Book Signing, NACAC 2013, and Congrats to Ted Fiske!

What a busy week it’s been!  I had my first official book talk and signing for The Secrets of Top Students at the Columbia University bookstore, which was a lot of fun.  Thank you to everyone who attended!

Stefanie Weisman Book Signing

My first book signing!

The next day I flew up to Toronto to join my publisher, Sourcebooks, for the 69th national conference for NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling).  I met a lot of great people there.  I must say, college admission counselors are an amazing group.  They really care about helping students and giving them the best education possible.

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the NACAC conference took place.  Love the woodpeckers!

Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where the NACAC conference took place. Love the woodpeckers!

I was also extremely fortunate to take part in the 30th anniversary of The Fiske Guide to Colleges, where I got to meet the man himself – Edward (Ted) Fiske.  It’s really an amazing accomplishment.  Sourcebooks honored him with a champagne toast and gave away several stacks of his books, which were gone in two minutes flat!

The champagne toast - Congrats to Ted Fiske for an amazing 30 years!

The champagne toast – Congrats to Ted Fiske for an amazing 30 years!

Tomorrow I’m giving a talk at the Stuyvesant Parents’ Association.  Back-to-School is a busy but exciting time!

The Secrets of Top Students Book Signing

Photo of Columbia University, courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

Photo of Columbia University, courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

I’m excited to announce that I’m doing a book signing for The Secrets of Top Students at the Columbia University Bookstore on Thursday, September 19, at 6 pm. I’ll also be sharing some of my top study tips for high school and college students!  This is a great event for parents and students in the NYC area.

The Columbia University Bookstore is located at 2922 Broadway, Lerner Hall (114th St.), New York, NY 10027. Hope to see you there!

Want to increase the number of students in STEM? Try grade inflation

There’s been a lot of talk these days about how to get more students to study STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) in college. Of course, one of the problems is that the math/science education provided in many high schools is inadequate. But there are also lots of students with exceptional educational backgrounds who decide they just can’t hack it in STEM. See the article “Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard),” by Christopher Drew in The New York Times, from November 4, 2011.

Here’s my half-serious suggestion: use grade inflation. Elite students are used to getting straight-As and stellar SAT scores. Throw them into an environment where they’re suddenly getting Bs and Cs, and of course they’re going to freak out. The humanities have endured grade inflation and survived. Many teachers now use A+s to signal extraordinary achievement. Honestly, I don’t care if you raise grades in STEM or lower grades in the humanities, but there should be some kind of standardization. Why should STEM courses have completely different grading criteria? Teachers can do whatever they want; there’s almost no regulation. If an engineering student is struggling just to get a C and sees his roommate earning an easy A in anthropology, he’s not going to be happy.

Top universities also need to offer more practical STEM courses, not just theoretical. Students who can’t or don’t want to join academia are given short shrift. I had to take a continuing education web design course at NYU one summer because there was nothing like that offered at Columbia. The requirements for STEM majors should also be less restrictive. As a Computer Science major at Columbia, I couldn’t take a lot of CS courses that interested me because they didn’t fulfill the requirements for my concentration, and I didn’t have the time or money to pursue them. Instead I had to take a bunch of required theory courses that I detested and never got any use out of.

As a side note, Sesame Street is also getting in on the math/science craze. I’ll be interested to check back in 15 years and see if it made a difference.

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Give yourself the gift of great grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!