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Top Tutor Podcast

What can high schoolers do to prepare for college? Nathaniel and Alex discuss hacks for getting ahead and preparing for a much more rigorous academic environment. But are they really hacks, or just life skills they wish all teenagers would develop?

Show Notes

For questions or comments, please email We look forward to hearing from you, and would love to answer your question on the show.

For more information, visit:
Nathaniel's agency, Grove Prep, at
Alex's agency, Brooklyn Math Tutors, at

Nathaniel Dolquist, Yale ’15, has tutored full-time in New York City and Los Angeles since 2015. His students range from 7-33, and he is always delighted to make connections with new families. He’s a standardized test pro, and his students have emerged victorious from the ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, ACT, SAT, AP exams, as well as increased in-class test scores with his help and guidance. Every one of his standardized test students, whether they’re applying to high school or college, has gotten into at least one of their top three schools.

When students work with Nathaniel to apply to high school or college, he helps them craft essays that are authentic, powerful, and effective. He teaches them how to level up from formal academic writing and tell their story in a personal, persuasive way. It is his favorite subject to tutor, and he derives great joy from seeing the work his students create.

Nathaniel has also tutored all levels of math, science, history, and English from elementary to high school: students often stick with him for years. His training in executive functioning has also helped his students with learning disabilities, including ADHD and dyslexia. He is fluent in Spanish and also speaks French, Italian, and some German. As a performer he has traveled to over 50 countries, and he has lived abroad in Ireland, the UK, Italy, Germany, and South America.

Alexander Friedman has enjoyed tutoring math, science, and other technical topics since he was a teenager at Stuyvesant High School. He is the CEO of Brooklyn Math Tutors in Brooklyn, NY, and helps families throughout the New York City area. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northeastern University, worked as a Researcher at Carnegie Mellon, and did a brief stint as a technology consultant before leaving the corporate and academic worlds to tutor full time.

Having worked with kids, adults, and everyone in between, he came to see that math-phobia, uncertainty, and boredom – not a lack of innate talent – keeps most students from succeeding.

What is Top Tutor Podcast?

Private educators share insider information from the world of elite tutoring to help students get the best results both academically… and in life.

Hello and welcome to the Top Tutor podcast, where we share insider information from the

world of elite tutoring to help your students get the best results both academically and

in life.

I'm your host, Nathaniel Dahlquist, the owner and head tutor at Grove Prep.

I've been a tutor since I graduated from Yale in 2015 and focused primarily on standardized

test prep and college admissions.

Joining me is my co-host, Alexander Friedman.

Alex worked as a software engineer and a university researcher before founding Brooklyn Math Tutors

in New York City in 2008.

Hi, Alex.


What are we going to talk about today?

Today, we're going to talk about what you as a high school student can do while in high

school to get ready for college that when you show up, you don't spend the first one

or two semesters essentially making a fool of yourself.

And we're going to talk specifically mostly about the skills you should have that will

make you, I suppose we could say more college ready.

Yes, indeed.

And one of the reasons we wanted to talk about this is because some of my college essay students

or my college application students have started to get in to their colleges this year.

And they're like, wait, Nathaniel, what do I do to get ready?

Oh, oh no, I only have a semester left.

I'm like, calm down.

You're going to be fine.

Everything's going to be okay.

Going to be fine.

So we wanted to kind of bring you guys some information on this.

And if you are not a high schooler, which I know many of our listeners are not, hopefully

you can use these types of things to help high schoolers that may be your children or

perhaps that you know.

So amazing.

We're going to kind of go subject by subject here because Alex and I have a lot of opinions

on many different subjects as you can tell.

I'm going to have Alex start here.

I'm going to ask him, so Alex, what are some good high school hacks for writing, getting

better at writing?

Actually, I'm the wrong person to ask.

I'm a terrible writer.

I spent all of my high school and most of my college life having no idea how to write.

I didn't learn to write until I was in my like late twenties.

So let's ask you instead, what should people do to get good at writing?


I volunteer.

I always recommend that my students throughout high school get very, very adept at is the

standard five paragraph essay.

Now here's the thing, that five paragraph essay is not going to be super useful in college

because a five to 10 page paper is not five paragraphs.

It's far more.

However, that format is really useful for organizing thoughts and being like, this is

my point.

Here's my support.

This is my conclusion and that format you will use in college.

So like I really, really recommend that students get quite good at that and then be ready to

break it in college because they will have to write much longer papers than that.

So that's a really good first one.

Another one is to proofread your friend's essays.

Get very, very good at looking at other people's writing and saying, Hey, not just grammar,

Hey, you needed a comma here or you misspelled this word or whatever, but also the way that

your friends are articulating their ideas because being exposed to people thinking about

the same subject as you, but in slightly different ways can help you like see some different

trains of thought or give you insights that you may not have thought of before.

So that's always a big recommendation of mine as well.

Um, I have to say that I've read some college students' papers and it's very clear when

people haven't mastered this, like they'll write essays that have no thesis and no support.

And they're just kind of like babbling on and on with like less coherence than perhaps

like an impromptu conversation like this one.

And these are, these folks have went to like fancy high schools and are in good colleges.

So don't think that just cause you got accepted, you know how to write.

You may have missed it.

Even if you have a great college essay, writing persuasive essays is hard and you should

learn how to do it.

Absolutely true.

And also what my high schoolers hate to discover is that in college, the papers are more of

their longterm projects more than they are just like do a 45 minute timed right in class.

So one of the things you have to get really good at is this phase or these phases of like

first you research.

Then you think of a topic or an idea, or you can switch those whichever, but like research

figuring out what you actually want to write about, collecting quotes and sources and books

from things that are going to help you then structuring your idea and TAs and tutors and

other people can really help you figure those types of things out and then outlining, making

sure you know everything that you're going to say so that you get from your beginning

point to your end point and then fleshing all of that out and then doing the actual


And my students are always like 10 pages, I'll never make it.

And I'm like, well, let's research first.

And you might be surprised on how long a paper on like pollution in China can be that people

write dissertations and books on this stuff.

You're going to be fine writing a 10 page paper on like broad subjects like pollution

in China.

The trouble there is actually narrowing it down enough.


Should we move on to math?

I have some opinions on math.

Let's do it.

You go, you go first on math.


So one of the things that happens in college if you end up taking any, any real math courses

is I think you get less and less handholding and it's less and less obvious what you have

to do.

So in high school, like you're taught like one specific skill, then you're given like

a million practice problems and you taught the next skill and a million practice problems.

And then in college, if you are in an engineering course or a math course or a computer science

course, you're going to be given problems where it just isn't clear what has to happen.

And it's like, you know, at this point, if you're in high school, you're thinking about

maybe the SAT or you just took it and the SAT is the kind of thing where you practice

it and you could solve every problem in under a minute.

Like it's the, it's the nature of these problems, even the hardest problems with a little bit

of practice, you can solve them.

And that stops in college.

You will have problems where you're just going to sit and look at it and not have any clue

where to begin.

And that's normal.

That's like what life is really like.

It's not that people won't always give you like a problem that has immediate answers.

And so you will have to develop a sort of grit and patience, just like you're mentioning

with writing to sit there and think and try stuff that will fail and then try other stuff.

Question is, how do you develop that in high school?

Like one thing I've seen people do is like, if you're in a math team, those people have

no problems with college level math.

Do you have any suggestions?

Oh man.

Honestly, while you were talking about that, I was like, oh man, that's why I struggled

so much in Yale math classes.

Like I was top of my class in math at high school and got fives on my AP, both of my

AP calculus exams.

And the second I took a math class at Yale, I was like, when did I get so stupid?

Like when did this happen?

I just, I must've lost it overnight or something, but it's because it was a totally different


It wasn't, here's the thing you need to know, here are a hundred practice problems.

Here's the test.

It's much more about thinking through those things.

So my hacks or suggestions for that, one of them is learning how to collaborate without


So this is really important and it's kind of hard to do on math, but the good news is

that in high school there's usually one correct answer.

And so if you don't know, usually everybody's going for the same answer and like you will

be able to arrive there and maybe check it somehow, either with the back of the book

or talking to your teacher or whatever, but learning how to collaborate on problems like

that will help you figure out how to do them in college because you're going to, you might

have to, you might need many brains, especially when you're starting out to like figure out

how to do some of these really tough problems.

One other idea for people who really want to get ahead is start offering free tutoring

to your classmates.

Like if you think you understand something, try teaching it and you'll see it.

You don't understand it at such a deep level.

I did this in a bunch of classes cause you know, I was good at a few things and terrible

many others, but I would help people with math that I help people with, believe it or

not, like drafting once it became a computer and that really helped me like understand

things in a deeper level.

And that same skill will be incredibly valuable to you in college because as you mentioned,

when we do this collaboration, like you may solve something and then you have to explain

it to your classmate, maybe in a different way and you'll be like, okay, do I really

understand what I just did?

And you'll find sometimes you didn't, you just kind of winged it.

Yeah, that's true.

Teaching is a really amazing way to test your actual understanding of the subjects, which

is why I make all of my students teach me how to do problems and like show me how you

did that.

Teach it to me like I've never seen it before.

And when they get it, man, they, they really have it then.

What about hacks for time management?

I can give a really negative hack for time management.

This is not going to be like what people want to hear.

But depending on what your goals are, like you should think about what your meta goals

are in college.

Like, do you want to get all A's?

And is it worth it?

Like how much more effort is it to get all A's versus getting all A minuses?

It may be like three times more effort.

So one thing that happened to me is I would get stuck on specific projects, usually things

I liked, and I would spend disproportionate amount of times on them, disproportionate amount

of time.

Excuse me.

See, English is not one of those subjects.

And like, forget other things.

So maybe let's say you love computer science.

You probably don't.

But I did.

And so I'd spend all this time computer science be like, oh, oh, I ran out of time for my

English, for my math, for my history.

Don't do that.

If you're going too far in one area, stop and say, this is good enough.

This is good enough.

It may not be perfect, but it's good enough.

My hack for this is you got to learn how to use a planner or a study schedule or at least

a GCAL because one of the things that happened certainly in the Ivy leagues when I was there

is that people were scheduled.

I mean, just blocked like sun up to sundown, waking up to going to sleep.

People had these, these schedules that kept them in line as it were.

And one of the things that was really interesting about that is if they assigned themselves

45 minutes to work on an assignment, that's all they got because they had, they had a

meeting starting right after that.

So that's quite a lot like we could have a whole other podcast about the unhealthy

manifestations of that because there certainly were some over scheduling is not good for


But learning to set a study schedule in high school is really important.

Like when I have my test prep students, one of the things that I have them do is I'm like,

look, I know this is additional homework.

I know that you're working really hard at this really tough school to like do well,

but you have to do this homework to get better.

I can teach you once a week.

That's fine.

But when is your study time for this?

You know, it's going to take you this long.

It gets really easy when we're just running practice sections.

And I'm like, well, the ACT math section is 60 minutes.

So you're going to need 62 minutes, one minute or two minutes to grab your calculator and

then 60 minutes to just do it.

And that's actually really valuable skill.

A lot of people are not super great at that.

And it really helps in college to make sure that you're getting everything done that you

need to get done.

I was actually going to say, what if you're just not a structured organized person?

Like what if you're a little sloppy by nature?

What if you don't like having a schedule?

What do you do then?

Oh, man.

That's really tough because like my entire life is based on discipline.

My whole life is like I need to do this and then this and then this and the greater part

of my energy needs to be for this today.

And then it's going to be for this because these are my priorities and this is the order

I need to do them in so that I can accomplish the things I need to accomplish.

So I don't know if I have a great answer for that.

I try so hard to like teach good study habits and like good time management to my students.

And to me, good time management means like having a calendar and not missing your appointments

and doing what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it and keeping

your word.

So I don't know.

Do you have tips for people who especially parents with kids who just like never seem

to show up on time or like are annoying or miss their carpools?

I think one of the things that helps people like that because I'm a person like that.

People think, oh, hey, you have a business.

You must be really organized.

Like that is completely false.

I am not particularly organized.

I do keep my word and I think that that's different from being an organized, structured


I actually very much envy people who can set a schedule and then follow it.

But the tips for parents would be to make sure that they are motivated to do whatever

it is that you think they should be doing.

Because if the motivation is yours but not theirs, it's very hard.

Like some people are like, all right, I've been given this task.

I know how to do it and I'm going to organize myself and I'm going to do it.

And other people are like, I don't know why I'm doing this.

I don't want to do this.

I'm not going to do it and I'm going to find every excuse and means to wiggle my way out

of it.

And that's, I think, just natural human behavior.

If we don't want to do something, we want to conserve our energy.

So in terms of preparing for college, if you're not organized, here's one thing I would recommend.

Let's give it another negative.

At least have the willpower to cut out distractions.

So if you procrastinate, that's fine.

But one of the things you will find yourself doing when you procrastinate is you're going

to do something else.

Like I used to play video games or like you got to go hang out with your friends or whatever

it is you want to do.

So fine.

Let's say you have a natural proclivity to like put things off.

No problem.

Put it off.

But don't do anything else.

Like you're going to find that if you sit there in the room and you don't have like,

throw away your phone, give it to your roommate or your teacher or someone who cares about

you, delete your fortnight, sign up, whatever you have to do, remove all negative options

from yourself so that if you're not going to do your work, you don't have anything else

to fall back on.

You don't have anywhere else to escape to.

Right from that, I truly don't know because I think it's hard to become a very organized

person if you start out as a very disorganized person.

Yeah, it is hard.

Also, I challenge you to make a podcast with me about the relative merits of procrastination

or lack thereof.



Add it to our list.

Yeah, we're going to do it sometime.

What are some other things that you have hacks for from going from high school to college?

Well, I guess next one we're going to discuss is arguing.

This is arguing used to be one of my favorite things to do in high school because I was

brought up in an argumentative Jewish family where people would just get into each other's


If you're in a high school, unless you happen to go to some kind of specialized high school

where you are around lots of different people, you're probably at a high school where most

people are kind of in the same social circle as you, like maybe they all live in the same


I'm not going to say everyone's the same, but when you go to college, you're going

to meet people that are so radically different from everyone you know and from you and from

your friends and you're going to have disagreements with them.

And if you're like me, you're going to be tempted to get like really like in their face

like, no, you're wrong about this.

Like the earlier you start realizing that that doesn't work and that you have to learn

how to debate with people and talk to them and understand them and have empathy for them.

Even if you disagree, the happier you're going to be, the more friends you're going to have,

the more popular you will be if you're concerned about that kind of thing.

And most importantly, the fewer people will dislike you.

Oh yeah, absolutely.

One of the things that I think is absolutely vital for success in college is learning how

to kindly, without yelling, get your point across and ask for things.

I do actually help some of my college students write emails to professors asking for things,

whether it's an extension or to, you know, even just to set up office hours or whatever.

And this kind of bleeds into another topic, but like the ability to write solid emails,

just like that are to the point that don't ramble, that don't use like, are you as letters

you write out the whole thing, you know, like the formal email style, very, very important.

But the thing about learning how to communicate kindly with other people is that I actually

have a lot of high school students who will tell me about like kind of crazy ways in which

their teachers have acted.

And they're like, how am I supposed to negotiate with this person?

Like they're always yelling.

I actually get this with a lot of foreign language teachers, strangely enough.

And I suppose, I suppose people who come from other countries are more passionate and feel

very strongly about their opinions and especially on how to teach their language, which, you

know, makes sense.

But, you know, I get a kid who's like, how am I supposed to convince my Spanish teacher

that I'm not bad at Spanish?

And I'm like, well, let's work on your Spanish because the best way to show your teacher

that you're taking it seriously and deserve a higher grade is to show them that you're

putting the effort in.

And then usually if you can demonstrate to a teacher or professor, whomever, that you

are genuinely putting in the effort, they soften quite a bit and are much more willing

to help you as opposed to saying, hey, like, can I have an extension on every essay for

the rest of the year?

Like they're going to say, no, you'd like, you need to have a good reason and like be

smart about it.

You know, it's interesting.

When I looked back at my high school, it was the same pattern.

Like you always have the notorious, like usually Italian or Spanish teacher that was quite


And I don't think it's so much that those people are unnecessarily more passionate.

It's just that people have different social norms.

So if you're from a certain part of America, people will be very polite and I wouldn't

say timid so much as like reserved, and if you're from New York city, certain parts,

be like, yeah, what the hell are you talking about, man?

You know, and people joke, but that's really how it is.

You know, I grew up a Brooklyn and people get in your face.

You know, they cut you off in the line, they yell at you and they're your stranger and

you will encounter that when you go to college because people will just be very, very different.

So what do you do in high school to prepare for that?

That's a really good question.

So I actually have an example of this from a student that I really enjoy that I help

with all kinds of subjects, but he once said, my math teacher is so boring.

I literally cannot stand like the way that he teaches.

And I was like, okay, well, let's practice some empathy with this.

First of all, the next time that you walk into the room and maybe everybody is already

seated or maybe you went to the bathroom and are coming back, just check the eye glaze

level of the students in that room, just like survey the room.

And let me tell you something.

That is what that teacher is looking at all day.

I believe classroom teachers should be sainted, knighted, and then have a zero added to their

paychecks because they deserve it.

I leave classroom teaching to better people than myself.

I think it's amazing what they do.

But I was like, where is that teacher coming from?

And the next time you hear a kid ask a question three times in a row, like sometimes people

really don't get it.

But like, do you see how that could be frustrating for the teacher?

And the kid goes, yeah, my student goes, yeah.

And so I said, so if you're bored in class, then what I want you to do is I want you to

understand where that teacher is coming from.

I want you to get very specific about what exactly do you want, like, OK, you don't want

to be bored.

OK, great.

What does that look like?

How will you become on board?

Will you do you need harder problems?

Do you need to be put in a different class?

Like what's the situation?

Like think about that.

Decide what you want and then ask for it.

And my student went to his math teacher.

He needed harder problems.

Basically, he was like, yeah, like this is really basic stuff like I already did it.

And the teacher was like, oh, my gosh, absolutely.

And opened his desk and poof.

There was like a worksheet that was full of like much higher level problems.

And he said, bless this teacher, he's like, if you're really zoned out during the lecture

and you during the class and you like really can't stand listening to this, fill this out,

work on it.

I'll know you're working on it.

So it's OK.

And then if you have questions, like bring it up to me later.

And then that student wound up developing a really great relationship with this math

teacher because he was honest about how he was feeling.

But he was nice about it.

He wasn't he didn't just like say bad things about this teacher in the hallway.

He was like, I'm so bored and so and so is class.

No, he like went to solve the problem.

So I guess self-advocation and like advocating for what you need is something that you can

do even if you're 16 or 15 years old.

It is possible.

It's just kind of tough sometimes and you kind of have to learn how to do it.

It's a skill.

I wish someone had told me this when I was 15 or 16.

I was in the same situation.

I had a teacher I was pretty bored by.

And I did not have the notion that you can go talk to them about this.

So I just ended up playing chess and I think it took the teacher about two months till

he realized that I spent the entire time playing chess with the kid behind me.

I thought he was OK with it, but he got really bad.

And looking back at it, I completely understand why.

So here's a couple of other things you could do if you want to like get used to dealing

with other people, even if you're not into it or maybe especially if you're not into

it, like check out the debate club.

I'm sure your school has one.

If you hate the idea, I certainly I didn't think to join one.

If you hate the idea, then go do it.

Maybe go like find clubs that are completely different from who you are.

So if you're like in the I don't know, the young socialist league, like go check out

the Democrats, go check out the Democrats, go check out the Republicans, like go to a

place where there will be students in your school, probably perhaps not very vocal, who

have different views to you and different backgrounds and find a way to spend time with

them without like pissing them off, like find a way to empathize, find a way to understand

their position.

You have to agree with anything they say.

But this is one of the things that, again, I didn't realize was it was an option.

And it would have served me very well had I done that much earlier.

And I think it's very available to people.

Oh, yeah.

And those types of conversational and conflict management skills are so vital, not maybe

even past college.

I mean, conflict management stuff is vital no matter what stage of life you're at.

But man, especially past college in the workplace, like being able to listen and learn how to

diffuse like high emotion situations and like getting being able to figure that kind of

thing out or at least have some tools to work on it up really helpful.

That's super great.

There is there is one little tidbit that I always tell my students before they head off

to college, which is ad hominem arguments are to be avoided at all costs.

That's when you attack the other person.

You're like, well, you're wrong because you're ugly because you can only win if the other

party attacks your person.

So if you ever like run out of logic and you're like, well, you're just really tall, so you're

wrong then like you you lose.

And so one of the things that I really steer people away from is you must always focus

on the task at hand, the discussion topic at hand and don't don't veer from it unless

it's going to come back to another point and don't attack the other person.

Whatever you do, do not do not be rude.

Don't say mean things because anybody who's watching will be like, oh, he said that that

other guy was ugly.

So that that doesn't work.


That's it.


We have a couple of overall academic little hacks here too.

So I'm going to start this one with a story, which is my freshman year at Yale, I was in

rent actually.

I was in this musical production of rent and I was working, working, working, and I was

having such a hard time balancing being in this huge musical with all of my schoolwork.

And I still remember going up to the director yikes.

And I said, I just wanted to let you know that I'm really struggling because I'm really

trying to stay ahead of my schoolwork, but I can't get all this reading done.

Like I don't know how to accomplish how to finish all of the homework, even without the


I don't know how I would do that.

And he looked at me dead in the eyes and he said, then you're going to have to choose

what you're not going to do.

And I clutched my pearls all the way home.

I was so devastated by that.

I was just like, no, like I am a high achieving high school student surely at an Ivy league


And I was like, no, absolutely not.

So what I did have to learn is that sometimes you have to find a way to not do everything

that's on your plate.

And a lot of times there are so many readings in college.

I mean, high school students are like, this is so much reading.

I'm like, you have no idea what is in store for you.

It's like the teacher can assign you an entire book between your one class and the next class

a week later.

And then you get that like times three or four and you're like expected to read a couple

of books in a week, like woohoo.

So unless you're going to spend your entire day in a comfy armchair in a library, just

whittling away at the great works of American literature or the not so great works of American

literature, you've got to figure out what you're not going to do.

I call this triaging just like EMTs do when they figure out which wound is the most important

to treat first.

You have to figure out which aspects of your grade you have to work on first.

So if there's a big project, that's the most important thing you've got to work on that.

If there's a test coming up, you've got to work on that.

And so making sure that you know exactly how important everything is and being able to

list in order how important they are and what you need to do first is vital because in college,

there's so much work you're going to have to learn how to do this in order to get not

even get everything done, just like, you know, pass your classes.

This is like a general life lesson too.

Like at some point you get past the place where you can get everything done well.

And they have to be like, well, this isn't going to happen.

This isn't going to happen.

This is only going to be so, so, but my top priority is this, this, this.

And you know, in college, you will, as far as I understand, choose a major.

And so maybe if you have some class that's not very related, like, you know, I'm just

not going to put as much effort on this reading assignment as I am on this math or physics

assignment because I'm going to be an engineer and I have to know this stuff and I don't

quite have to know this other stuff.

That's right.

Absolutely true.

I mean, that's a hard skill to learn.

It's a tough pill to swallow, especially for high achieving kids who really genuinely

want the Hermione Granger time Turner so that they can get all their work done and go to

every single class and be a hundred percent all the time.

But unfortunately that is not the reality.

If you want to do anything else with your life, like, you know, have lunch with friends


Which brings us, I guess, to our next topic and also makes me wonder, all right.

So she had the time Turner, but did she sleep?

Did she sleep?

God, we'll never know poor Hermione.

So one of the things that you can do kind of a little bit in college and that starts

getting harder and harder is you can ignore your health, but we don't recommend you do


And we recommend that as soon as you realize this, start taking care of yourself because

you may think you're superhuman.

You may think you can, you know, only sleep four hours a night.

But research and, you know, even like the most honest observation will show that if

you don't sleep well and you don't take care of your health, you won't perform as well

in the hours you are awake.

What are your thoughts on this?

Well, as with most adults, I think that as I get older, I realize just how important

sleep is and like now if I don't sleep well for a night, my day is worse.

The next day is unquestionably worse.

I'm just tired.

Oh, it's so terrible.

And I have to really prioritize that because that is when the body heals and that is when

your whole your whole corpus can knit itself back together.

And so especially for athletes, it's really important.

But if you're even if you're doing high level brain work and learning all the time, you

are expending an enormous amount of energy to get all of these things done.

And you have to get it back.

And my college students, man, I mean, I suppose that I like went on benders and was out all

night sometimes, but not very often because I couldn't stand it, to be honest.

Like it just made me feel sick and it was not pleasant for me.

But of course, I mean, everybody does that in college.

But at the same time, it's like when I had tests coming up, my friends and I would all

make sure that we were not going too crazy, that we had enough sleep, that we had enough

like quiet time.

And this is another thing.

Gosh, did I learn this as an adult, which is that active rest or just like being awake,

but resting is also important.

You can't just rest when you're asleep.

Like there have to be times during the day when you're like chilling out a little bit.

Because if you're like on fire from 8 a.m. until like 8 or 9 p.m., that is a swift route

to burnout.

And I've done it and it's unpleasant and I do not wish to do it again.

And it's a hard skill to learn.

And it takes a lot of discipline, but man, that sleep's so important.

Finding some exercise that you don't hate.

Some people love exercise, some people don't.

But finding some kind of activity to get your body moving that you don't hate, so important.

And the bane of all college kids' existence, like trying to eat well, you know, also so

important but very difficult.

And so one of the things I will notice is this is funny.

My friends who were vegan in college, almost all of them had like much higher energy levels

than other people.

And I don't think that was necessarily because of their diet.

I think it was because they were just conscious of what they were eating.

They weren't just like slamming quarter pounders all the time, you know?

And whether I mean, obviously that is its whole other thing and people have their lifestyle

choices that whatever suits them is great.

But as far as they were very conscious of what they were doing to themselves and like

had a more, like a deeper relationship with food than I think many other folks, including

myself had at that time.

So they were like doing great.

And I was like, why do I feel so heavy and sick?

And it was because I'd, you know, just put back a pint of ice cream or two, probably


Well, that's interesting.

See, I didn't think too much about diet at that age.

And I think, you know, when you're in high school or college age, you can kind of get

away with a bad diet more so than at least later on.

But what I see so many people doing is the lack of sleep and I'm reading this book.

It's called Why We Sleep by this like amazing sleep researcher things.

I forget his name.

I don't want to get it wrong.

But he says that one of the things that happens, especially in the later stages of sleep REM

sleep is that's where a lot of like creativity and learning happens.

And so if you end up sleeping for like four or five hours because you think you're fine,

like, you know, you don't you don't notice it and it's easy to think I'm fine.

But I've seen people who do that a lot and you can tell like they can't learn as well.

So they end up spending more time trying to learn things and it just doesn't work.

So if you're in high school and you're like pulling all my or even close to it, start

getting in the habit.

Like I realized at some point like, you know, I can study an extra three hours, but I'm

actually going to do worse on tomorrow's test than if I just go to sleep and feel OK.

It's better to get into a habit early because in college, you no longer have your parents

there being like, hey, buddy, what are you doing?

It's like four in the morning, right?

You could just do whatever you want.

So build good habits early and don't think that you're fine because I guarantee that

you're not like sleep is probably most important.

Get some exercise.

I was pretty active so that that was never something I thought about.

I was just like, well, I'm going to have energy and go play this and this and that.

But if you're not active, absolutely fine.

Anything you enjoy, it doesn't matter what it is.

It's all so much better than nothing.

Like unless you're a gym bro and you're like, what's what's the most effective thing?

Anything is fine.

Then of course, like don't eat garbage food.

Yeah, that's true.

I was forced to develop a sleep schedule my senior year of high school because the only

time that the school could get us all in the room for AP calculus BC was at six thirty

five in the morning.

And so every single day, except Wednesdays, we had Wednesdays off from this class, Monday,

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, every single day of my senior year of high school, I was at

school with my butt in my seat at six thirty five a.m.

And to get there, I had to wake up at five forty.

And trust me, that was down to the minute I that was that was me strolling in just in

time because I did walk to school.

But I forced myself it was lights out at 10 p.m.

And that was bare.

I mean, that was still, you know, seven hours and 40 minutes of sleep if you include all

of that time, which it probably wasn't is still not a lot.

Maybe I was OK.

Honestly, I don't remember.

I was so bleary.

But I definitely was like, you know what?

After 10 p.m., the books got a close because I spent a lot of time studying in high school

in the late hours.

My parents were like, go to bed.

I'm like, I'm reading for tomorrow.

But it's really important because it's a huge part of health.

And people with really great sleep habits, I think, are healthier and happier in the

long run.

And they live longer.

Yeah, absolutely.

There are a couple of other quick things that I wanted to mention here.

We actually got this question from TikTok, OMG, the TikTok is happening.

I had many, many students respond to one of my videos about AP exams being like, how many

AP exams should I take for college?

And I just want to address that really quickly because that's a hack itself, too.

My answer is as many as you feel comfortable with, because this is the hack.

Showing colleges that you can do the work is great.

But the person who needs to find out how the workload works is you.

So challenging yourself with college level courses, and it doesn't have to be a gabillion,

it doesn't have to be all day, but at least a couple is a really good way to see how you're

going to do in college.

So I think that's really important to just take what's available to you and make sure

that you found a balance that's really good for you.

Because a lot of my high schoolers are like, should I take all of them?

I'm like, no, stop, go away.

Like don't run away from those because I want them to take as many as they can.

But the kids who are going to take them all the Hermione Granger's of the world don't

usually ask me and they just do it.

There are a couple of other ones.

They might seem silly, but they're super important.

One of them is that I do believe that all high schoolers should go into college with

a full knowledge of safe sex practices.

I think that's really important because that is a way that's speaking of health.

That's really, really important.

And my biggest one passed down from my cousins to me.

They went to college before me is also remember, don't drink the punch.

Very important.

Don't do that.

Very important.

Please don't do that.

I'll add one thing to the safe sex practices.

There is like the physical aspect of it.

But I think one aspect of safe sex that people should think about more is not just how you

do it, but who.

And so like, do your best to avoid crazy people in all aspects of life for sure.

But especially that one.

And that might seem far afield from just academics, but I think it's really important for the

holistic person going into college because that's part of education too.

And it's part of being a human being, and it's certainly part of college for most people.

So and you got, you got to learn what's right for you and what's not, and then learn what

your values are and what are not your values and then stand by them, whatever they are.

It's really important to get to know yourself in that way for all of these things, whether

it's academics or relationships or how you interact with people in communication.

Like all of that is really important for you to discover how you do it best and the way

that works with other people as well in a kind way that is honoring other folks as well

as yourself.

And that's a hard lesson to learn.

It takes a lot of people a really long time.

Some people never learn it, so I hope that people can figure that out.

Well everyone, thank you so much for joining us.

If you have any questions about what we talked about today, we'd love to hear them.

There is an email address in the show notes.

If there's anything else you'd like for us to discuss on the podcast, please send those

ideas to us as well as we want to provide information that you'll find useful.

That is, after all, the whole point.

Thank you so much and we'll see you next time.