November is a time for giving thanks, and we are deeply grateful to be able to give back to the communities in which we work through the Private Prep Scholarship Program. For the past four years, we’ve been helping high-achieving students from low-income or underserved backgrounds gain admission to best-fit colleges by providing one-on-one test prep and college admissions services free of charge. We consider our Scholarship Program to be some of the most important work we do and are excited to share some reflections from two of the program’s alumni. We spoke to Andy L. and Diana Q.—both of whom went through our Scholarship Program in Westchester County—about their experience with test prep and college admissions.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
When did you start working with your tutor(s), and what did you work on?
Andy: I started working with my tutor Arianna on ACT prep around the beginning of January. We started working on the weakest aspects of my testing which happened to be the English section.
Diana: I started working with my tutors, Robert and Daniel, during January of 2019. We worked on preparation for the SAT.
What surprised you most about the Scholarship Program?
Andy: I was surprised as to how tailored the curriculum was to me. We covered all aspects of the test and some general study/test tips, but we, of course, covered the parts I struggled with most. My tutor was very experienced with the testing process and all aspects of the test.
Diana: Working one-on-one with a tutor was a new experience. I had never received tutoring before and during class there’s so many students that I usually don’t participate. I never really ask any questions; I’ve always just gone with the flow. But, with tutoring, I have to ask my questions, because that’s the only way my tutor can help me. I had to get used to the idea of always participating and asking questions because my tutor was there to help one person—me. I had visualized the experience in my head and thought it would be more like, “they teach, I listen, I learn, and that’s it—session’s over,” but it was much more like a conversation where two people participate.
Do you feel like that learning experience has translated to other parts of your academic life?
Diana: Yeah, for sure. After tutoring, I had to start coming up with questions and start actually thinking about what was difficult—not just following the class but being a part of what we were doing. So, after tutoring, I was more active in class, and I would start raising my hand and go in to see a teacher if I had to. It’s been really helpful, because a lot of people think that senior year classes might not be that difficult, but they have been difficult. So, I’ve gone in for help and participated more.
What does the scholarship program mean to you in terms of your success/progress?
Andy: For the ACT, you definitely need to prepare for it and know what you’re doing. Before in high school, I would study more last minute. Like, whatever gets done gets done. But with this, I was forced to sit down and study and really grind out the work. And that definitely carried over to my long term career. Little by little, I get stuff done, not giant amounts last minute.
Tutoring gave me a different outlook on test prep. Having someone there who could adjust to my needs helped a ton. It boosted my confidence going into college, reassuring me that I was ready. It gave me many new tools in my learning toolbox that I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.
Diana: Entering the college application process and everything that comes with it was daunting because, as a first-gen student, I didn’t have anyone to turn to at every step. But the program gave me the help and knowledge to go into the process not feeling anxious or alone. Without my coach, I would’ve had to figure everything out by myself, which would’ve taken me more time and caused me more stress.
The scholarship program is a core part of our culture here at Private Prep and we take great pride in the work that we do with our recipients. We are able to give back because of the support of our clients. Through our rewards program, we donate on behalf of our families for hours of tutoring and referrals of new families. To date, we have had the privilege of supporting 40 students and have committed over $250,000 to this program. Please visit us here if you’d like to learn more about our program.