Transtutors: An Online Tutoring Center for College Students

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***Edit: See the Transtutors Blog here. It has very nice College tips and interesting articles!***

 A few days ago I was approached by an representative of TRANSTUTORS.COM, which isan online tutoring center that offers access to 600,000+ solved homework problems. Thousands of answered questions, variety of courses, an online tutoring system sounded very tempting to me, so I agreed to review the website.

  Like many other students, I am very familiar with procrastination and often find myself in situations where I am scrambling to complete the next week’s homework on a Sunday night. Unfortunately, pulling all-nighters is not something I can do physically: after about 11 p.m. my brain decides to pass out, and I end up in a staring contest with my textbook.

Transtutors is a great resource for students who are looking for quick solutions to their homework problems. For $20/month and a little extra, you can get any question answered. All you need to do is submit your homework question, pay around $3-$4 dollars to get it answered, and wait for a tutor to write you a response.

Their database of questions in the Question Bank is humongous- the website offers “unlimited access to 600,000+ solved Q&A from your college textbooks and courses.” It looks like you could find a solution to any question! However, unless you are a Premium (or at least a temporary) subscriber, you cannot see complete explanations from the tutors, as they are cut off after a short preview. Otherwise, the answers to those questions are so thorough and exact, that I would definitely recommend at least trying out the service to see them. There were also several options of getting a tutor to help you online. You can 1) submit and answer with a price offer, or 2) schedule a class with an online tutor and pay a little later.

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The one detail that surprised me about the services is the $20 dollars a month membership fee. However, in addition to this Premium Membership, you also have to pay around $3-$5 dollars to receive an answer to your specific question.The reason for that is it seems that the tutors on Transtutors are reliable sources – the “job openings” section is hiring real professionals in the field.

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Something else that surprised me is technical support. Unlike what I’ve experienced on other websites, their service was phenomenal. As soon as I logged in to the site, a little window with “Kevin the Support Operator” popped up (it looks like an advertisement, but there is actually a person sitting there waiting for you to start the chat). He was polite (as far as I could see on my computer screen), helpful and offered technical help with my submitted question.

I think overall I had a fairly good experience with Transtutors. Except of the price ranges, I enjoyed looking at the different resources and help the website offers. For students who often struggle with last-minute homework completion, Transtutors is a great resource. It would be worth paying for the monthly membership if you are someoe who googles his or her exercise questions at least once a week. However, if you only do it every couple of months, I would suggest picking one of the other membership options, which are also available on the website.

Scholarships and Financial Aid Websites

*Credit goes to the Bellevue High School Counseling Office*

Chegg: www.chegg.com
Database for scholarships and purchase/rental of textbooks. Very helpful for college students!

Zinch: http://www.zinch.com/
Find scholarships, colleges, financial aid information, etc. here.

FastWeb: www.fastweb.com
Over 400,000 scholarships, fellowships, grants and loans. Customized search based on your personal information and achievements.

Athletic Aid: www.athleticaid.com
Sports scholarships for student athletes

Careers and Colleges: www.careersandcolleges.com
General search for scholarships

College Success Foundation: www.collegesuccessfoundation.org
Scholarships and mentoring to low-income students in Washington state

Colleges, College Scholarships, and Financial Aid page: www.college-scholarships.com/100college.htm
Links to helpful information about colleges and scholarships

College Board: www.collegeboard.com
Scholarships, loans, internships and the CSS Financial Aid Profile.

College Planning Network: www.collegeplan.org
Information on financial aid and scholarships.

FAFSA on the Web: www.fafsa.edu.gov/ (MAKE SURE THE URL ENDS WITH “.gov”!!)

FindTuition.com: www.findtuition.com
3+ million scholarships and grants. Search by eligibility, major, college and more.

Go College: www.gocollege.com
Different Funding Sources.

Mach25: www.collegenet.com/mach25
Provided by CollegeNET, a databse of 600,000 scholarships. Also creates a letter to send to scholarship coordinators.

MeritAid: www.meritaid.com
A directory of merit-based scholarships

National Collegiate Athletic Association: www.ncaa.org
Official website of NCAA

Scholarships.com: www.scholarships.com
Free search and info about student loands, the FAFSA, even scholarship scams.

 

Remember Better: Active Recall

To remember new information better, we have to look at studying at a more biopsychological level.

When new information enters our brain, it is first processed in the working memory. This type of memory is not very big- with it we only remember things for about 30 seconds. Example: when you do a math problem, you think about the numbers you’re working with. However, when the problem is solved and you move on to the next one, the numbers are forgotten immediately.

In some cases, the information (now a memory) moves to the short-term memory (STM), where it is kept for a few minutes longer. However, if this memory is not recalled enough times, it will be forgotten. That’s why when we procrastinate and leave the memorizing and studying until the last minute, we don’t remember that information after the exam.

Now for the final part, to transfer the new memory from STM to Long term memory (LTM), we have to use something called active recall. Basically, it’s like quizzing yourself: the more times you remember/recall something, the better you’ll remember it in the future. Like finding your dorm room- the first few times you get lost, but eventually you remember it and have no trouble finding it.

College Admissions: The GPA Dilemma

I often receive questions regarding having a high grade point average (GPA) in high school, and how that affects your chances of getting into a competitive university. Today I would like to clear up some misconceptions about the importance of grades.

1. GPA is only a fraction of what schools look at.

As far as I know, a lot of universities in the United States do a holistic review of applications: it is more personalized and focuses on a lot of factors other than grades, such as

  • SAT/ACT scores,
  • High school curriculum and course rigor
  • Taking advantage of challenging courses like AP, IB and Honors
  • Extracurricular activities and community service,
  • Special circumstances and personal experiences

I have heard of many cases, where highly selective colleges would pick a student with a lower GPA but a more broad and open extracurricular agenda over a student with a 4.0 GPA and a 2300 on the SAT. If a student has nothing to say other than “I have a 4.0 GPA and do nothing but study”, chances are someone else with a more colorful extracurricular agenda will be picked over Mr. I-Only-Study. (However, don’t get me wrong- you still need to try your best in school, no slacking!)

To read more about this, check out these two articles:

  1. Confessions of an Application Reader
  2. How College Applications are Evaluated

If for some reason your grades aren’t as high as you’d like them to be, try to get involved in clubs, sports, volunteering, maybe even find a job or a hobby. When filling out your college application, you need to play to your strengths; and if grades aren’t your strength, it may be in your extracurricular activities.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all colleges and universities: the most competitive universities, such as Ivy League Schools and teeny tiny fancy private schools, first look at your academic merits (again, not just grades, but also the course rigor, SAT/ACT scores, AP classes, etc.), and only then at the extracurricular activities and personal stories. However, bigger schools pay attention to your “fit” to the school, your personal story (which you will express in your essay), and your ability to learn from your experiences.These components need to be looked at in more detail…so..

Coming up next: structure of a typical college application and how to use it to your advantage!