ACADEMICS

Academic Planning

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"Do I need to take AP Calc if I am applying as a business major? Do I need a fourth year of a foreign language? Will US History  over the summer drop my GPA? How many AP's should I be taking first semester senior year?"

Admissions officers are like palm readers when it comes to high school transcripts. In them, they can see your past, your present, and your future. Well, maybe not exactly, but in a way it is their job, to summon who you are and what you want to be from your course selections, their level of rigor, and how well (or not well) you performed.    

At Blue Train, our counselors take families on thoughtful tours of the different pathways, examining expected workload, potential burnout, and what picture your choices might (or might not yet) be painting. It's never too early or too late to set yourself up for success with thoughtful, experience-based academic planning!

Study Skills

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 Are you waiting until after dinner to do your homework? Do you go beyond the practice problems to become more "material flexible"? Do you strengthen yourself against your weaknesses: being disorganized, not submitting assignments, moving too slowly, getting distracted, succumbing to test anxiety?

As much as grades are supposed to reflect effort and ability, all too often they reflect study skills, or (we say it with kindness) lack thereof. Procrastination and disorganization can be some of the usual culprits, but there are many other nuanced reasons a student may not be reaching his or her potential. At Blue Train we have seen how effective a non-threatening, disarming discussion about study skills can be. Students become aware of the obstacles they are creating for themselves and begin making changes. The best part is that more often than not the students grades improve alongside their quality of life. Less anxiety, more time to do the things they like, better self confidence overall.

AP Exams

It's your time to shine, AP's! That's right, without the ACT and SAT hogging up all the standardized testing spotlights, you now have a more prominent position on the college application. This doesn't mean students need to get all 5's, nor does it mean they need to take every AP available; rather it means that colleges like having data that can be compared across schools, districts, and states, unlike more subjective GPA's.

Understanding this, we should do our best to remember that these are cumulative tests, ones that will draw upon the entire year's material. Keeping notes organized so you can access them in March and April will be helpful. Addressing your weak points, whether it's the multiple choice or FRQ/DBQ written answers, should be front of mind as you head into second semester. If you are behind or feel like your teacher isn't fully preparing you, we would recommend some additional options. Students can order digital or paper AP exams and study guides from the past. For those students who want a little more direct support, our academic specialists can work with you to address any knowledge gaps as well as help you improve your written responses. AP exams should be seen as opportunities!

Select Academic Tutoring on the Start Your Journey form.