Educational Consultant Nancy Levonian

Nancy Levonian, Phd, Lives Under Construction

Featured Professional Series: The second Monday of every month, we feature one of our favorite educational consultants, psychologists, or professionals in a related field. We ask everybody the same five questions, designed to show you why we like them and to help you decide whether they’re a good fit for your needs.

All tudents who have a track record of being “intelligent, curious and adventurous” should take a meeting with Nancy Levonian of Lives Under Construction. Nancy’s the real thing, and specializes in turning stars into superstars. Hanging out with her makes you smarter.

How did you get into this field?

In my youth I studied marine geophysics at MIT and the University of California. Then, I did research at Columbia and Stanford Universities in the plate tectonics of Indonesia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. While raising my sons, I noticed a critical lack of mentoring in the schools for students interested in the sciences. To address that, I began advising students in the Fairfax (VA) Math Circle. As word spread, I met with more and more students seeking guidance in how to best advance their science interests.

As my business grew exponentially by word of mouth, I advanced my expertise in the field by earning a graduate certificate in college counseling in 2011 from UCLA. I believe my background as a research scientist uniquely prepares me to coach motivated students interested in STEM and to help them find the best programs and colleges for them.

What do you love about the work?

I love helping students cultivate their own drive. Working with students to clarify their dreams, helping them to break the dream down into doable steps, watching the plan lead to enriching experiences, and seeing the students strengthened in the process gives me great joy. Students who love math, or computer science, or biology, or economics are bright, resourceful visionaries whose intellectual passions ought to be encouraged to the max. I understand their interests and validate their love of all things scientific.

Why do people hire you?

People hire me for help with educational strategy. There are so many choices today that finding the next step can be overwhelming. I help students and families wade through the options and clarify their goals. To streamline the application process, rising seniors attend my summer camp, “Crafting Your College Application,” where I help them write an excellent college application in one week, so their senior year can be more relaxed.

How do you feel about study skills?

I love it when students use good study skills to get A’s in less time. But success in school is just the beginning. Being organized, internally motivated, and able to learn effectively are skills that will serve a person their whole life. I originally got into educational consulting because I saw how my sons hungered to learn more than was available in school. When students learn to study, especially to self-study using the public, free materials on the internet, nothing can hold them back.

What’s your favorite piece of advice to give students?

Think about how you can help the world. Even a high school student can use skills they already have to teach a child, make a senior citizen smile at a live musical performance, or program a website for a non-profit. It’s gratifying and motivating to help others. Then, dream big about the contributions you will make to society as an adult.

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