Mom joins her daughter’s college math class, discovers the tool to success

Parents often share their kids’ math anxiety. Even if students have the same calculus we learned back in the day, it’s still stressful if we can’t offer much help when they struggle with homework.

But one mom defied mental (and physical) odds when she joined her daughter in a basic math class at Fullerton College in Orange County, California.

She hadn’t sat in a classroom in twenty years.

An article in the OC Register features Marie Anderson, a woman in her 40’s who tested out of high school to join the workforce before becoming a mother of two. She climbed the corporate ladder before she was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease that took her job and home.

Still, she eventually gained her strength back, and had a new desire to join her daughter in summer classes. Math was still tough:

Daughter often tutored mother outside of class, explaining equations, rules and concepts. Anderson returned the favor when she could, with things such as fractions and word problems. The two regularly sat at the kitchen table and quizzed each other on terms written on flash cards.

Study buddies, Pimental called them.

The semester “bonded us,” she added. “I felt much closer to her knowing she was going to be there to support me.”

Ok, we know most parents don’t have the time to enroll in math class with our students. But there’s still a valuable lesson in communicating about homework:

Be as invested in their studies as you’d like them to be.

Be curious; have your son or daughter explain concepts to you. Studies show that students learn more deeply about a subject if they can teach it to someone else. Have your student play the role of tutor, and you may both learn something (and it may not just be about math!)

However, even with open modes of communication, math was still challenging for Anderson. The academic stress triggered her illness, so she would make herself “sick being stressed out about school.”

Thankfully, she found a resource that saved her: an internet-based program through the college that provides tutors and online resources to improve math skills.

“Part of what we do is meet with students one-on-one to help them see that they come to college with a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Michelle Garcia, SDSI manager. “We want them to learn how to apply that knowledge they’ve gained to college, to give themselves the opportunity to experience new ways of learning.”

Twice a week for two summer months, Anderson in 2015 worked with tutors who implored her to attack her weaknesses.

Anderson trusted the process and eventually aced her Math 129 class – which gears students for business calculus. She hopes to continue her studies onto UC Berkeley and start her own part-time business.

Props to you, Mama Anderson!

With the proven style of one-to-one tutoring, she was able to overcome the stress barriers of her math coursework. The fact is, individualized teaching can fill gaps that even family can’t replace.

Not all online tutoring services are made the same, however. For example, Yup really focuses on learning, as tutors don’t give students quick answers. We train our tutors on our pedagogy codeveloped with Stanford professors and every session focuses on 3 core dimensions.

The first dimension is student engagement.

We want to build off existing knowledge. Our sessions start by saying something like,

Hey ___ , welcome to Yup. Let’s work on your problem together. What have you done so far?

The second dimension is building confidence and creating growth mindsets.

Our tutors are trained to use language that encourages students and helps build confidence in their own abilities. We say things like, “Almost there! :)” or “Nice try!” rather than, “no thats wrong,” when a student makes a mistake. This gets session to go from 10 minutes on average to 30 minutes on average.

The last dimension is checking for conceptual understanding.

When the student and tutor finish the problem, the tutor will say something like,

Hey, great job on that one. But let’s try another problem. Instead of 4x +7, what if the problem was 9x + 3? Can you try solving that?

This lets us ensure students have mastered the concept. We evaluate every session to measure learning and hold tutors accountable to student outcomes.

Check out the app here.

Will Artificial Intelligence replace tutors in the future?

In case you haven’t noticed the trend in movies and series (see: Ex Machina and Black Mirror), the message is clear: Artificial Intelligence will soon become an inevitable part of daily life – whether we like it or not.

As part of this trend, EdTech writer Neil Jarrett recently suggested the ways AI will revolutionize the classroom as we know it. One big way is the shift in how students could use chatbots to understand school material:

Ai driven chatbots are the marketing tool of now, letting brands interact intelligently with consumers through their website or Facebook Messenger. While these bots are designed to produce a specific conversion (inbound traffic to that brand’s website, ordering a product, etc), this same technology can be used for education.

A chatbot within an edtech platform, powered by robust machine learning algorithms, could be able to give students direction and tips on specific types of problems, or connect them with the exact educational resource they need in seconds. This definitely explains why Bill Gates is pouring a fair bit of his fortune into developing education chatbots (3).

As always, Bill’s on to something here. Most of this generation has received academic instruction from a computer, and has used an electronic database for research. But what about when software can provide human-like responses and mimic teacher-student interactions?

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For example, if you run into a difficult math problem on your homework, chatbots can theoretically be a game changer. But there are many factors to consider:

Can chatbots build a rapport with students?

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AI has discrete learning capabilities, but how well can it tap into what a student already knows about their specific problem? Building trust is hard enough to do with human tutors; it’s also a key indicator as to why a student is seeking help: without a level of human interaction, what keeps a student feeling accountable to the integrity of their work?

Can chatbots give students confidence?

It may sound corny, but it’s proven that students perform better when they receive positive reinforcement during individualized tutoring sessions. It’s simple to program phrases like, “keep going, you’re almost there!” into a chatbot’s algorithm. However, AI’s conversational patterns have a ways to go before it can recognize a student’s learning process by the way he/she approaches a problem.

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Can chatbots provide mastery of learning?

How will the AI know when it’s leading you to the answer too quickly without explaining the steps to get there? How can it confirm that the student truly grasps the underlying concepts – so that he/she can apply them to similar problems in a quiz?

These questions are what we already ask of our human private tutors who operate online. As Bill Gates stated in a recent interview,

…There are online services where human tutors walk kids through their math lessons. But by using chatbots, a major area of investment for companies like Facebook and Microsoft, these robo-tutors have the potential to be free — while simultaneously reaching millions of kids.

Until chatbots start eliminating the need for human private instructors, human-operated services like Yup will use the most optimal way of one-to-one learning: world-class human tutors leveraging technology to engage as many students as possible. What a time to be alive!

 

The holiday gift list for students who hate math, by math tutors.

If you’re a last minute gift-giver like I am, the best-case scenario you can hope for is to find a present that looks like you put just the right amount of thought into it.

There’s no better way to create that effect than by giving a gift that provokes thought and stretches the mind.

When exchanging gifts over the holidays, many students are just happy to get a break away from finals. However, too much time away from the books means they might be getting a little soft around the mental edges. As online math tutors, we’ve come up with the best brain-efficient holiday gift list for students.

Warning: if the student gift recipient is a math-hater, you may get some backlash (or at least an eye-roll and reluctant, “thaaaaanks.”). Do not be discouraged. As a third grader I received a Rubik’s cube for Christmas and threw it in the corner. I picked it up a year later and began to master it. I am now an adult and can solve one blindfolded. The lesson here: these math gifts will one day make you the smartest, coolest person at the company holiday party. 

Arduino Starter Kit

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Arduino is a computer hardware/software company that makes DIY kits that allow for endless possibilities and afternoons of STEM-y goodness. This gift is perfect for bringing out the engineer from within a student by familiarizing them with processes and automation.

Arduino boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online.”

math-cheat-sheet-wall-clocksMath Wall Clock

Students spend most of the class period staring at the clock anyway. While they’re at home, they might as well be internalizing math concepts.

Of course, there’s no high-level computations happening here. But associating the Pythagorean theorem every time noon comes around is a great sign to grab some lunch.

Plus, it looks cool?

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Go Board Game Set

You could buy a chess set, but that would make you lame and un-original. If you want a game that will actually make itself out of the original packaging, then the Chinese Go may be your best bet.

The rules are simple enough for a 12-year-old to pick up, yet the level of mathematical complexity ranges widely. The game teaches abstract math concepts and strategy. It is perfect when the Wifi is slow.

615nEpgVInL.jpgThe Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions

By Andrew Hacker

A great gift for the cultured artist in the family who swears he/she doesn’t have a “math brain”. You can’t go wrong if that’s the case: they get to read a bestselling novel while gaining an understanding about the importance of quantitative subjects.

From the Amazon summary:

Andrew Hacker’s 2012 New York Times op-ed questioning the requirement of advanced mathematics in our schools instantly became one of the paper’s most widely circulated articles. Why, he wondered, do we inflict a full menu of mathematics—algebra, geometry, trigonometry, even calculus—on all young Americans, regardless of their interests or aptitudes?

The Math Myth expands Hacker’s scrutiny of many widely held assumptions, like the notions that mathematics broadens our minds, that mastery of azimuths and asymptotes will be needed for most jobs, that the entire Common Core syllabus should be required of every student. He worries that a frenzied emphasis on STEM is diverting attention from other pursuits and subverting the spirit of the country.

Disclaimer: This book is sure to spark heated dinner table arguments about the usefulness of institutionalized math classes

Partridges and pear trees: The math behind the 12 Days of Christmas!

This is not a drill: Holiday season is finally upon us. December is a hectic month for everyone: moms, dads, Santas and students.

While using online gift shopping and Christmas music as distractions from math homework, the obvious question (other than solving for X) becomes:

How much would it cost to actually purchase everything in the 12 Days of Christmas ?

Before we can appreciate the total price (hint: it’s not cheap), we have to understand the broad math concepts behind the market that sets the price.

At Yup, our tutors provide help with your math homework, but we also believe that you should be able to draw real-life applications from math as well. The same goes for physics and chemistry: we teach you how to solve the problems, not just give the answer.

Here’s a little crash course in economics. We break it down to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas”, so you can show off your math chops the next time you have to sit through the overly repetitive “six geese a-laying”.

According to PNC’s Christmas Price Index,  the total for this season’s gifts, including 11 pipers piping, is $34,363.49.

So how do the numbers break down?

According to PNC’s yearly index, here are the individual costs for 2016:

A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE

$209.99

(-2.3%)

This gift’s price decline from last year is fully due to the Partridge which fell 20% from $25 to $20, due to oversupply of game birds. The Pear Tree will set you back $189.99 – the same as last year.

TWO TURTLE DOVES

$375.00

(+29.3%)

Supply couldn’t seem to keep up with the demand this year for these popular lovebirds! This gift experienced the biggest spike in price from last year, compared to the rest of the gifts.

THREE FRENCH HENS

$181.50

It’s been a quiet year for the French Hens. There was no change in their price, due to steady supply and demand in the past year.

… and so on and so forth. Head over to the article to see the rest of the gifts (including the most expensive item by far).

But you may be asking,

What – or who – sets these prices?

There are many factors that explain why the cost of a partridge went down from $25 in 2015 to $20 in 2016 (even though the overall cost rose about $232).  Here are some economic terms to know:

  • Deflation: Refers to a widespread decline in prices that also has the potential to undermine the economy by stifling production and increasing unemployment.
  • HyperInflation: Occurs when prices rise by 100% or more annually. It can destroy economic stability and even political stability by driving the price of necessities higher than people can afford.
  • Index: Is a statistical measure of the changes in a portfolio of stocks representing a portion of the overall market. It is a sample meant to represent the performance of the whole.
  • Inflation: A persistent increase in prices, often triggered when demand for goods is greater than the available supply or when unemployment is low and workers can command higher salaries. The US Federal Reserve Bank and central banks in other nations try to keep inflation in check by decreasing the money supply, making it more difficult to borrow and thus slowing expansion.

We still haven’t mentioned one thing… the fact that you’d actually end up buying the same gifts every day for 12 days means that your total ends up being a lot more than $34,000… check out this video to see what I mean:

Therefore, the index refers to the cost of all the items as they are, while the “true cost of Christmas” refers to each item x 12 for every compounding day of Christmas. When applying this math to each of this year’s items, you get a grand total of $156,507. That’s $1,000 more than in 2015.

Basically, the holidays ain’t cheap if you want to walk the walk.

Trends over the past 30+ years that PNC has been calculating the index show us that the 80’s were a very different time. If you’re curious about the costs adjusted for inflation and wages when your parents were youngsters, head over to PNC.

Even expert physicists get scared of math. Here’s how to overcome the phobia.

Last week we discussed why your aversion to math is just in your head, and gave tips on how to overcome the cynicism.

It turns out, even physicists are turned off by complex math equations (which are a huge part of their job): Behavioral scientists confirmed in a new study that even for professionals whose math skills are sharp enough to make a living off of, big numbers can still be scary:

The researchers found a significant inverse correlation between the number of equations in a given article and the likelihood that it would be referenced by other physicists in their own articles (an indicator of how well read a particular article might be).

The problem is not limited to the field of physics, either, say Fawcett and Higginson, who earlier arrived at a similar conclusion about math-heavy papers in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology. The authors claim that in order to avoid being avoided, authors of academic papers need to cut down on the equations and try to get their ideas across in simpler language.

Conquering math doesn’t mean you have to jump at every intimidating problem on the blackboard. It’s about taking that impulsive, irrational (pun intended) fear of numbers and saying, “what the heck,” and giving it a try.

However, the study shows that maybe the onus isn’t always on the student to tackle complex math:

Ultimately, say the authors, it’s up to the scholars themselves to do better at communicating their work, even to an audience of their peers.

As the scientists behind the study note, the substance of a piece of work doesn’t determine its entire worth: it’s the presentation that also determines how people receive it.

Teachers are put in a tough position here. They have a set curriculum to follow and face strict benchmarks and guidelines to bring students with varying skill levels up to par. Making a lesson plan on the quadratic equation into something relevant to a high school student is no small task.

That’s where different styles of teaching and individualized attention come into play. For intimidating subjects such as math, physics or chemistry, homework can be a daunting task. Today’s students find themselves using their smartphones as distractions to the dry material in their textbook.

With tutoring apps like Yup, one-to-one learning becomes a fresh way to get through tough problems. World-class tutors help students see efficient ways around homework while understanding the concepts from the curricula.

Also, the chat-based interface creates a familiar mode of discussion with students who otherwise wouldn’t benefit from a stressful or intimidating classroom environment. Form and function come together to open a new world to kids with math phobia.

So if you or anyone you know has a phobia of math, just remember that it happens to the pros; sometimes you just have to see the problem in a new way. 

Many kids believe their brains just can’t process math. Here’s how you can prove them wrong.

Doubt can be a dangerous enemy… and not just for students.

Take back-to-back MVP basketball player Stephen Curry for example. He didn’t make a single three-pointer in last week’s game. He could have stopped shooting the ball so often… but then he scored 13 three-pointers the next game, breaking the NBA record.

Elon Musk spent all his investors’ money failing to launch three different rockets. He could have listened to the nagging voice in his head saying, “hey man, maybe outer space isn’t your thing.”

Then he launched his fourth rocket successfully and NASA gave him over a billion dollars.

While the odds were clearly not in favor of either of these men, and their outcomes are statistical anomalies, their stories tell a universal truth for students struggling with math class: you’re only as good as you tell yourself you are.

One UCLA professor sought to find out why we tell ourselves that our brains are only geared to think a certain way. How do we rationalize the idea that we’re somehow genetically bad at math? He came up with three strategies that can help students with self-doubting tendencies:

1. Work, work, work, work…

The first, pioneered by the Stanford social psychology professor Carol Dweck … aims to change students’ mind-sets by showing them that their intelligence can grow through deliberate work.

A cohort of sixth-grade students was taught, in eight lessons, that intelligence is malleable, not fixed, and that the brain is a muscle that grows stronger with effort. Their math grades, which had been steadily declining, rose substantially, while the grades of classmates who learned only about good study habits continued to get worse.

Basically, Rihanna hit the nail on the head: “work work work… learn learn learn.”

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Most students’ frustration comes with the feeling that no matter what they do, something blocks their success: the teacher always looks down on them, their friends will laugh at them, or they feel they just don’t belong in the class.

We can help students fight these negative impulses by making sure their homework is meaningful and manageable. That the work they put in outside of the classroom will directly translate to success during examination. Pinpoint areas of struggle and make sure they aren’t just working hard but efficiently as well.

2. Speak their language

The second uses constructive critical feedback to instill trust in minority adolescents, a demonstrably powerful way to advance their social and intellectual development.

Much like the first strategy, this is why access to 1-to-1 learning is so important to a student’s developmental capacity. Specialized teaching, with patience and positive reinforcement can only happen when an instructor has time to interact and problem-solve directly with the student.

Mobile tutoring apps like Yup are the best conduit to the kind of tailored feedback students need to solve problems. Whenever they hit a wall doing homework and can’t necessarily call their teacher at night (or can’t afford a regular tutor for just small questions), world-class tutors are available to look at the problem at the push of a button. They figure out where the student needs help and works them through the concept.

3. What really matters?

The third intervention — and in some ways, the most powerful — invites students to acknowledge their self-worth, combating the corrosive effects of racial stereotypes, by having them focus on a self-affirming value.

In a series of short written exercises, sixth graders wrote about values that were meaningful to them, like spending time with their family and friends. After this experience, white students did no better, but their black and Latino classmates improved so much that the achievement gap shrank by 40 percent.

Students face endless social media distractions. On Instagram and Facebook feeds, it’s easy to disconnect and escape from our personal values when looking at how someone else lives her life. Having your kids spend time articulating what truly matters to them can go a long way in helping them visualize success.

On their own, ‘studying’ and ‘homework’ don’t usually come to mind when students think of personally meaningful activities. They are important ways to achieve success, but it’s still work. The Yup app is an interesting tool to use in this exercise because when students can finish their homework more efficiently, they have more time to focus on fulfilling their personal goals. Sure, they’ll also do better on tests, but that only grows their confidence that much more.

Mobile app tutors are the missing part of the equation

Sprint just announced the launch of its 1Million Project, which will provide mobile devices (along with high speed internet connection) to one million disadvantaged high school students across the country. The program is in line with the federal government’s initiative to increase educational access to low-income households.

But will this effort effectively shorten the “homework gap” that currently hinders students without access to proper after-school help?

Millions of families currently cannot afford to keep a broadband connection at home, so introducing both the device and the data eliminates virtually all cost barriers to reaching the web.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said:

…the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. But it’s a huge problem in America that we have 5 million households with children that lack internet connections. Those kids have a huge disadvantage and we are failing them.

By the start of the 2017-2018 school year, one million kids will have a data-enabled smartphone, tablet or laptop in their hands. Everyone’s happy, right?

Not so fast.

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Many sociologists and education policy wonks have noted that bridging the digital divide doesn’t necessarily address the growing ‘digital inequality’ in our students.

Putting an iPhone in a student’s hand won’t empower them to study.When looking at the full context of a kid’s life circumstances, skills, support groups and intangible factors like confidence and grit, we can understand that not all beneficiaries of this program will be adequately prepared for its intended purpose.

Who’s to say a student won’t go straight to the pawn shop after receiving their phone just to buy dinner?

Only when students see the immense power education can have in changing their lives, will they foster the curiosity to use the internet for informative purposes.

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That’s where mobile tutoring apps come into play. With the daily social frustrations facing children from low-income backgrounds, academics can prove to be an even higher mountain to climb. But when you introduce a one-to-one tutoring style, the increased attention can make confidence skyrocket.

Now imagine a one-to-one tutor (from institutions like MIT and Stanford) available 24/7 on your kid’s mobile device. No car, no long-term fees. Just student and tutor, chipping away at the “impossible” homework problem in math/chemistry/physics.

Otherwise, kids are gonna get all these free phones and just look at memes all day.

 

‘Thrivers’ vs. ‘Divers’: Why high school success doesn’t guarantee A’s in college

According to a recent blog by the Washington Post, high school grades may be the best predictor we have to foresee college success… but it’s still fairly useless.

The blog focuses on a study conducted by the University of Toronto, which found that incoming college freshmen, on average, predicted they’d score a 3.6 overall GPA after their first year. Pretty solid goal to hit, especially factoring all the social and academic adjustments. The average actual GPA for the first year? A sad 2.3.

So with all the high-scoring high school kids, why were their college GPAs so low? Sure, college courses are more challenging (as they should be), but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. A bunch of smart wonks got together and conducted a personality test on the students to find more answers:

They focused on two kinds of students. The “thrivers” were those who did much better in college than their high school grades would have predicted. The “divers” were those who did much worse. Mostly, these students were neither superstars in high school nor delinquents — they all got fairly good, respectable grades. But upon arriving at college, the thrivers averaged A’s, while the divers averaged F’s.

You can read the rest of the article here.

It turns out that intelligence really isn’t a large factor in determining success. As math tutors, we chat with all different kinds of students on the Yup app. We see the same common personality traits in the ‘thrivers’ and ‘divers’ from the study in our sessions.

Here are some strong habits to make (or break) in order to thrive in school:

Conscientiousness

Most students who took a dive described themselves are being less likely to be careful or thorough in their work. In school and in the professional world, this is a huge factor that perhaps isn’t obvious in a college application but becomes very clear in the work you turn in.

You can cultivate more conscientiousness by approaching assignments and studying as though you were the on reading it. For example, if you were in the teacher’s shoes, what would you think of the quality and time you put into your essay? Professors and TA’s in college have more time and resources to dissect your submissions, and therefore you must care more about the minute details. They say it’s impossible to teach someone how to care about something; so raise studying to the same standard you hold Harambe (RIP).

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Grit

Many psychologists and education gurus talk about this trait, and it’s not what you eat with shrimp.

Grit is how you respond to adversity. Do you thrive in uncomfortable situations, socially and academically? How creative are you with problems that don’t have a conventional solution?

For example, if you run into a problem with math homework and can’t get a hold of immediate assistance, look out for alternative resources to fix the problem. Yup connects you with live tutors via mobile app fpr help with math, physics or chemistry – whenever you need it.

Organization

Some K-12 teachers have pointed out a trend of students delegating more organizational duties to their parents and more recently, their own teachers.

Once these students get to college, the professors give out the syllabus on day one and that’s the last time they’ll notify for due dates; no extensions, check-ups or reminders. Students must learn quickly how to become their own secretaries.

Find what time management skills work best for you and prioritize accordingly. Nailing down a habit of planning your work ahead doesn’t require much brainpower once you get into a rhythm, yet can make all the difference in your end results.

 

 

 

 

New York high schooler uses tutoring app to crush exams

School can be daunting: juggling extracurricular activities, exams, strategizing the perfect time to text your crush… it’s amazing sleep gets factored in at all. We want to tell your stories. We occasionally feature students who have run into academic roadblocks and used the Yup app to connect with a tutor for math, chemistry and/or physics.

This week, we interviewed a high school student who connected with one of our mobile tutors to prepare for New York’s especially rigorous testing system.

Meet:

img_1973Gianna, 10th grade, New York

Favorite subject: Chemistry or English

Least favorite: Geometry

Extracurriculars: Soccer, acting, softball and/or baseball, and dancing.

Favorite app: Yup of course!

What kind of student would you describe yourself as?

I’m the type of student to try to do my work fast but also correct. Hoping to have a 95 average I try to study hard for quizzes and tests.

What’s the hardest part about high school?

The honors classes I’m in, and regents.

[Note: In New York State, Regents Examinations are statewide standardized examinations in core high school subjects required for a Regents Diploma to graduate. Most students, with some limited exceptions, are required to take the Regents Examinations. To graduate, students are required to have earned appropriate credits in a number of specific subjects by passing year-long or half-year courses, after which they must pass Regents examinations in some of the subject areas.]

What do you wish you’d have known freshman year?

I really should have known not to slack off.

What excites you about going to college?

College would be a life turning experience and make my dreams come true! I’m pursuing a career an acting, media and/or the film industry.

Any study tips? Life tips?

I really suggest using flashcards and asking your friends or family to help study! And don’t be afraid to make new friends in high school!

How’d you find Yup?

I found out about Yup on an ad and I was interested in getting better grades in a fun way!

Describe your experience with our tutoring. What was your previous tutoring experiences if any? Was the app easy to use? What was your tutor like? How did you work through the problem? How long did the whole thing take? Care to share an image of the problem(s) you worked on?

Previous tutoring experiences weren’t that easy. They didn’t make that much sense but since I used the app it was easy… the tutors were very nice and made the problems very easy. It depends on how long and difficult a problem is for them to work through it.

Usually it takes them 6-10 minutes depending on also the subject. In general Yup is a great app for new incoming freshman to get new subjects since middle to high school is a new jump. But I feel like it’s useful for any other grade!

What can Yup do better?

Yup is already a perfect app for my math needs, but I would love to see the tutors cover more subjects!

What is the future of education/technology?

The future of education and technology is gonna be enormous compared to what we have today! I’m excited to see what other ways we’ll find out innovative and fun ways to learn.

Oh, the places you shouldn’t go: 5 mistakes freshmen can avoid

Welcome to the big leagues, kid. As you walk the halls of the jungle that is high school, know that nap time’s over. You’ve got calculus to master! Proms to attend! Clubs to join and sports to play. With these landmarks come moments of crippling embarrassment, eye-opening lessons, and rare but incredible victories along the way. Oh, the places you’ll go. 

Four years down the road, you’ll look back and laugh at how monumental such insignificant moments seemed. But you’re living in a present reality that includes heckling in hallways and unjamming rusty lockers. You need help. Usually, we’re just here as tutors on your smartphone app helping you through math and science problems. But for the freshmen, we have an even higher calling.

We can help you foresee and maybe even cushion the blow some of the inevitable “freshman mistakes” that have earned you the most vulnerable spot on the high school totem pole.

All those who wander are probably lost

Whether it’s figuring out the temperature on a new shower faucet or navigating the hallways, one must always have a game plan when venturing into unchartered territory. If your strategy is to simply “wing it” between classes, think again.

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If you’re late to class, you risk getting off on the wrong foot with your math teacher. Worse yet, think of the one type of student most likely to be purposefully late on the first week of school: seniors. You’re lucky if you walk by a benevolent one; but just remember that they know the ins and outs of the building, so there’s no hiding.

Everybody love everybody

Herd mentality is a grim reality of life, which becomes pretty apparent when hordes of students shuffle to class at the sound of a bell. Therefore, you will realize that cliques do exist, and that people don’t always believe in embracing differences in others.

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Don’t automatically assume that social cliques are as cliché as in the movies – if you assume that everyone fits into a category of jock, nerd, or freak, then you’re missing out on a lot of potential connections. The most interesting kids I knew in high school didn’t care about what group you were in or project some stereotype onto others.

Respect the bus hierarchy

Unless you have the luxury of riding to school with a pal or older sibling, you must endure the plight of unlicensed minors across the nation: the school bus.

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Navigating the artificially-constructed seating chart of the bus can be confusing, but in a nutshell: seniority rules, from front to back. That means sitting on top of an overheating rear engine and cramping your awkward legs over the back wheel hump underneath.

You have four whole years!

We’re not here to sugar coat anything; freshman year really can suck at times. General education courses have the tendency to cause premature gray hairs. However, you should still try to cherish the freedom of being the new guy/girl. It’s important to learn what you can, while you can – before college applications and challenging courses take over your schedule.

Not making many friends? You have plenty of time to reach out. Your crush chose another someone? Freshmen go through relationships like juniors go through college apps: lots of crying, then on to the next one. You have time, so trust the process more and your hormones less! But on the other hand…

…You only have four years…

Before you know it, you’ll walk across a stage, shake your principal’s clammy hand, and walk off into the unknown sunset with a diploma. You’ll think back on these times now and wonder what could have been.

So don’t waste time. If you’re suffering in class, get help now. Scared to talk to the cutie in calculus? You’ll be scared tomorrow too, so might as well pony up today. So often, college freshmen talk about how miserable they were in high school compared to college. If you bring some of the same open-mindedness that college kids do now, your experience will be much more enjoyable.

Good luck, class of 2020!