Avalon College Connector

Academic Consulting

Customized, Grade Specific Plans for Success

Avalon’s academic programs are designed to meet the unique needs and goals of individual students. Avalon builds customized plans that provide students with clear direction and support in their current school year, as well as the tools, skills, and insights necessary to be successful throughout middle and high school, private school, and college.

The Avalon Plan for Success

Avalon begins every student engagement with a comprehensive consultation during which an expert consultant discusses expectations, starting points, and goals. Following this meeting, Avalon presents families with a personalized plan for success that is uniquely tailored to each student. Consultations are free, and families who receive consultations are under no obligation to continue with Avalon in any capacity.

One Year or Multi-Year Plans

So much can change during students’ primary and secondary school development. One day, they might discover a hidden talent as a viola player or a soccer goalkeeper. Another day, they uncover a passion for physics. Perhaps they have not yet discovered their passions and need more time and support to mature to their full potential. The truth is that every child is like a Christmas tree with so many packages underneath that are yet to be opened. Any one of them can be a life-changing gift.

Flexible, Personal and Professional

Avalon works with families to provide short- and long-term plans for success, with a team of educational industry experts, professional tutors, and skilled counselors to implement it. Because you know your child better than anyone, we leave it up to you to decide the length and scope of each customized plan. While we advise and suggest what we feel are the most appropriate steps needed to accomplish short- and long-term goals, you will ultimately decide which plan fits best for your child.

Grade School

Avalon Admission creates customized academic plans for students at all grade levels. At the grade school level, the focus is on establishing and strengthening academic curiosity and aptitude, developing a unique pattern of excellence, nurturing an emerging passion of commitment, and fostering readiness to excel at grade level and beyond. It may include preparation for the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), if the student is applying for private or test schools. It may also include teaching and applying appropriate study skills, as well as strengthening reading, writing, math, science, analytical, communication, and/or grammar skills. Furthermore, it will likely establish and strengthen a passion for community involvement, improve a natural talent in music, the arts, or athletics, and other factors the family has identified as a direction best suited for the student.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grade School

The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program is one of the most prestigious and helpful programs that students can attend. Being accepted into the CTY program is both extremely possible and extremely helpful in providing students with excellent advanced-level classes and talking points on their private school and college applications.

Learn more about the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

The process of applying to top colleges is highly competitive. Starting early and keeping your eyes firmly fixed as far down the road as possible is solid advice. Successful college admission is about developing and proving passion, intelligence, and ability. You could consider hiring a college counselor to guide you beginning as early as grade school, however a full-fledged engagement may not be necessary. Perhaps just some forward thinking advice is enough. Once your child gets into high school, everything he or she does becomes a permanent record. Until then, everything he or she does sets the stage for a highly efficacious record of accomplishments and successes.

Can you help get my fifth grader into Harvard.

Yes. For those of you with children in grade school, skills, habits, and strategies learned now can have a years-long positive effect. On the contrary, bad habits and strategies left unremediated can become hardened, like cement, forming a weak foundation and leaving the very real possibility that your child may struggle, or even fail, in the years ahead. The difference between good study skills and no study skills can mean the difference between students who are able to control there time and manage their assignments effectively and those who wander aimlessly through corridors of unfinished assignments and less-than-stellar grades. Many students believe that they are not capable of performing at such a high level when in fact it is merely the fact that they lack the organization and techniques that come from understanding their own study cycles, study skills, and strategies.

Yes. Decades of research confirm that summer learning loss (SLL) is real and quantifiable. Research conducted by the RAND Corporation suggests that the average summer learning loss in math and reading for American students amounts to one month per year. Furthermore, a Johns Hopkins study found that about two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income ninth graders could be explained by summer learning loss during the elementary school years and that this learning loss is cumulative, summer after summer. The study concluded that SLL has a tremendous impact on students’ success, including high school completion, post-secondary education, and work force preparedness.

Learn about summer learning loss.

Middle School

Avalon’s customized plans for middle schoolers encourage and enable students to accelerate to the top of their class. We will seek to establish a standard of excellence, a desire for community service, and a pattern of passion both inside and outside of school. It may include mentorship and social support, as well as study skills training, reading skills training, and advanced learning. Overall, middle schoolers must stay ahead of the ever-steepening academic curve. Often, plans include identifying the times that students study most efficiently and incorporating that knowledge into an overarching study strategy. Further, previewing material that is soon to be covered in class can provide needed confidence and improved attitudes toward a particular subject, teacher, or class. Preparation for tests and quizzes is also essential, as is providing students with the confidence and public speaking skills they need to feel comfortable participating in class discussions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Middle School

For personal and social well being, as well as to establish a pattern for high school involvement and college admission, extracurricular activities are essential. Avalon’s plan for middle school should provides for healthy extracurricular activities such as sports, music, work, clubs, and activities that demonstrate a propensity toward social responsibility and awareness, leadership, and personal initiative.

Programs that identify gifted and talented students are offered through Duke University (TIP) and Johns Hopkins University (CTY). Both programs are excellent in that they may encourage students to explore subjects at higher levels that may not otherwise be available to them. They are not, however, as prestigious as many parents think they are. They are simply good programs that offer many class options for students. Both programs require an admission test for entry, though the required performance levels needed to qualify are quite manageable. Avalon prepares students for the ACT or SAT (Duke) or just the SCAT (JHU), used to identify gifted and talented youth.

Middle school college and career readiness standards build upon the groundwork laid in grade school by adding a degree of complexity to reading and writing assignments, imparting more responsibility on students with respect to communication expectations, and progressing through more advanced mathematical concepts. Avalon advisors guide progress along five distinct paths: Reading Writing Communication Math Science

Yes. Study skills are essential in order to form good reading and study habits all the way through high school and college.

High School

Beginning in 9th grade, Avalon Admission provides strategies for success that include academic support, writing tutoring, tips for active reading, and study skills and time management. It also typically includes a test-taking and test-preparation plan, as well as early-stage college admission planning that allows students to extend the college admission process, using the additional time to the best possible advantage. As part of this, Avalon assists in finding highly sought long-term internships, meaningful jobs, community service, and prestigious summer academic programs and opportunities.

Early College Admission Consulting

Many students wait until the summer before 12th grade to work on the college admission process. It is not until it is too late that they find out that they have missed the opportunity to maximize their odds of admission to top choice colleges. Avalon, by stretching out the process over several years and employing admissions strategies developed by founder and admissions expert Neil Chyten, helps students both create and take advantage of opportunities to enhance their college applications and résumés that would otherwise not exist. 

SAT and ACT Prep

For some students, starting to prepare for and take tests in 9th grade can be a highly rewarding strategy. Why? First, since you control all your scores, you decide which scores colleges see and which ones they don’t. As such, tests can be taken purely for practice and familiarization purposes – and who knows? Perhaps you’ll ace your tests the first time, leaving lots of time to focus on other aspects of the college application (like AP courses, AP tests, and grades!).
It also makes sense to begin selecting ACT or SAT, and then moving down a gradual path of skill building and preparation for the corresponding test. This would involve working with practice questions and passages to gain comfort and familiarity. You could even take the ACT or SAT (or both) in 9th grade. Since most colleges superscore the ACT and SAT, taking tests early can allow students to focus on individual test sections, thus producing highly elevated sub-scores, which in turn produce much higher ACT and SAT superscores.

Frequently Asked Questions About High School

National Merit Scholarships are sponsored by ETS, the Educational Testing Service. They are considered prestigious and definitely look good in the Academic Honors section of the Common App. To qualify, you must earn an extremely high score on the PSAT. Election is based on a Selection Index which is the sum of the PSAT math score and twice the Reading and Writing scores. The qualifying Selection Index varies from state to state. Approximately 50,000 students annually qualify based on their PSAT scores. Of those, one third becomes semifinalists, and 94% of the semifinalists become finalists who earn a $2500 scholarship.

Learn more about the PSAT and National Merit Scholarships.

Most major universities have many departments that needs students to fill seats. Because this is a seller’s market (where colleges are the sellers), admissions officers can afford to accept only the strongest students within each department. Therefore, for example, if you are making a case for admission to an elite college as an economics student, you should not only have strong grades but also a strong list of related activities. The same is true of students applying for admission in virtually any department. The activities chosen over four years of high school should demonstrate passion for a particular field of study.

Best Activities for Elite College Admission.

Test optional is not the same as test blind. Colleges that identify as “test optional” do accept and consider test scores if you submit them. If your test scores are good, they will help your case for admission. If they are not very good, then by all means do not submit them. The choice is yours, and having a choice gives you an advantage in college admissions.

Learn about test-optional vs test-blind colleges.

Opinion: While we should not stop pushing our children to strive for better grades, test scores, schools, and colleges, we should not leave behind the other life lessons that will also help our children have and live better lives.

How hard should we push our students.

College is great! However, for those of you who thought that high school was difficult, welcome to another world! Single-chapter reading assignments are replaced by whole-book reading assignments. Two-page papers become ten-page papers. Four minutes to get to a class down the hall has been replaced by 15-minute walks across campus. And, when the rain, wind, snow, and cold weather come calling, you are still expected to arrive on time, ready to listen, to take notes, and to absorb more information than you ever thought possible.

Learn more about the transition from high school to college.

Reading skills. Writing skills. Study skills. These skills are the means by which you acquire information and then transmit your understanding of that information to your teachers.

Five tips on how to improve your college reading skills.

Earning excellent grades in high level courses should be the number one priority for all students who are thinking about entering some of the country’s most prestigious private schools and colleges. You may think that earning great grades is just a matter of working harder. You might think that by spending countless hours memorizing facts and figures, going over math problems and grammar questions, your GPA will soar to new heights. To a certain extent, you may be correct. Working harder does often translate into higher grades. However, earning grades is not just about working harder; it is about working smarter. And, working smarter involve some basic understanding of how your brain works.

Click here for five strategies to improve grades in high school.

Most tutoring is done by individuals with little or no training in the fine art of teaching. Many tutors are actually college students or graduate students moonlighting for lunch money. There is no class a person can take to learn to be a tutor, or to improve his tutoring skills. Often, tutoring services boast about the names of colleges that their tutors attend as if going to a big name college automatically makes you a great tutor. In reality, attending a top college has little or nothing to do with how well you can teach. On the contrary, some of these students are just so smart that learning comes easily to them, so they don’t really have a deep understanding of how to help a student who struggles in a particular subject area. It is best to start with a tutor you learned about from a trusted source, or to hire a tutor from a reputable company.

Read more about finding the best tutor.