Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
Our son started seventh grade last fall. He is an excellent student and we want him to continue to do well so that he can apply to a top college.
When should we start thinking about hiring a consultant or tutor to help make sure he stays at the top of his class?
The sooner you have an expert evaluate your son's academic qualifications, the better. There are many companies that provide tutoring services and suggestions about the best way to prepare for college. Several of these well-known organizations have offices in Northwest Indiana. Many parents have found the diagnostic evaluations of these firms helpful in assessing talents and spotting potential academic flaws. They will also help students in the development of healthy study habits and testing skills.
Interestingly enough, my youngest client is three-years-old. She is a U. S. citizen who lives in Moscow. Her parents hired me to find the best preschool in New York City or in the San Francisco Bay Area. They want their daughter to be prepared for a top college and will do whatever is needed to improve her chances for admittance.
We all know the value of a preschool education. Students learn how to adapt socially with other children and how to follow instructions from someone other than their parents. The transition from home to school is an important part of what children learn in preschool.
Another less talked-about benefit of preschool is that students learn how to compete with other children. This provides a built-in advantage to those who will be vying for top scholastic honors later on in their schooling.
The positive feedback teachers give preschoolers helps them as they move to grade school and middle school. These children are less fearful of making mistakes and look forward to teachers helping them. The sooner they realize making mistakes is part of learning the better.
You often have read in this column about the importance of earning top grades as a high school freshman. The transition from middle school to high school demands discipline and focus. This means earning a 4.0 grade-point average and not a 3.25. You cannot average out a poor freshman year, even if you do well as a sophomore and junior.
I tutor seventh and eighth-graders for the SAT. I also teach a writing program for younger students, which focuses on expository writing and essays, including fiction and nonfiction. This training helps them to score well on the writing portion of the SAT.
By the time these young clients reach high school, they have increased their critical reading and writing skills, and are well ahead of their classmates.
I also tutor a number of middle school students who plan to apply to top prep schools for high school. Prep schools have admissions requirements, including SAT-type tests and personal interviews. The percentage of prep school graduates admitted to Ivy League schools is much higher than that of public schools. An interesting statistic is that, on average, 60 percent of prep school students receive financial aid. This dispels the myth that only rich kids attend prep schools.
In summary, it is never too early to hone a child's learning skills. Admission competition at top colleges and universities is growing tougher each year. Anything you can do to increase the odds of academic success for your son is in his best interest.
Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admission consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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