Getting Your Degree with Minimal Student Debt

by Laura Pearson

While you’re in college, you’ll probably be racking up knowledge as well as debt. But getting your degree doesn’t have to spell long-term, insurmountable financial troubles. Courtesy of Inspiring Test Preparation, here are some ways you can start reducing the economic burden of your education even before you step off the graduation stage.

Work While You Learn

With work-study arrangements, you may be able to go right from class to your job without ever leaving campus. When filing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), indicate that you’d like to participate in your school’s work-study program. The U.S. Department of Education will assess your financial situation and award you work-study hours, which can be fulfilled at on-campus jobs related to your major. You may also be able to work at private companies that partner with your school’s program.

As long as your schedule allows, you aren’t limited to your work-study job; you can also pick up another gig or internship for some extra cash. If you can swing it, a good idea may be to have your school’s financial aid office direct all of your work-study income directly to your student loans, and then use the money from your other job for living expenses while you’re in school.

Handle Your Loans With Care

Depending on what type of student loans you have, your options for repayment will vary. If you have privately held loans, your interest rate will most likely be higher, but so will your borrowing limit. Private loans also often reward you if you have excellent credit. These types of loans may be a good option if you need a substantial amount of money for your future education, such as medical or law school. However, private loans are typically more expensive than public loans, and you won’t have the protections federally backed student loans offer.

Conversely, public loans are administered through the federal government. There are caps on how much you can borrow, however. The interest rates are set by Congress and are usually much lower than private loans. Additionally, public loans have flexible repayment terms that can range from 10 to 25 years. You also have the option to consolidate multiple loans into one loan for a single monthly payment.

As a general rule, take advantage of public loans first, and then use private loans if necessary to cover any financial gaps.

One Degree, Many Options

Gone are the days of needing to live in a dorm and attend classes in a brick-and-mortar building. Now, you can earn a degree from an accredited institution online at your own pace. Attending college online can be very helpful in minimizing potential student debt. The flexible schedule allows you to continue working and the fix, upfront pricing prevents unknown expenses from being an issue.

You may also qualify for scholarships based on your academic or financial standing. Additionally, use resources such as SlugBooks to compare textbook prices to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Not all online degree programs are equal, so do your research to ensure you receive a high-quality, accredited education.

Think Ahead to Get Ahead

While it’s certainly expensive, a college degree almost always yields a positive return on investment. Set yourself up for financial success early so you can get the most out of school.

At Inspiring Test Preparation, we help students achieve improved results on admissions tests by demystifying the tests. For more information, please visit our website or contact us today!


Best Passion Project Ideas for High School Students

byline Jonathan Pizzutti

In an increasingly competitive college admissions landscape, high school students are looking for better ways to stand out from the crowd to get into their target schools.

Many are finding that the best way to maximize your chances of acceptance is through a passion project. A passion project lets you take a passion that you have and turn it into something impactful that you can showcase on your college application to demonstrate your interests, your initiative, and your ability to make a difference.

A passion project can be anything that you want it to be, but here are a few of your best options.

Start a Business

College admission officers love students who are entrepreneurial. Starting a business shows that you are a leader and have the practical skills to create something that other people value. Your business can be in any area (tutoring, marketing, etc.), but it is often recommended that you find a way to run your venture online to have more opportunities to scale. And once you start your business, you will find yourself learning a lot of knowledge and skills that will give you a better idea of what you want to study and what career path you want to pursue.

Develop an App

Technology is powerful, which makes those who can use it very powerful. Developing an app demonstrates that you are the type of person who can come up with an idea and create a piece of technology that improves people’s lives. And if you are worried that you are not a tech savvy enough to build an app, there are plenty of “no code” development platforms that allow you to build highly sophisticated apps without as high of a learning curve, and no one will know the difference. Plus, creating an app opens you up to a whole new world of technology which can lead to plenty of great professional opportunities as well.

Create a Social Campaign

Who doesn’t want to accept a student who will make the world a better place? If you have a cause or an issue that you care about, creating a social campaign might be the right choice for you. Whether you want to enter the nonprofit world or not, launching a campaign teaches you about organizational operations, advocacy tactics, and social issues. And again, if you are able to run your campaign using technology, you will have the chance to have a much greater impact and even touch the lives of people around the world.

How to Build a Passion Project

Knowing that you should do a passion project and actually doing one successfully are two entirely different things.

Thankfully, there is a solution here.

PrepX is a college prep company that offers online bootcamps and advising specifically on how to build a passion project that you can leverage for college and career success. They work with students on creating all the passion project ideas above in their various bootcamps and can help you build any other idea that you can think of through one-on-one coaching.

You can check out what PrepX has to offer here.


The Power of Play

 by Miss Grace of consultingandtutoringedu.com


School, learning, academics, and tutoring are often synonymous with sitting in a hard chair at a table or a desk with the expectation that you will learn based on what the teacher or tutor is telling you and complete some sort of worksheet or drill. I want to shift the perception of learning and highlight the incredible benefits play provides to a child’s educational journey.


Why Play?

As educators we strive for children to find that spark of curiosity; to evaluate, analyze, predict and problem solve in diverse scenarios. A key part of curiosity is the freedom to explore not only your environment but also individual learning preferences. Curiosity and the freedom to explore encourages natural engagement. Play-based learning methods activate and stimulate areas of the brain to build foundations for later learning more effectively than traditional schooling methods (Stagnitti, 2016).


Play Isn’t Just for Academics

Social emotional learning, or SEL, in the educational world is gaining traction across the country. Social emotional learning includes thoughts, feelings, safe spaces, behavior management, self-regulation, following rules and directions, conversing with others, focus/attention, and play. Through play a child has the opportunities for practice the skills listed above all in a short period of time and sometimes all at once. Take for example sharing, young children learn to share toys and naturally not everyone is happy about it. During play, scenarios arise and provide natural consequences to actions. Taking a toy from a peer without asking leads to an emotional outburst and in this moment we can teach some how to choose a positive role in our society. The person who took without asking takes ownership of one’s actions by apologizing and giving back the toy. They learn to repair the relationship through continued play with the same peer and how to obtain the toy they want using a positive approach.


Play Partners

A play partner is anyone; parents, siblings, teachers, tutors, same aged peers, older or younger peers, grandparents, the list goes on. As a parent play partner your role is crucial and sometimes feels a little weird. As adults we don’t use our free time to sit and play with dolls or create wild fantasies in our head and then run around the yard pretending to be superheroes, or at least, most of us don’t. We often sit and observe play, or when we do participate we are at a distance and allow the child to take the lead. Get involved, if you want your child to move and grove you are right alongside them with silliness, laughter, and messy hands and clothes. Don’t be afraid to get down in the dirt, literally, when playing. Let go of your expectations for the play and allow for complete exploration and start with a warm up. For example, set up a goal area and kick a soccer ball through the goal, bring out butterfly nets and catch bugs, or throw water balloons to each other without them breaking.


How To Play

Remember, you are an equal part of this experience. First choose a toy, I like toys with multiple steps and possibilities, like trains. Clear a space on the floor, then have your child help you put the tracks together, choose a train, and move it around the track. During play use your own voice to make the train sounds, and create a scenario where the train falls off the tracks and needs help. When playing outside in the summertime I gravitate towards open spaces with some shade. Explore your area, sticks are now drumsticks and the tree is your drum, sing a familiar song to the tree as you play and lull it to sleep. A big stick is now a pony named Buttercup and you count your gallops/steps as you ride across the yard.


Play Activities for Academics

As a play partner you can guide the session with predetermined goals. For example, my goal is for a child to repeat and identify rhyming words. First, we take turns blowing bubbles and twirling around in a circle to make a bubble ring, and run around to pop, stomp, and clap the bubbles. Pair the movements with a song that has repetitive phrases like “clap, clap, clap those bubbles, clap, clap, clap those bubbles, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap”. Gradually, add in another word rhymes like clap and tap, pop and bop.


I hope I gave enough background knowledge and ideas to include play in your everyday life, or at the very least a little silliness.


Play  🧩 Learn  🧠  Grow  🌼


Miss Grace

For more information on how Miss Grace can help you, visit https://www.consultingandtutoringedu.com/


​​Stagnitti, K., Bailey, A., hudspeth Stevenson, E., Reynolds, E., & Kidd, E. (2016). An investigation into the effect of play-based instruction on the development of play skills and oral language. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 14(4), 389-406.




Introducing Mindprint Learning Assessments

We are exciting to announce that Inspiring Test Preparation is now offering Mindprint assessments to determine the best approach to preparing students for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT.


Mindprint is a self-paced online cognitive assessment. It was developed by scientists at Penn Medicine with a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. It measures the ten cognitive skills most closely correlated to success in academics and on standardized tests. The Mindprint report  give tutors insights into the unique learning needs of each of their students and allows them to customize their instruction to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of student outcomes. A practice test will tell you what a student got wrong; Mindprint will tell why and what you can do about it.

Mindprint Test Prep Reports are specifically designed to support students and tutors who are prepping for the SAT and ACT. The reports will tell you whether a student has a cognitive affinity for one test over the other and by how much. They will project potential scoring ranges for each test and each section and provide a worksheet to help tutors identify the areas of greatest potential improvement. They also map suggested test prep and learning strategies to each individual student’s unique strengths.


We are so persuaded that Mindprint will help us help you test more effectively, that we are, for a short time, offering the $199 assessment at a price of $145.

You will get Mindprint’s report and a private consultation with Kate Dalby to discuss the report and how we can help achieve better test results for your student.  There is no obligation for future services.  If you purchase a flex prep package, you will get a $145 rebate on that purchase.

To purchase an assessment,

click here. Enter student’s birth month & year in note to business.

You will receive a testing link within 24-48 hours.  Text Kate at 703-203-5796 if you don’t get a link.



What are the SAT Question and Answer Service and ACT Test Information Release?

From time to time students will be confused by their performance on their SAT or ACT.  They will say: “I don’t understand why my English score dropped”, or “I thought I aced the math, what happened”?

To better understand test performance, both College Board and ACT provide a service that allows you to purchase a copy of the test you took.  This service is not available for all test dates, but in 2020-21, SAT is releasing the tests for October, March and May, and ACT is releasing the tests for December, April, and June.

Both services provide you a clean copy of the test, your answers, and the correct answers.  I highly recommend you order the test if you wish to do further test preparation.  This can be done when you register for your test or after you get your scores.  You have up to five months after your test date to order the SAT; you have six months to order the ACT.

The name of College Board’s service is the Question and Answer Service.  (Do not confuse this with the Answer Verification Service available for all test dates and described on the same page).  Click here to find out more.

The equivalent product from ACT is called the Test Information Release.  To order your ACT test, click this link for further instructions.

For insight on why scores can fluctuate, read this article that discusses variability in the ACT Science scores.

For questions, write Kate Dalby at kvs@katedalby.com