Advice from the Whisperer- Writing the Personal Statement for College- Asking for Help

physics competition

In a blog ago I introduced the issue of writing the college application essay. Now lets look at each tip one by one…

Topic 1 – Asking a Teacher to Edit Your Paper

As times have changed from the paper-writing days of our parents when they went off to college, we also need to seek help from our high school teachers who are more “in the know” about college applications. Today’s educators have to keep up-to-date as they are the ones responsible for providing us with the education we need in order to obtain higher goals in life, such as going to college and eventually working a full-time job or career. So take some time aside and scout out one of your favorite teachers, who you know will give you good feedback, in helping you to write and edit your personal statement for college.

Yes we are all busy and have a life outside of high school but most teachers that you know well will be more than happy to help. They too had to do the same thing and its better to have a couple of people look at your paper than just one.

essay competition

The obvious teacher choice would be your English or History teachers as they know what to look for when writing an analytical paper. That does not mean you cannot ask your Science or Math teacher as well, just as long as it’s a teacher you have (or had if its been a couple of years) good rapport with. I chose my English honors teacher from my freshman year not only because he helped me to write well but because we had a good relationship with each other that I kept up throughout all of the four years of high school. Not sounding parental (the Whisperer can tend to do that at times!) but it is nice to kept up contact with teachers who you liked and who enjoyed your company when you were in their class. You only have them for such a short time in high school and who knows, they might be the ones that you can go to for a good recommendation letter as well as helping you to look over your paper.

Before approaching a teacher you need to go online first and look up information about the personal statement for the university you applying to. There will be a section that describes the personal statement with given topics and prompts to write about on the university websites. Try to address these topics by writing some notes about what experience or subject you think will relate to the prompt. After you have compiled your notes, seek out the teacher who you have in mind to help you. They may turn you down at first because they might have other students they are also helping to look over their essays (depends on how popular the teacher is!). But most of the time your first choice will be delighted you asked them for help. Your teacher will give you guidelines to make sure you are sticking to the prompt and the rest will write itself.

It will take some time for both you and your teacher to begin the editing process and that is where patience and managing your time comes in handy. You will have to visit your teacher during their break periods, your lunch time or even before or after school. Its a lot of extra time but it will be worth it in the end. Beyond your regular daily homework you will have to work on your college essay and keep up correspondence with the teacher who is helping you. You should set deadlines for each other to complete the paper but give some leeway as things do come up and you need to prepare for anything.

Once you and your teacher have completed the final drafts of your essay (or two depending on the prompts), leave them alone. You have been working on them for quite some time, potentially between two to four weeks, and your mind needs a break. Give it a few days and then come back to reading the paper again and bringing it in to your teacher for last minute grammatical corrections and clarity.

prestigious school

Then after the ordeal is over do not forget to thank your teacher for their help! A hand-written note, email or even a batch of cookies and chocolate is an added bonus that anyone wouldn’t pass up! And let them know if you got into the college of your choice as they played a part in your success! :)

Next time, we will look at Topic 2: Experiences to Write About in the College Paper…

Come check out our onsite and online English Writing and AP English courses on our website  as they will provide a wealth of knowledge to help you write better! You can also contact our office in Irvine, CA for more details as well at:

Also to help you further help in improving your academic writing skills, check out the “Teens Writing for Teens” blog for some different options as well as many others.

Advice from the Whisperer Anew- Writing the College Personal Statement

~Hello Everyone, the Whisperer is here to talk about college applications and give some all-around helpful advice! Here is what I said last year and the same information holds true today, enjoy!

creative learning online

Its that time of year again and for all high school seniors it can be a nerve-wracking and a very trying time. Many of you for the past couples of years or so have been frantically learning about and researching this previously strange thing called “College” (unless you have older siblings or relatives in higher education) and trying to study its every move in order to become part of it. Some of you might have or are preparing to visit various campuses on weekends and holiday breaks to take the tours and get a general feeling for your future intended places of study. But you have to choose only one!

You probably have taken practice versions of the SAT or ACT exams in order to do well in this last year of school. And yes on top of it all it IS your LAST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL! You now have to begin filling out the long online applications for the colleges you wish to attend while trying to keep between a 3.0 and 4.0 GPA, enjoy your extracurricular activities, maintain good relationships with friends, significant others, parents, teachers… and then there’s the college essay you have to write. AH!!!

Ah yes, the Personal Statement. Another deciding factor for college admissions staffs to use in order to determine why they should choose you in particular for their institution. Going back into the recesses of my memory (covered with dust and cobwebs) I thought about how I was like YOU at one time (boy, that was long ago!).

This is one of the best opportunities you have to show off your stuff. You can write about your accomplishments, what you enjoy doing the most, even highlight areas that you recognize are challenging and still need in improvement on, but ultimately are overcoming.

So here are a few helpful tips in order to help you write a truly remarkable statement!
To keep it simple, I chose three:

1. Ask one of your favorite teachers who you trust to help you edit your essays.

2. Choose meaningful personal experiences to write about that will show you are a well-rounded and caring individual. This can but does not necessarily need to relate to your intended major or field of study.

3. Write about something that you know you have been lagging behind in and explain how you are or have been overcoming it.

You should check out the websites for the universities you are interested as many of them will include some information about how to write a personal statement such as the Purdue University’s OWL Writing Lab.

Stay tuned for more next week!


P.S. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for updates, events, competitions and generally learn about Areteem Institute!

Areteem Makes its Rounds from Spring to Fall 2014!

Areteem Makes its Rounds from Spring to Fall 2014!

Hello again everyone, can you imagine it’s already fall, time flies by really fast doesn’t it? Our school has been brimming with so much activity, from our summer camps at Berkeley and Boston to the various education events we have been attending including ones still to come!


Last time we left off we were talking about the OC Math Field Day way back in May! On Saturday May 17th our marketing team and directors went to Capistrano Valley High School for its annual OC Math Field Day. We had our booth set up outside next to the school auditorium where we were able to meet with many of the student math groups, representing elementary schools from across the OC! The students were especially happy when we gave them free Areteem goodie bags too!


While the students were busy all morning with their math competitions, we were able to act as guest judges in deciding the winning posters to represent the event. All of the student groups had to create a poster from their schools to represent the theme “Make Math Your Scene in 2014” and we were able to choose the first, second and third place winners. After lunch, we all migrated to the school auditorium where all of the action was happening as students were frantically competing neck-in-neck in the Rubik’s Cube Challenge to see who was the fastest! At the end of the day, we handed out Math Field Day awards as well as our own scholarship certificates to the winners of both the school competitions and the Rubrics Cube Challenge, what a day!


Two weeks later our school traveled to Las Vegas for the annual ARML (American Regions Mathematics League) a national competition for all math students who have made it to this level! Every year we usually help out at the event booth to sell ARML-affiliated products like past text books, t-shirts and Frisbees while students are quietly absorbed in their competitions as well as other related activities. We arrived on Thursday evening and had a delicious dinner with many of the math coaches. The next day on Friday we attended a meeting to talk about the competition schedule for Saturday and that night our academic director Dr. Kevin Wang gave students a few tips on how to master the competition by introducing ideas in math as “math magic” problems a la Professor Dumbledore! The main competition was held on Saturday where we watched as hundreds of students from across the western states compete in individual and group competitions. It was a great weekend overall, despite the sweltering weather, but at least we were able to visit the Vegas strip in our off time to see the hotels and catch a show!


Our summer was predominantly occupied with the Summer Residential Program held at the campuses of Cal Berkeley in northern California from late June to early July and of Boston College from late July to early August. We had such a good time getting to know all of the students as they learned new tricks of the math trade and bonded together in group-building activities and our fun weekend excursions to amusement parks, the Winchester Mystery House in California and a Freedom Trail Tour of Boston!


Now we get to fall! This past Sunday our marketing team traveled to Walnut High School to participate in the larger LA-based Education Seminars and College Fair event hosted by the Chinese language newspaper, the World Journal LA. Here we set up our booth and met with so many families from the Chinese speaking community as well as various admissions officers representing the Cal State and UC schools. You can read more about this event in our Hot Topics section of our website.


On Sunday October 5th we are looking forward to going to UC Irvine for our second time with the OCPSA at their “2nd Annual High School Fair”, one that we visited last year as a guest!


These educational events in general help us to spread the word of Areteem Institute and its programs as well as to network and meet with a variety of educators and families from across different fields in order to learn from them and reach out in various ways.
We hope to see you at our future events, enjoy the fall!


To find out more about upcoming events at Areteem Institute call (949) 679-8989 or email us at

Shine on Harvest Moon Again!

Shine on Harvest Moon Again!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the 2014-2015 School Year! To start off in the blogsphere I your Writing Whisperer am bringing back one of the very first articles that I wrote here at the school about the Mid-Autumn Festival, enjoy!

This Monday September 8th,  is the full moon and the brightest moon you will see in the whole year.  Many call it the “Harvest Moon” as it appears in autumn, the season for the harvest.  Going back a bit, people used to call “fall” or “autumn” simply the “Harvest” as it’s the  time of year when all of the grains and crops in the fields are taken in. People around this time of year have for centuries honored the abundance of the season with special  offerings and prayers to nature. Many still do it even today. So let’s hop in the autumn  hay wagon and head on over to see a real harvest event in action – the Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival. You may even know about this festival if your family celebrates it.

Mid-Autumn Festival in Hangzhou, China

In several countries across Asia, including Korea, Vietnam and predominantly China (the latter a place your Whisperer has traveled to!) people celebrate a unique harvest festival known in Chinese as (Zhong Qiu Jie), the Mid-Autumn Festival. Its so much a part of Chinese culture that it’s a national holiday! Similar to our American Thanksgiving, families get together and enjoy a specially prepared meal in their home or go out to eat with others close to them. Most people bring a treat which has come to be a symbol for the day – the mooncake. These little auburn pastries are circular in shape to represent the full moon that the festival falls upon and is the reason why people also call today the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival. Inside you will find egg yolks, nuts or pastes made of ground-up lotus plants or red beans. People also light lanterns and watch performances of traditional lion and dragon dances.

harvest moon homeschoolThis harvest get-together has lost much of its historic agricultural roots but the moon remains an important part of the occasion. An old Chinese legend relates how Chang ’E, the young wife of an immortal, saves her husband’s life by taking an elixir of immortality. She is then magically transported to the moon where she remains to this day as its resident deity. Unlike Artemis, Diana or other moon deities, she actually “lives” on the moon instead of symbolically personifying it. She is not alone and is joined by a benevolent rabbit who if you look closely appears to be pounding a meal from a large pot (his head is the right eye of the man in the moon!).

The rabbit in the moon’s story comes from India where on earth he was one of the kindest and wisest of creatures. One of the head gods decided to test this rabbit and so disguised himself as a traveling peddler. When he approached the rabbit’s friends they all offered gifts to feed the peddler. As the rabbit had nothing to give he instead offered himself up as a sacrifice and almost burns himself on a funeral pyre. The god then realized the pure and benevolent spirit of this little rabbit and saved him from death and revealed his true heavenly form. To teach the world an example, he raised the rabbit to the moon to forever be its guardian spirit!

So as the summer heat dies down and autumn coolness comes back, look out at the shining full moon and say a little hello to the rabbit and his goddess friend in honor of the harvest. If you can try some moon cakes in our local market that sells Asian specialties such as 99 Ranch Market.

 Happy Mid-Autumn Festival Everyone!

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Stay tuned for more blogs for the rest of the school year! Tell your friends about us and like us on Facebook and post on Twitter!


Areteem’s School Events for 2014 So Far!

Areteem’s School Events for 2014 So Far!

Hi Everyone, the Whisperer is back from a long hibernation period and ready to bring you exciting news, helpful educational information and brief holiday histories (I know, no New Year’s through Easter blogs) for your enjoyment and learning! We are definitely ready for more spring and upcoming summer activities but in the meantime check out what we at Areteem have been busy with the past few months:

Beyond our concentration in mathematics and science programs we have been reaching out to various education organizations as well as becoming members of them. Part of our involvement with these groups has entailed attendance at their yearly events.


Our School Booth at the World Journal education fair held at the Irvine Chinese School in April

In January we participated in the Fourth Annual Preschool-12th Grade Fair on January 5th at the Irvine Marriott Hotel held by the OCPSA (the Orange County Private School Association) for private schools in Orange County. At events like these we usually bring along our booth and talk with families about our programs such as the onsite and online classes, our summer camps and any other activities that we are currently doing. We were able to meet with many families at this popular event as well as talk to other administrators representing a variety of private education institutions across Orange County.

Other organizations that Areteem is proud to be a part of are the California Association for the Gifted (CAG)and the National Association for the Gifted (NAGC), both of which help gifted students as well as supply resources to inform educators and parents how to best benefit and provide for advanced students in the academic world. Our school sent representatives from our administration team, including yours truly, to network with schools and gifted groups at the CAG’s 61st Annual Conference in February. It was a fun three day event as we were able to attend different lectures by educators to learn more information about what is “in the know” with gifted education. It was held at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, right across from Disneyland, and it was quite a warm season then for us!

CAG 2014 event

Outside the entrance to the CAG conference in February

All throughout the rest of February and early March we were happy to have sent out many scholarship certificates to students participating in both local and regional MathCounts competitions all across the USA. Math Counts is one of the many competitions that our students participate in as our classes have helped students to better compete in these competitions (please refer to our website for more details about the individual competitions). We want to wish congratulations to all of those students who received a certificate from Areteem Institute!

In April we were involved in two big events to help spread news of our school! On April 12th, we attended the Irvine Chinese School close by our Irvine office location for an education fair hosted by the Chinese language daily newspaper, the World Journal. This event allows Chinese-speaking families in Orange County to come and learn more about how to better prepare their students for college and what programs can help them to achieve this goal. At this event we demonstrated how our online classes work by showing families video recordings of some of our math classes taught by our academic director Dr. Kevin Wang.

Recently on April 26th we were proud to sponsor the first STEM Festival (for science, technology, engineering and  mathematics) at the LA Math Field Day at Glendale High School, bringing together students from fourth to eighth grade across Los Angeles county schools to compete against each other in a morning full of challenging competitions! After the students had completed their last round of competitions we were asked to arrange a series of activities for each grade level that pertained to the STEM subjects.

Saifur with Sixth Graders

Saifur’s Video Game Design Class with the Sixth Grade Students

We invited many participants to come join us including Bob Barboza who engaged the fourth graders with a sound display where students created music just by moving their hands across the surface of a machine without touching it! The six graders were treated to back-to-back sessions with Saifur Rahman, one of our school’s technology teachers, giving students an introduction to video game design on mini computers (see picture above) and our director Kelly Ren leading students through a series of mental math challenge games. The seventh and eighth grade students were involved in some engineering work when they had to create their own unique paper airplanes by using different materials, a lesson conducted by the education outreach of the Casio company.

By far the “best of show” at the STEM Festival was Chef Mauro Rossi who brought along his colleagues and student cooks from The Art Institute’s North Hollywood campus for some cooking experiments. This institution allows its students to master the visual and culinary arts, amongst other areas of interest. Mr. Rossi and one of his colleagues led students through a series of science-focused activities where in one classroom they had to mix different liquids and substances together to create edible food while in another classroom students had to taste-test tea and coffee and access the quality, color and content of both. The students ended up having a blast and were able to take home a few worksheets and edible concoctions! We were so lucky to have such talented people show off their stuff before the different grade levels. At the end of the event we handed out trophies and Areteem backpacks too students in attendance, what an exciting day it was!

Mauro Rossi of Art Institute with Fifth Graders

Chef Mauro Rossi of The Art Institute and the Fifth Grade students experimenting with FOOD!

We are continuing this rush of enthusiasm as we will also be part of the OC Math Field Day hosted by the OC Math Council that is coming up on Saturday, May 17th at Capistrano Valley High School. We will be participating in a number of activities as guest judges as well as be present to answer any questions that people may have about our school and its programs. We plan on giving out goodie bags to all students present at these day long competitions so we hope to see many people, including maybe some of you, there!

This summer we are radiating with so much activity from our college residential summer camps, our onsite weeklong summer camps in Irvine and around OC as well as our summer online classes, you should check out both of the websites for Areteem and Math Zoom for more details!

Thanks everyone and look for more up-to-date information from the Writing Whisperer here at Areteem Institute!