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Thinking About College? New Local Resource

breakaway prep

If you could get your teenager interested in the process of applying to colleges, think how much pressure that would take off the parents.

That’s the idea behind Breakaway Prep a new local resource for families starting or deep into looking at colleges and universities.

Alex Weiner, a long time tutor in Westchester who is considered one of the nation’s top experts in the field of college admission guidance., started Breakaway as a step by step program to help kids confidently navigate a process that for many can be “scary and intimidating.”

“It can be an adolescent’s first foray into project management,” says Weiner, “and this is a heck of time to learn. There’s a lot on the line. This isn’t a school play.”

Rising Seniors can start this summer, with a 4-day “boot camp.” Others can set something up hourly, by coming to Breakaway Prep’s White Plains classroom or having them come to you.

“These kids have one foot in the adolescent world and one foot in adulthood. We will help them identify what they are good at, what they like to do, and hopefully, a college that’s a great fit.”

They also do standardized testing preparation.

Alex Weiner recently told Forbes.com his 5 Top Tips “to keep in mind NOW to give your kid even more college options for when they apply, whether it’s next year or several years down the road:”

1.  It’s never too late to improve.
“If you believe your current GPA is not a good representation of how well you can really do, start improving now. It’s almost certainly not too late. Colleges will look closely at your junior year performance, and many will even take the first semester of your senior year into account.   They’ll particularly pay attention to a trend of improvement. Don’t give up.  Show them that you are a late bloomer and getting better with age. Even if you’ve only got one semester left to show colleges what you’re capable of doing, show them!  Start now.”

2.  Maximize your academic strengths.
“Yes, it’s important to try hard in all your classes. But many students spend so much time trying to fix academic weaknesses that they forget to make the most of their innate strengths. If you’ve always liked history, take more demanding history courses. Take a Civil War or other history class over the summer at a local community college. Colleges aren’t just looking at your overall GPA – they’re always looking for signs of an academic spark in particular areas.”

3.  Work, Intern – or Volunteer.
“Summer jobs or internships are great opportunities to learn new skills, network and beef up your college resume. February and March are not too soon to start trying to find work for this coming summer. If you can afford to intern unpaid, you might be able to get more cerebral and impressive experience, so call local law firms, publishers, radio stations and offer to work for free. If you need the cash, there is nothing wrong with babysitting, cleaning or painting neighbors’ houses, or flipping burgers. You can demonstrate responsibility, a strong work ethic and the ability to juggle and fulfill commitments – and make some money for college. One of the best things you can do this summer is help your community. Most charities need help and are more than willing to work around your schedule. Call the Sierra Club, Ronald McDonald House, whatever meets your interest. Volunteer work is challenging and rewarding – and, yes, it looks great on college applications. By the way, working and volunteering are not mutually exclusive, and doing both is impressive to anyone taking a look at your qualifications.”

4.  Take responsibility for your academic performance.
“I see a lot of students who try to blame other people for their own academic shortcomings, saying things like, ‘I got a D because my teacher didn’t like me.’ Colleges don’t want students who make excuses. If you haven’t done as well as you’d like to in high school, admit it and be honest about why that happened.  Show colleges you’ve learned from your mistakes by admitting fault and turning your performance around immediately. Colleges will be impressed by the maturity you show when you take responsibility for your actions and do what it takes to change.”

5.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Many of the students who earn the best grades are the same ones who aren’t afraid to admit when they just don’t get it. There’s no shame in asking for help. So if you didn’t understand a single syllable in your trigonometry class today, ask the teacher after class. If you studied really hard and still did poorly on your chemistry test, meet with your teacher and try to find out where you went wrong – and how to do better. If you’re having trouble in a number of your classes and think you might need to make some changes or get tutoring, talk with your counselor and get his or her advice.  Students who are willing to ask for extra help when they need it are the ones who are eager to learn and who impress teachers, counselors and colleges.”

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