Posted in Online Tutoring, Resources, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students

The Best Online Tutoring Services Of 2018

Like many services and industries, tutoring is moving more online as people become more comfortable and familiar with digital communication and are able to appreciate the accessibility and selection of online tutoring.  One result of this is that the online tutoring industry has exploded, to the point where the sheer proliferation of services can be overwhelming.

That’s why I’m so glad that our friends at have created a guide to the best online tutoring services of 2018.  They have thoroughly researched the top platforms and written up a detailed report with their findings, but that’s just the start.  Their report goes on to explain what students should know before enrolling in online tutoring, the best practices for ensuring a positive tutoring experience, and much more.  The whole thing is chock full of incredibly valuable information and actionable tips for students and their families who are seeking help through online tutoring, and the best part is, it’s absolutely FREE!

Check it out here: The Best Online Tutoring Services Of 2018

Posted in Resources, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students

The Best Scholarship Search Platforms of 2018

With the rising costs of college education, scholarships are more important than ever for students and families who want to maximize the value they receive while minimizing their costs.  But there are so many scholarship options that the task of finding and applying for the best ones can be a daunting hurdle.  Of course, the solution is to use a scholarship search platform to help cut through the clutter.  The only problem with that is that scholarship search platforms themselves have proliferated as well, to the point where it’s hard to even make a decision about which platform to use!

That’s why I’m so glad that our friends at have created a guide to the best scholarship search platforms of 2018.  They have thoroughly researched the top platforms and written up a detailed report with their findings, but that’s just the start.  Their report goes on to explain what students need to know before they apply for a scholarship, a step by step guide on how to apply, and more.  The whole thing is chock full of incredibly valuable information and actionable tips for college bound students and their families, and the best part is, it’s absolutely FREE!

Check it out here: The Best Scholarship Search Platforms Of 2018

Posted in Academic Coaching

The Day My Future Career As A Scientist Died

Starting around the age of 16, I decided that I wanted to be a scientist of some kind. I went to a special magnet school for math and science, and when I went to college I majored in math and physics. I double majored because I thought I wanted to learn everything I could, but there were also more unhealthy motivations at play.

During my senior year, when I was considering options for graduate school, I had a conversation with one of my physics professors, a rough-and-ready good ol’ boy from Texas with a reputation for resorting to non-conventional disciplinary measures with particularly troublesome students. I had asked him whether he thought I could get accepted to UT Austin, his alma mater, and appearing to consider carefully, he said with some hesitation “Yes, I think you’re smart enough…” This meant a lot coming from him, since UT Austin is one of the most prestigious physics universities around. There was something in his voice, however, that seemed to hint that that wasn’t all that it would take, but I realize now that that was truly the day my career as a scientist died (although I wasn’t to realize it for a number of years afterwards).

I have written before about my need as a kid to be perceived as smart to justify my self-worth (, and it turns out that this was a big source of my motivation to be a scientist: to prove, to myself, the world, and everyone, how smart I was. So it seems now, looking back, that when I heard those three words (“you’re smart enough”) from someone that I considered to be a credible source, some part of me felt that I was already “in the club”, and further qualifications were unnecessary.

As it turns out, I did go on to go to graduate school – in California rather than Texas – but my heart wasn’t in it, and I eventually decided that academia wasn’t the right career path for me. Instead I have gone on to have a very different set of life experiences than I thought I wanted to have when I was projecting forward into the future at age 16, motivated largely by the desire to prove myself to myself.

The point of this story is to illustrate the importance of not only being clear about what you want to do with your life, but also about why you want to do it. I spent years climbing a ladder only to find out that it was against the wrong wall, and this is one of my reasons for being so passionate about helping students get in touch with their true desires and highest vision for their lives.

Posted in Homeschooling, Resources

Where To Find Great Homeschooling Services

One reason parents often feel intimidated by the idea of homeschooling is that they think they have to go it alone and don’t know where to start. The reality is that homeschooling is an exploding industry, and there is a huge variety of products, services, and organizations dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of the homeschooling community. Whether you are brand new to homeschooling or have years of experience, whether you want to be more hands-on or hands-off, there are people and resources that can help you find your niche.

One such list of resources is compiled by the microtutoring site Studypool. In addition to their primary mission of helping to link up struggling students with tutors ready to help them on-demand, they’ve done a fantastic job of pulling together a wide variety of accredited homeschooling programs complete with location and enrollment requirements:

All kids, including yours, learn much more from inspiring examples than they do from lectures, and that’s why it’s important that you show them the importance of living life on your own terms. That’s why I always tell parents, if homeschooling is your dream, go for it!

Posted in Tips for Students

How To Deal With Test Anxiety

Often it is the most sensitive and talented students who are affected the most by test anxiety.  Students who would ordinarily be top performers fall apart under the pressure of testing conditions.  Why?

This is a phenomenon discussed in some detail in Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. He actually identifies two different types of response to pressure. In one profile, a person performs meticulously when the pressure is not on, then breaks down and performs poorly under pressure. In the other profile, a person performs lazily and sloppily when there is no pressure, then buckles down and performs nearly flawlessly when the stakes are high. The author used the example of a story about a man who was the world’s best golfer, as long as he was leisurely putting on the green, but if he ever competed in a tournament he would always come in last.

What causes the breakdown of performance, according to Maxwell Maltz, is an overabundance of self-correction. The remedy would be to find ways to take the pressure off internally, which consists of visualizing a positive outcome while becoming unattached to what actually happens. In other words, you have to find ways to convince yourself, or at least temporarily suspend your disbelief, that you will be successful AND that there is no danger or harm in making mistakes.

Posted in Educational Reform, Math

Research Shows Timed Testing Causes Math Anxiety – DUH!

I recently came across an article in Education Week where Stanford mathematics education professor Jo Boaler highlights a number of research studies that establish something those of us who pay attention have known for a long time: timed testing causes math anxiety. Can you say “Duh!”

The article and its sources describe the results of various studies of the cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and neurological effects of timed testing, which I will summarize below. Not to scare you or anything, but

  • Timed testing creates math anxiety that disproportionately affects the highest and lowest performing students
  • Math anxiety tends to persist and grow over time with repeated exposure to negative stimuli, leading to lasting consequences, including limitation of career options
  • Math anxiety actually has measurable neurological effects that inhibit the recall of known facts as well as the acquisition of new knowledge – that’s right, sending your kids to school can actually prevent them from learning and lead to lasting brain damage
  • Math anxiety causes emotional distress that can contribute to self-image issues that persist throughout adult life
  • Math anxiety is on the rise and is directly correlated with common public school teaching policies
  • Timed testing kills curiosity and enthusiasm and leads students to see math as a matter of performance and competition rather than as a fascinating subject with intrinsic value, which corresponds to am immense loss of value for society
  • Timed testing leads students to equate effectiveness and achievement with rapidity, which is so far from the truth it’s not even funny

This article just goes to highlight two things I have always said, that more fear = less learning, and that the public school system is accomplishing the exact opposite of what it should be doing, at an alarming rate. It just adds more evidence to the pile that for many students, school actually does more harm than good, and sane alternatives are needed, like, yesterday.

So what is the solution? The article and its references also highlight the positive changes that need to happen, specifically that learning needs to take place in an emotionally uplifting, stress-free environment that uses positive reinforcement and encourages exploration, imagination, and creativity, and that develops divergent thinking skills alongside convergent thinking skills.

For kids who are suffering under the yoke of public schooling, I always do my best to control and counteract the psychological damage caused by such practices as timed testing, and empower them to discover and use their innate mental superpowers.

Posted in Educational Reform, Math

Does Being Good At Math Make You “Smart”?

It continues to confound and amaze me how often I have the following type of exchange:

Person: “What do you do?”

Me: “I teach math.”

Person: “Oh my god, you must be so smart! I hated/was terrible at math!”

My experience learning and teaching math has shown me that not only is math just another subject that anyone who desires can learn and become skilled at, what’s more it is an innate human ability that everyone has, just like the ability to use language, recognize faces, run, swim, or climb trees. Along with math, all of these are activities that we recognize as skills that can be developed and improved, yet still innately human and instinctive for us as a species. All humans can do math, just like all birds can fly and all cats can hunt.

So, why is math considered to be a measure of “smartness” rather than an innate ability that anybody can develop? I speculate there are at least two factors feeding into the persistence of this pattern:

One is that the Newtonian-Cartesian scientific paradigm, which emphasizes the supremacy and superiority of rational, quantitative, and convergent modes of thought over and above the workings of insight, intuition, divergent thought, and artistic perception, has been supremely successful in the areas of science to which it readily applies, which has led to a kind of arrogant intellectual monism in which rational, linear, convergent thinking is seen as superior to nonrational, nonlinear, or divergent thinking.

The other is that math is generally taught in primary school in ways that are demonstrably inefficient and counterproductive, and that lead to disempowerment and sap intellectual curiosity, so only people with exceptional talent or exceptional immunity to cultural conditioning tend to thrive intellectually in such an environment. In an ideal learning environment, different people would pursue different subjects to different degrees determined by their interest and motivation, but nobody would come away with a phobia of any particular subject, or of learning in general, as is far too often the case in traditional public schools.  This is why much of the work I do as a tutor and academic coach consists of what is essentially PTSD rehabilitation therapy for math-related social anxiety.