These days, we use our smartphones for everything: alarm clock, calculator, food delivery service, FaceTime with friends and family, TV, information source, payment source and sometimes a tutor. As the saying goes, "the sky is the limit" when it comes to the incredible amount of apps and websites that are just a touch or swipe away. As high school students and even as professionals working with high school students, we use smartphones with some wonderful built-in apps to assist with a variety of tasks, including virtual college tours, researching college majors and exploring scholarships.
One thing that we have found is that with great choice comes the responsibility of choosing wisely. The flip-side of this is the misfortune of downloading or using apps that do not really provide the information or the help we are looking for and end up being a waste of time. Making choices/decisions is so much a part or our everyday life that we often do not give it the attention it deserves or the “mindful focus” needed to insure that what we choose is right for us. Sometimes a quick solution or answer to a question is all we need; other times, we need to know what the best strategy would be for solving a specific math problem or a study strategy that will help us to improve and excel in our courses.
Consider this: What happens when you go to the local deli or food store when you are hungry, and have not given a single thought to what you need? Your only thought is that you need to eat something.
As you look around somewhere in your brain the thought of a sandwich or a soup flutters by as you find yourself standing in the fast food – point of purchase section. Then, you find yourself walking out the door munching on a bag of chips and other snacks in your bag.
In desperation (or hunger), we seek out quick solutions. We skip the step of thoughtful /"mindful" decision making and opt for the first foods our eyes land on, the quickest ways to feel satisfied, often only to feel empty again shortly thereafter. We come in with a need and no plan, only later to find out our need was not really met.
And so it is with finding the right resources that can best equip you for academic success. In food or learning, quick fixes won’t take you far. That bag of chips will leave you hungrier than before you ate it, and that app you found just in time to turn in your math homework won’t solve your problems on exam day.
How can you make the right choice in a world of almost infinite possibilities?
How can you make available technologies work for you?
To make the best use of available tools- whether it be apps and websites or humans such as teachers, counselors, tutors, family or friends- the first thing to do is to stop and think!
Think about what you need and what your goals are as well as what would be the right fit or solution, and then seek out matching resources. This is not a quick solution and requires that we evaluate the source ("Is it a credible resource?"), read through and assess the information and data options offered. Thinking critically as you have been taught in English, history, mathematics and science means that you have researched and developed a grounded, fact-based decision.
So, we can help! Our College Prep Academy staff and students have found some very helpful apps using this process which we will begin to share in our blogs. Please feel free to explore on your own and make your decision based on what matches your needs, your goal, and is supported by research to effectively bring you closer to your goals.
Group 1: The first group we are sharing relates to Prep for the SAT/ACT exams beyond the well-known College Board, Princeton Review etc., as well as some for study strategies and planners.
The Homework App
The Fitbit for Test Prep: Score Beyond (ACT Up, SAT Up)
Khan Academy App
Group 2: The second group of apps relates to scholarship searches and tips.