One of our SAT prep students recently gained a lot of attention for being accepted to all seven of the Ivy League schools to which she had applied, as well as to Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) She has chosen to attend M.I.T. and major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Of course, Diana had earned stellar SAT scores and had a most impressive G.P.A.  But I was curious about her other accomplishments, and met with her recently to hear her words of wisdom as to what she believes it takes for a college-bound student, in this day and age, to meet with such success.

Diana told me about her passion project.  After her grandfather had suffered a stroke, Diana invented, in order to help him and others in a similar situation, a novel medical device to track feedback on rehabilitation exercise performance.  She presented her research at the Intel Developer Forum and the MIT IEEE Undergraduate Research and Technology Conference.  She was invited to present her research to former President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair. Her unique skill set, and ability to apply it to the creation of an incredibly valuable medical device, won her additional international and national recognitions and awards.

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There are many options for students to develop a skill set that may ultimately launch them to national, and even international, recognition.  A visit to the nearest Apple store may be a great starting point, as the company recently launched “Today at Apple” courses that are offered, free of charge, at all of its 500 stores worldwide.  Offerings include more than 60 different classes and students can even bring in their personal projects for Apple’s “Creative Pros” (the teaching equivalent of the store’s technically-oriented “Geniuses”) to review.  At some locations, Apple has world-class artists, photographers, and musicians teach sessions ranging from basic to professional level programs.

Students seeking to develop a skill set from the comforts of home have almost limitless online options. “Udemy” is a website hosting more than 65,000 courses, many at a cost of $9.99, addressing topics including cyber security, software engineering, and artificial intelligence.  Another option is “Treehouse,” a website that offers beginner to advanced courses in coding and allows students to trouble-shoot problems and build a network of coding colleagues within the Treehouse community.

Once students identify an area of passion and start developing a skill set to address its issues, the sky’s the limit.  They, too, may end up at the White House Science Fair one day, deciding whether to attend M.I.T., Stanford, Princeton, a host of other options!

Susan Alaimo is the founder of SAT Smart. For the past 25 years, SAT Smart’s Ivy League educated tutors have prepared students for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP courses, and all high school subjects. Visit www.SATsmart.com or call 908-369-5362.