We’re thrilled to announce that A Starting Line students have been accepted to the following schools:

  • MIT
  • Roger Williams
  • University of Massachusetts
  • Boston University
  • Oberlin
  • University of Georgia
  • Georgia Tech
  • Northeastern University
  • Fairfield University
  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  • Hofstra
  • Lafayette

This has been an unprecedented and complex year for college applications, and we couldn’t be more proud of our students.


Want to get a head start on your personal statement for college applications?

REview and plan your strategy for the commonapp prompts

The CommonApp Prompts Are Out!

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

When making admissions decisions, some colleges consider the applicant’s ability to pay for college, and others do not. “Need-blind” schools, such as Brown University, admit students without considering their finances. They often commit in advance to provide scholarships to any admitted student whose family cannot pay the full tuition, and some even make it possible for all students to graduate without loans.

Unfortunately, not every school has the endowment funding to be so generous. “Need-aware” schools rely more heavily on tuition to fund their operations, and make admissions decisions that take into account how much each student is likely to pay. They may still offer generous financial aid to some students, but they also need to balance it out with plenty of students who can pay most or all of the fare. 

External scholarships tend to consider either need or merit, but not both. Remember, though, that these terms can be broadly applied. Given the high cost of college, even relatively high-income families can be eligible for at least some need-based aid, and there are a dizzying array of merit scholarships celebrating a wide range of achievements. Learn more about merit scholarships at Road2College.

Time is of the essence as your high school junior builds, researches, and narrows down their college application list. This might sound easy, but good research takes time. This winter and spring are the optimal times for juniors to tour colleges that they’ve already researched online. 

To make the most of your time on campus, be sure you and your student both know a college’s general offerings before you arrive. For example, if you have an avid skier who’s likely to study math or physics, they should know if there’s a ski club and have a general idea of the structure of the math and physics majors. 

Over a single vacation, we recommend visiting an area in which several potential schools are located. If you visit Pennsylvania, for example, you could visit Lehigh, Drexel, UPenn and Swarthmore, but only if they all offer the program in which you are interested. We find that it’s most effective to visit no more than two schools per day, because each info session and tour can take upwards of two hours. Taking in the information during the info sessions and walking around campuses is more tiring than you might think!

The information sessions are the college sales pitch. Listen carefully to what the guides say, and what they don’t say. Do they mention student life, study abroad, the diversity of the student body? Be prepared with specific questions to ask the guide, based on your interests and on research you’ve done about the school’s programs. As you walk around the campus, get a feel for the vibe. The college students are likely to be on their campuses during the high school winter and spring breaks. Try to talk to them — it’s entirely fine to ask them questions like “what do you like most about this school?”

Think about the size and location of the school. Is it walkable? Is it too flat or too hilly? Is there enough of a town or city around? What happens if you are studying late and want a snack? 

Above all, we recommend that you keep a journal or record of which school you visit, your thoughts and reflections on your time at that school. Take photos and tag the locations, and after each tour, make more notes or dictate voice memos. We have a journal template that we give to our students to help them stay organized with their reflections.

By Susan Alves, MA, PhD


We all find it challenging to stay productive at this time of year. So many distractions pull our attention away from our day-to-day commitments. If these distractions are fun, like parties, gift shopping, and holiday get-togethers, we still can become overwhelmed. Even if we do not celebrate a holiday at this time of year, we experience the swirl of a society in an overdrive cacophony. The students in our lives are no different.

Although middle school, high school, and college-age students may tell you that they have it under control, most could benefit from your support if they are to stay productive and happy during these busy weeks. Beware the notion that multitasking is effective. Usually, it is not. Conversely, slowing down and choosing to focus on one thing at a time often produces better-quality work. Concentrating on one task at a time also can leave room to enjoy one’s work. Have a conversation with your student about how they are feeling and about how they are experiencing the responsibilities they are juggling. Find that sweet spot where a real conversation is most likely to happen. (Hint: It might be while driving somewhere with your student.)

Our minds can become overloaded with extraneous information and tasks to complete. When this happens, our productivity suffers. Students are no different. They may need help sorting through what is essential, what can wait, and what can be skipped. Try asking open-ended questions so your student can articulate what is necessary to them. If their answers do not match your priorities, stay in the conversation so you can better understand how they think. Work your way to a negotiated agreement. Especially if you are prone to the breathless activity of multitasking, partner with your student for a few weeks to pare back, slow down, and focus on what really needs to be done. Together, you can alleviate the extraneous load you both carry at this time of year, making room for greater productivity and better understanding and appreciation of each other.

Susan Alves, MA, PhD is the Principal of Mindfulness Tutoring & Coaching. She is currently completing a graduate level certificate in Executive Function with Landmark College (VT). Susan has a private practice that focuses on building young adult clients’ executive function skills.

Don’t twist yourself into knots trying to choose an activity you think it’s what the admissions office wants to see.


Volleyball players
Photo: Vince Fleming via Unsplash

We all know that colleges want to see that a student has participated in extracurricular activities and community service. We also know that parents and students alike find themselves worrying that they’ll pick the wrong ones, or do them incorrectly, or not do enough of them, or do too many.

It’s important to remember that these things aren’t important because the college wants to see them. The college wants to see them because they’re important, and they’re important because they demonstrate something about who you are, whether that’s leadership, commitment, care for others, or a desire to learn new things.

Instead of choosing an “impressive” activity, choose something you care about, and then look for opportunities within it to demonstrate your best qualities. For example:

Leadership and Teamwork

Leadership doesn’t just mean being the team captain or club president. Have you helped a younger student get up to speed? Come up with a new idea and put in the work to make it happen? Identified someone else’s good idea and boosted it, even though it wasn’t your idea? Those are all ways to demonstrate that you’re an important part of a team — and will be an important part of the campus community and the teams or organizations you join in college. 

Commitment and Dedication

Consistent effort over time delivers results — in school and in life. Whether it’s daily practice learning an instrument, early workouts with your sports team, or showing up week after week to package groceries at the food pantry, a long-term devotion to something shows that you’ve got the persistence to succeed in college.

Resilience and Learning New Things

If you fall out of love with musical theater, or have to quit soccer because of an injury, or if your fundraiser is a total flop, that’s not a failure. That’s an opportunity: to be resilient, to handle setbacks, to rethink your approach, to try something new. Being great at something is impressive, but so is the humility it takes to start something knowing you’re not good at it yet. 

Yes, that’s almost the opposite of the bit about commitment and dedication. But remember, you don’t have to be everything to everyone: you just have to be yourself. Your extracurricular activities and community service are just some of the ways you’ll demonstrate that to other people, and they shouldn’t be merely hoops you jump through for an application.

A student on a video call with a professor and a textbook.
Photo: Dylan Ferreira via Unsplash

By Simon Ginet

Restaurants are open. Parks are full. Masks have virtually disappeared. But the pandemic definitely still happened. As the world crawls back to some degree of normalcy (whatever that is), it is sometimes possible to forget that the better part of the years 2020-2022 even occurred. At times I have marveled that the whole experience seemed like a dream (an extended fever dream, perhaps), and that there is no way it actually happened.

But it did.

And it provides an explanation for why things that have come a little easier to an older generation may be puzzlingly difficult for a younger one. A significant consequence of the pandemic is the effect it had on students, students who are now looking towards college.

The college application process has never been particularly easy. There are essays, tests, recommendations, financial documents, plus the uncertainty of the process and the soul-searching of determining where exactly one wants to go. But at least when I was applying to school, we had a wired-in structure that put us on this track from the first day of 9th grade. Not everyone was talking about college at this age. I didn’t start thinking about it until 10th or 11th grade. But teachers were, counselors were, school administrators were, parents were, and the system was designed to move us along the path to college, whether we were thinking about it the whole time or not.

The concern of these educational figures did not disappear with the onset of the pandemic. But the daily structure did. And the question of “what do I want to do in four years?” was replaced with “what exactly is going on?” and “what am I going to do today?” This might explain why students are struggling with motivation, even confusion, with regards to their futures.

I was not exempt from the educational tolls of the pandemic. I spent the last 14 months of graduate school virtually. When the whole thing ended, I was not thinking about the future so much as getting through the present. This is the effect that a global crisis can have on the psyche. Slowly I started to put some pieces back together, make my way into the workforce, and take the time to think about what I wanted with my life and what my future might look like.

This group of college and workforce-bound students may not all be coming out of the blocks raring to go. The tolls on mental health are not insignificant. Students lost access to their friend groups, their sports, arts and their other extracurricular activities. This loss created a certain hole that bordered on (or crossed the border into) the traumatic. Students may not be war veterans, but having a significant form of clarity and structure dismantled so quickly does have a strong debilitating effect. This is especially true when loneliness and other mental health issues are at play.

What I know for sure from the last few years is that I never could have persisted through it all without the support of my family. I imagine it was difficult for my parents to watch me struggle, to hear about 6-hour Zoom classes, overwhelming assignments, and social confusion. They must also have sensed that absence of curiosity about my future. I imagine it is difficult for you to watch your children struggle, too. My parents showed up when I needed them, and shifted their focus from “what do you want to do after?” to “what would help today?”

Let’s take heart from the fact that we’re on this path, and on it together.

Keep working on the support. We’ll keep working on the essays. And we will work our way towards a future that we can share and be proud of, even if the students don’t see it yet.

For feedback on this piece or any questions about what it was like to be a pandemic student and a post-pandemic graduate, feel free to contact me at simon@astartingline.com.

Why Isn’t My Bright Kid Doing Better in School? 


By Nicole Locher, A Starting Line Admission Consultant & Learning Differences Specialist

Do you have a bright kid who struggles in school? Are they disorganized, missing deadlines, getting distracted easily, and/or struggling with reading and writing? Is there a gap between their academic potential and their grades?

As parents, it can be very frustrating when we see our kids struggling in school. However, we need to recognize that these struggles could be signs of an underlying learning difference or learning disability. Many parents tend to shy away from any notion that their kid might have a “disability,” but learning disabilities are actually very prevalent.

In spite this prevalence, the signs of learning disabilities can be hidden and often go unnoticed and undetected until later school years. If ignored until academic demands increase, learning differences can seriously impact a student’s self-esteem and motivation. If caught and remediated early, students can go on to achieve success in school and their careers. 

This is Part One in a series of articles on two of the most common learning differences: Dyslexia and ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), which affect about one in five students in the U.S. In this series, we will highlight symptoms, common misconceptions, amazing strengths, ways to help your teen, and what to expect and prepare them for when they head to college. 


Part I: Dyslexia

Clearing up Some Misconceptions about Dyslexia

The most common misconceptions about people with dyslexia is that their poor reading is due to laziness, or that they’re not bright and can’t learn to read or write. In fact, people with dyslexia have average to above average intelligence, and with the appropriate intervention, can become strong readers and writers. Some also believe that dyslexia is a vision problem and that people with dyslexia see letters backwards, a misconception that has been perpetuated by a scene from the Percy Jackson filmes, where Percy can’t read the words because his mind is scrambling the letters. None of these are accurate.


What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference that is neurological in origin. It affects organization in the left part of the brain that controls the ability to process the way language is heard, spoken, read, or spelled. It is genetic and can be passed down to children through their parents, and ranges on a continuum from mild to severe.

Students with dyslexia need extra help learning to recognize and work with word sounds. They learn best through multisensory, structured phonics reading programs grounded in the scientific evidence of how the brain learns to read. Teens may also need help with writing and spelling and may benefit from accommodations such as extended time on tests, access to class notes and presentations, audio books and speech to text/text to speech assistive technology. 


What Are the Signs of Dyslexia in Teens? 

Teenagers May Have Difficulty With:

  • Reading, including reading aloud 
  • Writing & Spelling
  • Mispronouncing names or words, or problems retrieving words
  • Summarizing and comprehending what they’re reading
  • Understanding jokes and idioms, such as “piece of cake” 
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Memorization
  • Organization
  • Doing math problems, especially word problems


The Strengths & Advantages of Dyslexia

While having learning differences comes with challenges, there are also significant strengths and competitive advantages. People with dyslexia tend to be creative, innovative, outside-the-box thinkers who can see patterns and solutions to problems that others often don’t see. Many use these traits to turn complex information into new professional strategies. It is estimated that about 40% of entrepreneurs and 30% of CEOs have dyslexia. Business leaders such as Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, former Cisco CEO John Chambers, billionaire investor Charles Schwab, Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran, and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver have said that their dyslexia gives them a competitive advantage. 

Many colleges have become much more inclusive of students with dyslexia, and employers are increasingly seeking their innovative thinking. Last year “Dyslexic Thinking” became recognized as a vital skill by LinkedIn,as it matches with the Top Ten skills needed in today’s workplace. Even NASA actively seeks scientists with dyslexia because of their strong problem-solving skills and excellent 3D and spatial awareness.


What to Do If You See Signs of Dyslexia

While it’s best to be identified and receive help in early grades, it’s never too late to get help! 

    • Talk with your doctor who might recommend types of testing to diagnose dyslexia.
    • Reach out to your student’s teacher and school in writing. State your concerns, describe what you are observing and mention if reading challenges and/or dyslexia run in the family. Request a comprehensive evaluation for language based learning disabilities.

After being evaluated, your student may qualify for a 504 Plan Accommodation Plan or an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for Specialized Educational Services. See resource links below for more information.



For more information about evaluations and about the IEP eligibility process: 


Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate leadership. But what does that even mean?

Leadership is a surprisingly slippery concept and there’s no end of books and guides and seminars about how to lead and why. Johns Hopkins even offers a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership

Fortunately, you don’t need an advanced degree to develop your leadership skills. You don’t need to win a student government election or even be the president of a club. Instead, think of leadership as a practice and a skill, something you do every day and get better at as you go. 

Our favorite way of looking at student leadership comes from The Student Leadership Challenge, which describes five things that student leaders do: 

  • Model the Way: Lead by example, and demonstrate the behaviors and attitudes that you want to see in others. Don’t just talk about doing good, but take action to set a positive example.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision: Motivate others by helping them to see a shared vision for the future. Be clear and specific about your vision, and it will be something that others can believe in and work towards.
  • Challenge the Process: Question the status quo, and actively seek out ways to make things better. You may need to take risks to create change. 
  • Enable Others to Act: A leader facilitates the work of the whole group, and provides the resources and support that others need in order to achieve their goals.
  • Encourage the Heart: Recognize and appreciate the efforts of others. Celebrate successes and help others to feel good about their contributions.

You can do those things in ways both big and small. Whether you’re leading formal organization — or starting your own — or just being kind to others, leadership is something we can do every day that helps us improve ourselves and the world around us.

What should you do if you want to attend a small college, but you also want a broad range of courses or access to very specific facilities that are available only at a larger institution? 

One option is to look for colleges that share courses and resources. For example, students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford can easily enroll at the other institution, and the schools even run frequent bus service from one campus to the other. That’s especially handy if you want to study things like The Growth and Structure of Cities, which is a major offered only at Bryn Mawr. Students at both colleges are also able to take classes at Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania, although logistics can be a little tricky because those schools are further apart.

Similarly, the Five College Consortium allows students to enroll in courses and use the resources of UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Hampshire, while on the West Coast, enrolling at any of the Claremont Colleges grants you access to Claremont McKenna, Scripps, Pitzer, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd, as well as resources from several graduate schools!

If you enroll in a college that’s part of a consortium, it’s best to choose the one where you’ll be spending the most time, because travel off-campus can be time consuming.

Early on in my career, I learned that when someone asks you a question, it helps to find out why they want to know before you start to answer. That gives you the context you need to provide the best possible response.

This is especially true when you consider college application essays. Why does a college want to know about a time you faced a challenge, setback, or failure? 

The answer, of course, is that they want to know how you’ll respond to challenges, setbacks, or failures when you get to college. 

I think of it as an unasked question hanging in the air around every prompt: “… and why does that make you someone we want to have on campus?” 

Why would Stanford want to see a letter you write to your imagined roommate? They’re looking for students who can live well with other people.

Why would Princeton want to know about a new skill you want to learn in college? They’re looking for students with concrete and specific personal growth goals. 

That’s not to say that you should just try to tell the admissions office what you think they want to hear. Far from it. 

Instead, when you’re brainstorming, keep that unasked question in mind to help you identify good topics. If you want to learn how to type, how to do a new TikTok dance, and how to meditate, which one is going to be more interesting to admissions? If you have ten ideas for things to tell someone you’ve just met, which of them are likely to lead to a polite and fruitful conversation?

Are Test Scores Relevant

Should I Submit?

The pandemic has definitely changed the way admissions look at standardized tests (SAT and ACT). During the pandemic, colleges and universities pivoted to test-optional or test-blind (UC). There are currently very few schools requiring a standardized score; MIT is one of the few outlier schools requiring a student to take and submit a score. A student’s chances of being admitted to a highly selective school are much different now than they were two or three years ago. As more and more schools were becoming test optional, so the numbers of test takers increased.

Beginning just before the pandemic, admissions offices had begun to view the tests as inequitable because they have been shown to highlight the disparity between test takers who come from educated, affluent families who can pour money into test prep and those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, thus further creating a lack of diversity on college campuses. It became common knowledge that the tests created an unnecessary barrier for low-income students.

This year, College Board released results of a study among 51 test-optional public and private colleges. Applications were up across the board, but at the highly selective private colleges, more than half of applicants didn’t submit scores. These schools also did not increase the number of seats to meet demand, creating very low acceptance rates – something they relish as it ‘looks good in the rankings’. Highly selective schools saw their numbers rise among Black, low-income, and students with high GPAs.

When is it beneficial to submit a score? 

Parents and students should understand that a test score is highly predictive of how well a student will do in college, more than a GPA can predict success.

Jeff Selingo writes, “While a 1350 would have been considered a good score in the past at those {less selective} schools, now, when the only applicants submitting scores are mostly those well above the average, the expectations of admissions officers have risen with the scores — especially for applicants from wealthy academic” high schools. Students are now submitting scores only when they tend to be at the top of the range or even exceeding the range of scores.”

Selingo goes on, “In the spring, Hannah Wolff, a former college counselor at Langley High School, a top-ranked high school in the wealthy suburbs of Washington, D.C., heard from admissions counselors at several public universities that a few Langley seniors who were rejected might have been admitted if they had not submitted their SAT scores, which were in the 1350 range.” More attention might have been paid to the rigor of classes, the student’s activities and the essays. The lower median scores ultimately would bring down a school’s test score range in the rankings.

When should you not submit a score?

 Charlie Deacon, Georgetown University’s admissions dean since the 1970s is very

 unapologetic about his support for the tests. He believes a test score is a necessary benchmark for evaluating applications from high schools with varying degrees of rigor. “It’s not a score cutoff we’re looking for but one that’s high enough that you think, Well, maybe the student can do it,” Deacon said. “We don’t want people coming in for whom that is a real question. The really low test score is a warning signal.”

Basically, if a student is applying to any mid-range to top tier colleges, they should only submit a score if it’s very close to or above the median score for that school. 

What does this mean for you?

As the acceptance rates continue to decrease at the top tier and top mid-range schools, families will need to cast a much wider net in the college search.



Need Test Prep?

A Starting Line offers test prep with one of our experienced staff. We also partner with a highly regarded test prep center. 

Over the many years that I have tutored children and teens in writing, and as a college essay coach, I’ve repeatedly heard parents say, “My kid is lazy; he doesn’t do his homework until it’s too late.” I’ve also heard parents say “My daughter always procrastinates until the last minute.” Let me just say, unequivocally, that the kid is NOT lazy. Procrastination,  missing deadlines, not following through with tasks are common symptoms of ADHD.

Teens with ADHD typically experience some or all of the following:

  • Distractibility and lack of focus
  • Disorganization and forgetfulness
  • Self-focused behavior
  • Hyperactivity and fidgeting
  • Heightened emotionality and rejection sensitive dysphoria
  • Impulsivity and poor decision making
  • Poor concentration and trouble finishing tasks

According to ADDitude, teens will have a few specific activities or tasks for which they have no difficulty in exercising their executive functions quite well, which can be a source of confusion among parents, physicians, and psychologists. This may be in playing a favorite sport or video games; it could be in making art or music or some other favorite pastime.

Experts say that 80 to 85 percent of preteens continue to experience symptoms into their adolescent years, and 60 percent of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD. The impact of ADHD symptoms may increase or decrease over time depending on the individual’s brain development and the specific challenges faced in school or at work.

Further, according to ADDitude, many of your teens’ problems at home, at school, and in social settings arise due to neurological delays. ADHD is tied to weak executive skills — the brain-based functions that help teens regulate behavior, recognize the need for guidance, set and achieve goals, balance desires with responsibilities, and learn to function independently.

How does this manifest in teens?

  • Response inhibition (being able to stop an action when situations suddenly change)
  • Working memory
  • Emotional control
  • Flexibility
  • Sustained attention
  • Task initiation
  • Planning/prioritizing, organization
  • Time management
  • Goal-directed persistence (sticking with a task when it becomes “boring” or difficult)
  • Metacognition (the awareness and understanding of your own thought processes a.k.a. self-awareness)

What can you, the parent , do? Don’t say “He’s lazy and will outgrow it” thus setting your child up for failure in college and beyond. If you see these symptoms, talk with your child’s doctor.  ADHD is very treatable. The symptoms in teens are treated with medication, behavior therapy, and/or through changes to diet and nutritional supplements. Regular exercise and sufficient sleep are also very important.


Pandemic Effect on Students


The difficulties we are facing with this year’s students reminds me of a story I once heard, told by meditation teacher and psychologist Tara Brach. The story concerns a white tiger named Mohini who lives at a zoo. 

Mohini was put in a 12 foot by 12 foot cage upon arrival at the zoo, and lived much of her life in this prison. She spent years of her life pacing out the dimensions of her cage. Eventually, zoo staff were able to construct a larger habitat for the tiger, with much more open space. However, when they set Mohini free in the new space, she found a small corner of it and resumed her pacing, tracing out a 12 by 12 box in the grass.

Our current seniors spent a significant amount of their high school careers “boxed in,” like Mohini, in the confined space of their parents’ homes, with little exposure to the outside world and social exposure to no one but their parents. It is no wonder that now, even when restrictions have been lifted, a psychological cage remains. Being psychologically boxed in can leave one afraid to take risks and go outside of the comfort zone, which is also reflected in less-than-stellar essays. Perhaps a lack of boldness and daring in the writing is a symptom of a pandemic that asked an entire generation of enthusiastic students to put their adventurousness on hold. 

Our puzzle is how to encourage this generation to rekindle the inner adventurousness that makes for bold, standout essays. It is likely that we, too, have a bit of that psychological cage around us. The story of Mohini often elicits compassion from listeners. Can we hold that compassion for ourselves and our students, being patient as we slowly find our way back into the open grass? 

Simon Ginet, a college essay coach at A Starting Line, joined the team last year after getting his Master’s Degree in Education/Counseling from Boston University. He’s worked in the mental health field with trauma survivors around the same age as the students we work with, and has studied psychology as a student and layperson since 2009.

by S. Ginet
The college application process offers students an incredible opportunity to demonstrate their strengths, both academic and character, as well as maturity. And while most students do not have a clear picture of their college future at age 14, they may at this age begin to develop a keener understanding of their interests, unique talents, and values.

A Starting Line offers coaching to ninth grade students and their families to lay the foundation for a successful and meaningful high school career. We encourage self-inquiry and introspection, guiding students towards greater levels of self-awareness and confidence.

An introspective 9^th grader becomes a self-reliant senior, and encouraging students to do inner work from a young age provides them with the tools they need to become successful college applicants and healthy young adults.

Allison Barchichat, owner of East Cobb Tutoring Center, offers some sound advice for our students wanting to apply for scholarships…

Over the last twenty years, I have served on several scholarship grading committees. Who decides the winners and how? How can you maximize your chances to win scholarship money? 

Follow the directions.

I know, I know. How basic is this? Seriously though, in every committee I’ve served on there have been students immediately disqualified for not following directions. For example, one scholarship application required the winner to be a member of the school PTSA. Three students were immediately rejected because they never joined the PTSA – the rest of their application packets were complete, with thoughtfully written essays. But ultimately, they didn’t follow the directions and their hard work was for naught.

Read on for more vital information.

April is the month of Earth Day – think environment and sustainability. Do you want to help save Earth and its environments? Do you recycle, compost and make informed choices about sustainable consumer products?

Each year, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) releases a report on the most sustainable colleges and universities. The AASHE measures institutions using the STARS system: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. In 2021, 550 institutions in the U.S. and Canada submitted information about the sustainability of their campus, academics, and community. Each school received a score and a rating of Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Take a look at the list, 2021 Sustainable Campus Index

Some students are ready to explore the world as soon as they graduate high school; others want to stay closer to home. To help offer some perspective, we recently asked one of our clients who attended a Canadian university to reflect on their experience studying abroad for four years… 

The largest anxiety I had about attending an international university was, without a doubt, all the red tape: I was stressed about obtaining a student visa, acquiring international health insurance, opening a bank account, finding a phone plan etc. These are all normal things to be stressed about, but don’t let them stop you from applying or attending; it’s all worth it!

First of all- remember that your school is a resource. If you are accepted into an international school, the university will delineate the steps you need to take to get a visa, and will likely have programs catered specifically to assisting international students in their process of ‘settling in.’ Once you get your visa application in, you can begin to tackle the other daunting tasks one at a time. If you know anyone in your community who studied internationally, or better yet, at your school of interest, it may be helpful to ask them about the process. On the whole, the process is much more manageable than it seems.

After you’ve filled out all the forms and submitted all the paperwork, you’ll have arrived at the best part! Studying internationally is a great opportunity to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and experience a new culture, language, and city. Finding other international students once on campus is a helpful way to feel ‘settled-in’ in a new place. Although it may be daunting to be in a different country alone, there are always other people who are in the same boat!

Avoid the summer slump With a tutoring package!

What is summer slump? It’s that time of year when there’s no school and students forget much of what they’ve learned in the prior nine months.

Did you know that we offer tutoring packages from A Starting Line to help your student avoid the summer slump? We have a…

New Customer Special: Buy a package of 5 hours and get one extra hour for free.

Loyal Customer Special: Buy a package of 10 hours and get credit for an extra 90 minutes of tutoring for free!

Check out our fabulous tutors here.

Our tutors are experienced (in addition to being carefully vetted) in research/essay writing as well as in creative writing, math, science and foreign languages (French and Spanish). 




This Earth Day, we bring you an overview of environmentally-related college offerings. 


If you are interested in the environment, many schools have environmental science or environmental studies majors/minors. What is the difference between these two fields? Environmental science is often focused on preserving nature and Earth’s resources, whereas environmental studies looks at the interactions between environment, policy, economics, etc. The courses you can take to fulfill the environmental studies requirements are often interdisciplinary, which helps to build your critical thinking skills. For example, Hobart and William Smith College offers many cool courses in environmental studies, like Intro to Environmental Law and Environmental Change in the Indigenous World.


In addition, many colleges have Eco Reps, who promote sustainability through projects and community programs. Tufts University’s Eco Reps sponsor programs like a widespread Zero Waste Week Challenge, during which students are encouraged to carry around all of the garbage they produce in a bag, in order to dissuade waste production. The Tufts Eco Reps also put out an Eat Local Sustainability Guide, to promote nearby restaurants that buy their produce locally.


Furthermore, some schools have green living spaces in which students can choose to live. Dickinson College has “The Treehouse,” in which sustainability-minded students may choose to live. The Treehouse takes food from the dining hall that would otherwise be thrown away, and all of their extra foodstuffs go into the compost. In addition, while the house has a washer, they hang-dry all of their clothing to save energy. 


If you are interested in the environment, check out your prospective schools’ websites, and see if you are interested in their related majors, clubs, housing, etc.