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Five Tips For Your College Entrance Essay | TutorNerds

Applying to College is Scary

It’s time to sit down and write that personal essay to send out to your dream college and you have to communicate to the school admissions department why you should get a coveted spot in their freshman class. In this tutor’s experience, everyone seems to leave this particular part of their college application process to the very end. Admittedly, writing about yourself is about as awkward as it gets and with a general question like “Why should you be accepted to this university?” or “How will you use your education to improve your life?” the idea of trying to be original is nearly impossible.

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That’s just it, don’t try, just do it. Of course, I know that is much easier said than done but the more you think about what to write the harder it will be, so it’s important to just get some words down on paper. You always have the option of editing later. In fact, you will probably write several drafts before you arrive at that final, polished version. Trust us, our Orange County private tutors have applied and been accepted to some prestigious universities (it wasn’t easy).

Trying too hard to stand out will almost always end up making your writing style appear forced. Do yourself a favor and take some of the stress away and let your inner brilliance shine!

1. Make a list of things that you honestly want to do with your life after college.

If you’re not sure what you want to do or if you think you might change your mind, just write down something that would be really cool to do with your life, even if it doesn’t seem entirely realistic. Have you always wanted to cycle across the USA? Wish you could get paid to travel and write articles about awesome tourist sites? Write these down in your outline, they could come in handy later.

2. Just start writing.

Forget about flow, grammar and spelling for now (that will come later). If your computer feels uninspiring, go down to your favorite place and write with a good old fashioned paper and pencil. Being in nature, near the ocean, or in any setting that makes you feel relaxed will help the words flow out of your head and onto that paper.

3. Write a few versions of your personal essay.

It will be great to have some options to choose from later. Also, if different colleges have slightly different prompts, don’t try to mold one essay into several. Take the time to write a separate essay for each university. The admissions department will easily be able to tell which applicants took the time to write an entire essay from scratch and who took a short cut. Your personal essay is essentially your resume and cover letter combined. It could possibly take you from the “maybe” pile to the “yes” pile, so those extra hours are definitely worth it!

4. Wait a day or two before proofreading your essay.

It is really hard to edit your own work, but having a fresh eye will give you a better shot at making adequate changes. Do all of the content edits first, and then move on to the grammar and flow edits. If you correct grammar and formatting before content, you may find that you are spending more time than you need and we want to keep this as low stress as possible to keep those creative juices flowing.

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5. Know when to ask for help.

If you are really struggling with this aspect of your college application, don’t be afraid to get help from your private Irvine in-home tutor or a responsible classmate. All of the content should be yours but there is no reason why you can’t get inspiration or formatting help from an experienced writer.

Bottom Line:  Be yourself. You want to end up at a university that is a good fit for you and has the programs and opportunities that will enrich your life and help you get closer to your career goals.

Need practice? Enter our Orange County, California, essay contest. It’s open to all O.C. high school students grades 9-12. In addition to the chance of wining $500 for summer, the contest is a great opportunity to practice your essay skills.

Have a fantastic Earth Day, Orange County!

All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. For educational guest-blogging, please email us at info@tutornerds.com

Eight SAT Essay Tips | TutorNerds

Need Help With the SAT Essay, Orange County?

You have 25 minutes to write the BEST essay ever. You only have to focus on: Punctuation, grammar, flow, originality, formatting, and content. This is easy, right? Of course not!

Lets’ go through this one SAT essay tip at a time and by the time we get to the end it won’t be quite so daunting.

SAT-essay-tips1. Those precious 25 minutes:

The most important thing is to start writing. ‘Blank page syndrome’ AKA writer’s block is very common and you should feel better knowing that most of your peers are experiencing the exact same thing. A blank page is bad. Writing something down, even if you have to edit later, is good. Words lead to more words and eventually a finished SAT essay.

If you are really stuck, write a quick outline. An outline requires words, and words are good.

2. Punctuation:

The person scoring your essay will appreciate proper punctuation but not at the expense of content. If time is a major issue, get that content down and leave five minutes to proofread. One or two minor mistakes probably won’t kill your score, but your essay has to be readable. If one of your sentences has five commas, turn one into a period and create a new sentence.

3. Grammar:

Have you ever heard the term “grammarian”? Well, your grader will be one. S/he will have a special affinity for proper grammar. “Then vs. than”, “your vs. you’re”, subject-verb agreement etc…

Grammar is something you can work on ahead of time and practice makes perfect. Ask a tutor to look over a few sample essays that you have written and give you advice on improving your grammar.


4. Flow:

This is one of the hardest problems to solve when writing an essay because the solution is not concrete. You won’t be able to look up “flow” and get a specific answer as to how to make your essay smooth and easy to read. This is one topic where tutors and teachers can be most helpful. If you are struggling with flow, you will want someone to sit down with you and really comb through sentence by sentence.

To get you started think of it like this: If you’re enjoying a nice wave out in the Pacific, you want smooth, even waves. You don’t want flat water or choppy, uneven waves. Don’t surf? Let’s say you’re driving along on the freeway. Do you want to hit a pot hole every 5 minutes and stress out in stop and go traffic, or have smooth roads and no cars in sight? Your transition sentences should not be pot holes, nor should they be that giant wave that breaks your board in half. Keep it smooth.

5. Originality:

If you have taken a practice test, you will know that examples are required. Try to be original with examples (easier said than done). Certain topics, although good, have become cliché and your grader will appreciate originality. Talk with your Orange County private tutor about which topics have been used over and over and which are still original. This can change from year to year as more topics are introduced and written about.

6. Spelling:

Unfortunately, the SAT essay is written on paper so there is not a spell check option. Brush up on your spelling so as to avoid a basic mistake. If you come up with a great word but have no idea how to spell it, chose another one. You might get one pass on a misspelled word but that’s it.

7. Formatting:

Don’t confuse formatting with flow. Flow focuses on the readability of your essay while formatting looks at more basic, but still important things such as indentation, the clear placement of the transition sentence etc… Your essay should not look like one giant paragraph.

8. And for the finale, content!

Content is THE most important part of your essay, It is the blood that flows through the veins of your essay and gives it life. There is not a simple tip or trick to bypass content. Being well informed of current events, being well read, and also having a love of writing can come into play here. This is where your tutor will be most helpful. While you’re waiting for that tutor to show up at your door, pick out a few novels and a newspaper and start reading.

Bottom line:

Start early, having time to work on all of the aspects of the essay will alleviate your stress. Practice makes perfect, plan to write 6-10 practice essays before you reach your best level. Ask for help; get a study group, a parent or a tutor to go over all these things with you.

All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. For educational guest-blogging, please email us at info@tutornerds.com

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Orange County Essay Contest ($500 Prize) | TutorNerds

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  – Toni Morrison

Orange County High School Essay Contest: Write Your Own Future


Writing well is important. It’s important for your education, your future job, and various other social interactions. Even if you aced your high school English courses, odd are you’re still not adequately prepared for college level writing assignments. Writing well takes time, practice, and patience. Unfortunately, most students find this out the night before an important essay is due, or while writing their college entrance essays.

In order to help get the word out about America’s writing crisis, we’re calling on all Orange County private and public high school students to tell us why they think writing well is important. Further, you can win money ($500). Below is our official press release. Please contact us at info@tutornerds.com for any questions regarding the contest. Stay updated on the latest news by checking our Google +, blog, twitter, and facebook often. Good luck, OC!

Rules, Regulations, and Deadlines

Irvine, California – As a part of the Orange County community, local company TutorNerds is concerned high school students are entering college with insufficient writing skills. For instance, in a study administered by the National Center for Educational Progress, four out of five American students do not write proficiently. This is alarming. So how can we help? In addition to our tutoring services, we are committed to making this crisis part of everyday educational conversations. Most importantly, we want to show writing can be fun and fulfilling .

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect” – Anais Nin.

In a world of word processors, tweets, and texts, it’s often difficult for students to realize the importance of writing well. Sadly, most individuals discover too late that their abilities are not up to par with college standards. From business emails to wedding vows, having the ability to write well will always give you the advantage.  

For the reasons mentioned above, TutorNerds officially announces its Essay Contest for Orange County 9-12th graders. This essay contest gives local students the chance to compete for a first place Grand Prize of $500 towards the student’s education.

The contest specifics are as followed:

The contest is open to current students of any Orange County private or public high schools.
The essay prompt reads: “Describe why you believe writing well is important for your future.”

The contest submissions should be no more than 1,500 words written preferably with Microsoft Word and saved as a Word document. The 1,500 max word count should be taken seriously, as submissions with any more than 1,500 words will not be considered.

Students are required to ensure their submissions are written in Times New Roman, 12 pt font, and double spaced.

Submissions must be of entirely original content. Students are not allowed to receive any help from friends or family. Moreover, these submissions must be something that the student has written for this particular essay contest. This means that articles or content from previous school assignments, or even past essay contests, will not be accepted.

Contest submissions will be judged on three aspects:

Quality of content (including writing, grammar, spelling, punctuation, structure, etc.);

Persuasiveness of the student’s argument(s) as well as the persuasiveness of the student’s counter-argument(s);

Overall Originality (essays should be enjoyable, enlightening, and easy to read. In other words, use your own voice!).

First place will receive $500 towards his or her education. In addition, the top five essays will be credited and published  on our blog.

In order to be considered for this contest, students who submit content must also follow TutorNerds on twitter (@TutorNerds), as well as like TutorNerds’ Facebook page. Don’t be a contest hog! Help us spread the word by sharing, tweeting, and telling your Orange County high school contemporaries about the competition.

In honor of Walt Whitman’s birthday,  the deadline for submitting content is 12 Noon on May 31, 2014. Each student is asked to include in his or her submission their full name, e-mail address, phone number, the high school in which the student currently attends and the grade level, and the student’s twitter handle. Students should submit their essays to info@tutornerds.com

The winners’ names will be posted the week of the 16th of June, 2014. Students who submitted winning essays will also be contact via telephone, so it’s vital that students provide a correct telephone number.

This contest is void where prohibited by law. TutorNerds LLC reserves the right to refuse to award if doing so violates any applicable state laws.

TutorNerdsEssayContestPlease help us spread the word by sharing our contest on social media, as well as telling your classmates, teachers, and parents! We look forward to reading your essays, Orange County.

All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. For educational guest-blogging, please email us at info@tutornerds.com

SSAT, ISEE & HSPT Tips From an Orange County Tutor

Exam Enlightenment: SSAT, ISEE & HSPT

When parents consider sending their child to private elementary or high school, a legitimate concern is the testing required. It’s important to remember that testing is only one portion of the admissions process, since transcripts and other factors are used to best determine eligibility. The purpose of exams, however, is to ensure the student is ready for the next grade and/or college preparatory classes. Scores can also be used to determine course placement and occasionally scholarship eligibility. Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about the top three private school admissions exams. picjumbo.com_IMG_6014


The Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT) is by far the most widely used admissions exam for private schools. The exam indicates strengths and weaknesses in all academic topics through multiple choice questions and a short essay. Similar to the SAT many of us have taken, the SSAT tests quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension and language use. While essays are a required portion of the exam, they are not graded. Instead, they are sent along with results to the applicant’s school for review by admissions staff. The SSAT is offered in three levels for 3rd – 11th graders. The test is longer than what most students are used to, approximately two hours and forty five minutes. Elementary students take a shorter exam, around an hour and a half. While rigorous preparation is not necessary, students should at least have practice testing for extended periods. Another preparation tip to remember is each correct answer is worth a point, and a wrong answer will cost you a quarter of a point. This style of scoring deters guessing, so students should be aware of when guessing or skipping questions is ideal. Testing dates are typically eight times a year, and students may test multiple times, but generally you wouldn’t want to attempt more than twice per grade level.


The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) is very similar to the SSAT. It’s frequently a second choice to the SSAT in the admissions process for private, non-Catholic religious schools. The similar focus here is math, reading comprehension and language use. As before, essays are not graded but forwarded to the applicant’s school. The ISEE is offered in three levels for admission to 2nd – 12th grade. The exam averages two and a half hours (roughly one hour for elementary school students) and is offered at schools and/or testing centers. As opposed to the SSAT scoring method, ISEE doesn’t penalize students for wrong answers, so guessing is appropriate and suggested. Students may take the exam once every six months, so keep that in mind when preparing.


Concerning religious high schools, the High School Placement Test (HSPT) seems to be the favorite. Especially with Roman Catholic high schools, the HSPT is another standardized admissions test similar to the SSAT and ISEE. Students get excited at the lack of an essay portion, though individual schools can decide to include one. Students are also given much less time to complete individual sections; for example, the Verbal section includes 60 questions that must be answered in 16 minutes. Additionally, the HSPT includes more grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, synonyms, logic and geometric questions than other tests. slidebird1Keep in mind, this test is only offered to eighth graders. The exam takes approximately two and a half hours to complete, and incorrect answers are not subtracted from point totals. Since the test is administered at the applicant’s school, contact them to inquire about testing dates. Students should take the exam only once. If attempted again, the lower of the two scores will be used. Don’t be overwhelmed, Orange County! TutorNerds is here to help. Visit our ‘Test Preparation‘ page to read more about our services in regards to the ISEE, HSPT and other important tests. Once we match you up with the perfect private tutor based on your preferences and needs, you’ll be well on your way to success.

College Textbooks: The Struggle is Real

New, Used, Borrowed or Rented?

The topic of college textbooks radiates through the memories of any graduate. Most people have at least four years to get it right, but many of us never do. We all knew students who seemed to find the best deals, or the others who overpaid out of sheer laziness. This article is not for those people. This article attempts to help those still struggling with the new, used, borrowed or rented debated raging on campuses nationwide. Hopefully this helps to narrow down the best choices for you and gets you a head start on next semester’s books.

Stack of colorful books (cut-out, white background)Before we get started, there are some basic tips to follow. First, get access to book lists as early as possible. Websites and bookstores know that college students tend to wait till the last minute, so get ahead of the game by scoring better prices and having more selection by purchasing early. However, there is a catch to this tip. There are a number of professors who list textbooks they never intend on using. To avoid this frustrating and expensive issue, use previous students as references. Find out what is an absolute necessity in the class and what you could possibly borrow or share with a friend. Before you start your search, you’ll want to have the following information organized to make searching as simple as possible. A word document or scratch piece of paper will work just fine.

  •  The name of the text, including the volume and edition
  •  The full name of the author(s)
  •  The text’s ISBN number, typically found on the back near the barcode

Having this information at your fingertips will better guarantee a correct purchase. Having to return a book and rush to find a replacement is not a good way to start a class. Finally, and this goes along with accessing required readings early, allow plenty of time for shipping. Some professors allow a few weeks into the course for books to be purchased, others want multiple chapters read before the first night. Play it safe and order early to be fully prepared.

New vs. Used

It would be wonderful if all students could afford new books every class. Imagine cracking open a giant science manual fresh off the printer, or sifting through the pages of a brand new novel with no highlighting or scribbles. If this is possible, and it doesn’t cause you to have to auction a limb, by all means go for it. New books are a luxury and should be appreciated. However, most of us will need to acquire used books just to make it through to graduation.

•  An obvious but important note is used books may not be in the condition you desire. If you’re someone who gets distracted by old scribbles and highlighting, spend more time determining condition. If you can read past it, by all means go for the cheapest option. As always, choose sellers with good feedback and who have been around for some time.

• Still a fairly new option for students is electronic versions of textbooks. For your humanities courses, check out Bartleby and Project Gutenberg for free downloads of classic literature.

• The big players are easy to find, a quick search on your favorite search engine will give you plenty of results. A few you may want to start with are Chegg, Amazon, and BigWords. Chegg makes the list because of their fabulous return policy. If you drop a class or end up not needing a text, send the book back within 21 days and you’ll get a refund. This is rare in the textbook marketplace, where everyone is usually trying to make a quick buck. Amazon is another good option to access a large retailer and individual sellers. Searching by ISBN is a breeze, and there are usually lots of options in condition of books from new to very used. Lastly, BigWords is a good choice for those wanting to compare shop between large websites. Spending hours online searching for the best deal can be a waste of valuable time, so stick with sites like BigWords that do the work for you. They also show the retail and shipping costs separately, along with coupons and promotions, so you can really maximize your deals.


Borrowing textbooks always ranks cheapest in options, but usually involves more headaches. Sources of borrowing include university and local libraries and other students. While it may be difficult to accomplish this for all your classes, it might be a good option for a class or two.

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•  Check out your library for options first. You’ll want to check out their policies on long-
term loans if they have them. Getting here first is imperative; if copies exist there tend to be few. Some professors provide the library with texts on a reserve basis. With this option, you’ll be allowed to borrow the text (within the library) for a certain number of hours at a time. This clearly gets difficult around testing time since everyone wants an opportunity to study, but if you plan it right it can go smoothly.

•  If you are considering sharing a book with another student, make sure you both agree upon a schedule. If it’s clear who has the book what days, no one should ever be angry and readings will be completed on time.

• Some students may not realize that with this option, note taking will be very important. Since the text will not always be available and you can’t write in it, you’ll need to be good at taking notes.


Renting has only become popular in the last few years. This option removes the struggle of selling a book after a class is over, but you are losing the profit in the process. The searching is still straightforward, with many popular sites now offering book rentals. This may be a good option for students who know they don’t want to keep textbooks after a class, or who know resale amounts may be too minimal to be worth the effort.

•  CampusBookRentals is worth mentioning due to their history and customer service. They cover shipping both ways and have a thirty-day return policy. The part most find surprising, however, if that they allow you to write or highlight in the books. Their FAQ section states, “Just remember that future students will rent the same book after you, so be respectful. Keep highlighting and writing to what is necessary.”

Whether you decide to go new or used, borrowed or rented, don’t put too much time into the process. In the end, just having the textbook is most important; but if you can save a few bucks along the way, go for it!

Good luck, Orange County!

Three Tips for Consistency in Education

Why Consistency is Key for Kids

While you’re reading this article, I’d bet within your reach is a planner. Whether it’s digital or paper, most of us use planners because knowing what’s going to happen is important. Children of all ages also find comfort in knowing what lies ahead. It makes everything from getting up in the morning to starting homework in the afternoon easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Find out how you can create consistency in your child’s life; they’ll thank you for it later.

1. Fledgling Organizers

Even if children are not in school yet, they will still benefit from consistency. You don’t have to make things complicated or detailed, just make routine an everyday thing. For example, start with bed time. Acting out the same steps at the same time every night will make transitioning to bed much easier. Always show praise for completing routines, this will build confidence and encourage good behavior. As children become old enough to start school, a morning routine is another option explore.

2. Apprentice Planners

For the elementary and middle school aged, utilize schedules to first organize after school hours. This time can include studying, chores, free time, sports, or activities. Participation is important, so include older children in the creation of the schedule. Once the agenda is created, stay consistent; maintaining it is easier than starting over.

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Homework time should happen relatively soon after returning home. As the afternoon progresses, younger children tend to tire and become frustrated sooner. Set them up for success and get the tough stuff out of the way early. Does your student hate spelling or struggle with fractions? Have them start with those difficult subjects first. The information will be most fresh in their minds from the day and getting it out of the way will leave them with a sense of accomplishment.

When it comes to homework time, it’s helpful to keep an eye on younger ones. Create a space you can observe them in, and is also relatively distraction free and quiet. If you prefer a general “study time,” ensure it is goal oriented. Younger children have a hard time focusing their minds on what’s important if there is no direction. With maturity comes responsibility, so as they move into middle school, children can spend more time studying unassisted.

Should students study on the weekend? It shouldn’t be the sixth school day of the week, but thirty minutes to an hour of review over the weekend is perfect in preparation for the upcoming week. The longer we go not using information we learned, the more difficult it is to recall. All these tips work to create good habits for high school when self-discipline will be more important.

3. Established Coordinators

High school students should be able to study unassisted, but reminders and check-ins are a way to stay supportive. Adolescents may begin to feel bored with routine, but continued practice is important for college. To change things up, encourage them to try different study locations, at home or at the local community center or library. Discuss procrastination, specifically how to identify distractions, and what to do to remove or lessen those interruptions. Typically, removing a cell phone and sitting away from televisions or computers is helpful. If computers are necessary, use tasking filters like LeechBlock and StayFocusd to keep focused on the assignment at hand.

slide1cWe all struggle with distraction, procrastination, and inconsistency, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve. Utilizing a private tutor is a great way to build and sustain positive working habits. TutorNerds knows your frustrations – we’ve been through it too – and would be more than happy to share with you the strategies we’ve found successful over our years of educating.

Consistency is key, Los Angeles!

Why You Should Study Abroad | TutorNerds

Do It While You’re Young

Though it’s cliche, there really are some things you just can’t learn in a classroom. You can read about it, tweet about it, and even blog about it, but you’ll never truly grasp a concept such as globalization until you’ve traveled abroad. Globalization, you say? That’s a buzzword these days – in fact, it may even appear in the vocabulary section of the new and improved SAT. But just how important is it to understand such a concept? In The Globalization of Education and Sustainability Management Steven Cohen of The Huffington Post illustrates the phenomenon as,

“While there will always be military and security secrets, the rest of the global economy is just that: global. Products are made via supply chains that stretch across many borders, and all localities-within and between borders-compete with each other for business and talent.”

You just finished your sophomore year in college. This is a critical time to land an internship, and you’ve passed out your resume like a politician passes out flyers. Sadly, you’re not getting any responses. But hope is not lost! How would you feel if I told you there was something that, arguably, is better for your resume than an internship? It’s studying abroad, and most colleges offer a wide array of programs. Studying abroad will do more than just give you better stories than your friends, it may just get you your dream job.


Here’s a short script of a fictional group interview. Tell me which candidate got the job.

Interviewer:  “As you know, ‘So-And-So Inc.’ is a global business. Please give your definition of globalization in a few sentences.”

Candidate One: “Integration on an international scale as the nations of the world interchange their products and ideas.”

Candidate Two: “While studying international Logistics in Brussels, Belgium, my team assisted a leading French business consultant in the procurment of materials from a small company in Sweden. The materials were heading to a contractor in Brazil to begin work on the company’s new development site. That’s globalization to me.”

I don’t think I need to tell you who wins.

If studying abroad is so important to a modern education, than how come so few American students are doing it? In More Students Need to Study Abroad, Says Higher Ed Group, the numbers are listed as 800,000 international in the U.S. compared to 283,00 Americans studying abroad. The difference is staggering. The article goes on to explain this lack as an area of justified concern,

 “It is clear that major segments of America’s young people are not getting the international experience they will need to advance their careers and participate in the global economy, or to work together across borders to address global issues,”

It’s not a lack of programs causing the imbalance. In fact, most public and private universities offer some form of study abroad – here’s a list of the 25 best colleges for study abroad. I’m proud to have gone to Michigan State, where the number of students who travel abroad is second only to NYU. I took full advantage of my school’s strong programs. My sophomore year I studied in Japan, then Europe the following Summer. I always felt that those two trips put me at a unique advantage. Not only did I become a more experienced traveler, but I learned how to efficiently work in a group in often hectic and unfamiliar situations.

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Studying abroad isn’t cheap, which is why many students don’t even bother looking into them. But I urge every college student to at least consider. More often than not, scholarships, loans, and sponsorships exist for students willing to put in the effort to earn them. See it as an investment. You may have to take out extra loans now, but it will help you land that dream job when you graduate. A marketing professor I admire once told me about a survey he administered. He asked a number of prestigious companies to list what they look for in a potential employee from most important to least important. Let me guess, you probably expect GPA to be at the top. Not the case. In fact, many companies put GPA near the middle. More surprisingly, study abroad ranked near the top on almost every company’s list.

Why would a company prefer a student with a 3.5 GPA over one with a 3.9? Because the 3.5 student studied abroad and learned team-working skills that cannot be taught in class. Sure, you can always travel abroad when you’re older. Perhaps your job will even require it. But it won’t be the same as traveling while you’re young. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun.

“People identify with lifestyle categories as much as they do with geographic place, ethnicity or race. These multiple layers of identity are part modern life and a reason that studying abroad and hosting foreign students is such an essential element of contemporary education.”

Need more persuasion, Orange County? Check out these links:

10 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Why Study Abroad

34 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad in Paris (who doesn’t like Paris?)

How to Choose a University | TutorNerds

Courses, Career, or Custom Fit

Do you want the “big city” feel? Are you interested in sports and tons of school spirit? Does diversity matter? How important are graduation rates and job placement data? When it comes to choosing a college, you can spend months or even years debating. Is it the most important decision you’ll ever make? Not necessarily, but your choice can help to ensure you have a great time and graduate with a degree you’re proud of. There are various methods of making a decision; placing education, job prospects or your personal experience at the forefront is ultimately up to you. Today I’ll share one of those approaches.


Placing experience first is not for everyone. By experience I mean what makes four, or more, years at a university memorable: school spirit, location, diversity, housing, class size and cost are among a few. This focus is for students who don’t know what they’ll major in, or what jobs they’ll be applying for in the future. It’s okay not to have a perfectly crafted plan yet; not everyone does and most who do will change.

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With this approach, you should begin crafting a wish list of your perfect college experience. Unsure of what a perfect college experience is like? Ask around; interview parents, older friends, cousins and teachers to find out what was most enjoyable about their college days. Was it the selection of Greek organizations? Did the food on campus make even late night studying easier? Or did the football team’s winning season make every weekend one to remember? Once you determine what’s important to you, rank them. You now have your college wish list!

From here, start researching universities that fit your profile. Don’t panic, you can easily
streamline your search by using the right tools. Websites like College Board or the College Navigator at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) give you search options for the types of things you’re looking for. Always stay open to colleges you may have not heard of or never thought you’d like. Schools are as varied and unique as the students who attend them, so give them all a good look.

Before you make your choice, take a look at your wish list again. Remember that college is a time for students to explore the world, take chances and discover new interests. If you believe your wish list is too safe, switch it up a bit. Maybe look for universities farther from home, consider ones with more diversity, or think about what a larger or smaller university may offer. One thing is for sure, anyone will tell you this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime. Ensure you make choices that will make you happy; not friends, family or teachers. In the end, you’ll be the one lugging books to class, choosing your courses, and ultimately graduating. Make the best of the time you have!

Have a great weekend, Los Angeles!

Remember the Curve of Forgetting | TutorNerds

Remember More and Forget Less

Forgetting is really frustrating. The everyday stuff, misplacing keys or leaving a pen somewhere, is part of being a human. However, when it happens on a test, it’s terrifying. Sitting there with a black hole in your mind is never fun. What can you do to better recall the stuff you know? It’s all about repetition.Read on to find out how to remember more and forget less.

tutor-logoOur brains are amazing things; holding tons and tons of information from things we learn in school to the names of the new neighbors. The problem isn’t “losing” this information, it’s retrieving it. If information is not utilized frequently, it’s left to gather dust in the corner. For things we use frequently, like names of friends, simple math and song lyrics, they stay fresh in our minds and available at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t it be nice if the names of countries or the Pythagorean Theorem were that easy to recall? It could be, with a little repetition.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 7.44.35 PMThe chart above shows what basically happens when we learn something new. The long black line indicates new information gained, up to 100%. As the first day peaks into the second, without any additional review, our minds begin to consider that new information less and less important. By a week most of it is gone, only a small amount remaining. The gold line, on the other hand, shows what information could be saved by daily review. Within the first few days, spend a good amount of time studying notes and details. The information is still new and you may not fully comprehend it at this point. As a week approaches, you can drop your studying time in half. By now you should fully understand the information, and only need to be reminded of main ideas. Beyond a week, take a few moments to look over notes, focusing on the big ideas and possibly testing your knowledge from time to time.

With this consistent review approach, you should be able to maintain information to tackle any quiz, test, or essay a teacher throws at you. You won’t be spending hours in the library or weekends chained to your desk. A few minutes every day can help to keep all those acidic chemicals or Spanish verbs right up front where you need them.

Having a solid memory is terrific, but sometimes it takes more than just that. Let your private tutor from TutorNerds help you with all those flashcards.

Good luck on midterms, Los Angeles!

Five Books for the Nature Lover in You

Are you a nature lover?

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” – John Muir, Our National Parks

You’re sitting at your desk, staring at the blank page that should be an essay. Out of all the times to have writer’s block, your mind picks the weekend before a crucial due date. You look around, trying to find inspiration in just about anything. The dirty clothes, magazines, and movie tickets scattered on your floor fail to get the brain going. Suddenly, a monarch butterfly graces your window pane. Mesmerized by its other-worldliness, you start writing.

Unless you’re Nabokov, a butterfly might not be enough to type the next great novel, but you get my point. Nature has always been a source for inspiration, wonderment, and wisdom – this applies to anyone, not just a nature lover. Sadly, we’re losing more and more of it everyday, but hope is not lost. Many communities, schools, and cities have taken initiative into their own hands; developing greener educational environments. For example, Moton Elementary school in Tampa Bay, Florida has created a gardening program that spans a student’s entire grade-school career. The program is a learning experience, with hopes to “gain awareness that food and flowers come from the ground.

Some of our greatest minds have been naturalist, botanists, and nature lovers. Where would we be as a nation without our National Parks? You have green thinkers such as John Muir to thank for that. Further, learning about nature through the passionate eyes of such men and women is inspiring for any student. Did you know Mr. Muir wept with happiness the first time he discovered the elusive Calypso borealis?

Whether you’re struggling to find some writing inspiration, or just need a good wave of intellectual curiosity, here are five naturalist books everyone should read. One last thing, make sure you read these under a tree, or by a babbling brook, well, just anywhere away from your Facebook. Enjoy.

5. Kindred and Related SpiritsThe Letters of John Muir and Jeanne C. Carr Edited by Bonnie Johanna Gisel

“Fate and flowers have carried me to California, and I have reveled and luxuriated amid its plants and mountains nearly four months” – John Muir

In the rare situation of a light schedule, I enrolled in a three credit Nature and Religion course my senior year at Michigan State University. Though we only had a brief two days learning about John Muir, I was struck by his commitment. Recently, while searching the towering walls of books at Bargain Books in Van Nuys, I came across this charming collection of letters between the famed naturalist and his lifelong friend Jeanne C. Carr. It’s an excellent documentation of Muir’s growth as a botanist, as well as an incredible friendship.


4. Turtle IslandGary Snyder

The first time I read about Gary Snyder was in Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. As the inspiration behind the  Japhy Ryder, Snyder’s ecological wisdom finds its roots in indigenous spirituality, animism, and Buddhism. He seems almost mad with natural contentment – Japhy notoriously treks the wilderness in the buff.

More than just a poet, Gary Snyder was a dynamic educator. In this collection of poetry and straight talk, you’ll find an incredible amount of knowledge behind his imagery.

snyder3. The Spiritual Emerson – Essential Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Odds are you’re familiar with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay Self-Reliance, but it’s a shame to just stop there. A pioneer of transcendentalism, Emerson preached, through poetry and prose, that any and all individuals must find their own unique relation to the universe. Whether it be in solitude, under an old oak tree with nothing but songbirds to keep you company, or in front of a classroom, mankind is lost without nature. This Tarcher Cornerstone Edition includes such provoking essays as Circles, Fate, and much more.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

2. Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

The release of this book was paramount in starting the modern environmentalism movement. To put it simply, the natural world is as fragile as it is complex. Though our innovations are meant to make life easier, they sometimes cause dangerous side-effects. You may recall old footage from the 1950s of municipal vehicles driving down suburban streets, leaving a wake of chemical clouds in its path. What was so striking about this image was the children laughing and chasing the cars, encompassed by the mysterious cloud. The vehicles were spreading DDT, and its results were staggering . As the strongest pesticide the world had ever seen, DDT was successful in killing mosquitoes, and, at the time, believed to be safe.

Nowadays, the idea of inhaling DDT is terrifying. It’s a known carcinogen, and lethal to species other than mosquitoes. Thanks to the curious eye of some University students and professors, the mysterious death of thousands of birds caused an investigation that would lead to the poisonous culprit. Rachel Carson’s, at the time controversial, book,  Silent Spring, allowed the world to become wise to the effects our actions have on the planet, and that we must be mindful of our relationship to it.

1. A Sand County Almanac: With Other Essays on Conservation from Round River – Aldo Leopold

“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”

The finest environmentalist writer since Emerson and Thoreau, Aldo Leopold captures the wisdom of our enormous planet in the frame of Wisconsin’s countryside. The author/ nature lover Demands an ethical relationship to nature, as well as an effortless wonderment of its beauty.

Feeling inspired? Now that your essay is finished, how about a drive to Topanga park for a hike? Remember, inspiration can come from anywhere, but it’s up to you to discover it, Los Angeles!