MulePrep SAT classes open to Waterville students
The College’s January Program (JanPlan) provides an opportunity for students to try new activities, from dabbling in new subjects to traveling the world. It is not often, however, that students can watch their JanPlan work blossom for months after the snow melts on Mayflower Hill.
But that is exactly what Matt White ’14 has done. Last JanPlan, White conducted an independent study with Education Program Director and Professor Mark Tappan, in which White designed and implemented the curriculum for an SAT prep course tailored specifically to local high school students. White dubbed the program “MulePrep.”
Tappan, who sponsored the independent study, recalls that White’s idea for the project “came about [in part] from conversations through SFER [Students for Education Reform, a club on campus]…conversations about how to contribute to the local Waterville area.”
White is an English major and Education minor from Wellesley, Mass., where as a high school student he recalls receiving an abundance of fliers advertising for SAT prep classes. “[SAT prep courses] were easily accessible for me in high school,” White said. After studying on Mayflower Hill for a year and a half, White realized that SAT prep courses “didn’t really exist up here [in Maine],” and he decided to do something to change that.
“I was really proud of [White] for taking this on,” Tappan said. “There are a lot of kids in town who don’t have the resources to pay for a Kaplan course…[MulePrep] gives them the opportunity to take advantage of a structured, well thought-out curriculum.”
MulePrep is a free SAT preparatory course for local high school students. After completing his independent study, White implemented the program last spring with the help of three Colby students who volunteered their time and expertise in each of one of the three sections of the SAT Reasoning Test: Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics. At that time, the program served 18 students from Waterville and Messalonskee High Schools. Each Sunday afternoon session consisted of three, 45-minute classes, one for each section of the test.
According to White, the structure of this year’s program will be relatively similar, but more expansive. There are currently 63 students (20 seniors, 39 juniors and four sophomores) enrolled for the fall session that began on Sunday, Sept. 9. The program will run for six more weeks, every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to the weekly three-hour course, White said, “We’re also adding college prep courses” to the program. These seminar-style courses, which will run from 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., will cover topics such as college essays, interview skills, financial aid and scholarships, what colleges look for in an application and demystifying the alphabet soup of the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests.
Six College students will be teaching for the program on campus this semester: Katie Curran ’14, Anna Caron ’13, Lizzie Woodbury ’15, Lindsey Roberts ’13, Lily Steig ’16 and Lindsay Peterson ’13.
Additional students from the College who wanted to get involved but whose schedules conflicted with the Sunday afternoon session have also generously volunteered their time as one-on-one SAT tutors.
Curran, a biology major and math and education double minor, taught the math section last year and will continue this year. “I have a lot of fun with it,” Curran said. “The work beforehand doesn’t really feel like work.”
Last spring, Curran worked with a group of 10 to 12 students. A typical session began with independent work, and followed by students would breaking into pairs or groups to work through each problem together. They would then review problems as a class. In preparation for the coming Sunday session, Curran said “[I] will go through all the problems on my own and write out an answer key.” Then, after having a friend check her work for clarity, Curran will scan the answer key into the computer and post it to the MulePrep website for students to access at any time.
Curran also developed the idea for a seminar that would address the differences between the SAT, ACT and SAT Subject Tests. She remembers from last spring how “everyone in the class was confused on what exactly the subject tests were.” Curran thought a seminar would be a good alternative to taking up class time to answer students’ questions about the other tests.
White noted enthusiastically that MulePrep is now an official program of the Colby Volunteer Center. One of his goals is to be able to purchase SAT books for the local students involved in the program. This year, the program has expanded to include students from all over the region, with 12 high schools represented thus far.
One of White’s main goals is “adding longevity” to the program, and he hopes to see it continue after he graduates in 2014.