For high school students, the process of applying to colleges can be intimidating, especially the prospect of taking the high-stakes ACT or SAT test, the outcome of which can determine their academic futures.
It’s little wonder that an entire industry has developed to train students to face these challenges, some of them native to the Route 1 corridor. Two events this month will give students access to test preparation experts. The first, a free seminar, will feature Kevin and Greg Wong of Princeton Tutoring. The brothers will share with students a framework on how to think properly about college admissions and preparations. The hour-long workshop will take place Saturday, July 8, at 3 p.m. at Labyrinth Books on Nassau Street in Princeton. For more information, call 609-497-1600 ext. 225 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the seminar, Kevin, who also co-founded PrepMaven, will address students’ anxieties about the process and try to dispel misinformation they might have absorbed. He will discuss how to approach the college application process, write a college essay, and assess post-graduation options, and address what colleges really care about and how the admissions process works. He will take questions after the talk.
In addition to co-founding Princeton Tutoring and PrepMaven, Wong is a mentor at the Princeton University Entrepreneurial Hub (eHub) and is an executive board member of the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P).
The Wongs also offer a free advice blog at prepmaven.com/blog. As U.S. 1 contributor Barbara Fox noted in a recent post on her blog, Princeton Comment, college prep can be expensive:
“After graduating from Princeton in 2005, Kevin Wong and his brother Greg founded Princeton Tutoring. It resembles Princeton Review so closely that their websites list the caveat ‘Not affiliated with Princeton Review.’
Another seeming difference is that the Wongs are dedicated to ‘giving back,’ supporting local and international educational charities. Many college admission aids are free and online.
Still, the workshop can be pricey, even at a discount. For help in writing the college essay, students can attend a three-day workshop, based at Princeton Theological Seminary, for only $399, reduced from $900.
Today’s teens feel like they need to have their game face on as early as 8th grade. So to encourage the worried, Princeton Tutoring offers a three-hour “get your resume ready in high school” workshop for $199, reduced from $500. They call it “strategic planning.”
I’ve heard from very satisfied parents that these consultations really work.
But I’m left standing at square one. It’s hard for first generation college applicants to find their way through the maze when this is all new to their parents. What about those who don’t have the prep school counselors and the money for private tutors. Isn’t this yet another troubling example of privilege?”
In the second event, college professor and writer Pam Hollander will hold a workshop for high school students and recent graduates about getting ready for college.
Hollander, a 1984 graduate of South Brunswick High School, will lead an interactive workshop on Saturday, July 22, from 2 to 3 p.m. at the South Brunswick Public Library. For more information, visit www.sbpl.info or call 732-329-4000.
Hollander’s new book, “Readiness Realities: Struggles and Successes During the Transition to College,” is about her 20 years of experience teaching first-year college students.
Hollander went to college at Binghamton University and earned a master’s in education from Rutgers. She then taught English at South Brunswick High School, earned a doctorate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has been teaching college ever since. She wants to share her knowledge about what it takes to be successful in college with future college students.
After teaching high school, she decided she would like to try teaching at the college level and taught English composition at both Middlesex and Mercer County community colleges. Because some of students she taught had not been in a classroom for 15 years, she saw in stark relief problems of college readiness. These problems were often due to lack of background information or lack of memory of background information.
For example, Hollander sat with a group of students after class and went over parts of speech with them, but she discovered the problems went beyond academic skills to social and personal issues that interfered. She also saw that colleges are not always supportive of students who don’t fit into the historic traditional college model such as mothers and alternative athletes like boxers. Hollander allowed a woman to bring her child to composition class one night because she had no one to watch her. Although the woman was present, Hollander says. “I can tell you from experience, that she was not that focused when the poor girl threw up on the floor in the middle of class.”
Hollander went on to teach first-year college students at four-year private and public colleges, and she explains “I have seen many of the same issues I confronted at the community college. Students come to college without the knowledge and habits that they need. They also come under strains from personal and family issues, and some struggle to feel supported by the college environment.” She is now an assistant professor in the education department of Worcester State University.
The workshop at South Brunswick Public Library will focus on issues like classes, time management, studying, clubs, and activities.