Preparing for College

Study Skills Shape-Up for Soph?

Question-My daughter was a straight-student in public school. She is now a sophomore in a private high school, where her course load includes AP US History and AP Calculus. She is getting B+'s and A-'s. She works hard, doesn't spend time watching TV and is very focused. But I feel her time-management and study skills aren't good. I can't talk to her school counselor because she might use this aginst her during college admission process. Are there counselors available outside school or camps where my daughter can improve her organizational skills? I am pretty sure this will help her grades. She is aiming for the top colleges.

You don't say exactly where you live, so that limits the advice I can provide regarding local outfits that might be able to help your daughter with her study skills. Nonetheless, with a speedy Google search I found this camp that claims to offer exactly what you seek and in a number of attractive locations:

Note, however, that this is your classic Let the Buyer Beware Situation. I don't know anything about this program beyond what I just read on their Web site so can't give it an insider's endorsement, although they do seem to have secured space on several snazzy college campuses.

I also suggest that you do speak with the school counselor. I can't imagine her using this request against your daughter in any way, especially if it's properly presented. Explain to the counselor that your daughter is a dedicated student and that she would like to improve her focus even more. The counselor may have some suggestions about local options. Perhaps, too, other parents have expressed concerns like yours, and the school may even be considering offering some sort of after-school study-skills program. But also in the Buyer-Beware department, as a former study-skills teacher myself, I have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of such programs. Sometimes the methods sound good but don't translate well into real-world situations.

Finally, while you may be right on target in observing that your daughter could stand a bit of study-skills shape-up, you must keep in mind, too, that she is taking a very rigorous course load and is also in a private school where straight A's are probably uncommon, even for the best pupils. College admission officials realize that the GPAs of applicants from certain high schools--especially demanding private schools--may not be as high as those from public schools---even from the very best public schools.