Main Library (File photo)

Fall is in full swing, and so is anxiety over college. Teens are worried about their grades, their college essays, how they’ll do on the SAT and ACT, and where they’ll get in. Parents are worried about many of the same things, as well as how they’ll afford college. Let the library help alleviate these fears through our fall slate of free college-prep lectures, workshops and practice tests.

Know a senior applying to college? He or she can bring a personal statement to the Main Library on Saturday, Oct. 24, and Diana Hanson of College Mentors will look it over and provide feedback. The essay can be finished, or a work in progress. This program requires registration. Call the Main Library at (310) 458-8621 or visit the Youth Services Desk to sign up for a 30-minute timeslot.

Parents concerned about the amount of pressure their kids are under and wondering how to be supportive without being too lenient should come to “Proactive Parenting for College Prep” on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Main Library. Their teens in grades 9-11 should also attend. In this 90-minute workshop, parents and teens will learn how to prepare for a successful transition to life after high school – a life that fits their teen’s unique skills, talents, personality, and temperament. This event requires no registration and is conducted by independent college counselor Nick Soper and therapist/teen specialist Kristine Tye.

High school students and parents are invited to “Think Like a College Admissions Officer,” conducted by C2 Education, on Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Main Library. In this interactive workshop, participants will decide which of four theoretical students to admit to a college, based on academic performance, extracurricular activities, and other factors. Students will emerge from the workshop with a better understanding of how college admissions officers compare candidates for admission, and how students can prepare now to stand out from the pack when the time comes to apply for college. No registration required.

The college prep programs continue in November with “Beyond the Books” on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Main Library, presented by C2 Education. Teens in grades 8-12 will learn how to turn their extracurricular volunteering, jobs and other activities into assets for college admission. No registration required.

The Pico Branch offers a practice test for the new SAT (the SAT is changing in March 2016) provided by C2 Education on Saturday, Nov. 7. Signups begin Oct. 19; call the branch at 310-458-8684 to register.

Diana Hanson of College Mentors presents “Affording College” on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Main Library. She’ll go through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), discuss loans and scholarships and provide insider information about great colleges that are also great deals. For high school students and parents. No registration required.

The in-depth workshop “Carve Your Own Path: How to Create the Life You Really Want” takes place on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Main Library from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. In this interactive session for teens, college students, recent college grads and parents, participants will examine the changing landscape of the workplace and higher education, and learn how to set priorities that will move them toward the fulfilling lives they want. No registration required; presented by independent college counselor Nick Soper, therapist/teen specialist Kristine Tye and Certified Academic Life Coach Hayden Lee.

The Montana Branch offers “Writing the College Essay” on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Participants will get tips for selecting a topic and find out what college-admission committees look for. Presented by C2 Education for grades 9 and up. No registration required.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, the Main Library is hosting an ACT Practice Test with Kaplan. The full-length, proctored test mimics the actual ACT and is a great way for students to get a feel for the test, as well as to discover areas of weakness they can improve before taking the actual test. Registration is required and will open on Monday, Nov. 2.

In January, the Main Library will offer a practice test for the new SAT, followed by a combination SAT/ACT practice test in April. Check library calendars in the coming months for more details on these tests offered via Kaplan.

Did you know we also have college and test prep materials in our databases? You may be familiar with the Brainfuse homework help database, which connects kids and teens with a live tutor for homework help. But Brainfuse also has two college-prep modules within its SkillSurfer area: CollegeNow, which features articles on a variety of college prep topics; and College Entrance Exam Preparation, which offers practice AP, ACT, SAT and PSAT practice tests.

Another helpful database is LearningExpress Library. Its College Prep Center module has SAT, PSAT, ACT, and AP practice tests, as well as helpful information about writing your college essay.

Best of all, the library databases are free and accessible 24 hours a day! All you need to access them from home is to visit the library website at, click on Databases, click the name of the database you want to use, and log in with your library card.

The SMPL website’s College & Testing Resources page ( has an extensive, librarian-created list of websites that can help teens get information about testing, colleges, the college application process and financial aid.

At all SMPL locations, there are college guides and test prep books in the teen and adult library collection. Ask a friendly staff member to point you to the right areas.

See, fall college-prep time isn’t so bad, is it?

Ivy Weston is the Teen Services supervisor at the Main Library. She has worked at SMPL for eight years and loves helping teens, kids and families.

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