TeenLife Blog

Supporting teen success, one post at a time

Author: Sarah Shemkus

Sarah Shemkus is an award-winning freelance journalist, accomplished baker, second-place Jeopardy contestant, occasional globetrotter and total nerd (with a particular fondness for spreadsheets). She covers topics from education and small business to food and sustainability. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, The Guardian, Slate, and other fine publications.

Posted Feb. 13, 2018, 8 a.m. by Sarah Shemkus | View Comments
How to Stay Relaxed About the PSAT – Your First Big College Test

So you’re about to board the high-speed train that is the college admissions process. First stop: PSAT. The PSAT is the slightly easier, decidedly lower-stakes version of the oft-dreaded SAT. Nearly 4 million 10th- and 11th-graders take the test each year, mostly to see where they stand and get a little practice for the real thing (and, for the very highest 11th-grade scorers, to compete for a National Merit Scholarship). While the PSAT may be less daunting than some of the college entrance exams to come, it does mark your initiation into the standardized testing club. For many high school ...

Posted Aug. 24, 2017, 8 a.m. by Sarah Shemkus | View Comments
Do You Know These Dirty Dozen College Essay Mistakes?

The people who score ACT, SAT and college application essays read a lot of ACT, SAT and college application essays. A whole lot. Some of the writing they assess stands out from this crowded field for good reasons: dazzling writing, penetrating insights, incisive analysis. Other entrance test or college essays, however, stand out for silly errors and cringeworthy lapses of judgment. To help you avoid falling into this latter group, we’ve rounded up a dozen very basic – and surprisingly common – mistakes to avoid when you sit down to write your test or college essays. And if you need ...

Posted Dec. 13, 2016, 2:24 p.m. by Sarah Shemkus | View Comments
boarding school dorm

Sometimes going to boarding school doesn’t mean leaving home - or, at the least, going far away. Many boarding schools welcome day students and/or allow local students to live on campus. (Some, like the Groton School in Groton, Mass., only occasionally let local students live in the dorms ). So, if you want the advantages of private boarding school, but aren’t sure you want to be far from home, look at what’s offered within an easy commute. Then, decide if you want to stick to the comforts of home or pack up your belongings and move into the dorm. It’s ...

Posted Oct. 5, 2016, 9 a.m. by Sarah Shemkus | View Comments
3 REASONS TO TAKE ONLINE COURSES NOW (and one warning)

Students are no longer limited by the bricks and mortar walls of their high schools. Almost any academic course you can imagine is available in cyberspace, many of them for college credit. An online course could be just the thing to dazzle college admissions officers, boost a student’s Advanced Placement count or even trim college costs. “More and more students over the years are turning to online courses in the hope of gaining an edge in the highly selective admissions process,” says Brian Taylor, director of The Ivy Coach, a college admissions counseling service in New York City. There are ...