Three misconceptions that prevent your child from getting scholarships before college.

Did you know your child can qualify for scholarships even before college? Many students and parents do not realize the power PSAT10 and PSAT/NMSQT hold. Here are some common misconceptions associated with these tests and steps you can take to increase opportunities for your child.

Misconception 1: My child can’t get scholarships while in high school.

Reality: High school students are eligible for wide range of scholarships, including scholarships directly linked to the PSAT10 and PSAT/NMSQT results. The College Board’s new scholarship partners provide millions of dollars to qualified low-income and minority students—and they use the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT10 to help find them.

"A total of 7,367 Merit Scholar® designees in 2016 were chosen from the Finalist group to receive Merit Scholarship awards worth a total of $31.3 million. An additional 1,159 outstanding program participants, who were not Finalists but met criteria specified by corporate and business sponsors, received Special Scholarships valued at $10.9 million. " - National Merit Scholarship Program

Misconception 2: PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT are not important. They are just a practice before the real test - SAT.

Reality: When you take the PSAT/NMSQT, you’re automatically screened for the National Merit® Scholarship Program, a national academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Universities are watching top performers on these tests and award with substantial scholarships (in some cases $100K or more) and acceptance to their competitive programs. Partner corporations, foundations and organization provide scholarships and internships. In addition, your high school receives comprehensive report on your child following PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT. It tells them what your child is capable of, and serves as a base of making decisions towards potential educational paths. Better scores - better chances of getting into stronger and more competitive programs.

Misconception 3: My child does not need to prepare for PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT.

Reality: You can only take PSAT/NMSQT in October of Junior Year - you have only one shot to do it. While you can take SAT many times, PSAT/NMSQT that opens so many doors for your child does not allow any retakes. Therefore, take this test seriously. 

How to Prepare for PSAT10 and PSAT/MNSQT:

1. Start preparation early - at least six to eight weeks in advance.

2. Be over-prepared for PSAT by studying for SAT. In essence, PSAT is a simplified version of SAT. When you your child prepares for SAT, he or she is prepared for challenges of PSAT.

6 Ways to Inspire Growth While Gaining Trust

Learning is a vulnerable process for a child. It does not matter whether your child is academically advanced or is behind, the change associated with learning can be scary and frustrating. To impact growth in the most profound way, a trust must be established among the participants. A kind of trust that allows to make mistakes, explore possibilities, ask questions, break old habits, and try something new. 

Through our work at After School University, we found that announcing these 6 commitments at the beginning of the learning process builds a great foundation for an environment that is nurturing, safe, and non-judgmental.

#1. Believe

#2. Care

#3. Challenge

#4. State Quality

#5. Support

#6. Trust

Here is a letter that you could share with your child as early in your process as possible. If shared in writing, consider following up with a discussion. Simplify the language for the younger kids while addressing each area.

*******A Letter to Inspire Growth While Gaining Trust*******

Dear <Name of a Child>,

You are a unique and brilliant individual. There is nothing you can’t achieve. You are on your way to becoming an outstanding leader, and this world is a better place because of you. I am so honored to be part of your life and to help you grow. I take my role very seriously. Here are my commitments to you as we work together on making you even stronger.

1. To always believe in you.
My end goal will always be seeing you move to heights never imagined.

2. To care about you.
I will champion your interests, your passions, your sparks! You are a gift to this world.

3. To challenge you.
I may be hard on you, because I have high standards for you. I will not allow you to say, “I can’t” or “I don’t.” I will not let you fail. I will not give you answers to difficult problems, but I will help you seek and find them. Together, we will learn how to plan and make every day count.

4. To insist on the little things.
I will sometimes seem picky — and that is because I want you to have the habits of a champion. Getting the little things right will make the bigger things easier, like treating people well and following through on your commitments.

5. To support you and never betray your confidence.
I will never make negative comments about you. I will not say things behind your back. I will talk with you, face-to-face, with respect, candor and love.

6. To trust you.
Like all of us, you will make mistakes and have bad days. They will not shake my belief that you are doing your very best. I praise you for your bravery and am forever grateful for your effort! 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with you! Please keep me accountable at all times. If I ever fall short of my commitment to you, let me know.

<Your Name or Your Signature>

My Son’s After School University Journey

Slowly, I drove through the parking lot of Eagleview Middle School, trying to spot my youngest son, Joseph, waiting for me.  He looked so sad and withdrawn.  It was his first year in middle school.  He is usually a happy and compassionate person, with the strongest desire to learn.  His years at Foothills Elementary were blessed by an incredible talented and gifted (TAG) program. The TAG program was run by an amazing teacher.  But, now in middle school, his motivation for learning was slowly dissolving it seemed. He was so depressed every day; I felt desperate, almost frantic, to do something.  My oldest son had the same issues at Eagleview, and he never recovered the motivation for learning.  They are completely different people, with Joseph being more introverted than my oldest son. This made me feel even more helpless. 

Then one day Joseph brought home a flyer about a science day at the University of Colorado Springs (UCCS) and it was associated with the After School University. We both excited to see what this was about. We both attended and the Physics Professor asked Joseph’s lots of questions. We also met Maria Feekes, who gave us some more information about the individualized tutoring program at After School University. 

Over the next four years, Joseph attended at After School University Calculus, Physics, and several programming classes. He learned LabView, C++ and Java. Although the actual middle school classes did not keep him challenged, the courses at After School University did. It allowed him then to go into high school while being in 8th grade, and accelerate to the level of his abilities from there. Joseph recently graduated from Air Academy with a 4.7 GPA, 19 hours of Math from UCCS and 37 AP credits. He is attending the Colorado School of Mines, with a double major in Applied Mathematics and Physics. And most of all, Joseph’s thirst of learning lives on, which actually is a tremendous source of happiness for Joseph.  After School University played a vital and critical role in supporting his learning journey.  Looking back, we both agree that we would do the same thing again.

Joseph at his graduation from Air Academy High School

Does an A in school become an A in life?


Very often we get a comment like this: "My kid is getting strait As in school. He or she is doing all the work that is required of them. We are not sure what else to give. We really think that our kid is prepared for college and life."

Our question back is: "If our kids are getting everything they need in school, why do we have the statistics like that?"

Today we are just raising a question...


Attrition Rates

According to the Education Policy Institute, just 43 of 1,669 U.S. universities and colleges have attrition rates of 10% or less. Among them are Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton, and name-brand schools like Stanford and MIT.

A total of 266 of 1,669 U.S. universities and colleges have attrition rates between 11% and 30%.

At the majority of U.S. colleges, the attrition rate tops 50%. In other words, most of their students fail to graduate.

College Readiness

According to the College Board,  58% of SAT test takers do not meet SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. This is a measurement of readiness to take college entry, credit bearing courses without remediation.

Score Against International Peers

In its most recent study, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) found that among 15-year-olds in 34 developed countries, American students ranked 26th in math and 21st in science. Meanwhile, Asian Pacific and European countries made up the entire Top 10.



A note from the founder

I grew up in an education system quite different from that of the U.S. And when my oldest daughter first went to school in America, I found that what she studied paled in comparison to what I had learned at her age, and to what children of my friends internationally were learning. 

I love America, and believe it is the world’s most innovative nation. But we can’t be blinded by past successes. Kids in other countries are routinely learning more and working harder. They are getting better at critical thinking and problem-solving. Over and over, statistics reveal that as compared to their peers in Asia and Europe, our kids are underperforming — especially in math and science. Labor experts continue to warn that our children are falling behind in the global economy.

Change happens slowly in our education system. And yet, our children can’t wait. I don’t want my kids, or yours, to earn a 4.0 within a C-level curriculum and believe that’s good enough. I don’t want them to find out the hard way that even with AP and IB experience, they will lag behind college classmates from Asia and Europe. I don’t want them to leave the major of their choice, as up to 50% of American college students do, because they can’t keep up.

I want our children to be the best they can be. And I believe that together, we can help them get there.

Maria Feekes