How to Survive College Tours With Your Stressed Out Teenager

What To Know Before You Tour Colleges With Your Teenager

As you head out on college tours this spring, we want to help you anticipate how to get the most out of your trips (and maybe we’ll save you from some adolescent eye rolls in the meantime!). Follow our grassy path to a successful college visit...



You’ve driven five hours in the car with a teenager more immersed in Instagram than you thought possible, so let’s make sure your visit counts. That means you need to make sure each college knows your child was there (sign in!) and that your child walks away with some details for a (potential) supplementary essay (see below). 


College visits can quickly start to feel like a blur. Encourage your child to write down the names of tour guides, buildings, classes, professors, and anything else memorable because most schools include supplementary essays for their applications that ask students to specifically chart their reasons for applying. Stanford does not want to read an essay that could have just as easily been written to Penn, and keeping details in an organized folder will help when application times rolls around.  


Applying to a selective school with a beautiful campus is tempting, but we also want our kids to thrive once they get to college, and that means picking a school with the right support, level of rigor, and social life. Pay attention to bulletin boards, percentage of students participating in Greek life, and the content of the school paper to help figure out what life on campus might be like.  Are students politically engaged? More focused on intellectual pursuits outside of the classroom? Excited about social gatherings? What kinds of clubs are available? Need a core curriculum? Need way more freedom academically? What about a supportive advisor? These things really matter once you get into school, and touring is the first step in finding the right fit.


Many schools give you a voucher for a meal on campus. Eating in one of the student cafeterias means understanding how the student body interacts and allows for some good eavesdropping! Oftentimes students are also happy to stop and chat to prospective applicants, so see if you can survey a few (other than your tour guide) to get more perspectives about life on campus. 


Try your best to hold off on “embarrassing” questions (we know it’s tempting!) and allow your child to drive conversations. Your child will thank you for it later by putting the phone down long enough to have a conversation on that five hour drive home. 


We know what a pivotal moment this is in your child’s life, and we want to make sure you have all the support you need during this exciting time. If you have any questions in advance of your child’s college tours, we’d love to chat--reach out to us via email to set up a time for a call!

Boosting Your Child's Resume This Summer

How to Maximize Summers to Build the Best College Resume

The summer season is a welcome break from a busy school year, but it is also a great time for high schoolers to hone their crafts and build their college resumes, as well as prep for the year ahead. 

We at TA know how difficult it can be to narrow down the best options for your children's summer plans, so as summer approaches, we thought we’d help anticipate some of the best ways that your children can spend their summers!


Questions? We’re always happy to help map out your child’s plan for the summer! Give us a call at 646.638.3504 or email us to get a dialogue started.

Which SAT Subject Tests Are Right For Your Child?

Are your children planning to apply to top colleges or universities?

Chances are, they will want to submit scores for at least two SAT Subject Tests. Most students take SAT Subject Tests in the spring of their junior year and the fall of their senior year, and now that the College Board offers an August test date, there are more options than ever.

Check out our handy flowchart below to see which tests might be right for your child.

How to Talk to Your Child about December Admissions

Deferred? Rejected? Accepted ED?

We’ve been working with middle and high school students for over seventeen years (about as long as our current seniors have been alive!), which means we’ve been through seventeen Decembers in which many of our students go through the process of hearing back from their “ED” schools. Here’s our advice for what to do once your kid hears back:

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1.  Tell us all about it--we can help!

We have had the pleasure of being a part of your child's educational process (sometimes for years!), and we aren't done just because your child is done with the ACTs and that tricky Chemistry class. We want to celebrate successes with notes of pride and care, and we want to help your children integrate sadness and anxiety so that they can process and move on confidently. If we know what is going on, we can help, especially since we all know that teenagers often avoid talking to parents in particularly difficult times. 

2.  Rejection is painful--give your child space and validation!

Rejected? Watching your child suffer is never easy, and as parents we all find it tempting to try to take away that pain, but tolerating rejection (and moving on from it) builds grit and leaves our children better prepared to face adulthood. Validating that rejection hurts (“I see how hard this is” or “Of course you feel upset and angry right now”) will help your child feel heard and loved, and giving them space to feel those unpleasant feelings will allow them to more easily move on.

3.  Deferrals mean choices--strategize!

Deferred from Princeton? Not sure what to do next? Many of our kids who are deferred decide to apply “ED 2” if they love a school who offers that option. Others shift their lists slightly to include a few more safety schools. All of our seniors should stay focused on keeping strong grades (even those kids who are in!), but a deferral provides more choices based on what your child truly wants and what safeguards you want to put in place. 

4.  Accepted ED? Let’s celebrate...with empathy for others! 

We are excited to celebrate with you, and celebrating with those grown-ups who have watched you grow is the perfect outlet for that well-earned excitement. We do encourage students to be aware that some of their peers are struggling, and providing an outlet at home for their happiness is a great way to ensure that they feel great and have empathy for those who might not.  

Unsure about how to manage your child’s emotions around admissions? Just want to chat with a compassionate grown-up who cares about your kid? We are here to help.


Are Winter Or Spring Exams In Your Child's Future?

The Time to Start Planning is Now...

If you have a child at a school who does mid-year cumulative exams (Nightingale, Spence, St. Bernard’s, Dalton, etc…), the time to start planning is now. Below is our guide for your kids so they can ace their cumulative exams: 


1. Ask your teacher what is covered or if a review might be offered.

Some teachers structure cumulative exams to cover absolutely everything learned since the first day of school while other teachers choose to exclude specific projects or topics or only include material through a certain date. Know what your teacher expects and then find out what might be offered in terms of review. Will your teacher be handing out a review packet? Or offer review sessions? Before you start on your own review plan, you’ll want to know what your teacher plans to provide.

2. Collect all unit tests, quizzes, and graded assignments for review.

November is the time to go through accordion binders/folders/desk drawers and backpacks to find all graded assessments from September on. Missing a test? Now is the time to find that out. Can’t find a lab assignment? This is a time to find it, panic-free. Collecting everything and organizing it by putting the units in chronological order help students scaffold awareness about the material they have covered and how much they have to review.

3. Map out a plan.

Now that you know how many units you need to cover, it’s time to put a review plan into your calendar (digital or otherwise). Slow and steady is much easier when there’s a lot of information to review and memorize, and in many classes units build on each other, which means the early work is fundamental to performing well on later topics. The calendar should leave at least a week (if not more) before testing to review all of the material and practice, so we suggest working backwards from that to map out a study plan. 

4. Deal with problem areas first and then start from the beginning.

Weak on osmosis? Struggled with that one test on matrices? We recommend reviewing the trickiest stuff without the time pressure of a rapidly approaching exam and then working your way through each unit, chronologically. 

5. Practice strategic testing.

All set with the details of the Compromise of 1850? Have your characters straight from the 5 novels you’ve read so far this year? Great, you’ve done the bulk of the time-consuming work ahead of studying, but you’re not done until you’ve figured out how to test strategically. You should know how long your test is (1 hour? 3?) and how much weight is likely to be given to each part (in-class essay 50% of your grade?) so that you can begin to plan your strategy for testing. You’ll also need to plan for sleep and food as well as learn new skills for coping with anxiety and fatigue--otherwise all that hard work won’t line up with your performance on the official test. 

6. Take care of your body and mind.

Tests are like performances or big sports games: you need skill and practice, but you also need a rested body and a resilient mind. Staying up all night studying often does more harm than good (hence starting early), and lack of sleep often weakens the immune system (who wants strep throat during exams week?). An anxious mind is perfectly normal before and during testing, but it doesn’t help solve quadratic equations or outline logical arguments, so you’ll want to work with your tutor to incorporate tools into your repertoire to manage these feelings while you test. 

Unlike a test that covers one, discreet unit, cumulative exams ask students to synthesize multiple concepts and to hold a lot of information in their brains. They also carry with them more anxiety, not to mention the exhaustion that comes with studying for multiple exams at once, which means steady preparation over time is the best way to ace these tests. Most of our kids book an organizational session early on to craft a study plan and then book extra sessions ahead of their exams.