Director Profile: Jennifer & Robert Collins | Elite of Bellevue, WA

After many years as teachers and administrators at Elite of San Ramon in Northern California, Jennifer and Robert Collins have headed north to serve as Branch Director and Director of Operations at Elite's newest branch in Bellevue, Washington. We wanted to get to know this extraordinary husband and wife team better, so we sat down with them to learn a little more about their backgrounds, their new jobs at Elite, and their dancing skills. Among other things. 

What do each of you do at Elite?

Jennifer Collins: I'm Elite of Bellevue's Branch Director, which means I do a lot of things. Primarily, I meet with students and parents to discuss their college and career plans and help match them with the best programs we offer. Once students are enrolled, I check in with them periodically to make sure they're meeting their goals. Behind the scenes, I arrange class schedules, hire instructors and staff, spread the word about our new location and otherwise "get stuff done." And I usually end up teaching–usually history, critical reading or writing.

Robert Collins: Basically, as Director of Operations, I do everything else. This includes coordinating with other businesses, handling accounts, training new teachers, counseling students and otherwise providing support to the branch. I'm also the bad cop – if students don't do their homework, they deal with me. In a pinch, I also teach math, chemistry, biology and physics.

How long have you been with Elite?

Jennifer: I started teaching history at Elite of San Ramon in Spring 2009. Since then, I've taught Book Club, AP and SAT Subject History, SAT and PSAT Critical Reading and Writing, and College Application Workshop. I've also served as Assistant Director and Branch Director.

Robert: I joined Elite in October 2008. I've taught math, biology, chemistry, physics and have served as a Branch Director.

What makes Elite special?

Jennifer: We've committed ourselves to Elite because of the educational values of the company. We both appreciate that our jobs as teachers and counselors are to instill knowledge in our students and set them up for strong futures. What sets Elite apart is its emphasis on learning and the importance of knowledge. While we certainly provide tips and tricks about how to take the tests, our main objective is to help our students become stronger critical thinkers and problem solvers. We want our students to end our classes with a thorough understanding of the subject material and an ability to solve problems rationally. We also admire the fact that Elite develops a love for learning and knowledge in its students. 

Where are you from and where have you lived?

Jennifer: I'm Northern California born and bred, living in the Bay Area and Sacramento region primarily, but I did spend a semester abroad in Alcala de Hernares, Spain.

Robert: I grew up in Mountain View, California and spent my high school years in San Diego. Since then, I lived in the Bay Area until moving to Bellevue. We did also live at 7,000 feet of elevation on Donner Summit for a year. We had the unique experience of living through a full winter with 50+ feet of snowfall.

How long have you been in Washington? What's your favorite thing about your new home?

Jennifer: We moved to Bellevue in October just before the rain set in and have been very happy in our new home! I love that the city has lots of trees and offers plenty of outdoor activities. Our dogs LOVE Marymoor Off-Leash Park. I've also enjoyed shopping and dining downtown and exploring different locations and activities in Western Washington. I'm looking forward to the spring and summer so that we can start hiking!

Robert: They drink a lot of coffee here. I drink a lot of coffee. It was meant to be.

Where did you guys go to college and what did you major in?

Robert: We both attended the best public school in the world: University of California, Berkeley. GO BEARS! I studied Bioengineering with an emphasis in neural and sensory systems engineering. Jen studied Political Economy of Industrialized Societies. 

Okay, time to get get real. Please name two things you would accomplish if you had unlimited power and influence.

Jennifer: I would try to tackle issues that the world's community currently faces, such as reducing our carbon footprint, that require absolute power to create a sizable impact that incentives (financial, emotional, etc.) would not solve on their own.

Robert: I would aggregate all medical records into a single anonymous database so that large-scale statistical analyses can be run to find links between diseases and genetic/environmental factors.  They have already done this in some countries, but it would be hard to do it on a large scale and would be prone to abuse.  I would also help Jen's environmental initiative by purchasing a couple clean, efficient hybrids for myself (particularly the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1).

What's your technological gadget of choice?

Jennifer: My Kindle Fire: it fits easily in my purse and holds my favorite books and puzzle games.

Robert: I've had the opportunity to play with a Steambox for a little while.  There's something about playing Kerbal Space Program on a 60 inch TV that makes me particularly happy.

Favorite breakfast cereal?

Jennifer: I don't really eat cereal because I hate milk. 

Robert: Coffee.

I'm curious. Would others say that you can dance? Please explain.

Jennifer: Not a chance. When Robert and I went salsa dancing with friends, I kept trying to lead and ended up looking like a stiff chicken and bruising Robert's toes. It also doesn't help that I'm tone deaf and have no idea how to count music.

Robert: I studied engineering. What do you think?

What programs, educational or otherwise, are you watching these days? 

Jennifer: I'm a sucker for practically anything on BBC, especially Orphan Black, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey. Robert can never get enough Top Gear, and has refused to watch Breaking Bad explicitly because he is a chemistry teacher and hates reminding students that chemistry teachers do not (typically) manufacture methamphetamine. We also watch a lot of nature, history and science documentaries. Our recent favorite was Attenborough's Life Stories.

What's your #1 study tip for students?

Robert: Listen to music without words and make sure to get adequate sleep. The key to converting short term memory into long term memory is repeated exposure punctuated by sleep.

Jennifer: When studying, put down your devices – no Facebook, no texts, no music, no television – and work in twenty-minute intervals with brief breaks in between. Studying is a lot more effective and efficient when you're focused.

Any other fun facts we should know about you?

Robert: If and when Jeopardy offers a couples' tournament, we would and will destroy all competition. In the meantime, we challenge each other in Trivia Crack.

Jennifer: Though the Sports category is our great equalizer.


To schedule a free diagnostic test and consultation, contact Elite of Bellevue today!
Classes begin this spring.

Elite of Bellevue
15400 SE 30th Place, Suite 102
Bellevue, WA 98007

(425) 998-9891
bellevue@eliteprep.com

 

Posted on January 28, 2015 and filed under Elite Announcements.

Dedication earns struggling student early admittance to Harvard

Peter Liu with Elite Instructor Jon Gentry

Peter Liu with Elite Instructor Jon Gentry

I met Peter Liu in one of my SAT Critical Reading classes during the summer of 2013. Initially, I thought I had failed him. The pace and learning curve seemed to be more than Peter could handle. He had only learned English three years prior and was now tackling the rigors of the SAT. The vocabulary was completely foreign; the passages were too convoluted. His reading speed was below average and often, he could not understand the particulars of the critical reading questions. During test review, Peter always wanted to dig deeper into why the right answers were correct and why his answers were wrong. Many times, he remained unsatisfied with the correct answer. I could tell Peter possessed a strong work ethic, but I also knew that he needed to invest much more time and effort than most. Little did I know, he coveted every bit of knowledge and would stop at nothing to reach his goals. Not until I started working with Peter on his college application essays, however, did I begin to understand the fullness of his story.

 

Peter had only learned English three years prior and was now tackling the rigors of the SAT. The vocabulary was completely foreign; the passages were too convoluted. His reading speed was below average, and often, he could not understand the particulars of the critical reading questions.

 

Peter immigrated to the United States from China at the start of 8th grade. Unfamiliar with English, he struggled just introducing himself in front of his new classmates, prompting an intense desire to learn the language as quickly as possible. By 9th grade, Peter had successfully lobbied for placement in Honors English, but his ambitions were much higher than merely gaining a command of English. When Peter realized that his high school did not offer Advanced Placement classes, he signed up for local community college courses to satiate his continued quest for knowledge. Attending Elite's summer boot camp was yet another stepping stone. Yes, the work posed new, unique challenges, but through dedication and persistence, Peter rose to the occasion.

 

Little did I know, Peter coveted every bit of knowledge and would stop at nothing to reach his goals . . . Beyond seizing every academic opportunity available to him, Peter fully immersed himself in both his school and local communities. 


 

A more complete picture of Peter was unveiled as I began advising him on his college personal statements. The strength of his character is apparent in his actions. Beyond seizing every academic opportunity available to him, Peter fully immersed himself in both his school and local communities. He holds multiple leadership positions in a number of activities, including serving as President of Student Council and Captain of the Varsity Swim Team. Outside of school, he has taken part in job shadowing programs, yet he is most proud of his work with a local immigrant rights community organization, through which he has met with members of Congress and organized booths at resource fairs. I understood Peter presented an impressive profile and was entirely on board with his aspirations.

 

Surprised and yet not at the same time, I knew that Peter's admittance to Harvard was a testament to his passionate purpose and unwavering dedication.


 

A graduate of Harvard University, I am ecstatic when any of my students decides to apply for admission. Imagine how I felt when Peter elected to apply to Harvard early. Applauding such self-confidence, I supported him through each step of the process: essays, supplements, even interview tips. Imagine the sheer elation upon his receiving news of acceptance to Harvard last week! Surprised and yet not at the same time, I knew that Peter's admittance was a testament to his passionate purpose and unwavering dedication. He is proof that one's obstacles stand no chance in the face of applied ambitions, and within everyone lies the potential and power to achieve the greatest of dreams.


 

Jon Gentry is a Harvard grad and an instructor at Elite of Los Angeles, where he teaches SAT Critical Reading & Writing, AP English Language, and College Application Workshops. He's originally from Houston, loves basketball and green tea, and his favorite vocabulary word is "seditious."

Posted on January 6, 2015 .

Elite Spring SAT Prep at Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School

Starting in January 2015, Elite will be offering an 8-week SAT prep program at the Rose & Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles. To sign up, please contact Maral Tarivitian, the School Site Director, at 323-668-2661 or Elite Site Directors Eunice Cho and Kyu Hong Min at Elite of Los Angeles.


If you are interested in having Elite programs offered at your school, please contact us at answers@eliteprep.com. Thank you!

Posted on November 26, 2014 .

New Elite Branch in Burnaby, BC

Elite is proud to announce the opening of our newest branch in the City of Burnaby, British Columbia!

Located near the Metrotown shopping center, Elite's Burnaby campus offers a full range of programs including SAT & SAT Subject Test prep, ReadiPrep, AP& IB prep, Provincial Exam prep, Reading & Writing, Speech & Debate.

Do you live in the Burnaby, BC area, and are you ready to give your grades and test scores a serious boost? Contact Elite Burnaby to schedule your free diagnostic test and consultation!

Elite Burnaby Campus
#112 – 5021 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5H 4A5

(604) 559-1269
burnaby@eliteprep.ca

Visit Elite Canada's website at eliteprep.ca

Posted on November 26, 2014 .

Here's What Happened at the Elite Vision Expo 2014

This August, the Elite Vision Expo drew more than 3,000 Elite students and parents to Fullerton, California for the fourth consecutive year to be inspired and informed about college admissions, financial aid, college majors, and future careers!

This year's Expo events included a keynote address from Michael Franzese, college seminars, college and volunteer booths, an incredible student talent show and quiz bowl, and alumni workshops featuring graduates from Amherst College, Claremont McKenna, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Northwestern, Pomona College, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, USC, and Yale.

Elite's annual Vision Expo is open to enrolled Elite students and their parents. We would love to see you at next year's event, scheduled for August 2015!

Posted on October 13, 2014 .

What's Up With Early Action & Early Decision?

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About Early Admission Programs

Many colleges offer early admission programs that let students apply earlier in the year than usual (usually in November or December) and get a decision from the college earlier as well (usually sometime in late December).

Early admission is beneficial for colleges because it gives them an earlier idea of what kind of students are applying. With that information, the colleges can admit and actively recruit the students they really want.

Early admission can be good for students because it allows them to express their sincere interest in a school. Colleges like it when they’re your first choice because then they don’t have to worry about you choosing another school later in the year and leaving them with an empty dorm room.

There are two types of Early Admission programs:

Early Action and Early Decision.

What is EARLY ACTION?

  • Early Action is nonbinding. This means that you can (in most cases) apply Early Action to more than one college and receive an early admission decision, but you do not have to accept an offer of admission any earlier than usual (May 1, in most cases).
  • Here’s why Early Action is helpful for students: If you don’t get into your Early Action schools, you can broaden your list of colleges to apply to via Regular Decision; if you do get in to your Early Action schools, you can narrow your choices down.
  • Really, the only potential negative aspect of applying Early Action is that the schools will have to judge you based on your grades and activities to date. If you’re working to improve your grades or beef up your list of extracurricular activities, you may want to give yourself the extra few weeks and apply Regular Decision.

What is EARLY DECISION?

  • Early Decision is binding, which means that you’re making a commitment to enroll at the college if you’re admitted. Once you are admitted after applying Early Decision, you must withdraw your other college applications or stop applying anywhere else.
  • So what happens if you decide not to go to a school you were accepted to via Early Decision? Well, you probably won’t be sued by the college or hauled there by the authorities against your will. However, the other schools you applied to may be contacted by the Early Decision school, and it’s possible that those schools will rescind their offers of admission. In short, it's a serious matter and you should not apply Early Decision unless you're very serious about attending a particular school.
  • Generally speaking, applying Early Decision is a good idea for the students who have researched colleges very thoroughly and have found the perfect school for them.

Will applying early help my chances for admission?

  • Applying early (especially Early Decision) can improve your chances of being accepted into a particular school since the college will know you’re a “sure thing.”
  • Don’t apply Early Decision unless you’re totally sure about making a commitment to that school. If you’re accepted Early Decision, you must enroll.
  • Each school has different policies regarding Early Action and Early Admission. Be sure to read them very carefully before submitting your application.
Posted on October 3, 2014 .

Elite Power Speech & Debate

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Announcing our newest program: Elite Power Speech & Debate!
 

What is Elite Power Speech & Debate?

  • Elite’s Speech program focuses heavily on speech, critical thinking, and impromptu skills to help students learn the basic points of speaking in public. Students will learn basic speech skills such as gestures, posture, and eye contact.
     
  • Our Debate program is designed to teach students basic debate skills and the technical necessities for debating in Public Forum Debate. 

What is the difference between Speech & Debate?

Speech focuses on efficiency of content delivery and utilizes a developed skillset to present and persuade listeners. Students prepare and organize research to present speeches to an audience.

Debate is an argumentative competition that requires competing individuals or groups to convince judges of their respective viewpoints by employing eloquence and sound evidence.

What are the benefits of Speech & Debate?

  • Develops important team-building, critical thinking, and logical reasoning skills
  • Aligns with new Common Core state standards by improving students' ability to cite evidence and research
  • Advances reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills that are important to academic and future career success
  • Fosters self-confidence and leadership abilities

  • Provides opportunities to excel at a meaningful extracurricular activity, garner honors and awards, and stand out in the college admission process

Why Elite?

  • Every branch of Elite is a member of the National Forensics League (NFL) and National Junior Forensics League (NJFL), the National Speech and Debate Association's premier honor societies. This allows Elite to grant students points for Speech & Debate rounds which may be used to attain the coveted All American status.
     
  • All coaches at Elite have extensive training and experience in the field of Speech & Debate. With their knowledge and expertise, coaches offer every student the individual attention, confidence, and experience they need to succeed in any public forum.
     
  • Select Elite branches and their programs have been evaluated and approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) because of their outstanding learning environment and support offered to students. This means that Elite classes meet the same rigorous standards as high school classes.
     
  • Elite Educational Institute is proudly partnered with the Center for Future Global Leaders to jointly develop and administer the International Academic Competitions at their locations in Canada, China, South Korea, and the United States.

Elite Power Speech & Debate Classes are offered at select Elite branches. Contact your branch today to register or learn more!

Posted on September 25, 2014 .

Video from Teacher Convocation 2014

Elite Teacher Convocation: the time of year when we gather all our faculty and staff together to exchange ideas, celebrate our students, and kick off another exciting year of education! 

Check out the video below to meet this year's Elite Students of the Year, learn about how we prepare our teachers to be the best in the business, and find out just what it is that sets Elite apart.

Posted on September 10, 2014 .