About Peg Cheng

Law School Admissions Guru. Personal Statement Specialist. Old School Editor. Author of the No B.S. Guides.

My Last Piece of Advice

Haters

It’s bittersweet closing down my business today. I’m excited for the adventures ahead of me, but sad to leave a profession where I got to help so many good people. Despite all this, it feels right to move on.

I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met and everything that I’ve learned over the past 18 years working in higher education student services. My mind has been blown away by so many of my students’ remarkable stories, diverse experiences, difficult challenges, hopeful dreams, and sincerity for wanting to help people. It’s something I’ve witnessed over and over again, and it’s what kept me going through it all, good days and bad.

Thinking back on all these years, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of the last piece of advice I can give you as a professional adviser. There are so many pieces of advice I want to pass on, but here’s what I’ve chosen for today.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HATERS WHEREVER YOU GO.

DON’T LET THE HATERS GET YOU DOWN.

LISTEN TO YOURSELF AND GO TOWARDS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT IN LIFE.

You don’t have to believe in yourself.

In fact, I think believing in yourself is overrated. It helps, but it’s not necessary. So much of my life has been mired in fear and self-doubt. Still, I managed to create a great life for myself and you can too. I’m not smarter than you. I’m not more brave than you. I’m just a regular person trying to live my best life. I’ve learned that fear and self-doubt don’t go away once you achieve success. They’re always there. But I’ve also learned they’re not meant to be malignant. They’re there to constantly ask you, is this what you really want?

You don’t have to know what you’re doing.

As Socrates said, “I know one thing: I know nothing.” You don’t have to know anything initially–you just have to know what you really want. Read, research, ask people for help. Try, experiment, fail, try again. I had no idea how to run a business when I quit my job at the University of Washington in 2010 and hung out my shingle as a private prelaw adviser. But every day I read, researched, experimented, asked others for help, and over the course of six years, I built a successful and nationally known law school admissions consulting business. I’m not special. I’m not smarter than you. I was just willing to try, try, try, and to learn from my mistakes.

Take it one step at a time.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success. People like to believe there is, but there isn’t. Behind every “overnight success” is a student who studied slowly and thoroughly for 16 years, a guitarist who practiced 40 hours a week for 15 years, an artist who drew every day after school and after work for 20 years, and so many more people like them who were willing to put in the time. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small. Learn from your mistakes, no matter how small. And most of all, keep moving forward one step at a time toward what you really want.

Find at least one person who will cheer you on.

People always say, “If you want to reach your goals, surround yourself with supportive, positive people.” What world do these people live in? Yes, in an ideal world, that would be wonderful. But that’s not always possible. Sometimes the people closest to you (parents, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, partner, friends, etc.) are the ones most afraid of you changing and going towards what you really want. It sure is nice to have a ton of people cheering you on, but if you don’t have that, it’s okay. You just need one person, one other voice besides your own saying, you can do this, keep going.

So, before I sign off, let me repeat myself.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HATERS WHEREVER YOU GO.

DON’T LET THE HATERS GET YOU DOWN.

LISTEN TO YOURSELF AND GO TOWARDS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT IN LIFE.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for teaching me so much. It’s been a blast, y’all. Prelaw Guru OUT.

ps. To keep up with my new adventures, follow me @pegcheng and subscribe to my newsletter at pegcheng.com.

Join My Bodacious Books Team!

ask-for-help-Sandeep-Jauhar

On Monday, I announced that I’m closing Prelaw Guru in July to become a full-time writer of fiction and nonfiction.

For my nonfiction, I’m focusing on books that help college students with money, decision making, job hunting, career exploration, life issues, and more.

piles-of-moneyThe first book I’m working on is a personal finance book for college students.

I NEED YOUR HELP

A lot of work goes into successfully launching a book, let alone a whole series. I know I can’t do it alone. I need your help!

I’m inviting you to become a member of my Bodacious Books Team.

Why bodacious? Because I’m looking for people who are both bold and audacious. Brave in action. That’s what I’m looking for.

WHAT YOU GET

If you join my Bodacious Books Team, here’s what you’ll get:

  1. A FREE electronic copy of my books.
  2. Entry into a drawing to win a free, autographed copy of the paper version of my book. For each launch, I’m giving away 10 paper copies.
  3. Emails from me asking for your feedback on book ideas, title ideas, etc. Don’t worry, I won’t bother you too much. At the most, I’ll send one email per month.
  4. Any free swag that may come with the publication of my book.
  5. My undying gratitude!

WHAT I’M ASKING FROM YOU

As part of the Bodacious Books Team, I ask that you agree to:

  1. Read my new book within 14 days of receiving it.
  2. Review it at Amazon.com and any other sites that you like (Apple, B&N, Goodreads).
  3. Spread the word through Twitter, Facebook, your blog, telling friends, etc.
  4. Email me feedback in response to my questions. I welcome your comments!

Also, when I say, “review it on Amazon.com,” I do mean, give it an honest review. Just because you’re a member of the team doesn’t mean you have to give it 5 stars. Be honest. Be constructive. That’s all I expect.

Please take your spot on the team seriously.

Please DO NOT apply unless you have the time and energy to commit.

reading-MLKWHO SHOULD APPLY

  • You’re a college student, college graduate, have kids in college, or work at a college.
  • You enjoy reading and giving honest and constructive feedback on what you read.
  • You’re interested in books aimed at helping college students.
  • You’re willing to respond to my emails about once a month.
  • You have a Twitter account.

Sound like you?

Great! I hope you’ll join my team.

APPLY NOW

To apply…

Applications are now CLOSED.

I’m excited to embark on this new adventure of being a full-time writer. I hope you’ll come on this adventure with me. Join my Bodacious Books Team today!

Book-anna-quindlen

What’s Next for Prelaw Guru

moon-tree

Barn’s burnt down–
now
I can see the moon.

— Mizuta Masahide

When I first read that poem many years ago, I wasn’t sure what it meant.

Over time, its meaning sunk in.

To me, it means that even after losing something significant, there can still be something beautiful gained from that loss.

This poem is especially poignant for me now as I look back on my 18 years of working in higher education.

I thought that when I stopped working with clients in January, that I’d have plenty of time to work on my writing career and answer prelaw questions through Twitter, the Prelaw Guru Blog, and my personal statement class. But over the last four months, I’ve realized that writing is what I want to do. Full time.

I’m excited to become a fiction and nonfiction author. Last year, I published a middle-grade novel called The Contenders. This year, I’m writing a suspense novel for adults. I’m also writing a proposal for a personal finance book for college students.

It’s bittersweet to close down Prelaw Guru but the time feels right.

Last day to ask me prelaw and law school admissions questions via Twitter and the Prelaw Guru Blog is Friday, July 1, 2016.

Last day to sign up for my Write Your Personal Statement in 7 Days online class is Monday, July 11, 2016. I’ve reduced the price by 50% and it’s now just $49! If you’re wondering what you’re going to write for your personal statement and it’s causing you stress, don’t wait another minute. Register NOW.

I’m grateful for the time we had together. I hope I’ve made your path easier, less stressful, and more empowering. If I have, then I’ve done my job.

I’ve burnt down the barn, but I’m taking away with me the moon.

 

 

Meet LSAT Tutor Noah Hunter

Noah-HunterThis week, I interviewed the remarkable Noah Hunter over email about his LSAT tutoring services for law school applicants.

Q: What motivated you to become a LSAT tutor?

A: Though I had success with and talent for the law and legal studies–high LSAT score, T5 law school, BigLaw job in New York City–the law did not really suit me. I decided that I needed something different and moved back to my home town of Austin, Texas. I began tutoring just to stay busy while a I plotted my new course, but quickly realized that I was suited for it and it suited me. I stumbled into my calling, but it has been great. I have been a full-time tutor for the LSAT and other standardized tests for almost six years.

Q: Why do you think tutoring suits you?

A: One of the things I love about my job is the insights it provides into the human mind and how it interacts with challenges. There are so many fascinating tidbits that I have discovered. For instance, there is a “social pressure” that many students exert upon themselves to their detriment; as humans, we default to “wanting” people to be right and that carries over to the LSAT. Just like we might not question our teachers or bosses, the test-takers give too much benefit of the doubt to statements within the passage or to potential answers rather than reading with a hyper-critical eye.

Q: So, question everything?

A: Absolutely. In life and on the test. Question what I am saying right now. We talk about the importance of “critical reasoning” all the time, but sometimes I worry that people do not pay enough attention to the “critical” part almost as if they read “critical reasoning” as “important reasoning” rather than the intention: accept nothing as accurate until you have thoroughly probed it.

Q: Is this the basis of your tutoring?

A: Well, it is more complicated than that. I teach the material on the tests, but I like to work on what I term “cognitive tutoring” as well. I do not do this to the exclusion of other tutoring methods, but it’s something that I think I focus on more than most other tutors. I am interested in helping my students become better logical reasoners and processors of information. I feel that this is key.

Q: Can you break this down for us?

A: Sure. My experience has shown me that underlying skills that have been built up can be more easily accessed and utilized in the high pressure context of the LSAT. Memorized information, be it in the form of categories, key words, or strategies designed for hyper-specific situations can easily be forgotten, muddled, or misapplied.

Students are more comfortable thinking in a manner that feels natural to them rather than trying to think like the tutor or curriculum-preparer. If they do not have the proper skills, it is better to build up those skills rather than teach them methods to “act” like they have those skills.

Also, the process of working through the development of these skills allows an astute tutor to notice and correct subtle flaws that might not otherwise be found.

Building up these skills will translate into better performance in law school and as a lawyer, which, ultimately, should be what teaching logical reasoning is really about.

Q: Can you give me an example?

A: Going back to “question everything,” the shorthand I use for my students is “be the asshole at the cocktail party.”

By that, I mean be the person that hears someone say something and says, “But, that’s not true because…” or “You can’t say that unless” or “That only matters if,” rather than sticking to the mindset of being accommodating or likeable.

I have had many students tell me that their close friends or loved ones find them harder to take after they have prepared with me. I must say these statements delight me to no end as not only are they evidence of progress, but they are evidence of practicing in different contexts. But, please, do be social in social situations! Just not in your analytical reasoning. And, yes, if you were wondering, some of my friends find me hard to take.

Q: That’s hilarious! I like how you’re teaching your students how LSAT strategies can apply to their everyday lives. Do you have a personal philosophy about how you work with students?

A: I try to unlock my students’ natural, already-present abilities. Too often with the LSAT (and frankly, any test or school subject), a student approaches the situation with the mindset of “this is a new, strange thing that is hard” and basically tries to learn from scratch rather than importing their own abilities to the new task.

One of the exercises that I try with my students is to create an argument that they might participate in wherein their “adversary” makes the same logical mistake as the passage that I am trying to explain. You’d be surprised how often they cannot see the mistake in the LSAT, but can almost instantaneously see the flaw when they are trying to “win” an argument!

Q: That’s great. I’m digging your approach. To keep going on this line, why should a student hire you over other tutors?

A: I meet the criteria that most of the elite tutoring services require (177 LSAT, 5 years experience, top law school, actual teaching ability), but I think I exceed most of those standards because I am naturally empathetic and have a gift for seeing how students’ minds work. I have an ability to read their attitudes and anticipate things that will motivate them, not to mention a sincere desire to help them.

This allows me to adapt my approach with a slightly or entirely different approach for each student. This is what a client should really be paying for in one-on-one tutoring. It should not just be a class with a class size of one.

Q: Thanks for giving us a lot of details about your experiences and approaches to working with clients. Now, down to brass tacks. How much do you charge?

A: I enjoy working with a diverse set of ages and like the thought of helping anyone that I can. My rates are $85/hour for LSAT tutoring, and $60/hour for SAT/ACT tutoring.

Q: If someone is interested in working with you, what should they do?

A: They can email me at noah.hunter@gmail.com or find me on Twitter: @lsathelp.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions, Noah! It’s been great learning more about your tutoring approach and how you help students prep for the LSAT. Readers, if you want your own personal tutor to help you develop stronger analytical and  logical reasoning skills, and improve your LSAT score, definitely check out Noah’s services.

Meet the Admissions Sherpa Dan Brooks

Dan-Brooks-Law-SherpaThis week, I interviewed Dan Brooks, Founder of The Admissions Sherpa, over email about his comprehensive and affordable admissions consulting services for law school applicants.

Q: What motivated you to create The Admissions Sherpa?

A: Almost no applicant understands the full scope of law school admissions until it is too late to use this knowledge. I repeatedly heard from many of my friends and acquaintances that they had no specific strategy for applying to law school. I started The Admissions Sherpa because I realized there was a need for applicants to know the unique intricacies of law school applications before applying.

Q: I hear you on that. Was there anything else that caused you to start your company?

A: Well, I also realized the need for professional consulting at affordable prices. So, my partner David Rosenthal and I set out to make our consulting services through The Admissions Sherpa more accessible to everyone.

Q: That’s great. Speaking of which, what kinds of law school admissions services do you provide and how much do they cost?

A: David and I do it all from start to finish, and everything in between. We believe consulting should be highly personalized, and not everyone fits into a generic package. But to make things easier, we have three packages as starting points.

Writing Pack: $375
– Personal Statement planning and review
– Review/edit additional addenda (C&F, diversity statement, school specific essays)

Post-Application Pack: $450
– School visit prep
– Wait list strategies
– Scholarship considerations
– Law school selection

Full Service Pack: $975
– LSAT advice and strategy
– Requesting letters of recommendation
– Resume editing
– Personal Statement planning and review
– Review/edit additional addenda (C&F, diversity statement, school specific essays)
– Overall application support
– Interview/school visit prep
– Wait list strategies
– Scholarship considerations
– Law school selection

Q: Your packages are very affordable. Great to see that! Are there specific kinds of students that you most enjoy working with?

A: One of the most satisfying parts of my experience with The Admissions Sherpa is that I’ve helped all different kinds of applicants. No two people are alike and I truly enjoy the process of developing precise strategies for my clients based on an understanding of their unique personal goals.

I’ve helped applicants who were focused on law school for their entire academic career and set on the T14, and others who are seeking admission at regional schools. I’ve even helped those who are unsure what they want out of the process, and have given those clients a better understanding of their options. It’s highly rewarding to ensure each applicant is able to make the best decision for their unique needs and goals.

Q: Why should I hire you over other admissions consultants?

A: Value, commitment, and experience.

The value of working with an admissions consultant like me or David lies in the personal attention we give to every client. There is a wealth of free admissions knowledge available online but nothing compares to a specific plan of action developed for your situation.

We are committed to you every step of the way. We invest heavily in our clients, and are equally as committed to your goals as you are. We welcome our clients to call or email us for any reason, at any time.

Lastly, David and I have both recently been through the application process ourselves, and have consultants currently sitting on admissions committees at Tier 1 schools. Along with the timeliness of our experience, we understand what it’s like to be studying for the LSAT and applying to law school as a student, recent grad, or full-time employee.

Q: Do you have a personal philosophy about how you work with students?

A: Every student is different. My personal philosophy is to listen closely to each of my client’s unique needs and personal goals. What works for one applicant might not be the best course of action for another. I want to know my clients beyond the metrics and provide insight which will allow them to make the best decisions for their entire career.

Q: Anything else you want us to know?

A: David and I have chosen to focus on law school admissions because it’s what we know best and love to do. We don’t stretch ourselves too thinly by working with a broad population applying to all sorts of programs and schools. If it’s law school you’re applying for, we have you covered.

Q: If I’m interested in learning more about working with you, what should I do?

A: Contact us! We are excited to hear from you and discuss your goals with absolutely no strings attached. Even if you’ve just started college and won’t be applying to law school for some time, we’d love to meet you and provide any guidance we can.

You can find us at TheAdmissionsSherpa.com, follow us @LawSherpa or on Facebook, or email us at info@theAdmissionSherpa.com.

Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions, Dan! It’s great to learn that you and David offer comprehensive and affordable admissions consulting for all kinds of prelaw students. Readers, if you want your own personal prelaw adviser to help you through the admissions process, definitely check out The Admissions Sherpa.