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How We Teach

Holistic Education

MSA Mentorship is designed for Muslim high school students seeking a deeper understanding of the intersections of education, college life and admissions, and Islam. A three-fold goal needs a three-fold teaching approach. Knowledge Development, Skill Development, and Social Development. Ace the tests, get the jobs, improve as a Muslim and citizen.

Presentation series on the must-know items of the college admissions process including tips and tricks from experienced college students, including topics:

Using the SAT as the guiding tool, we teach mentees the successful strategies and tips for standardized tests that help them achieve significantly higher scores across class exams, SAT I, SAT Subject Tests, PSAT, and the ACT.  An SAT book is provided to all mentees for free and we work with them to develop a road plan for improving their scores. In addition, we analyze score distributions to determine areas of weakness, so we can address them by working through hard problems in session and hosting mock exams. We discuss all and practice most of the following:
  • SAT Reasoning
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • PSAT
  • ACT

This segment is designed to answer the case-by-case questions of mentees and provide personalized guidance from university students they can identify with.  Here they are encouraged to ask any questions to their mentors, especially pertaining to their unique situation.

  • Essay Review
  • Help on difficult test problems specific to mentee
  • Discuss 4-year plan for classes
  • Design testing study plan
  • Career guidance
  • Interview and application prep
  • Dealing with the American Muslim challenge
  • Strengthening faith

Structure

Does Mentorship Really Work?

Let the Data Talk


— But What’s the Problem? —

#MuslimProblems

Our American Muslim community is at the cusp of a new era

– one where we either wander aimlessly as the “other” or take a stand and define our identity. Like most minority populations, we face a diversity of challenges from what feels like an overwhelming array of factors, most of which are so terribly out of our control, at times we feel helpless and resigned to them. Every one of these issues echoes the need for a fundamental social change. Not in the way our governments act, our leaders preach, and our businesses run… but in the way our people think and react. And what shapes our thinking more powerfully, and more controllably, than our education? Note this word controllable. We’re not talking about the geography, the parenting, or even the fitra. What we CAN actually change is the regimen of education.

The Role of Education

To make that positive change, the community needs to value, and we mean REALLY value, prioritize, and support a highly educated rising generation. It is truly beautiful that this value is almost a given Islamically, highlighted so much we have started to take it for granted. We know that education in the appropriate direction breeds inventive and motivated leaders, caring citizens that peacefully share cultures and ideas, and most importantly, God-conscious Muslims empowered to improve the world. After all, what is faith without learning, without a struggle to improve?

So why don’t we see it? We know that’s the direction. Where did we veer off course?…

G.O.D. or J.O.B.?

The modern-day Muslim’s struggle appears to a battle between deen (all things religious) and dunya (all things secular). That battle may be in our heads, but it regularly spills into the actions of our lives, and more profoundly, the lives of others. Some neglect their capacity to succeed in this world; others neglect their spiritual betterment for worldly success. Most of us fall in the gray zone where we are more or less crippled by this “decision”. This time note the quotation marks… is it really a decision? Could it be that the question itself is the problem? Is it more complex than deen OR dunya… either/or?

Nearly everyone experiences the two as contradictory at some point: doctor or sheikh, taraweeh or 8am exam, basketball or masjid… but not both. This distinct separation sentences our youth to a distorted worldview. We unfairly demand of our children the conviction of an unshakable believer and the drive to academically win in a hyper-competitive material world, giving them no role models for the path that bonds the two.

— So What’s the Solution? —

Connecting Ideas & Implementation

We need a new system for education – something not centered on prestige and money and the individual. Something that efficiently involves everyone in this Islamic duty and is designed to take care of us all as humans… not numbers. The first step is simply to connect Muslims behind a rallying, universal cause that we’ve identified in education.

It should be social and enjoyable…
It should be practical and beneficial to all involved (not obscure theology)…
Most importantly, it should be HOLISTIC, so it brings us closer to Allah (swt).

It Should be Mentorship

Mentorship follows a classical Islamic archetype – students flourish when shadowing and questioning the scholars, rather than sitting in a stuffed lecture hall. Degrees and A+ grades didn’t make these scholars, wisdom and reason did. Our vision is to build on this idea by connecting every Muslim high school student with a college mentor. We teach Islam simply by doing what good Muslims do, and that is to help one another. This, and insha’Allah the ajr of Allah (swt), are sufficient. The process is streamlined for efficiency to meet a busy college student’s needs, yet flexible to meet every student’s needs.

The Mentor Role

To inspire and challenge the mentee by serving as a role model, a guide with tips and strategies, and a resource for knowledge and support somewhat different from a parent or Imam.

The Mentor Goal

To develop self-sufficient mentees that can work, learn, and give back on their own. By identifying the motivations, highlighting critical ways of thinking, study themes and habits, and more importantly the big lessons of the academic process, particularly college admissions, the mentor goal is to have their mentee fill their shoes for another mentee when the time comes.