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Answers to Your College Questions

Stefanie Weisman

Stefanie Weisman

Stefanie Weisman became the valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School in 1999 and went on to study history at Columbia University. She was awarded the Albert Asher Green Prize for having the highest GPA in her class. After working for several years in corporate America, she got her M.A. in the history of art and archaeology. She was a Craig Hugh Smyth fellow at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Around this time, Weisman developed an interest in technology and returned to Columbia to get a B.S. in computer science.


Weisman is the author of The Secrets of Top Students.

Posted by on in In the News

Do you ever wonder why some students freeze up during exams while others breeze through without breaking a sweat? In the New York Times article “Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?,” authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman say the answer may lie in your genes. Recent research on the COMT gene reveals that the gene has two variants: one that removes dopamine from the brain slowly, and another that removes it quickly. Interestingly, people who have the faster-acting enzyme tend to perform better in high-stress situations such as taking tests.

But the story doesn’t end there: students who were told that their anxiety would be beneficial to them showed improved cognitive function. And people who are acclimated to stress can improve their performance, even if they carry the so-called “worrier” gene. These studies are important because they show students that they can overcome their fear of taking tests; instead of being at the mercy of their genes, they can take steps to control their reaction to stress.

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Posted by on in In the News

In a recent New York Times op-ed piece, “How to Choose a College,” Frank Bruni discusses the question that plagues millions of high school seniors and their parents every year. The author’s basic premise is that we should look beyond traditional criteria when selecting a school. I agree with this statement, but I have mixed feelings about the criteria he suggests—for example, the percentage of students who study abroad and the number of students who are from foreign countries. While exposure to global influences is important, should these criteria matter more than, say, the percentage of applicants a school admits, or what the tuition is? Bruni also recommends that students choose a school outside of their comfort zone, to seek diversity and new experiences. This can be great advice for many young adults, but it may lead others to select a school that isn’t right for them.

What do you think?

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Posted by on in College

top resolutions for studentsIf you’re a student, chances are one of your New Year’s resolutions is getting better grades. That’s a good goal to have, but do you know how you’re going to achieve it? Here are seven easy ways to make this school year the best year ever.

1. Get physical. You may think that getting good grades is all in your head, but ignoring your body is a big mistake. Physical activity boosts blood flow to the brain and helps you stay focused in even the toughest of terms. Plan to work out at least twenty minutes a day.

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