through an alumni connection or available to all applicants, an interview with an admissions advisor can be daunting. Thankfully, our private Irvine admissions consultants are pros and can prepare you for your big day. From prepping questions to ask to practice with mock interviews, a consultant is key to entering that interview with confidence. The last thing you want to do is to go into an interview unprepared and unenthusiastic.

Call TutorNerds today to book your private college consultant!

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

4 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Business Classes

Tips From An Irvine Business School Consultant: 4 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Classes


Whether you’re in undergrad or back in school to get your MBA, the way you approach your business classes can help you get the most out of them. Back when I was in business school, it didn’t take me long to realize that what I was learning went far beyond just what was in the textbook. Unlike other fields of study, business is something you can put into practice while you are learning it – maybe hold off on doing someone’s taxes until you are certified. Your time in the classroom will go by faster than you expect, so utilize these tips to get the most out of your business classes.

Are you applying to business school? Our private Irvine business school consultants are here to help.

1. The Professor Knows Best

Business school can be unique in that its best professors might be the ones with the least amount of schooling. For example, my favorite marketing Professor may not have a Ph.D., but he did own one of the most successful marketing firms in the country. With these professors, it’s best to watch how they interact with people, how they speak, and how they manage their time and lectures. Often, you’ll learn your best bit of business advice in a passing comment or a digression from the scheduled lecture topic. Odds are your business professor got to where they are by being excellent at businesses, which is something they most likely don’t turn off when they get into the lecture hall, so observe and take notes.

2. Join a Club

Clubs are a great way to develop your business skills and to do a little networking. Not only does joining a club in the field you wish to work show some initiative on a resume, but it will also help you for when you land the job. Remember, you don’t have to be a finance major to join the finance club. Joining any business-focused club on campus will help you become a better business student.

3. Freelance

What a time to be alive! With the shared economy, freelancing, and the internet, if you have a skill, you can market and sell it easier than ever before. Are you a good writer? Consider freelance content writing. Savvy with social media? Manage a local company’s digital marketing. Freelancing is the perfect opportunity for students to test the waters and put what they’re learning in the classroom to use. Most freelance work can be done remotely, so you don’t need to worry about it conflicting with class. Just make sure you don’t take on so much work that you miss your homework deadlines (READ: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Math Tutor in College).

4. Read, Read, and Read Some More

Like many things, business strategies can get dated pretty quickly. For example, what was a good strategy in SEO last week is now frowned upon this week. I graduated five years ago from business school, and I remember textbooks containing sections, no longer than a paragraph, talking about the importance of social media. In that brief time, there are now classes dedicated to social media. Luckily, I was a regular reader of popular marketing blogs and graduated ready to adapt to the ever-changing world of business. From the top business books of the year to newspapers, reading about business will help you make the most out of your classes.

In closing, I’ll repeat myself because I think it’s that important: business school is much more than your textbooks and exams. If you want to make the most out of your time as a student, be proactive and take chances. You’ll find that developing this skills early on will pay off once you enter the workforce.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests Members of the TutorNerds team and our private tutors write every blog post. If you have any questions about our blog, please email us at

Why College Applicants Need to Look at the Big Picture

4 Things to Help College Applicants Look at the Big Picture


College applicants have either received their acceptance letters or will receive them soon. The lull between college applications and acceptance letters can be a time of uncertainty and anxiety, but students are encouraged to think about the big picture and not worry too much about the specifics of their current situation. Of course, this is much easier said than done but there are some things students can think about that will encourage them to look at the big picture and maintain a positive attitude – our private San Diego college admissions consultants are here to help you get into the university of your dreams.

1. A college education

The most critical thing college prep students should remember is that they are applying to college so they can get a post-secondary education. This will help them with their career, earning potential, stability, and overall life opportunities. In the end, there are so many different ways to get a 4-year degree. Students can attend their dream school, attend their safety school, or go to community college for two years and transfer. The important thing is that college admittance, to any university, can help a student reach their goals.

2. Earning potential

When students are looking at financial aid options and scholarship opportunities it can become daunting to think about the remaining balance they will have to pay out-of-pocket. Even students who receive scholarships or financial aid will likely have to get help from parents or family, get a part-time job, or take out substantial loans to pay for their education. Students are encouraged to think about how these four years can help their overall earning potential for the rest of their lives. In the meantime, students can look for the hundreds of small and large scholarships available and should apply for every one they’re eligible for (READ: San Diego College Tutoring Tips: 5 Great Ways to Help Pay for College).

3. Studying within their chosen field

At this point, students don’t know which colleges and universities they will be accepted to. It can be very nerve-wracking to be waiting on important information such as this, but students are encouraged to focus on the fact that they will have an opportunity to study within their chosen field. Students can get a business degree or a teaching degree, for example, from countless different universities or can work towards the first two years of general education while they’re thinking about which major they want to choose.

4. Holistic admissions process

Students are encouraged to remember that most colleges and universities use a holistic admissions process, meaning they focus on the whole student. They will, indeed, look at test scores and GPA but they will also look at the student’s statement and supplemental essays as well as their community service and recommendations. Students who are feeling unsure about their GPA or test scores are encouraged to remember that colleges are looking at them as a unique individual and that they will have a lot to offer the college they end up attending. If students apply to a balanced list of schools, they will likely be looking forward to some good news in the spring.

Are you starting you college application process? Our San Diego private college admissions consultants are here to help.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests Members of the TutorNerds team and our private tutors write every blog post. If you have any questions about our blog, please email us at

College Scholarships 101: Burgers and Donuts?

Tips from an Irvine College Consultant: College Scholarships 101

There are dozens of scholarships out there that students don’t even think about. Most of these scholarships offer relatively small amounts of money but there’s no reason why a student can’t apply for, and receive, 50 $1,000 scholarships. Most students think that scholarships are very hard to obtain and should provide a large amount of money, making it a black-and-white situation. However, there’s a huge gray area where students can find tons of micro scholarships (scholarships under $1000 or so) to help them pay for their university studies (READ: “Tips From an Irvine College Admissions Consultant: Online College Courses”).


1. Dunkin’ Donuts

That’s right, Dunkin’ Donuts offers college scholarships! Students can apply for a scholarship if they can demonstrate that they are “well-rounded”, have a good academic record and are currently working part-time. $1,000 from Dunkin’ Donuts certainly wouldn’t hurt! Learn more here: Dunkin’ Donuts Scholarship

2. Burger King

Burger King offers large scholarships for high school seniors and smaller, $1000, scholarships offered by franchisees. The Burger King Scholars Program judges students based on their academic record and participation in their community environment. The minimum GPA for the scholarship is 2.5, which makes it a lot easier to obtain then some merit scholarships. Learn more here: Burger King Scholarship

3. McDonald’s

The Ronald McDonald House Charities and Scholars Program offers a maximum award of $5,000 to be given to high school seniors who are in need of financial assistance. Applicants need to demonstrate leadership and community involvement but also have a decent academic background. Learn more here: McDonald’s Scholarship

4. Denny’s

Denny’s offers more than just pancakes to potential college students. The Denny’s Hungry for Education Scholarship advertises itself as being multicultural and assists students from elementary through college to help them with their academic endeavors. There could be as much as $200,000 going to multiple students from elementary school all the way through college so this is a great opportunity for students looking for financial help. To be eligible, an applicant must be a citizen or current resident of the US and they can use the money for tuition, fees, and other school supplies. They must also have a minimum of a 2.5 GPA. Additionally, students need to write a 300 word essay in high school or a 500 word essay in college about how Denny’s can impact childhood hunger in their communities. Learn more here: Denny’s Scholarship

5. Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr. formed the Carl N. and Margaret Karcher Founders’ Scholarship, which offers a maximum award of $1000 and is offered to high school seniors. The catch is that applicants must reside in one of the states that Carl’s Jr. operates; California is included. Applicants will be judged based on their academic achievements, community involvement, current work experience, and goals for future education. Carl’s Jr. will also consider financial need and personal family situations. Winners of the scholarship can use the money at any accredited two-year or four-year college or vocational program. Learn more here: Carl’s Jr. Scholarship

Who would’ve thought burgers and donuts could help somebody pay their way through college? But the reality is there are so many scholarships out there that students just don’t think about. Some of them are based on merit and others on financial need but there’s more than enough money out there to go around for students who take the time to invest in a short essay or online application.

Check out even more food-related scholarships here: ScholarshipMentor


tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.




Coping with Rejection: College Notification Letters

College Notification Letters: Tips On How To Cope With Rejection

college_notification_letters_rejectionCollege notification letters are due to arrive in a few short weeks. Most high school seniors are on edge at this point in the year, hoping that they were accepted to their first choice school. Although most students will get into college somewhere (especially if they seek the guidance of one of our Irvine college admissions consultants), they will also receive a rejection letter.

Students are advised to think about reasons why they may or may not be accepted to a particular university before they open their letters so as not become overly discouraged.

1. The statistics were against them

If the student applied to a university with a less than 10% admittance rate, the reality is the statistics just weren’t in their favor. Searching for a specific reason as to why they didn’t get into an Ivy League or near Ivy League school is not helpful and will lead to excess frustration. Students should not worry too much and know that it’s not necessarily a reflection of them as a student or person but rather the university’s picky admissions requirements.

Lesson learned: Resilience is powerful and is actually one of the best qualities a young person can have. People will receive multiple rejections before they land their dream job or get into the graduate school of their choice (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into the College of Their Choice”).

2.  It just wasn’t the right fit

Some students apply to school because they felt pressured or because of the school’s reputation. However, many students will not have conducted extensive research to see if the university was really the right place for them to spend four years. If the admissions department feels that they are not a good fit for a student, the student is not likely to be admitted.

Lesson learned: Students who attend a school that is not the right fit for them may struggle for the next four years; they should look at the schools they were accepted to and think about which one would truly be the right place for them to flourish.

3. Similar applicants

Many universities would like to provide a diverse student body so that admitted students can gain a broadened life perspective. A diverse population is a great thing and offers admitted students more opportunities to become multi-talented world citizens. However, this can sometimes play against an applicant if their application was similar to many others.

Lesson learned: It’s important that a student is able to stand out on their college application and offer something that their peers cannot. College juniors can learn from their older peers by thinking about what would make them stand out next year. Examples would include a unique volunteer or community service experience, taking AP exams outside of the norm, and fully developing a hobby or interest that is unique (READ: “Navigating the Basics of the College Application Process”).

4. The student didn’t apply to a diverse range of schools

Students are always encouraged to apply to a range of schools. Regardless, many students apply to several schools that happen to be very similar. Students who apply only to Ivy League schools, only to large public universities, or only to small specialized schools may find that they have more rejection letters than expected.

Lesson learned: High school seniors should look at the places they were accepted to and choose one that will be the best fit for them. High school juniors can learn from their older peers by remembering to apply to a range of schools when it’s their turn. The more the merrier when it comes to college applications.

On a rare occasion a student will find that they are not accepted to any of the colleges they applied to. This usually isn’t because of the student’s grades and test scores but rather because they only applied to “reach” schools or did not choose a “safety” school. Students who find themselves in this situation are advised to sit down with their academic counselor at school as well as with their parents and review how best to spend the next 12 months. Students who are not accepted to college at all should know that they are not doomed to a life without a bachelor’s degree. Students can always apply next year, but they should think about what didn’t work out the first time around so they can remedy these issues in the 12 months that follow (READ: “Tips from an Irvine College Consultant:  International Scholarships 101”).

In short

Although getting a rejection letter is emotionally difficult and frustrating, students should be advised that resilience is one of the best qualities they can have as a young person and try to move on as best they can. Students can then look at the list of schools they were accepted to and start focusing on a positive and productive academic future.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

4 College Prep Tips From an Irvine Admissions Consultant

College Prep Craziness

High school used to be divided into four years: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. These days, it seems as if high school is broken up into two different subsets: Regular high school and college prep. Unfortunately, sometimes these two phases overlap. Students who don’t think about college at all until the 11th grade may find that their college prep experience is exhausting (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into The College of Their Choice“). I don’t encourage students to think about one year as simply a preparation for the next, each year should be enjoyed for what it is. However, there are a few things that can make the college prep that occurs in the 11th and 12th grade a little bit easier.


1. Think about college in a general sense

It is not necessary for students to think about the specifics of the exact university that they wish to attend in their sophomore year (with the exception of Ivy League hopefuls) but it is important to think about college in general.

Do you want a big city or a small town?
Do you want a two-year degree or a four-year degree?

A general major, such as communications or business can lead to a number of different career options while a specific major, such as pre-med, will lead to one specific profession. Thinking about being in college as a sophomore can help make certain decisions easier throughout the college prep craziness (READ: “5 Things to do Before You Go Away to College“).

Pick out 5 to 10 colleges or universities that seem interesting and research what you would need to achieve in order to qualify for admission. Knowing a little bit about what your next two years will be like will make them less daunting. For example, would you like to attend a small private school that focuses on community service and personal experience or would you like to attend a large university that stresses the importance of cracking in 1800 on the SAT?

2. Get test prep out of the way

I can’t stress this advice enough. Junior and senior year is an absolutely crazy time to try and squeeze in the SAT; however, this is when 95% of students choose to tackle these exams for the first time. Take an SAT course or arrange for private tutoring this summer after your sophomore year and take the exam the fall of your junior year at the latest. If you are able to take the exam before that then do so. Get it done so you can have some fun.

3. Take one, and only one, AP class

It’s not advisable to attempt to take two or three AP classes your sophomore year. Remember, this is college-level work and most AP teachers will not cut you slack for being in the 10th grade, nor should they. However, taking one AP class can help you prep for the work that you’ll be doing in your junior and senior year.  Try to pick a class that you have at least some interest in as it will make the studying less difficult. Some students will have many choices while others will only have two or three depending on the school or district that they attend (READ; “Building Vocabulary: Test Prep Edition“).

4. Get a summer job

Working in retail or food service is a fantastic way to learn discipline, promptness, and the value of a dollar. Students who work as little as 10 hours a week report that they are able to focus on their studies more when the school year starts back up. Many employers hire students as soon as they turn 16 and will train somebody who hasn’t worked in the past. An honest day’s work is a great way to acquire the discipline and concentration needed to survive the college prep craziness that will start the first day of junior year.

tutor logo Grades: The Holiday Season SlumpAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.

Extracurricular Activities For Your College Resume

College Resume Tips from an Irvine Admissions Consultant

As a high school student, it’s important to demonstrate more than just a good grade sheet. Colleges and universities look for a well rounded group of applicants. A good grade sheet is only considered a prerequisite for college acceptance. Students in 2015 should be prepared to demonstrate more than just success with course materials – make sure your grades are where they should be with the help of one of our Orange County academic tutors.

extracurricular-activities        (AP Photo/The Chronicle-Tribune, Jeff Morehead)

Students who want to attend a fine college or university should consider joining multiple extracurricular activities. There are a few things to think about before making a multi-year commitment, including whether this particular activity represents you as an individual (Read: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into the College of Their Choice“).

One – Model United Nations

Students who have any interest in international relations, sociology, psychology, or communications may be a good fit for Model UN. Students participating in this after school activity will find that they have to argue points that they may or may not ultimately believe in. However, this teaches students valuable skills about empathy, which can come in handy in any given field where students will have to work with people. Public speaking is also required when participating in Model UN and, although this can be terrifying at first, it’s an extremely valuable skill for both college and life (Read: “A Letter to My High School Self“).

Two – Team and individual sports

Both team and individual sports take up an incredible amount of time. To be successful in sports, a student must have an extreme amount of physical discipline as well as demonstrated team spirit. Students who make a three or four year commitment to a sport in high school, show potential universities that they can make a long-term commitment to something strenuous. Students who don’t make the team or students who are more geared towards an individual sport can join a club that is not directly related to the school. Many sports clouds, run clubs, and other individual sports offer their members spirit points or participation points, which can be documented and later shown on a student resume. Even students who are not at a level where they might receive a scholarship can still impress potential colleges by participating in some sort of sport after school.

Three – A kindness club

Many high schools have started a kindness club, sometimes called “It’s cool to be kind”, in response to recent widespread allegations of bullying throughout high schools. These groups are often student led but are generally officially recognized by their high school (READ: “Kindness Clubs for Kids“). Students who wish to study in any field, but especially in a helping profession, such as a teacher, therapist, or nurse, may find that this particular afterschool commitment is especially impressive to potential universities. This is also a great way to fill community service hours and a good way to help the community and other young people in general.

Four – A fine arts or music club

Unfortunately, most high schools have all but done away with art and music. This leaves most public school students at a disadvantage later on. Students who graduated 10 years before current students will have had the opportunity to have participated in art and music to some degree. Even if they are not in an art or music field, they will have gained a lot of right–brain (problem solving, creative thinking) knowledge from participating in these activities. To make up for that deficit, current high school students can demonstrate a well-rounded education by joining a club that has to do with arts and music. Students who live right here in Southern California will have plenty of opportunity to participate in museum or concert field trips, many of which are free or very low cost to full-time students.

Five- Peer tutoring

If a particular student does extremely well in one subject, for example English, they may consider participating as a peer tutor. There are many outreach programs that pair any current high school student with a student of the same age or younger who needs academic help. There are multiple English as a second language (ESL) programs right here in Orange County where a student can do some excellent community service to count towards high school graduation. Regardless of what subject a student might excel in, there is sure to be some opportunity for peer tutoring. This is especially beneficial to a future teacher or any student who wishes to work with people as part of their career.

tutor logo Cracking the ACT Science SectionAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by TutorNerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us post about.