About Martin McSweeney
Pomona College is an awesome school located in Claremont, California. It’s an academically competitive school, on the small side, and has a composting program my best friend began while we were students there. I believe it’s still in operation and saves a lot of food waste from entering landfills. He doesn’t want anyone to know his name, so I’m not posting it here. What a shame!
Other than that, Pomona College is a wonderful springboard to graduate school. Most of my classmates have gone on to earn their masters or doctorate degrees. It is definitely a school for the academically-minded and helps students prepare for academic or professional careers after graduation.
While I’ve sent only one of my students to Pomona College, I’ve sent two to our arch-rival, Claremont-McKenna College. CMC is also a good school. It’s just across the street from Pomona, has a good school spirit. Lastly, when I was an undergrad, CMC definitely had better Sunday night dinners. That’s why I ate there every Sunday night in their dining hall. Was awesome! Collins was great. Met a few CMC and Pitzer students there. Good people.
When I was younger, my parents had me take an IQ test. Scores on that IQ test qualified me to become a member of MENSA. Part of that performance was helped by my early years of education with helpful teachers and parents who pressured me to perform academically. I didn’t know it at the time, but parents can be a big help in a student’s academic trajectory. Some helpful praise and guidance can help.
My membership in MENSA gives me sufficient nerd cred, especially vis-a-vis test prep. If I can do it, you can do it. With sufficient time and a worthwhile goal, you can motivate yourself. It just takes a willingness to learn, some guidance, and effort. You can make it happen for yourself. There will be potholes along the way. Just keep driving toward your destination.
Also, I’m a National Merit Finalist. Basically, that means I did well on my PSAT, followed up by a strong score on my SAT and an adequate GPA. Again, parental pressure played a large role there, too.
Inauspicious Beginning of My Teaching Career
My teaching career began when I rolled my eyes in my high school physics class and told the teacher that this is so easy, I could teach it. He handed me a piece of chalk, said, “Be my guest”, and that was my inauspicious start of explaining science and math to others. Granted, it didn’t work out too well that first day. I remember calling upon my classmates to conjecture how they would solve the problem on the board. So, thank you to my classmates who saved me that day. Was embarrassing to talk such a big game only to be brought down to size when I didn’t understand what to do next. Sometimes, you have to improvise and do the best you can with the resources you have.
At Pomona College, I worked for Upward Bound, a program at Harvey Mudd College. It was designed to help underprivileged students with tutoring and test prep so that they could gain access to college preparation and more easily gain admission to college. I’m glad that Upward Bound functions as well as it does. It was a great marriage of talent and ability used to help those who needed it most. Positive attention helps students through their academic endeavors.
Also, during my last summer in college, I worked as a teaching assistant at the Center for Talented Youth. It is a program based out of Johns Hopkins University, but I worked at their summer campus at Loyola Marymount University. As a teaching assistant, this experience helped me better understand the mechanics of teaching and how a curriculum suited to the talents of students could make a big difference. High expectations along with guidance through students’ work helped the students at CTY learn quite quickly. CTY is a great program. If you can ever attend a session, it’s definitely worth it. Some students there were able to work through a year’s worth of high school math. At the end of the summer, they took a national standardized test and were able to skip through the math they’d learnt at CTY. Great program!
Upon graduating from college, I worked for various test prep and tutoring companies. Those companies helped me realize that there was definitely a need for test preparation and tutoring. I’m glad I learned that there was a niche in the test prep and math tutoring.
So, in 1997, I broke away from working for other companies and created MCS Tutoring. I believed that students could learn better with more personalized instruction. It also helped that I had been teaching and tutoring for years before starting my own tutoring and test preparation business.
MCS Tutoring Now
Other than that, I’d say I’m a generally helpful, patient tutor. This has taken time. I’ve definitely learned to become more patient and understanding.
As I’ve come to understand my own struggles with learning, I’ve become more patient. Many of my friends and mentors have helped me realize this. Being calm and caring is more helpful to a student long-term. And that the rapport you have with your students can make a bigger difference long-term than earning a specific grade this one quiz, this one test, or this one exam. Learning is a process and a skill. Better to keep a student curious about the world and wanting to learn than to compare them to others or how they ‘should’ be performing. Let them learn how to learn.
Thank you for taking your time to read all of this.
If you want to know more about MCS Tutoring, please click here.