Friday, September 11, 2009

Scholarship Central: College Prep Genius!

They say big things come in small packages…I believe that may be true in the case of College Prep Genius. Two booklets and one DVD pack a big punch for students looking to improve their score on the SAT (as well as the PSAT and the NMSQT). Highly recommended for parents that would like their child to go to college sans full-priced tuition too!

College Prep Genius has scoured the secrets to maximizing higher test scores while giving confidence to the student by arming them with information on recurring patterns and red herrings found in the SAT et al. You see, these tests are not I.Q. tests, they are tests of logic and reasoning and they are specifically designed to throw students off by the way the problems are stated. However, “the tests are always objective and never subjective” so with well-honed reasoning skills and familiarity with concealed codes, students can greatly increase their test scores and get some serious scholarships!

We are in the process of using some of this material with my freshman-aged daughter, so this post just serves as an introduction to College Prep Genius. It really hit me, when looking over this information, that the time to start working towards SAT preparation is now, not when she is about to take the SAT! This may be obvious to some, but it seems way too sudden to find that my third child could already be in high school! Hello!

Jean Burk, author of College Prep Genius (as well as speaker and teacher of “Master the SAT” classes) uses a series of acronyms that help a student memorize the keys embedded with each section of the SAT and other tests. From writing a great essay in 15 minutes, to “how to eliminate two to three math answers right off the bat”, there are acronyms for every situation. It also includes college scholarship contest information with many helpful tips.

The amount of time I have to review this material is not sufficient enough to do a thorough litmus of all areas of SAT testing. So, I have decided that we will concentrate on one section, the Critical Reading Section, and work on memorizing the acronyms there (“USE”, for instance, stands for “Unquestionably Substitute Each answer choice in sentence”). We’ll give it the old college try (pun intended!) and I’ll report back in a couple of weeks on our progress.

In the mean time, if you are anxious to get your young adult started on the road to SAT success, check out the College Prep Genius website at where you can order the set (textbook, workbook and “Master the SAT Class” DVD) for $79. The website a great place to read some testimonials of students that have actually used the curriculum and had excellent results! Can you say “full ride scholarship”?


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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.