Author Archives: Mike Bergin

No matter what else is happening in the world, the Olympics have always commanded attention. If you ever doubt the burning will to exceed all limits inherent in all of us, just look at the dedication these indomitable athletes exemplify. No spectacle captures the world’s imagination on such a grand scale. But we’re not tuning in to catch up on air rifle or luge or any of the other hundreds of sometimes obscure events (race walking… really?) we somehow ignore every other week of the year. No, we thrill to the competition, the effort, and the unquenchable commitment to win. Everyone on the path to their best test scores and grades can learn what being the best really requires from those who have paid the costs and reaped the rewards–including Gold Medals and enshrinement on boxes of Wheaties–of enduring excellence… “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams…

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In response to a new re-evaluation of the criteria for popular college rankings, I was moved to write something of a rebuttal on LinkedIn, which is shared in its entirety below. For the sake of our community and the families and educational partners we serve, allow me to add some further thoughts: Our long national obsession with U.S. News & World Report college rankings has become unhealthy and unproductive in the effort to connect students with their best-fit schools. Focusing with tunnel vision on the most selective 100 colleges ignores thousands of potentially better options. Selectivity does not necessarily guarantee either specific educational quality or suitability. Most of my colleagues–educators, school counselors, and educational consultants–care much more about basing school choice on student values, interests, goals, and restraints than which colleges rank highest in easily-gamed lists.   What is Really Wrong with College Rankings? Generation after generation of ambitious college…

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A sophisticated college-level vocabulary is so last century, at least as far as the SAT, ACT, and possibly colleges themselves are concerned. The priority for today’s academics and knowledge workers is graphical literacy. ACT was actually ahead of the curve on this one with the data-rich Science Test, but College Board only got the memo in the last decade. The 2015 revision of the SAT Reading section jettisoned the last of the discrete vocabulary questions in part to make room for a new and unfamiliar–at least to the SAT–addition: passage-based graphs. The Reading section of the current SAT presents 52 questions across 5 passages covering a wide range of topics. Test takers can expect 3 of those passages to present natural and social science topics, and these passages can include a total of 3-4 graphs. Usually each passage will hold 2 graphs but sometimes a single one appears. The most…

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  When the 4th day of July rolls around, we citizens of the United States sometimes ponder questions deeper than just where to watch the best fireworks. We think of patriotism and pride, and even the most cynical among us contemplates what really makes America great. If thoughts like these have been rolling around in your head lately, here’s something to consider about American excellence… According to a 2014 tally, over 300,000 students outside the United States took the SAT in more than 1,000 international test centers across 175 countries. In Hong Kong alone, one 2013 SAT administration was inundated by 10,000 test takers. The ACT commands similar–and, in some countries greater–numbers of international test takers, and both tests have seen more test takers last year than ever. Why should students across the world take the SAT & ACT, when only colleges and universities within the U.S. use these scores…

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One of the most influential voices on the power of persistence has been that of Napoleon Hill. The author of classics like Think and Grow Rich delivered quotable quote after quote on what he saw as the root cause of all success: Willpower and desire, when properly combined, make an irresistible pair. Failure cannot cope with persistence. Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel. Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it. Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting. Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. But Hill didn’t expect that everyone was born with or naturally developed equal measures of persistence. Instead, he framed persistence is a state of mind that could be cultivated. The first step involves understanding the essential elements of persistence: 1. DEFINITENESS OF PURPOSE Knowing what…

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As we’ve said time and time again, reading is fundamental. Well, we didn’t make that phrase up, but we love to spread it around. After all, reading enriching books at least a little bit every day delivers the kinds of benefits we all want for ourselves and our children: improved comprehension (which means more knowledge as well as better grades and scores) increased speed (which mean less time doing homework, more test questions answered, and greater productivity) advanced vocabulary (which means more sophisticated, persuasive communication) decreased frustration (which means reading becomes more enjoyable, which inspires even more reading) Plus, regular readers exhibit greater levels of happiness, community engagement, and mental health. What more could you want for your high schooler? We launched our Strategic Reading Club to provide the structure, direction, and discussion many teens need to engage in real reading on a regular basis. We’ve also revised the structure…

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