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Do Your Students Know How to Communicate Effectively?

Here’s a question for you to ponder:  Are we as parents or anyone else who works with today’s youth, doing all we can to prepare them for high school, college or for the workplace?  Are we collectively doing all we can to best support the next generation to function the best way possible in the real world?  Are we supporting the next generation by way of offering them pivotal life skills?  What I’m talking about is developing face to face communication skills, in an age where it is becoming a lost art.

We are all experiencing a unique time in history, no doubt about it. We are also searching to create a new sense of normalcy as well. It’s more about physical distancing than social distancing.  We need to connect and interact socially now more than ever. And when it’s safe to connect face to face, that’s even better!  Many of us are scrambling to adjust on how to fill our days in positive and productive ways.

A few ideas to consider:
-It’s never a bad time to improve communication habits
-There are numerous cancellations all around us…CONVERSATIONS should never be cancelled!
-CONVERSATIONS are pivotal in our day to day relationships at home, at school, and in the real work world.

Face to face conversations are important on so many levels throughout our lives. 

Here are two quick tips to start with, on having mutually beneficial conversations:

I will make a basic assumption that we all like to be understood.  One main factor to really understanding someone is by listening.  Some Quick tips on how to fully engage are to ask clarifying questions.  It is always OK to ask questions of anyone you are talking with!  Such as, “I really want to understand your point, would you mind saying it again for me?”  Or perhaps you can ask them to rephrase it in a different way so that you understand.  Instead of offering (pretend) nods of understanding, ask for clarity!  Don’t interrupt, listen more and talk less.  It’s easy to talk, when we talk, we are sharing what we already know…but when you truly listen, you may learn something.  Ask more questions, listening is vital to reducing unnecessary conflict at any level.

Having Hard, difficult or challenging conversations are just that, hard.   

Most of us, not just today’s youth, will inevitably need to have a challenging, a hard or difficult conversation with someone. Whether it’s with a parent, a teacher, a coach, a manager, a co-worker, or in a relationship.  The easy way out is to run for the hills.  But we should all have the skills to have these, as well as many other face to face conversations. 

Quick tip:  Strive for having these types of hard, tough or challenging conversations in person.  It allows for the natural give and take that a conversation should have.  Sending a quick e-mail, text or any other message over social media will lead to more drama than you need.  Online dialog rarely carries the same intent and tone you intended because it’s only a one-way communication.

In a world of never-ending screen time, texting, apps and social media, many of today’s youth do not have the skills or habits to talk with someone face-to-face. When you don’t communicate face-to-face intent is lost, spirit and tone are gone, and miscommunication occurs (which can easily be alleviated).

There’s so much to gain and at the same time so much to lose if you don’t have real face-to-face conversations, regardless of the topic.

About the author:

Matt Crevin , Founder of Talk Shop, is a single dad with two boys living in the Seattle , WA area.  He launched Talk Shop in 2019 to deliver pivotal interpersonal communication skills to today’s youth.  With his vast experience, Matt brings tremendous insight and a fun and engaging delivery style that creates impact with today’s emerging adults.

With a long history of working in the sports industry, with two F500 firms as well a world-renowned leadership training and development company, Matt brings his personal parenting journey, rich knowledge and practical experience to every workshop.

The main focus of Talk Shop is to guide today’s youth to develop and improve the life skill of face-to-face communications.  Today’s youth have mostly grown up with devices in their hands and many lack the basic ability to communicate effectively and with positive impact regardless of the topic or who they are talking to. 

Now delivered online in real time, the group webinars and personalized 1:1 coaching are highly interactive and collaborative (which is where the real learning occurs) 

For more information on group webinars or highly customized 1:1 career coaching, please feel free to contact Matt direct at:

Webinar Available: Understanding Test Optional College Admissions

It is expected that over half the 4-year colleges in the U.S. will offer test optional admissions for applicants this fall. This webinar will show your students how important it is to apply with an ACT or SAT score and how to decide whether to submit test scores to test optional schools. Also covered is how test optional admissions practices benefit colleges and universities. A full understanding of test optional policies will help students in building their college lists.

Discussion points include:

What is Test Optional College Admissions?

What are some of the reasons Colleges prefer Test Optional Policies?

COVID-19 and Test Optional Policies

How to Decide if You Should Test and How to Decide if You Should Send Your Test Scores

The webinar is hosted by Michelle McAnaney, Founder of The College Spy and it is free. Here is the link to watch it and that can be shared with your students:

Survey of 2020 Graduating Seniors Shows Many Have Changed Their Plans Due to COVID-19

Junior Achievement and the PMI Educational Foundation recently conducted a survey of 1,000 2020 graduating seniors to see how COVID-19 has affected their college plans. They used Wakefield Research to conduct the survey between May 21-29, 2020. A total of 1,000 students were surveyed.

Survey findings include:

  • Roughly half (49%) of Class of 2020 graduating seniors say their plans for after high school have changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Of those whose plans have changed, more than a third (36%) say they will now work, nearly as many (32%) expect to delay their start date for college, and almost a fifth (16%) changed the career path they wish to pursue.
  • Forty percent of graduating seniors say they work. Of those who do, nearly half (49%) say they or their families depend on their income for living expenses.
  • Four-in-ten (40%) say COVID-19 affected their plans to pay for college.
  •  More than a third (35%) who are planning to attend college now say they are less excited to go.
  • Of those planning to attend college, their biggest concerns are the impact of COVID-19 on classes and academic quality (58%), dorm life (53%), athletics and school-sponsored events (44%), and dining halls (40%).

There is a lot of uncertainty out there and these results confirm that many students have concerns about the affect COVID-19 will have on their college experience.

10 Tips Your Students Can Use When They Begin Feeling Homesick

Many of your students will leave home to attend College. This is probably the first time in their lives that they have been away from home for an extended period. It is inevitable that they become homesick and long for home. Here are some tips you can give them that can help them get over it:

1. Keep in touch with their family and loved ones. Just because they are gone doesn’t mean they shouldn’t call, zoom, text etc. to keep in touch.

2. Stay healthy and workout regularly.

3. Ask for help. There is no shame in them asking someone for help when they don’t feel great. Reach out to a friend and let them know how they are feeling. Talking it out can help a lot.

4. Make new friends. A new social circle may be all they need to become a part of their new community.

5. Keep their routines and habits they had back home.

6. Take some photos exploring new places (and have them send them home to mom and dad).

7. Try local food. Experiencing new local flavors can help them become more entrenched into their new community.

8. Keep a diary. They will enjoy a year later going back to see how they were feeling as they grow into their new community.

9. Think positively. A positive outlook can provide energy.

10. Join clubs and participate in various social activities. This is another way to meet new friends.

These tips were tips were shared by IvyPanda. Check out their Guide to “How to Survive When You Study Away from Home” here:

Social Media: Students Should be Aware that Anything they Post now will be Accessible to Employers Later

Things have changed since I was young. At that time there were no social media platforms. No telling what I might have posted as a 16 or 17 year old high school student. I’m sure many Counselors that came up before Social Media became prevalent are in the same boat.

Today, we are seeing many prominent people lose their jobs because they posted “stupid” things when they were young. Do they still believe these things today? Who knows, but the words they posted many years ago live on and they are paying for things they posted at that point in time. This is a good time to have discussions with your students about what they post online. One rule of thumb I’ve found is to ask the question, “Would you say what you are posting to your family and close friends?” Many times young people get caught in the moment and don’t think before hitting that “post” button. Here are a few examples you can share with you students to drive the point home that they should really think about what they post online for the world to see:

‘The Flash’ actor Hartley Sawyer fired for racist, homophobic and misogynistic tweets

6 People Who were Fired for Social Media Posts

12 Horrendous Times People Have Been Fired Over Their Social Media

The Best Social Media Posts That Cost People Their Jobs

As you can see, there are many things that get posted that can have consequences down the road. Hopefully by sharing this with your students they will think before hitting that “post” button in the future.

Taking the Stress Out of the College Admissions Process: Free Webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the college admissions process, increasing confusion and stress. Dale Troy of Crush College Stress and Michelle McAnaney of The College Spy will teach parents (and students) of college bound students how to navigate the admissions process with as little stress as possible. Please share with your students and their parents that may have an interest in this subject. It is free, with no cost to them to attend. The live event will take place on June 10, 2020 at 8:00 PM Eastern

Here is a link to the registration page –

If you are not available for the live webinar, please register anyway and they will send you a link to view at your convenience.

Why Encourage High School Students to Choose Tech Careers?

The tech industry is one of the most rewarding fields for professionals. It not only has great salaries and benefits but students could get the opportunity to help change the world. 

The skills needed for a career in tech can be learned in more than one way, such as in online courses or coding bootcamps, which give different options for students depending on their time and budget. Plus, a good deal of tech positions allows people to work remotely, which many prefer. It could also be interesting for high school students to learn about the devices they use every day. 

High schoolers that gain an interest in tech could end up working for the companies they already know like Facebook, Netflix, or Google. These tech giants are known for their forward work policies, which could be a great option for escaping the nine to five office grind that many young people see when looking at traditional professions. With that said, these are the benefits of choosing a tech career.

High Demand

Because technology is a huge part of our society, the demand for tech professionals is high. In addition, it will only continue to grow in the years to come. In the 4th quarter of 2019, U.S. employers had more than 918,000 unfilled IT jobs. This means a lot of opportunities and not much competition. This is even more true in more technical career fields like Data Science or machine learning. Because the need for tech professionals is so high, many companies hire people without bachelor’s degrees; a professional certification and a good portfolio may be all you need. 

Great Salary

Technical careers are one of the best-paid jobs in the country, even for entry-level professionals. The salaries can be anywhere from $50k to $150K per year. For example, an information security engineer can make $131K per year while a software engineering manager makes $153K per year. Because companies have difficulty finding tech professionals, they want to keep them when they do. This translates to incredible benefits and perks, like pet-friendly offices, unlimited PTO, long parental leave for moms and dads, and so on. Plus, the tech industry has good support for side gigs, so professionals can have several sources of income with different projects. 

Making a Difference

Tech is changing the world and our day to day activities. In the last ten years, the most important discoveries and innovations in the world were tech or science-related. Choosing a tech career path will give you the opportunity to make a real difference in the world, and you don’t have to be a genius to make a difference. 

There is a myth that programmers are born geniuses and learn to hack at 7 years old. But it can’t be further from the truth, anyone can learn to be a software engineer or a web developer. Even for scientific or engineering careers this can be true, all you need is passion and drive. For example, AI tools are being used right now to fight diseases and natural disasters. But other developing technologies will need bright minds to achieve their goals.

Using Creativity

The best part of a career in tech is getting to use creativity to find innovative solutions to problems in society. Programmers have to develop tools to meet the user’s needs, and software engineering is a career where the objective is to find innovative solutions to problems in our lives. So, overall, tech careers are one of the most fulfilling paths in terms of creativity. Even for people who don’t consider themselves creative, the problem-solving skills that experience this industry provides have a creative aspect of their own. 

Room to Grow

Another benefit of choosing a tech career is that the industry has limitless growth. Because new technologies are coming out all the time, tech professionals have to keep updated by learning new skills often.  Employers know this and generally offer opportunities for improvement, like paying for courses and certifications. Plus, because of the lack of tech professionals and high demand, people have plenty of opportunities to quickly advance in their career. So, if a student chooses a tech career they will probably have a leadership position a few years after graduation. 

Extracurricular Activities During COVID-19

High school students typically use their summer vacations to engage in activities that will feature prominently in the “activities” section of their college applications. These activities paint a picture of how the student spends his/her time after school and on breaks and help college admissions staff determine which students will be a good fit for their campus. Unfortunately, the coronavirus will likely alter teens’ summer plans, leaving many parents and students worried about missing opportunities to showcase their skills, interests and talents.

While summer plans may be different from what students expected, students should not decide to spend their summers idly. Participating in meaningful activities should remain a key factor in a student’s college application. While sheltering in place, high school students should reflect on their interests and creatively find activities that they can do from home to build on those interests. Alternatively, the summer can be used to try something new.

Typical summer activities such as working as a camp counselor, attending a sports camp or academic summer program, lifeguarding at the local pool and participating in internships will may not be possible this year. Think of the quarantine as an opportunity to do something unique that will set your application apart from others in the pile. Stand-out applicants have resumes that include activities requiring an explanation to be understood. For example, “captain of the lacrosse team” is easy to explain and many applicants will be captains of varsity sports teams. “Created a Twitter account devoted to sharing information and communicating with others about a local historical site” requires a longer, more detailed description and is undoubtedly unique. It also shows that the student has leadership qualities and the ability to take the initiative.

As students choose how they will spend their time this summer, it is important to remember the following:

  1. Participate in a project or activity in which they are truly interested. Admissions staff can tell when a student’s activities are inauthentic and solely a means of “resume building.”
  2. Choose a project or activity to which you want to dedicate a meaningful amount of your time. Merely dabbling in an activity is not going to be help a college applicant stand out from the crowd.

The following is a list of ideas of “shelter in place” projects and activities that would enhance a college application. It is my hope that these ideas inspire students to brainstorm activities that match their own interests and then jump into those activities this summer.


  • Learn a new instrument. Find an online teacher in your area or learn from professional musician with an online service like ArtistWorks.
  • Start an online band with your friends or aspiring musicians half a world away online with SofaSession.
  • Perform on Facebook Live to entertain your community. Consider collecting donations during your concert for a local charity.


  • Coordinate online workouts with your teammates or host them via Zoom.
  • Organize group workouts on Nextdoor, an Instagram page you created or a community Facebook page.
  • Become an e-sports superstar.
  • Try a new “solo” sport such as running or weight training.


  • Horticulture: learn to grow vegetables and coordinate a vegetable exchange with neighbors or your entire town.
  • Research: Contact professors and ask about virtual research opportunities.
  • Learn to code with an online service like Code Academy.
  • Become a volunteer citizen scientist helping the National Oceanic and Administrative Administration to monitor and report the weather.


  • Start a blog or vlog or even a subscription newsletter on a topic of interest.
  • Public Relations: Contact lesser known or up and coming sports stars and ask if you can volunteer with their PR person on a project.
  • Create an Instagram page or YouTube channel on a topic or activity you are passionate about to connect with others who share your interest and become an influencer. Host a series of Zoom meetings addressing that topic.
  • Create your LinkedIn profile and connect with colleges, professors, teachers and family friends. Ask for endorsements and recommendations. Write and publish articles to your LinkedIn feed about subjects that interest you.


  • Learn a new art medium such as sculpting, quilting or photography.
  • Take an online graphic design course.


  • Research your family history.
  • Ask a family member who is sheltering in place with you to share a skill or hobby such as car repair or cooking.


  • Encourage your friends to read five classic novels and start your own book club.
  • Join a virtual book club.

Foreign Languages:

  • Take an online course in a new language. Practice with native speakers on a language exchange website.
  • Become an English-speaking partner with a non-native speaker.

The following are a few summer activities that may not be appropriate to list on your college application, but will help you with your future:

  • Networking.
  • Interview professionals in a field you are considering entering.
  • Take the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment. (Find out how this assessment can benefit you in college here.
  • Write a resume.

Photo of Michelle McAnaney founder of the The College Spy.

Michelle McAnaney is the founder of The College Spy, a full service independent educational consulting firm that assists students and families across the US and internationally with the college selection and application process. Prior to founding The College Spy, Michelle was a guidance counselor and educator for more than 15 years, including serving as the Director of Guidance at two high schools, an adjunct college professor and a GED tutor. Michelle holds a master’s degree in school counseling and a bachelor’s degree in human development. She completed UC Irvine’s certificate program in educational consulting and is a MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) Certified Practitioner and a NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner. Michelle visits over 40 colleges each year so that she has first-hand knowledge of the colleges and universities her clients will be considering. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and on The College Spy Podcast.

What Are Considered Good SAT Scores for Colleges? How Should Your Students Set a SAT Goal Score.

The overall process of taking the SAT test after putting in consistent efforts is indeed time consuming. At this point your students might be wondering what is a good SAT score for entry into the college of their choice. A good SAT score typically ranges from 1200-1400+, but this depends on several factors such as the college, competitiveness and the grade of the student taking the test.

What is a good SAT score for colleges?

The SAT- Scholastic Aptitude Test is a highly competitive test used for college admission in the U.S.. Students have a better chance of getting into the college of their choice by getting both a high GPA and SAT score. But what is a good SAT score?

The top ranked colleges typically will select the candidates who earned the highest SAT scores (along with other factors).

According to this, the 25th percentile score denotes 25% of the students who scored below threshold, 75th percentile denotes that 75% of the students are above or on the threshold. 50 percentile means 50% are at the median score.

The Highest SAT score you can earn is 1600. But 1400 is generally considered as a competitive score to get entry to any college. To apply for any of the top 30 U.S. universities, you must have a score above the median 50% range.  If you want to apply to Harvard, your SAT score should be ranging between 1470-1570. 

For instance, to know what score is good, your student must prioritize the colleges they plan to apply for. They must then consider the SAT score policy of each college by listing them and determining the median SAT score i.e: the 50% of the students admitted over the past year. They will then have a good gauge as to what scores are required at their schools of choice.

How much do colleges care about SAT scores?

The SAT score is one essential factor considered by colleges to evaluate the candidate’s performance and capabilities for admission. When a student applies for the college, they are evaluated based on their academic achievements and extra-curricular activities. The SAT is one factor that goes into the overall decision. Basically having a high SAT score represents that your students have the potential to stand out, even if their GPA wasn’t as high as it could have been.

Other factors evaluated in their application are their additional skills, unique essay, leadership, involvement and how well they might fit in at the college.

How important is a good SAT score?

Students should also apply for scholarships. Various colleges provide Merit Scholarships for students to support them financially. They should research many Merit Scholarships which have a minimum requirement and know what SAT score is required to be eligible. The guaranteed scholarships are also given to students after getting accepted by the college for a certain range of SAT scores.

How to Set a SAT Goal Score?

Now that they know what importance their SAT score holds, there are various ways to boost their scores. They must prepare well by making use of training, online courses, private tutoring, and self-study options. 

So, if it’s better to set a goal score before they start preparing. What should that score be?

A good score for every college varies. With high competitiveness between the students, they must ideally set a SAT score goal to earn a good score and get into the college of your choice. One simple method is detailed here,

  • Tabulate the colleges that they want to apply to in a prioritized order. Then determine the 25th /75th percentile SAT scores. This helps them plan on the school and acceptance rate of candidates.
  • They must find the SAT score information of those colleges online by looking for the previous year’s statistics. Then record the 25th and 75th percentile scores in the tables.
  • Using the information they collected, they can now set a target to score.


Generally, a good SAT target score for the colleges on their list is those who score in the 75th percentile or more. So preparing better can help them earn a score higher than the average and get into their college of choice.

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