Space X Mission Scrubbed! (And Why AP Physics C Students Should Already Know the Reasons!)

Written by Peter Alexander, Education Director, BEEC

I had cleared my early afternoon schedule, waiting on the edge of my seat. It was 1:10pm PDT. I was watching the first American manned launch attempt in about 9 years. The Dragon capsule was poised on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The first time a private company was granted the status as a potential main player in America’s space program, featured two men in fully vested space suits ready on the launch pad.

And then flatly—typical of military monotone communication, even slightly cryptic—the mission specialist reported “The 40% margin of violation has been reached and you are good for launch abort sequence.” CNN representatives then jumped in to explain.

Before we hop into the nitty gritty, let’s have a word from our sponsors:

This disappointing message–although delivered on May 27, 2020–is actually being brought to us by three of the greatest physicists in human history — Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and James Clerk Maxwell.

What a wonderful lesson they have to teach us. EVERYTHING that unfolded in those few seconds, when the decision to abort the launch was made public, can be traced back to crucial ideas students learn in AP Physics C, specifically.

Here is the play-by-play action analysis for those of you at home:

  1. A 40% margin of violation. This is the language the military uses to describe probabilities when determining if an occasion for a safe launch is compromised. Everything here is contingent upon the idea of “safe launch.”
  2. Safe launch probability. The concept of safety in normal flight is complicated. Even more issues need to be considered when “flight” includes leaving the earth’s atmosphere. Enter James Clerk Maxwell — we usually learn about him in the second semester of Physics C. He helped unify the relationship between electricity and magnetism. In the upper atmosphere there are electromagnetic fields which ebb and flow in strength due to variations in pressure and temperature. These fields can dissipate energy in the form of lightning. Physicists still are not sure of all the dynamics of upper atmospheric lightning, but we do know a bit about how to make predictions based on the weather.
  3. But the launch was from Florida! It turned out that pressure events in the atmosphere off the coast of the Carolinas was the culprit. Why should this matter? And even more basically, why do we launch spacecraft from Florida anyway? Enter Isaac Newton — we learn about him in the early part of AP Physics when we study mechanics. Newton’s theory of gravity gives us a precise account of the velocities required for the spacecraft to achieve its orbital objective. We also learn that the angular velocity of the earth is greatest near its equator. So, a launch from near the equator of the earth greatly reduces the demand on the rocket’s propulsion system to achieve these extreme velocities since, near the equator, the earth gives you the greatest “boost.”
  4. So what about the weather in the Carolinas? Again, thanks to Isaac Newton, his second law of motion describes exactly the PATH the rocket needs to take to achieve its orbital objective — in this case, we want to dock with the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION! That path can be thought of as an arc that starts in Florida and continues up along the eastern coast out into space. The spacecraft could, in principle, experience catastrophic failure leading to an “abort” in the atmosphere, throughout the duration of the rocket’s atmospheric flight. (A nice AP Physics C Mechanics Problem: Approximately where, relative to the Florida launch coordinates, will the rocket leave the upper atmosphere of the earth?) The weather off the coast of the Carolinas was well within that potential failure range. It is “uncertainties” in the stability of the electromagnetic fields which presented cause for concern. Essentially, in that area, they were afraid lightning could have hit the spacecraft.
  5. Why can’t we just wait until later this afternoon when the weather clears? I know … bummer! Why do we have to wait until Saturday at 3:22pm EDT exactly (more or less …there is a two-minute fudge factor). Enter Johannes Kepler — we learn about him too in AP Physics — Mechanics. He tells us, along with Newton, about orbital motion. The space station is in orbit around the earth. To dock with the space station, the launch vehicle must send the Dragon capsule into what is called a “transfer orbit” — that is, an orbit which will intersect the orbit of the space station. Since fuel costs are enormous constraints, we need to utilize all the help we can get from things like earth’s movement, position of launch, etc. So, when you do the math, it turns out that the next best time to try to “get along the right path” is this Saturday at 3:22pm EDT.

I hope you will be there watching with me!


Goodbye Blue Sky… And Red Right Along With It

Short Word 

I chose that phrase as the title of this note because the College Board has adopted Blue as the official color for its test materials — SAT to AP and more. 

ACT uses the color “brick red”. 

Where are they going? 

The U.C. Regents announced a 5 year plan to phase out the SAT and ACT. You can read about that here. You will have to work a bit harder to unpack what this all really means. Let’s walk through it together: 


The language they are using is very important. It is chosen to shape a kind of direction that the campus officials in the U.C. System are going to be required to follow — or find work elsewhere.  

Phase out: This means over the next 5 years ACT and SAT scores will be given the following considerations as admissions factors: 

  • This year and next — optional 
  • 2022-2024 scores for in-state applicants not relevant 
  • 2022-2024 scores accepted for scholarship considerations, course placement and assessment of out-of-state students. 
  • 2025 scores on SAT or ACT will be eliminated.  

Feasibility Study: During the next 5 years, the University of California will conduct research on the feasibility of creating its own admissions test. Such a test will attempt to eliminate the perceived cultural and economic biases of the current tests. If the results of this study do not yield an adequate test at the end of the 5 year period, the consensus now seems to be that the admissions committees will continue to “remain blind” to scores submitted after 2025.  

What they specifically mean by “remain blind” has not been clarified in sufficient detail to serve as a ground for any reliable plan. What experience shows is that “some form” of stop gap measure will certainly be suggested. These details we will consider next. 


California has been a genuine trail blazer in countless ways throughout history. From the Gold in the Hills to the Gold of Silicon Valley, California has often led the United States, if not the World in innovations. The U.C. Regents decision to “phase out” SAT and ACT scores represents what may be to the history of American education, what the minor “foreshocks” on the Hayward fault may be to California’s own volatile seismic history — a harbinger of doom.  

We can push the analogy a bit further however. Even if a serious seismic event does occur, that does not mean the end of seismic events in California. In the same way, say the event in California education spawns a crushing blow to SAT and ACT adherents nation — if not world — wide, it does not mean the end of educational testing. While “foreshocks” in Hayward might mean an end to life as we know it in Hayward, it does not mean the end of Hayward. You might as well say that an earthquake in California spells doom for California — hardly! 

And so is the case here. Now let’s examine what this really means: 


We suggest the following concerns to be aware of — in order of importance: 

  1. Do NOT abandon practice for standardized testing 
    • Before there was a College Board or the ACT, there were individual tests, given by each local college or university, which were used to help those schools determine which students were academically ready for the particular demands of THAT institution.  
    • This move on the U.C. Regents part simply represents a move back toward that kind of “local” evaluation of applicants. 
    • There will be some form of admissions requirements, some way for ANY worthwhile college or university to evaluate students 
  2. Do GET Exceedingly General! 
    • Gone may be the days of SAT and ACT, but COMMON CORE is here to stay! 
    • Inside sources indicate that the general trend is that state sponsored standardsbased exams will become more important indicators of student college readiness.  
    • Instead of SAT and ACT being in charge of what this means, now the States will be increasingly relied upon to deliver a reliable “readiness” measure through their own testing systems.  
  3. Do be happy about these developments 
    • The SAT and ACT are essentially private institutions. They are not regulated nor subject to government standards. They never publish their data and continuously refuse outside review processes for their conclusions.  
    • The replacement of SAT and ACT testing by state sponsored tests which are available for public review, will enter an enormously longawaited sense of fairness in all areas. 
  4. Do still practice demonstrating that you have what is required of the institution you are interested in attending — this will never go away. 

In short, stay safe, stay studying, and don’t forget to stay sane! As much as things are changing, the principles of what make a student great remain the same. Of course if you want to talk to a BEEC Education Consultant about these changes or any other education needs, we are always here and can be contacted here. 

Beyond STEAM: Computer Literacy and Your Future (WEBINAR)

BEEC’s webinar from May 15 has Director of Education Peter Alexander and COO Jonathan Ginsberg discussing some of the ways computer literacy affects us. Topics include:

  • What is computer literacy and why is it important?
  • Isn’t this computer science?
  • Computer Literacy and the classroom: are you in trouble?
  • How to be a tech whiz and computationally illiterate.
  • Knowing the problem, what’s the solution?

A computer literate person is not afraid of computers, knows how to use the internet, knows the limits of computer solutions, and can think and speak algorithmically. Algorithms, according to Alexander, are “the art of procedural knowledge.” Formally, algorithms can be defined as a set of clearly defined instructions to perform a specific task. This is closely related to the idea of functions in mathematics.

A formal definition of computer literacy is a commanding power of language which equips us with the capacity for analogical reasoning, procedural explication, temperate evaluation, and ordinate judgement. In contrast, the computationally illiterate are stuck in a language rut; that is, they can’t communicate their needs and knowledge. Furthermore, they are often easily impressed with useless gizmos and easy prey for tricksters.

The computationally literate and illiterate respond to problems differently. This table is a good visual representation of the differing responses:

Orientation Toward Computationally Literate Computationally Illiterate
Product Failure Typical Crisis
Product Promise Skeptical Salvation
UX Failure Designer’s Issue My Fault

Generally, those who are computationally illiterate have contempt for creativity, complexity, and caution, and they are impressed by image, intelligence, and imprudence. On the other hand, those who are computationally literate collaborate with creativity, complexity, and caution, and they ignore image, intelligence, imprudence.

Contrary to what some may believe, computer literacy is not necessarily taken care of in a good computer science program. Computer science is merely an aspect of computer literacy, and it may not even be a required one given that computer literacy can and does exist without computer science knowledge.

In schools, computer literacy is taught at a marginal level through computer skills. These skills create a false sense of computer literacy because students can rarely connect what they are learning to larger issues and questions. In this way, Common Core fails to develop computationally literate students.

All is not lost, however, because there are options for students who wish to become computationally literate. Some options include information technology mentorship and coaching, application-specific support decks, application-specific user groups, information technology and applications software consulting, and friends in similar situations.

For information on how BEEC can help you with computer literacy, contact us here.

BEEC Webinar: U.S. High School Competition Mathematics

On May 1, 2020, BEEC’s COO Jonathan Ginsberg and Director of Education Peter Alexander chatted about U.S. high school competition mathematics. Here is a brief overview of what was discussed.

Competition mathematics is a good option for students to consider because it can provide a well-organized framework and context for learning and practicing problem solving. These skills are integral to the study of math but are also transferable to other area such as science, technology, engineering, and even law.

Some well-known competitions in the U.S. are Caribou (grades 1-12), Kangaroo Math (grades 1-12), Math Counts (grades 6-8), and the American Mathematical Competition aka AMC. The AMC was the focus of this discussion. It broken into three tests: AMC 8, 10, & 12. If students do well on the AMC 10 or 12, they may be invited to the AIME; if students do well on the AIME, they may be invited to the Harvard/MIT competition, which is the most prestigious math competition in the world.

To do well in these competitions, students must first learn to reason, or problem-solve. BEEC can teach this. Briefly, the road to reasoning looks a bit like this: start with the language, abstract from concrete examples, and generalize and apply. Oftentimes in competition-type problems, “advanced knowledge” is useless where “problem-solving” is priceless.

AMC 8 contains middle-to-hard problems in geometry, pre-algebra, and algebra. AMC 10 & 12 contain more difficult questions, and they are qualifying tests for the American Invitation Mathematics Exams aka AIME. Students may be interested in AIME because doing well is correlated with high performance on SAT and AP Exams, a signal to STEM programs that a student is a superior math student and problem solver, and good way to set oneself apart from other students.

The AMC 10 & AMC 12 each contain 25 questions broken up as follows: 15 core problems at 6 points each and a final set of 10 questions at 8 points each. The last 10 are the most challenging questions; a good goal for this section of the exam is to answer at least 3 questions correctly. Questions left blank still receive 1.5 points, so being strategic helps! If students get all 15 core problems correct and only 3 of the 10 from the challenging section, they will obtain scores that merit an invite to AIME.

A good study plan for these tests cannot be found in school, so students must look elsewhere. A good place to start is the Mathematical Association of America, which has resources for the AMC 8, 10 & 12. Generally, though, a good program must address number theory, geometry, probability, combinatorics, and algebra and functions. It must also focus on constructive methods for problems solving and should include practice problems from real tests. Finally, a good program will have trainers ready at hand. The good news is that you don’t have to look far for a program that encompasses all these components; BEEC’s own program has all you need to succeed!

For more information on how BEEC can help you with competition mathematics, contact us at for a free consultation.

COVID-19 and college admissions: seminar recap

The campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, after the school moved to online classes for the rest of the semester. Credit: Sarah Rice for The New York Times

On Friday, April 24, BEEC Education’s Jonathan Ginsberg (President), Jesse Mosqueda (Senior Education Consultant), and Julie Zhu (Associate Consultant), held a seminar addressing how COVID-19 is affecting college admissions. The full seminar can be viewed on YouTube at this link.

COVID-19 has affected admissions in three main areas: testing requirements, grade requirements, and procedural changes. In the area of testing requirements, schools have adjusted their policies because of postponements or cancellations of both the SAT and the ACT. As of the filming of the seminar, the SAT is cancelled through June, and the ACT is cancelled through May. The SAT will resume in-person testing in September; the ACT will resume testing in June. However, because of the fluidity of the crisis we are facing, both exams are exploring online options in the event in-person testing continues to be unviable.

AP testing has also undergone some changes. Significantly, the test has gone entirely online. Each exam will be 45 minutes long and will comprise short-answer-style questions in which students will write out their answers. Students will take the exams at home and submit their responses electronically by either uploading typed responses or taking photos of handwritten work. These tests are open book and open note, and they will only cover material through March 2020. The exams will be conducted from May 11-22.

Testing policy changes vary from school to school, so students are advised to check each school’s updated policies or get in touch with their admissions office. While some schools have gone test optional, meaning students are not required to submit SAT/ACT scores, the more selective ones have kept these exams as requirements for admissions. Students applying to test-optional schools and who can do well on SAT/ACT should take the tests in whatever format available to them. Remember, test optional is an accommodation not a suggestion, so use this policy to your benefit if you test well.

COVID-19 will likely change the importance of certain aspects of the application. Because testing and grade reporting have introduced uncertainty and instability into the application itself, the essay will certainly carry more weight than in previous years. Will this change your chances of being accepted? We won’t know until after the application season is over and students get their acceptance letters, but changes in the application and how certain parts of it are weighted could benefit students in unforeseen ways given that schools double down on their holistic/whole-person review process.

Finally, even though most summer programs and have been cancelled and many extracurricular activities have become untenable, students have many options available to them. For example, students can conduct a structured research project, do an online internship, take an online course, prepare for standardized tests, or learn a new language. Students can also take advantage of BEEC’s own programs such as the professor research program or an internship opportunity with a local mayor. BEEC can also work with students to come up with a unique program that will demonstrate your skills and intelligence to colleges and universities.

For information about BEEC-sponsored programs, please schedule a free consultation here.  You can also email us at for general questions about the seminar or other questions you have about COVID-19 and admissions. We look forward to hearing from you!

A brief discussion on intelligence enrichment

BEEC’s Director of Education Peter Alexander joins BEEC’s COO Jonathan Ginsberg for a discussion about problem solving, language, and intelligence. They approach this topic through four concepts: types of intelligence, types of learning, the role of language in problem solving, and the problem-solving process.

According to Alexander, intelligence can be crystalline or fluid. Crystalline intelligence is also known as “fixed” intelligence and is characterized by facts and rules. Fluid intelligence is not fixed and is what allows for ideas, insights, and decision-making. These types of intelligence interact with each other, but they use different kinds of memory. Crystalline intelligence uses long-term memory while fluid intelligence uses short-term memory.

Different types of learning are needed for each type of intelligence. Crystalline intelligence requires memorization and fluid intelligence requires “brain-stretching” tasks. Enrichment training at BEEC breaks these brain-stretching tasks into the categories of software applications, one-on-one coaching, and portfolio projects.

Enrichment training also emphasizes the importance of language to knowledge. As Alexander puts it, language is the only way to knowledge. For example, knowing the correct answer to a problem is not knowledge; being able to explain why you know that is the correct answer is knowledge.

The problem-solving process itself is heavily reliant on language. The process is four steps: a problem is stated, information is considered, conclusions are drawn, and a solution is provided. This process can’t happen without the use of language.

For more information, watch the full discussion on YouTube ( If you have any questions on how BEEC can help you increase your intelligence, email us at We look forward to hearing from you!

The BEEC Competitive Advantage

This post was written by BEEC’s Director of Education Peter Alexander.

Let’s just admit it, “test prep/tutoring” is a “gig” for most of the people who are involved in this business — Uber for education. Many are in this just for a short-term survival paycheck. They have to maximize their returns by taking as many opportunities as possible. When a frustrated parent dumped test prep/tutoring company A for a self-believed “better” company B, he or she may be surprised to meet the same Mr. or Mrs. Johnson at company B’s doorstep again. Yes, Johnson is the face behind many businesses in this industry. He is hardly signed on for work with just one company. Did Johnson ever care about this “gig”?

Yes, often at the beginning of their careers in this industry, when they naively believed this work would get them somewhere or make them into something, these “Uber-educators” were filled with glowing aspirations for what they might be able to do for kids. But the bubble of career development or adequate returns quickly bursts. This “gig” turns into a means of surviving — filled with hectic schedules and mechanical repetitions of test-only information. Johnsons and alike face stressed out students everyday who most likely have little or no motivation to do “test-prep” either. None of these things really motivate a person to engage in what they do. Sadly, this is the situation for most of the test prep industry today.

Now enter the world of COVID-19. Now everyone can be an “online educator” — really? With the same carelessness anyone with a driver’s license can join Uber, it seems anyone with a Zoom connection can be a teacher. While the healthcare industry is greatly simplifying their hiring procedures, it seems the online education world has all but abandoned screening processes to maximally profit from these terrible recent developments. . Regardless of the qualifications of the many gig education companies out there, the facts remain:

The College Board is still offering the SAT.
ACT is still planning for a vibrant summer of testing.
The TOEFL is still required for major colleges and universities.

Yet, we might wonder: are tests, such as SAT and ACT, still relevant anymore? Maybe they will quickly drop out of the equation of college admissions, as some hope — especially now. And at the same time, more and more colleges offer test-optional or test-free policies now. Research showed that SAT/ACT test scores are not good indicators of future performance. And SAT/ACT can create social inequality in college admissions.

Be that as it may, tests are developed to standardize the measurement of learning, although their effectiveness in doing so is a matter of considerable debate. National tests are not unique to the US only, many other countries use a standard test for college admissions. It is a way to standardize evaluations; with one test, across the nation using some quantifiable, comparable and comprehensible results, it is thought that people can be categorized. Simply put, it is thought that human beings can easily be compared based on sets of unidimensional sets of numbers derived from standardized tests.

But we all know life does not quite work like that. Comparing things that stretch across more than simple numbers can be very challenging. For instance, picking a wedding date is not only about a person’s height; choosing a car involves much more than just its price. The unidimensional nature of tests greatly abstracts from a rich set of summary data, only that which can be quickly ordered. This “simplification effect” provided by test scores surely sacrifices completeness for the sake of efficiency.

However, efficiency is an issue when there are large numbers of individuals striving for a few number of positions. Until the human race finds an alternative that better balances completeness and efficiency, tests as a tool of measurement will still have their place at least in the near future. No doubt, test content will be regularly revised and adjusted to mitigate as many foreseeable misrepresentations in the attempt to be as fair as possible. But being so deeply rooted in “the ways” of our society, where the “benefits” for admissions officers are still generally thought to outweigh the “risks”, it seems unlikely that we will see standardized testing eradicated from admissions procedures any time soon.

The test optional or test free policies are designed to tackle our social inequality issues. Without getting into their effectiveness and all the conspiracy theories of the intentions, a large portion, if not the majority, of this country’s students will live with the need to take these tests. A student without economic difficulty or reasonable personal hardships will NOT genuinely have the freedom to simply opt out of these tests. And so, the test-prep industry will remain relevant for the majority of us. Some core questions about this industry remain unanswered for students, parents and all practitioners: why students seek test prep industry solutions? What values does this industry support and how can we best demonstrate these values? Let’s start with the first one: Why do students seek external help for test-prep?

Three big reasons:

1. Accountability — Standardized tests are not trivial. For example, an SAT score of 500 in English and 550 in Math is considered equivalent to a passing score on the California Basic Skills Test (CBEST) — a required designation for all California credentialed teachers. The passing rate for the (CBEST) is typically less than 71%. This means that after four years of college, almost a third of aspiring teachers in California can’t even score higher than 1050 on the SAT! If these are the conditions for teachers, how much more must high school students need the training and accountability of outside help to prepare to do well on these tests. However, it is not an unreasonable criticism to point out that a significant portion of licensed teachers are not qualified to help students succeed on these tests.

Especially now, given the current circumstances of COVID-19, the online “education” space is flooded with well meaning individuals who may genuinely want to help students excel in these tests — and yet are in FACT miserably unqualified for such a task.

2. Competitive Advantage — Typical K-12 public education focuses on the Common Core standards as measures of student academic readiness. These basic skills really are the irreducible minimum for which students should be held responsible. However, for students interested in competitive career paths such as law, finance, medicine, engineering etc., their academic capacity must extend as far beyond the “common core” as Shakespeare extends beyond sentences, or calculus beyond counting.

3. Academic Support — Public schools especially, but private schools as well, often have a difficult time addressing the specific concerns of large groups of students. Many thoughtful students are left feeling that their preparation is incomplete. These students especially benefit from having experts they can rely on to not only “fill in the gaps,” but also extend their subject knowledge toward mastery. This is what we at BEEC mean by genuine academic support. Of course we answer student questions, but we go beyond that. We teach our students to correctly assess their own mastery of a subject, and prioritize information.

What values shall this industry really provide? We would summarize with one key word — “learning”. Test prep or tutoring are simply continuations of school or at home learning. It is the opportunity for students to demonstrate skills and knowledge in a kind of simulation of what test writers call “real world” contexts. Tests are motivators for students to learn. In the same way that athletes use performance metrics to boost their efficiency, academic performance is strengthened by mastery of materials on widely accepted standardized tests. They are designed to assess a student’s understanding of his knowledge in vocabulary, quantitative methods, reading, and writing etc. With these fundamental skills, students are prepared to continue their studies in colleges, enter the society and pave their own paths.

While a core value of this industry is to help students maximize their performance, we shouldn’t lose sight of our roles in encouraging and motivating them to learn. It is important not to derail a student from his learning path and mislead them by giving them the impression that a high test score is all that matters. As discussed previously, test-prep instructors further teach students more skills through applications and facilitate a deeper level of understanding that one can’t obtain without practicing.

It has been said that the lazy person always works the hardest. The reason is this: Lazy students simply want to get by. When the time comes for them to really show some substantial reason for why they are useful or worthy of good standing, they will have to work extremely hard to cover for the time they wasted on idle distractions.

In contrast, the diligent person has already been practicing and using knowledge and information useful to themselves and society. When they are called upon to demonstrate what they know, there is no great effort that is needed. They simply express themselves for who they have become as diligent students and practitioners of their craft.

It is this latter kind of student that we seek to develop. It is these kinds of values that we seek to promote. It is for this reason that we have tried to outline some areas of the “test prep” industry which are exceedingly inadequate. But how can the industry better deliver its values?

One core issue we have identified is that there is a mismatch between the importance of tests in our children’s lives and the meager dedication of practicing personnel in this industry. Let’ start with a story. Several years ago, I was purchasing the latest “innovations” in some popular test prep books at Barnes and Noble. The cashier looked at my intended “stow” and commented “I tried to get a job teaching this — just the math — but they would not let me until I scored 770 or better — it did not matter to them that I have my master’s in electrical engineering from Stanford.” Apparently, an advanced degree from a prestigious institution did not help this older fellow much to demonstrate mastery of the SAT mathematics sections— even after he got some “practice” with review books. Indeed, I wonder how many math professors at U.C. Berkeley would score above 770 on the math section if they tried without preparing. The industry screens instructors by unidimensional criteria, SAT score, without much consideration of other aspects. The most troubling point here is that the cashier with years of experiences in practicing quantitative skills and a sincere intention to teach math was denied the opportunity.

In the same way college admissions consultants need to take seriously the demands of their craft, a good test-prep firm must value things that are critical, novel and useful for the development of character-focused success. As such, they must also create an environment that is staffed by holistically oriented professional instructors. These kinds of instructors are career path members of a flourishing educational community — not gig performers for hire. As such their compensation is commensurate with their status and expertise. A positive reinforcement cycle instills meaning into their work, which in turn motivates them to better help our children. Meaning will transcend test-prep and make learning a real possibility through a firm’s contribution to the test-prep industry as those who teach our children to refocus on education from a holistic perspective.

Our instructors have the chance to help our kids think more about what they need to learn, who they may want to be, and how they can develop themselves. As parents, we will get the most out of this holistic “angel” if the test-prep industry can be changed. This is not a business plan, but more a critical analysis of the industry that shall guide how we will conduct ourselves in test-prep and tutoring. In closing this discussion, we want to say that all these issues we discussed above are the very reasons why we believe BEEC must address these issues as a provider of services within this industry. As President Obama chanted in his campaign: “Change we can believe in”, we also desire to bring about meaningful, useful and respectable changes in this industry which we all can indeed believe in. Yes, with all the preparation and thoughts we put into our service design, we believe that — “Yes, we can”.

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about our test prep/tutoring services, fill out our contact form or set up an consultation here.

BEEC’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Here you will find information on how COVID-19 is affecting schools, admissions, learning, testing, academic policies, summer programs, and extracurricular activities. It will be updated frequently, so return to this page frequently for news and updates.

College and university COVID-19 info pages

The COVID-19 crisis is a rapidly evolving situation. Like everyone else, colleges and universities can barely keep up: decisions are made almost daily about cancellations, campus restrictions, and changes in policy. To address this, schools have created COVID-19 resource pages to publish updates, answer questions, and ease anxiety. Because schools are making decisions individually and on their own timeline, the best way to find out a current schools policies is to visit its COVID-19 page. On these pages you’ll find information regarding changes in courses, grading, admissions, summer programs, and campus resources, or you will find links directing you to pages that will address these. (However, if you’re looking for information about school visits, which have all gone virtual, you can head directly to Virtual Admissions Events, which is an aggregated list sent to all NACAC members including BEEC.) Ultimately, the COVID-19 info pages are invaluable resources in this time of uncertainty, and I would recommend using them if you have any questions about a how a specific school is responding to the crisis.

Here is a list of the top 50 colleges and universities along with links to their COVID-19 info pages:

College/University COVID-19 Info Page
Notre Dame
Washington (St. Louis)
UC Berkeley
Carnegie Mellon
Wake Forest
Georgia Tech
UNC Chapel Hill
UC Santa Barbara
UC Irvine
Boston College
UC San Diego
UC Davis
Case Western Reserve
William and Mary
Urbana Champaign

For more information on COVID-19, see BEEC’s COVID-19 Information Hub.

A Conversation with Tim Ravey, UC Berkeley Admissions 

Last Friday, BEEC’s very own Jonathan Ginsberg sat down with Tim Ravey from the UC Berkeley Admissions Office to discuss admissions topics both general and specific. The video of this conversation can be found on BEEC’s YouTube page, but you can also get to it directly by following this link 

The conversation begins with a discussion about how admissions will be affected by COVID-19, specifically about what parents can expect this application season and how it will be different from others. According to Ravey, quarantine will affect the processes of admissions but not the spirit. For one, there will be no delay in the admissions cycle: timelines will continue as normal. However, because of the current crisis, if and when a student faces an obstacle to meeting certain admissions requirements, the student will get the benefit of the doubtRavey insists that certain items will be waived if necessary, and he assures applicants that their preparation was not for waste. 

Regarding applications procedures, Ravey informs applicants that colleges will inform them of any changes and cancellations as soon as possible. Until they do, applications should prepare the same way they would under normal circumstances. All other high school students should remain calm and carry on as well, for schools will give the benefit of the doubt to the applicant in a situation like the one we find ourselves in right now. Remember, any changes that occur will apply to everybody. 

Seniors should expect that things could be different when they start college next fall. For example, it is possible that a quarantine in some form will still be in effect. This could change policy and procedure for many things including courses, which may be conducted online for a time. Ravey reminds students that they can defer enrollment if these changes are disagreeable or too much to handle. Schools will understand, he says, but cautions that schools can only defer so many students. 

When asked how students should spend their time during quarantine, Ravey responded with a question admissions officers might ask themselves when reading an application: what did the student accomplish with the resources available to them? More to the point, Ravey suggests students should use their environment to reveal their maturity and demonstrate that they are self-starters and go-getters. 

On a more general note, Ravey reminds students that, beyond academic achievement, admissions committees want to see that they demonstrate leadership potential and are generous with their time and talent. Students should show their strengths! It is no different for international applicants, either, who will be evaluated in the same way domestic applicants are—that is, based on the curriculum available to them wherever they went to school. At the end of the day, context matters, so students need to tell their stories if they want to increase their chances at standing out.