Class Participation in the American Classroom Reply

You might think that perfect scores on tests, homework and projects might be all you need to do well in a university class in the USA, but you’d be wrong and the reason will probably surprise you: you have to participate in class.

Having to participate in class is something that always surprises new international students when they come to the USA.

“The biggest surprise is U.S. education. It’s very strict and you have to ask instructors questions if you don’t understand. You have to participate in class,” said Pirakorn Iamcharernying, from Thailand, who studied in the Intensive English Program at the University of San Francisco in California.

Your first day of class, you will be give a syllabus. Reading through the pages that outline the grading criteria and student expectations the professor has of you, you will see a word that will become very familiar to you while studying in the U.S.: participation.

What exactly is “class participation?” Each professor will have their own definition of student participation and they may even describe it in great detail in the syllabus for their class. Professors will grade on the frequency and quality of your participation in class. Generally, class participation is contributing to class lectures, either with comment or questions, volunteering answers to questions directed at the class and being attentive.

Why is class participation important? The first, most obvious answer is to make sure you’re actually there! You can’t participate in class if you’re not present. Another reason is to make sure you’re listening and absorbing the material discussed in the lecture. Having to answer questions about what is being discussed keeps you attentive. And finally, participation challenges you to understand the concepts and think through them critically.

This is a foundational concept in the U.S. classroom and it is part of the style of teaching here in the states. In the United States, the education system is designed to go beyond memorization. Obviously, you must know the material, but the application of concepts is much more important. There is a reason individuality is an integral part of American culture: it encourages ingenuity. Professors want you to not only hear what they’re saying, but they want you to understand what they’re teaching. You may even be asked to debate with your professor! The idea of arguing with your professor can be very uncomfortable and your first instinct may be that it’s disrespectful. After all, it may be extremely disrespectful in your home country. But rest assured, if you speak respectfully, you probably would not offend your professor.

“I was very surprised when students and the professor argued about some issues in the class. I think this is very good for students to improve critical thinking ability,“ explains Yujeong Moon from South Korea who studied English and business at Angelo State University.

Since an American style classroom and the education system will be all new to you, I suggest observing how American students participate in class and how their contributions are received. Some professors might have a more casual style and allow for open commentary in the class. Other professors may require that you raise your hand and wait to be called upon. Remember, you can always ask your professor for clarification too.

Speaking up in class or taking a chance and answering a question—in front of people, no less—can be really intimidating, especially for an international student and if English is not your first language. But you must try if you’re going to be successful in your studies and the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Jennifer Privette is the Editor and Assistant Publish of Study in the USA magazines and StudyUSA.com. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Seattle University.


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

Peterson’s to Release ACT Prep Guide in March 2016 Reply

Petersons ACT Prep Guide_NonDVD_FrontCoverPeterson’s ACT® Prep Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the ACT is the latest installment in Peterson’s very successful history of publishing leading ACT test prep. Peterson’s published ACT titles have sold more than one million copies over the past five years and have been the preeminent ACT resources on the market.

“Peterson’s is excited to announce that the story continues with the latest addition to our product line, the Peterson’s ACT® Prep Guide: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the ACT,” says Jeffrey Noordhoek, Nelnet CEO. “Peterson’s published the official ACT test preparation guide for over a decade and we know how and where students prepare for their academic future. We remain committed to publishing resources with the highest standards to ensure accurate, dependable, high-quality content to help students prepare for the best score possible.”

The ACT® Prep Guide offers students exactly what they need to prepare with confidence for this important college admission test, including: a full-length diagnostic test to evaluate a student’s strengths and weaknesses, six practice tests – four in print and two online – all with detailed answer explanations and in-depth review of all test sections, as well as strategies on how to raise test scores and feel at ease on test day.

For more information on this publication, see the full press release on PRWeb.

Starting Your First Year on Campus Reply

Time flies. Summer has gone by quick and now it is time to start getting ready to go off to college. It wasn’t that long ago that you were a lowly freshman in high school; learning the ropes, trying to find your classes and your locker, and figuring out how you fit in to this brand new situation. Now you’ve graduated, high school is behind you, and you are about to start out once again as a freshman in a new and strange place. For some, this is an exciting prospect. For others, it may be terrifying! For most of us, it’s a little of both. Many questions are likely running through your head. What should you expect? What will your dorm be like? Will your roommate be nice and easy to get along with?  What should you bring?

First you should expect that, like your freshman year in high school, it will probably take you a few weeks to familiarize yourself with the area and get accustomed to your new life as a college student. Try to relax and give yourself a break and allow yourself to be a freshman. You will get lost. You and the other freshmen will be easily recognizable on campus because you will likely have maps in your hands and a somewhat perplexed expression on your face as you begin to learn to navigate the place.

When you first get to college and get yourself settled in, take some time to explore the campus and your dorm. There will be rules for your dorm, make sure you read them and understand them. Remember your RA (Resident Assistant) is there to help you. The RA applied to that position because he or she wants to help you get settled in and happy in your new environment. Your RA is a resource that you should use! Wander around. Allow yourself to get lost and discover new places.

Most likely you will have a roommate. Many students headed to college worry that they will not get along with their roommate or that there will be potential issues or conflicts. This does not seem to be the case very often – most college roommates get along great and become good friends. Honest and open communication can prevent most conflicts before they even happen. Also, remember that this roommate is likely just for one year and if things aren’t going well, you’ll probably have the chance to make a change before the beginning of next year.

As far as what to bring with you, there are several suggested lists on the internet. Be sure to check your dorm’s rules before bringing things like microwaves, toaster ovens, coffee makers and the like, as some have fire regulations that prohibit such items. Bring mostly comfortable clothes and shoes to wear to class and a few more formal outfits for special events or interviews. Don’t forget to bring pillows, sheets, towels  washcloths. You will want a shower tote and slippers to wear to and from the shower. Bring things like photos to help remind you of home. We all have tons of electronics we bring with us (laptops, cell phones, tablets, etc) – don’t forget the chargers for these! Obviously bring some school supplies (paper, pencil, notebooks) for your first few days. It may be advisable to wait to see what you will need for your classes and buy supplies then, rather than buy a bunch of supplies to bring with you that you may not need.

The most important thing you can bring with you is your humor, your patience and your sense of adventure. Yes, your first few weeks at college will likely be stressful, they will also be exciting and fun. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Don’t Procrastinate, Register to take the GRE 1

Register for the GRESo you’ve just started up school again (or you’re getting ready to). Summer is over and it is time to get back into the college routine. Getting registered and prepared for a new school year can be a crazy process. There are many things to do in a short period of time. You’ve received your financial aid package, bought your books, and are probably getting settled back into school life. Starting a new school year is stressful and full of activity, especially your senior year. Even though it may be difficult to add even one more thing to your busy schedule, you should take the time to schedule to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). It’s important because the sooner you register, the better.

The Revised General Test

You’ll take the GRE revised General Test as part of your preparation for graduate school. The test is a requirement for most graduate schools and business schools. The GRE test is one of the first steps you should take toward preparing for graduate school. You can take the test up to 5 times in a 12-month period, so by registering now, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to re-take the test if you are not satisfied with your results. If you take the test multiple times, you get to choose which test results you submit to graduate or business schools. Also, different schools have different deadlines when it comes to submitting the GRE during the application process. It’s best to take the test as soon as possible so that you are ready to submit your results as soon as your chosen grad school is ready to receive them.

Registering before Preparation

What if you’re not prepared to take the test yet, should you still register? Yes! Once you register, you’ll have access to test preparation software developed by the same people who develop the test itself. It’s one more test to prepare for, one more thing to study, but the sooner you start, the more successful you are liable to be.

Even if you are unsure that you will pursue a graduate degree, it’s still a good idea to take the test. Taking the test allows you to be prepared if and when you do decide to get a graduate degree. The last thing you want is to decide to apply for a graduate program only to find that you don’t have time to take the test before the school’s deadline. Your test scores are held for five years, so even if you decide to take a break before applying to graduate school, or decide not to go to graduate school but change your mind later, you can still submit these scores. It is always good to keep your options open. Be smart and be prepared.

How to Organize Your Summer Test Prep Reply

The summertime is upon us! While every high school student deserves some rest and relaxation, it’s also the perfect time to kick your SAT and ACT prep into gear. With no academic obligations on your plate and a long runway to improve your testing performance, now is the time to start setting yourself up for college success. In this brief guide, I’ll show you exactly how to make the most of your summer and walk into the fall ready to knock these tests out of the park.

Summer Prep Tip #1: Cancel the Cramming and Covet Consistency

The most underrated ingredient in any successful test prep program is long-term effort. You can’t cram for the SAT and the ACT – they test large banks of information applied in unique ways, and they test process more than they test knowledge. If you give your brain the time to develop thick, well-developed pathways for these processes and facts, you’ll have an incredibly easy time tackling these exams.

With that in mind, your focus should be on small bits of steady, everyday effort. If you can put in 20-45 minutes a day throughout the summer, you won’t just be making things easier on yourself – you’ll also be using your brain the way it’s meant to be used. Don’t put off your prep and then try to get in eight hours on a Sunday – instead, try to focus on small, consistent study sessions on a daily basis, and feel free to split them up! If you can do twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the afternoon, you’ll be in amazing shape.

With that in mind, make sure to pick a program that allows you to study on your own schedule! Most SAT and ACT classes and tutors have somewhat restrictive scheduling limitations, which won’t allow you to optimize your summer prep. Instead, find a way to study that allows you to do small bits of work on your schedule, whenever you have the time.

Summer Prep Tip #2: Make Sure You’re Studying for the Right Test

Things in the testing world have gone topsy turvy. The PSAT is now in the New SAT format starting this fall, the SAT is going to switch in March of 2016, and the most recent versions of the current SAT have had their fair share of problems over the last few months. Fortunately for you, this makes life easier, not harder.

As far as I’m concerned, your best bet is to pursue one of these two paths:

  1. Study for the ACT, which will kill two birds with one stone. Because the New SAT is almost identical to the current ACT, by studying for the ACT, you’ll be able to knock out the ACT, the New SAT, and the New PSAT (I guess that’s three birds…).
  2. If you vastly prefer the current version of the SAT to the ACT, you should study up and take it before it changes in March.

Summer Prep Tip #3: Pick a Flexible Program

Summertime is marked by totally unpredictable schedules. You never know where you’ll be, when, or for how long. With that in mind, it’s essential that you pick a program that works wherever you happen to be, and that doesn’t rely on a set-in-stone schedule. As we already discussed, consistency is key, so choosing a program that accommodates the flexibility of your summer schedule will be essential.

Classroom courses are the worst offenders. If you have to be in a specific place at a specific time week in and week out, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. If you work with a tutor, make sure that he or she can work with you online via Skype or video conferencing software, and be sure that he or she can work on different schedules throughout the summer.

The most flexible way to prep is usually through an online course (a reason why online SAT and ACT prep programs are rapidly increasing in popularity). As long as you have a laptop with you, you can prepare whenever you find the time and wherever you happen to be. All you’ll need is the discipline to log into the program after a day at the lake or the beach (sometimes, it’s easier to study before you’ve been out in the sun all day).

No Matter What, Starting Early is Essential

No matter which program you use, and no matter which test you decide to take, the best thing you can do for your performance is to start preparing today. The longer the runway you give yourself to prepare, the less work you have to do on a daily basis, the more breathing room you have, and the more effectively your brain will be able to retain information. Even if you only put in ten minutes a day, starting now will be the smartest decision you can possibly make!

Thanks so much for reading my guide! Have a great summer, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.


Anthony-James Green is a world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 13,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. Business Insider recently named Anthony: “America’s Top SAT Tutor


All views and opinions of guest authors are theirs alone and are not representative of the views of Petersons.com or its parent company Nelnet.

The ABA: Stuck in the 20th Century Reply

There are many online schools that offer law degrees and programs. Such programs can lead to a career as a paralegal and positions in corporations that require extensive legal knowledge. If you have already passed the bar, you can take online Master of Law (LLM) degrees to focus on particular areas of the law. Online programs can boost the career of executive and HR professionals, and provide many other great opportunities. In short, these degrees can take you anywhere you’d like to go… unless you’d like to practice law.

The American Bar Association provides accreditation for law schools that offer a Juris Doctorate (JD) Degree – the degree that allows you to take the bar exam and practice law. Online Juris Doctorate program exists, but as of the time of this article, the ABA has yet to approve any online JD programs. All states except for California require that you have received a JD degree from an ABA approved school before you are allowed to take the exam. So, unless you plan on spending the first several years of your career as a lawyer practicing in California, your only choice for law school is a traditional brick-and-mortar institution.

Since the ABA frequently reviews schools and approves Juris Doctorate programs for schools all over the country, we can only assume that there is a perception in the field that an online education is somehow inadequate for someone who wishes to practice law. To this perception, we have no choice but to say, “we object, your honors!” and ask the ABA to consider the evidence.

  • Exhibit A: Online education works: advancements in technology have provided online environments that allow for a learning experience that equals and sometimes exceeds the traditional classroom. In most cases it is easy to get one-on-one assistance from your professor, attend lectures, find a tutor, and collaborate with other students on group projects. Accredited online degrees exist for most other disciplines, and have existed for quite some time.
  • Exhibit B: The value and quality of online degree programs has been generally accepted in the corporate world. Most employers recognize the validity of online degrees and regularly hire graduates from these programs. State and private universities all over the United States have recognized the quality and rigor of online education and have created their own online degree programs.

We understand that law is the basis of society, and that the profession is one of the oldest and most respected. However, we believe that there is room in the profession for innovation and fresh thinking. It’s time for the American Bar Association to step into the 21st century and seriously examine and consider approving online JD programs.


Tony Hornsby works in the public pension industry and writes in his free time.  He has a BS degree in Business Management and enjoys writing, reading, and martial arts.  Follow Tony on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RoughandRuggedRoad.

Top Tools to Help You Write Awesome Admission and Scholarship Essays 1

Writing application essays has to be the hardest part of the college admission process. You have already taken the standardized tests and your GPA is fixed. You’ll get some recommendation letters, and fill in the application form without any serious obstacles. The only thing that stands in your way is the admission essay, which has to be great if you want to present yourself as a candidate that every college would like to have on campus.

The scholarship essay is a story of its own. You have to consider the requirements of different programs and present yourself as a suitable candidate.

The following list of tools will help you complete successful admission and scholarship essays!

You won’t achieve success by submitting a confusing paper that lacks proper structure. The basic essay format works effectively for completing admission and scholarship essays. The chart above, provided on the website of Monash University will help keep your content focused.

If you have any questions about essay writing in general, this is where you’ll find the answer. Feel free to use the search option before you post a thread; it’s likely someone has probably faced the same issue and already received an answer by the forum members. You can even use this website to get feedback on the drafts you’ve written.

Paper writing service Ninja Essays is a great solution for college and scholarship applicants who face serious obstacles during the process of essay writing. You can collaborate with real writers, who will assist you along the way and help you increase your chances of getting accepted into the school of your choice.

This is a collaborative and supportive community of writers with different skills and interests. If you are willing to deal with constructive criticism, feel free to ask for advice. The membership at this website is free and you’ll benefit from it not only during the admissions, but throughout your college education as well.

Story 2 has a specific aim: to help you write better admission essays. This is a writing course based on the Moments Method, which has helped many college applicants construct successful essays.

This site offers tips, sample essays, exercises, and prompts that will help you understand what universities and colleges expect to see in an application. The available resources can help you write great admission essays, as well as fellowships and scholarship applications.

This section of the Teen Ink website is a very useful source of inspiration. Remember one thing: you must never copy or rewrite other people’s essays. The papers featured here can serve as an example, but base your admission essays on your personal experience, interests, and qualities.

This guide breaks down the different aspects of a successful college essay. The tips may seem theoretical in the beginning, but they will lead you toward completing a specific, clear, and concise admission essay.

Before you start writing the paper, you need to know what exactly you’re supposed to deliver. This guide, provided by US News, will get you on the right track. Your admission essays should be accurate, coherent, and vivid. This guide can show you how to achieve that.

A scholarship essay is different from the admission papers you write, according to the requirements of different colleges. This guide, provided by ScholarshipsAndAwards.net, informs you about the standards you need to achieve in order to be considered as a suitable candidate for a particular program.

Regardless of the tools and guides you use while working on your application essays, you should always keep in mind that this process requires a lot of time. Start writing as soon as possible!

Robert Morris is an educator and writer from NYC. He is developing his first online course on English literature, and loves yoga and edtech. Follow him on Google+!

The New SAT: What to Do, When, and How 2

As if the college application process wasn’t enough to worry about, the College Board has decided to layer on an entirely new complication: the announcement of the New SAT, arriving March, 2016 in school gyms near you. Fortunately, while the reasons for the launch of the New SAT are a bit complicated, the actions you should take to deal with it are not.

Before we jump in, let’s take a very quick look at the reasons why the College Board has decided to change its exam for the second time in a decade:

  1. The ACT has become more popular. The College Board is losing market share. The ACT is now taken by more students each year, and the trend away from the SAT and toward the ACT is getting steeper by the season.
  2. The SAT is now seen as the “more complicated” test. Which it is. The ACT and the SAT are both equally as difficult, but the ACT is more straightforward and As a result, the College Board is trying to craft an exam that’s much more like the current version of the ACT.
  3. People hate the current version of the SAT. Switching from 1600 to 2400 points, requiring an essay that no one reads, and disrupting the familiar format of the exam were all very unpopular moves. The new (2005) version of the test was a flop (and largely responsible for the ACT’s surge in popularity), and so the College Board is recognizing their need to change.

What’s going to change on the new test? You can find the entire list of changes here. It’s a lot to digest, so here’s an extremely brief summary:

  1. The test is going back to a 1600-point format. No more 2400-point scale – the test will go back to the familiar 1600-point scale we all know and hate, with two sections: one for math, and one for “verbal.”
  2. The essay will be optional, rather than required. Just like the ACT.
  3. Vocabulary will be less of a concern. There will still be some “in context” vocab, but for the most part, the “pure vocabulary” elements will get nixed.
  4. No more “wrong answer penalty.” Just like the ACT.
  5. More emphasis on “digesting and analyzing graphs and real-time information.” Just like the ACT.

Basically, the test as you know it is gone. For all intents and purposes, it’s going to turn into an ACT with a slightly different structure and a 1600-point grading scale.

The biggest question is this: what do you do about it?

1. If you’re taking either test before March 2016, it’s business as usual. If you want to take the SAT, take the SAT. If you want to take the ACT, take the ACT. To figure out which one you should take, use my free guide here.

2. If you’re taking your standardized tests between March 2016 and June 2016, stick with the ACT. We don’t know exactly what the new SAT will look like, or how well the College Board will roll it out, or how the grading curve will look. If you want to be a guinea pig for the College Board, then by all means – take the March, May, and June 2016 versions of the exam. Otherwise, let them work out their kinks and focus on the ACT instead. The ACT is reliable and predictable – best to stick with the devil you know.

3. After June 2016, we’ll all have a much better idea of what the new SAT looks like, acts like, and “grades” like – from there, pick whichever test works best for you. In June 2016, I’ll be launching a new, free guide to help you decide which test you should focus on.

4. If you’re planning on taking the 2015 PSAT (which will be in the “New SAT” format), study for the ACT! Currently, there aren’t enough materials out to study for the new SAT (the College Board is yet to release their guide, due in mid-June). But the New SAT will be in almost exactly the same format as the current ACT – if you prep for the ACT now, you’ll basically be killing two birds with one stone – knocking out the ACT and prepping for the PSAT. When the new PSAT materials come out this summer, you can just check those for a quick brush up and alteration before you head into the exam.

Not so bad, right? Just follow the four steps above and you’ll be all set. The New SAT is certainly a thorn in our sides, but it’s far from the end of the world. Now that you know what to do, the best piece of advice is to start prepping as soon as you possibly can! The earlier you begin this process, the sooner you’ll have it off your plate, and the more time you’ll have to improve your scores.

Anthony-James Green is world-renowned SAT and ACT tutor with over 10,000 hours of experience teaching these tests, crafting curriculum, and training other tutors to teach their own students. He is also the founder of TestPrepAuthority.com. CNN recently named Anthony: “The SAT tutor to the 1%

Visiting Campuses. It’s That Time of the Year Reply

Going on a campus tour is a great way for both students and parents to get a sense of what a college has to offer and a feel for the entire campus environment first-hand.

For students, a campus visit will help you find out about the social scene, what kinds of activities are available, and the dorm room living situation. For parents, you can find out if a specific college will give your child the education they need to help them become successful after graduation. Student-to-teacher ratio, average classroom size, extracurricular clubs, and sports are all things that will factor into the decision of whether or not a college is a good fit.

Start by researching local and distance campuses online to see what each has to offer and choose a few that you would like to visit. Be selective about how many campuses you would like to visit. Campus tours can take a half or even a whole day depending on how in depth you would like to get.

Once you are ready to schedule a campus visit, contact the admissions office so that you can find out when tours are offered and if you need to reserve a spot. Typically, campus tours are done with a group of other prospective students and their parents, so be sure to call ahead in advance.

Also, ask the admissions representative about informational sessions where you can learn more about the college’s history, courses and majors offered, financial aid, tuition and fees, and any other questions you might have that you aren’t able to find in brochures or by visiting the college online. This is also a good time to find out about other opportunities that you can arrange, including attending a class and meeting with a professor, going to a club or sports event, visiting the student union and eating in the dining hall, and sometimes even spending a night in a dorm.

As you are walking around the campus, peeking your head into classrooms, and collecting informational resources, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions to some of the college’s existing students. Here are some great questions you could ask to give you an insider’s view of the college:

  • How easy is it to meet with professors after class?
  • Is it easy to register for the classes you want?
  • How do you like living in the dorms?
  • What sorts of activities outside of class do you like to do?
  • What is the reputation of the sororities and fraternities?
  • Is there anything that you don’t like about the campus?
  • What is the safety and security like on campus?

With the vast amount of choices for incoming freshman, it pays to be selective when choosing a college or university that is great fit throughout your entire degree program. Take notes and consider scheduling a follow-up visit to the school you are leaning towards. Going to college can be a very expensive endeavor, but it will pay off in the end – especially if you chose one where you are most likely to be successful and happy.

Is Studying for the SAT Useless? Reply

iStock_000001927691SmallThe SAT is a test shrouded in myths. One of the most prominent is the idea that woven deep into the very fabric of your DNA is an “SAT gene”, and stamped on that gene is a number as immutable as the number of commandments Moses received up on Mt. Sinai. Those who buy into this idea regard prepping for the SAT as akin to moving Mt. Sinai itself. More…