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  • Writer's pictureKellie O'Callaghan

Reflections on a Decade in the Trenches with Teens

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

Well, 2021 is here and I realize I have been coaching students for over a decade now! When people asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up – I never would have predicted a standardized test and study skills tutor, I don’t even think college admissions counselors existed back then!

But here we are and this is my career and I could not have picked a better one. I truly love what I do and I’m so thankful for the hundreds of students I have had the privilege of working with, they truly make it all worthwhile. If you are arriving at this website and meeting me for the first time, welcome and I hope to get to meet you soon! If you are returning – welcome back Here are a few things you should know about me. I love working with teenagers and college students – they make me smile every day.

My Style

I use a coaching style above all in every area of my work. I teach, train, develop skills, require practice, correct, adapt, and repeat the process until a student is confident and satisfied. Because of this athletes really do well with me

My sessions are NOT students doing homework in front of me. During our sessions, I am teaching, training, and working with the student. I require homework outside of our time for students to be successful. I have learned students need to be willing to invest outside of our time to make the most of our time together. I do not find it a good use of my time or your money for me to watch students do entire practice tests, when we are together we are working together.

I have worked with many diverse students, no matter their needs. I have worked with an uncountable number of ADD/ADHD and test-anxiety students for both testing and study skills development. I have worked with profoundly gifted students and students on the spectrum. I have worked with students whose goal was to get into Yale, Stanford, Brown, West Point, and did! I have also worked with athletes whose entire goal is clearing the NCAA line to play so they can earn that scholarship. I have seen students elated with both a 19 and a 36 and to me they are both amazing accomplishments. The only student I will say no to is the one who does not want to be there and is unwilling to put in an effort.

I tell all my students upfront that I am from New York originally and very direct. I am honest and students always know where they stand with me. I treat teenagers like the adults they are becoming with a bit of breathing room for mistakes because they are still learning and developing.

After 10 years and well over 100 students a year I have a lot of experience but I also look at each student with fresh eyes to see what their challenge with the test or study skill is, and I am constantly learning and adapting. I take regular “official” tests to make sure the strategies I teach are still working and so I can teach the students with confidence in the current material as well as in my methods, I adapt and change methods and strategies as needed (not often, but sometimes).

My Goals

My end goal for testing is comfort with the test material, confidence in their personal strategy, and maintaining calm. With those in place, I find most students are able to present their best work on official test day.

My end goal for college admissions students is the best overall fit: academic, financial, athletic, and social. It’s not always the most “prestigious” school (though I do have several former students now attending some of the “top” schools in the country) or the “cheapest” school that is the “best” fit – it is a complex combination of factors unique to each student and I love helping them discover that and navigate the process along the way.

My end goal for study skills students is to work myself out of a job but leave them feeling like they still have me there with them. I want students to develop confidence in their own abilities to handle the challenges life throws in their direction. I help students find their weaknesses and their strengths and manage both. We work on time management, motivation, organization, comprehension, the actual delivery of finished products, and whatever other challenges they are facing that prevent them from presenting their best. I always want a student leaving my table to feel like they’ve “got this” now but they know they can always call me for a refresher or support.

If you feel we are a good fit please reach out and I can’t wait to get to know you.


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