College Visits

Making the Most of Campus Visits

Spring Break is an ideal time to begin your college research and visit college campuses. Whether this will be your first college visit or your tenth, these questions can help you go beyond the basic and dig a little deeper into the schools that you're considering.

Academic Environment:

  • Are service-learning, community-based projects, or internships  an important part of most majors? Will you have hands-on opportunities to apply the knowledge that you learn in the classroom? Is there funding for independent learning or internships?
  • How early do students have access to labs or the opportunity to do research? Do professors work with students to publish papers?  Is this something that is reserved only for the graduate students or do undergraduates have access to these opportunities also?
  • How quickly do you have to declare your major? Do students have the opportunity to double major?  Can you double major across schools/fields (ex: is it possible to major in art history and biology)?

Life Outside of the Classroom: 

  • Do most students live on campus or commute to and from school? How long do students generally live on campus? When students move off campus, where do they live?
  • When the cost of attendance is calculated, does this include a meal plan? Does the cafeteria include vegetarian or other dietary options that you may want?
  • What do students do when they aren't studying?  What are popular clubs, sports, and student organizations? Can you ski, mountain bike or hike on the weekends? 
  • What percentage of students study abroad?  Do financial aid/scholarships travel abroad with you? Do you have to speak a foreign language to attend a study abroad program (are they full immersion programs or will your courses be taught in English)? Is there a minimum GPA to study abroad?

Life after College: 

  • What percentage of students graduate in four years? In six years?
  • What types of career planning and job placement services are available? How successful are graduates in applying to post-graduate programs? 
  • Is there an active alumni organization that students use to network and find jobs?
  • What is the average debt of graduates?

See what current students have to say as you pass them on campus, poke around labs and classrooms to get a feel for the academic environment, and use resources like to find statistics about the school.
Enjoy exploring!


Kick Procrastination to the Curb

Beating Procrastination

The start of a new year or a new academic term is a great time to assess your study skills and productivity levels, and to find ways to improve them. Procrastination- putting things off or doing one thing instead of another that you know you should be doing- is a common struggle for most students. This year, work to develop a few techniques that will help you battle procrastination and manage your time wisely.  Here are a few ideas:

Find motivation: Think of a few solid reasons for getting a task done early, and write those reasons down. When you’re tempted to think “I can do this later,” just remember your list and knock out your assignment.

Identify your most common excuses:  What are your most common reasons for putting important tasks off? Once you’ve identified these reasons, plan ahead for them.  If you know you’re frequently tempted by invitations from your friends, make sure they know you’ve got serious work to knock out, and learn to say no to their requests.   If your cell phone or computer distract you, turn them off and leave them in another room.

Break down tasks: It is easy to procrastinate when you feel intimidated by a big assignment or you aren’t sure where to start. In these cases, it is best to set smaller, more manageable goals that you can accomplish in shorter time frames.  For example, if you have a paper due, break it down into smaller parts for each writing session.  Begin with your intro, then move into the body, conclusion, proofing and editing stages.

Stick with your plan: Review the goals that you made for yourself at the beginning of the school year and renew your commitment to using a weekly planner or calendar. This will help you stay organized and focused to complete your tasks.

*image found here, text adapted from here

How to Ace your Objective Exams

As you prepare for exams, it is important to ask some key questions about the tests you’ll be taking.  In what format will the exam be presented? Will the exam be an objective test or an essay test? Objective tests are those that include true-false, matching, and multiple choice questions. Here are some tips for taking these types of exams.    

True-False Questions: These questions generally center around details.  First, ask yourself: “is every part of this statement true all of the time?”  If your answer is “yes,” the statement is probably true.  If the statement has the words always or never, can you think of exception to the statement? If you can identify an exception, than the statement is false.

Matching Questions: Matching questions generally try to test your knowledge of the connections or relationships between ideas or information. Start with the longer column of information and look for a match in the shorter column. Be sure to move through the entirety of the shorter column before selecting a final match; a more correct answer may follow.  Each time you complete a match, cross it off in both columns unless duplicate matches are possible.


Multiple Choice Questions: Read the question.  Before reviewing the response options, try to formulate your own answer. Check to see if your answer can be found in the response options.  If so, review the other options to be sure your answer is the best option, keeping in mind that ‘almost’ or partly-true answers are often placed in tests to trick you. Like in the true/false questions, it is important to look for qualifiers- words like always, never, all, nothing, greatest and least.  These words are key in a sentence because by changing them you dramatically alter the meaning of the phrase.

*content adapted from here, image from here

Creating a Study Plan

 A study plan is an outline of how much time you are going devote to studying for each of your major tests, and how you’re going to break large blocks of material into smaller, more manageable blocks. Here are a few ideas for getting your study plan built:

  • Make sure you know the details of the exam: What is the date of the test? How long is the exam? Do you know what the format of the exam will be? What materials/concepts/chapters will be covered?  Is it a cumulative exam covering material from the entirety of the year, or will only this semester’s materials be covered?

  • Determine what you already know and what you need to learn:  Material that has been recently covered in class may be fresh in your memory and not need much time for review.  However, older material or concepts that didn't come easily to you may need to be studied in detail.

  • Set a study timeline: Once you have an idea of how much material you’ll need to cover, use a calendar to set specific deadlines for covering particular chapters or concepts.  Break large chapters or concepts into smaller, more manageable chunks.   Be realistic about how much time each day you have available to dedicate towards studying.

  • Stick to your plan!: Hold yourself accountable to your study plan by posting it in areas that you see regularly: the inside of your locker, the mirror in your bathroom or the front of each of your notebooks or binders.  The visual reminder will help you stay focused on your study goals.

*Adapted from "10 Secrets to Acing any High School Test," Brainerd & Winegardner.

How to Read your Textbooks More Efficiently


Using the Preview, Read, Recall System for Academic Reading

Make sure that what you are reading really "sticks!" Using the Preview-Read-Recall system to guide your reading assignments assures that you are not mindlessly cruising through your material, but engaging with it and comprehending it.

Preview: Take 3-5 minutes to preview your reading assignment. Consider the structure of the text, sub-section headings, and diagrams. Skim the first sentence of each paragraph to gain a general understanding of the subject matter. After this brief preview, consider the following questions: What is this about? How is it organized? How long will it take me to read?

Read:  Using the knowledge you gained during your preview of this text, set a realistic time or page number goal for this reading session. Next, divide the text into smaller portions (perhaps 1/2 page sections? Columns?). Before reading each smaller section, pose a question for yourself and then try to answer it as you read. Take short breaks when your mind starts to wander or you begin to feel drowsy.

Recall: Research shows that we forget 40-50% of what we read within 15 minutes of reading it. Actively trying to recall what you've just read will help you retain the information in the long-run. Mentally revisit the questions that you posed for yourself as you read and then provide the responses. Underline key words or phrases in the text and use the margin to jot down notes on any key concepts. Pretend that you need to summarize this material to a friend: What would you say? How would you explain it?

Fighting Procrastination

Five Tips for Battling Procrastination

1. Design Clear Goals: Think about your classes and what you need to accomplish in each.  Create a time table, with small goals at each step.  Keeps your goals within reason- big goals may seem overwhelming and prevent you from getting started in the first place.

2. Set Priorities: Create a to-do list.  Begin with the most important or most urgent things first. Consider deadlines and due dates for all assignments.

3. Break Down the Task: Don't let yourself be overwhelmed by big projects or tasks. Break the large assignments into smaller, more manageable steps, and then build the project piece by piece as you complete these tasks. On papers, create outlines before writing. On long problem-sets, group questions of a similar concept together and complete groups one at a time.

4. Get Organized: Use a daily planner (or the calendar app on your phone!) and update your to-do list frequently. Write out daily and weekly tasks to give you time to plan for long-term assignments. Check off each task as you complete it.

5. Take a Stand: Be committed!  Stick to your to-do list and hold yourself accountable for completing each task.  Schedule accomplishment-based breaks and rewards.  Adapt your to-do list if you do slip off your schedule.  


Adapted from "Procrastination: 10 Ways to Do it Now," Academic Success Center, Iowa State University.




Using Thanksgiving Break to Get Ahead

 Thanksgiving is a great time to get ahead on upcoming projects or to catch up on missing assignments.  The end of the semester is only a few weeks away, so take some time between turkey dinners and football games to get yourself prepared for the weeks to come.  Start the end of the term on top and in control! 

  •  Check in with teachers: Before leaving school on Tuesday, check in with each of your teachers about upcoming and missing assignments. Make sure to bring home any materials that you need. 
  • Plan ahead:  What projects and big assignments do you have coming up before exams? Make a plan and a schedule for attacking these big tasks.  
  • Get organized: Take a few minutes to gather your materials and re-organize anything that may have gotten misplaced in the shuffle of the school year. Put notes and class assignments in chronological order, file loose papers and worksheets in their proper binders or notebooks, and re-write any notes that might be difficult to read or follow.
  • Start reviewing your notes!:  Even 5-10 minutes a day of reviewing your notes for each class can make preparing for exams less daunting.  Use some quiet time over the Thanksgiving holiday to do a quick review of what you've covered in each class so far.

Happy Thanksgiving from Teton Educational Services!

 We wish you and your family an enjoyable Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends and good cheer!

Concentrate on your Concentration.

A key element of academic success is the ability to “get in the zone” when it comes time to prepare for a test or complete an assignment.  Good concentration leads to more efficient studying and can yield better results on tests and assignments. Consider these strategies to help nurture concentration:

Make yourself a study spot.  This should be an area free of distractions that might disturb your ability to concentrate.

Ensure that your study spot is prepared for productivity. Have all of your materials (pens/pencils, papers, text books, calculator, etc.) easily available so that your attention can be focused on accomplishing your goals as opposed to gathering tools.

Choose one small, attainable goal each time you sit down to work. This may be to review chapters 1-3 or to memorize the first three slides of your presentation. Small tasks seem more manageable and less overwhelming.

When you complete your task, leave your study spot and reward yourself with a break.  Have It is important to remove yourself from your study space when you are on break so that your brain begins to associate this space with "work time" and not "play time." 

*Adapted from "10 Secrets to Acing any High School Test," Brainerd & Winegardner.


Making your Notes Count

Note-taking is an important way to “translate” the information that your teacher is giving you into your own words.  Effective note-taking allows you to interact with the material and develop your understanding of it.  Here are a few pointers to guide your note-taking strategy.

1. Label all of your notes with a date, the name of the course and the corresponding textbook chapter or topic.

2. Write what is on the board. If the teacher takes the time to write something on the board, it is likely to be important.

3. Listen for "buzz words" or vocabulary words that you've seen in your textbook or readings. These, along with numbered points, definitions and lists, are indicators of important information.

4. Listen 80% of the time and write 20% of the time. Don't get so caught up in writing down every word, that you fail to listen to the overall concepts being presented.

5. Abbreviations and symbols are great “shortcuts” when note-taking but be sure that you’ll recognize what they mean when you are reviewing your notes at a later time. 

6. Review your notes after class to make sure they are accurate and complete. Ask your teacher to clarify any concepts that you feel your notes may not have thoroughly covered


Adapted from "Tips for Developing Students' Note-Taking Skills,"



What's your Major?

Learning What you Love in High School

As you begin researching colleges and approach application time, declaring a major, deciding what you want to study, or picking a career path can be intimidating tasks.  While you may not have begun this process yet, high school is a perfect time to explore your interests and develop a self-awareness that will make this decision much easier!

Jot Down your Thoughts: In high school, as you explore new activities and dig deeper into the things that you’re passionate about, take some time to jot down a few notes. What activities bring you joy and excite you? In which activities do you excel?  As you make these notes, be specific about why you love each activity and the role that you play. How does your personality and the way you do things shape your participation?  Don’t forget to consider reviewing the classes that you’ve most enjoyed.

Fast Forward:  What do you want to do after college?  Who do you want to be?  These are big questions, and it's okay if you don't have precise answers yet! But, any thoughts that you do have about career choices can help shape the decisions that you make now and as you enter college.  Interested in going to medical school?  What classes should you be taking in high school that can help sharpen the skills necessary to succeed in pre-med courses in college?  Do you want to work in the arts? What organizations can you join that will expose you to a broader selection of mediums? Check out College Board’s Major and Career Search to explore a variety of major and career options and what you can do to begin preparing for each.

Get your Feet Wet: Look around your community for ways to explore your interests in greater depth. Consider talking to your school counselor about activities, internships, or jobs that may be available beyond your school community.  Review community resources like the Jackson Hole News and Guide for events, presentations or volunteer opportunities that would allow you to broaden your experiences in your field of interest. 

Talk to your Neighbor: Or your parents, or your coach, or your teacher!  Find people who are passionate about their careers and ask them what it took to get to where they are today.  When did they decide what to study?  What was the hardest course they took in college?  What should you be doing in high school to prepare for this career?  The people around you can be a great wealth of resources- don’t be afraid to pick their brains!
*image found here, text adapted from here

HEAR: Guidelines for Effective Listening

TES logo

The ability to listen is a key skill for academic success- and one that may take some practice. Using the HEAR strategy, you can train yourself to be an effective listener in class. Use these tips to sharpen your oral comprehension skills.  

Halt:  Stop whatever else you are doing or thinking about. Turn off your cell phone, finish your conversation with your friend and put aside your worries from other classes. This will quiet your mind and allow you to pay attention to the person speaking.

Engage: Center your focus on your teacher. Sit where the teacher will always see you and where you can always seen the teacher. This is usually in the front row or two. If you find yourself distracted by peers around you, remove yourself from the distraction and re-locate to another seat in the class.

Anticipate: Complete required reading and review notes from the previous class session so that you are prepared to ease into the new material being presented to you.  

Replay:  Be prepared to ask questions in class. Don’t be afraid to let the teacher know that you don't understand an idea completely or that you would like the information repeated.  Dialogging with the teacher, or having the teacher explain a concept in an alternate way, will help you comprehend the material and confirm your understanding of it.

Find your Test-Taking "Zone"

Finding your Optimal Level of Test Stress

Did you know that some stress during test time may actually help your performance? Yerkes and Dodson found that performance increases with stimulation to an optimal level. Once your optimal level is reached, performance in fact reduces if stress is further increased.* So, in short, too much or too little stress is not good for us. To find success on exams, it is important to find the "optimal" level of stress- enough to maintain your attention span but not so much that your performance is impaired because of anxiety.

Tips for Getting Into the "Zone" on Test Day

 Managing anxiety during the exam begins with ample preparation before test time:

  • Review your class materials shortly after they are presented, then continue to review them regularly, adding new concepts as you go.  This is the best way to shift information into your long-term memory. 
  • As you approach exam day, make sure you know the details of the test, including content, format, and timing. Don't forget to review important specifics of the exam like where it's located, what time it begins, and what materials you can and can't access during the test. 
  • Practice positive thoughts: envision yourself taking the exam and staying calm, focused, and engaged.  Envision success!  

Maintain peak performance during the exam:

  • Be sure to breathe! Holding your breathe tells your body that you're dying, so make sure you're getting plenty of air-flow.
  • When you feel yourself becoming tense, review the positive self-talk that you practiced as you prepared for the exam. Consider these affirmations: "I studied for this.  I'm ready to succeed, I just need to calm down and focus."
  • As you move through the exam, let this simple motto guide your thoughts: accept what you cannot change and have the courage to tackle what you can. 

Unsinkable Organizing


Cal Newport's Unsinkable Organizing:
Creating an Enduring Organizational System

Many students make the mistake of building complicated organizational systems at the beginning of a school year. But when schedules pick up and life gets busy, these systems become difficult to maintain. Start your year off right by considering this simple and comprehensive organizational system that will stand up to the test of time:

1 Class= 1 Notebook + 1 Folder: Simplicity is best when it comes to selecting your school supplies for the year.  Designate one notebook (or one tab in a binder) and one folder for each of your classes.  All handouts, and supplementary materials go into the folder, and all class notes can be taken in the notebook.

Fault-proof Filing:  Out-of-date handouts, research materials, administrative paperwork, and study materials that you don’t use daily will all need a place to live.  Create a simple filing system by using manila folders to store similarly themed paperwork.  Label each folder accordingly, and store in a neat stack somewhere at home.  

Maintain a Calendar: Keeping a planner is imperative for success. But it isn’t always convenient to pull out your phone to add an important deadline to your Googlecalendar or to log onto your laptop to add a task to your running to-do list.  Keep a separate notebook, or even a stack of post-it-notes handy to jot down important dates, tasks that arise and reminders that need to be added to your calendar.  Then, the next time you review your calendar or planner, add these notes accordingly.

*adapted from 'The Unsinkable Student Organization System,'

Cultivating a Growth Mindset

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychologist, proposes a simple, yet revolutionary idea for finding success. She outlines two mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets believe that their talents and abilities are simply static, fixed traits, whereas people with growth mindsets believe that their basic qualities such as talents and intelligence can be cultivated through dedication and hard work (Dweck, 2006).  Those with fixed mindsets avoid challenges, give up when obstacles get in their way, ignore criticism, and find the success of others threatening.
Those with growth mindsets embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism, and are inspired by the success of others.


Tips for Nurturing your Growth Mindset:

  • Don't be fearful of challenges. Even though you may struggle, the amount of growth you’ll experience will be powerful.  Instead of thinking "this is too hard," try thinking "this may take some time."
  • Persistence pays off. When obstacles get in your way, power through. Do not give up.  Instead of thinking "I give up," try thinking "I'll use a different strategy."
  • Learn from criticism! Listen to it and see if you can change your thinking or actions so that you’ll be more successful in the future.  Instead of thinking "I made a mistake," try thinking "mistakes help me learn."
  • Find inspiration in the successes around you: When friends and fellow students succeed, congratulate them! Be motivated by success. Remember that the successes of others' may look different then your success.  Instead of thinking "my friend can do it," try thinking "I will learn from them!"

*Image and tips adapted from Oregon State Learning Center and Kent Primary School .