First post: Welcome to the brand new Unstandardized Tutors Blog!
Hello, all. This blog is designed to keep my readers posted on any and all news about the SAT, the Unstandardized Tutors program, and the college admissions process. I envision it as a way for students, parents, and prospective clients to see into Unstandardized Tutors' inner workings. In a market where there is such high stakes, no real science for success, and a great deal that is unexplained, I want to provide as much information as possible on who I am, what I do, and my perspective on the whole process of SAT and college preparation.
The landscape of the college admissions and preparation market is cluttered with all sorts of pitfalls, distractions, and will-o-the-wisps beckoning students and families. Everywhere you look, you see a different advertisement guaranteeing a 'bright future'. In a sense, this is natural, because the transition from protected childhood to independent adulthood is recognized as one of the most challenging and important transitions in every culture. I imagine that every adolescent, whether embarking on the voyage of seeking admission to a college in modern America, or given a knife and a jug of water and sent to wander the woods for three days in the outback, is piled up with all sorts of advice before he or she takes that first step. Everyone wants to give one last gift. In another sense, however, all of this 'help' makes the situation more difficult for a person trying to learn how to puzzle out the future on his or her own, especially in a culture focused on consumption where a great deal of speculators can see how uncertainty and anxiety can produce a very high profit margin.
I remember how, when I graduated high school, I couldn't even look adults in the eye when they gave me advice, because I was scared they would see immediately that I was too overwhelmed to take anything in. I had my secret, delicate dreams and fantasies, and I had a hard time listening to anything that suggested they might not be possible or desirable. Also, all the sudden I was getting all of this mail! Brochures from colleges, scholarship foundations, SAT preparation courses, community leadership programs, all piled up in the mailbox where before I used to get a letter or official document only every other month. Although my elders told me that that stuff was important, in all honesty, I don't think I even read half of it.
From taking the SATs and watching my friends take it, to embarking on the adventure of college and becoming an SAT tutor myself, to starting my own business and trying to perfect the art of helping students prepare for the SAT, I have learned the same truth over and over again: there is no one, sure path to academic success and (which is often quite different) personal happiness. With Unstandardized Tutors, for example, every time I think I have made my curriculum and teaching style as good as it can get, a student comes through my doors who challenges me to throw the whole thing out the window and try something new. I cannot stress enough how much each unique person has a unique challenge to overcome in order to improve on the SAT. I have seen students whose difficulties are due to all number of intellectual or personality traits: anxiety or overconfidence, literal, practical thinking or creative, divergent thinking, lack of ambition or too much ambition, impatience or too much of a desire to be thorough. It takes a lot of spontaneity, as well as a great deal of trial and error, to help everyone. Hopefully, this blog will be a chance to open my teaching process up to those that I am trying to help, to get feedback and to share what I know.
- Keely Owens, Tutor.
"Now you can brag to your future students about how you once had this kid who did no extra homework on writing, but just followed the lessons and improved it by 150 points. I thank you very much, especially for that ego booster email you sent before the test - I still have it saved."
- Alex, Student