Breaking barriers, One book at a time

Tanya is a junior in high school from Massachusetts. Last year, she started Breaking Book Barriers, an initiative meant to help all high schoolers have access to test prep books and other educational materials.

She came up with the idea for Breaking Book Barriers when she realized that many students spend hundreds of dollars on prep books, but only end up needing them for a year.

Currently, the organisation runs a book exchange website where students can trade in their old prep books for new ones, saving lots of money in the process. They also release free educational content every week on our youtube channel and through blog posts.

Question 1 : What was the most challenging part of starting Breaking Book Barriers?

The most challenging part was probably building up a social media brand for the initiative. I spent almost six months growing my Instagram presence and learning how to make and edit YouTube videos. There is definitely a learning curve with social media marketing!

Question 2 : Can you explain how the book exchange system works?

The exchange system is meant to be a platform for students to give and receive test prep books. It works on a point system. After students make a free account, they receive a point. They can use this point to pick out a prep book and have it shipped to them. Students can gain points by listing their old prep books on the website and they use up points by picking out books to receive. The only thing that students have to pay for is shipping, which is often less than $5 as opposed to the $20 they would pay for a new book. None of the books are written in and they are all in excellent condition.

Question 3 : On the Breaking Book Barriers website, there are also test advice videos. How do you come up with the content for those?

My content ranges from SAT videos to tips on how to study effectively.

When planning my videos, I always try to keep in mind what I wish I knew when I was younger. I think it is really important as students to share our experiences and learn from each other.

I hope that my content makes it a little easier for other students to achieve their goals!

Question 4 : What are your thoughts on the education system nowadays?

I think that students today are continually being pushed to do extremely well on standardized tests in order to “get into a good college.” This pressure comes from everyone-parents, teachers, and students themselves.

I hope that all students know that while tests are important, they are not what defines you.

I do think that the educational system does a good job of exposing students to various fields of study. As much as we all complain about our required math or history courses, there is always something to learn from every class.

Question 5 : This is an awesome program that you’ve implemented! What does the future of Breaking Book Barriers and yourself (colleges, majors, etc.) look like?

We have a lot of things in the works for Breaking Book Barriers! Some things that we are working on include updating our website and hosting book drives in our local community. We are also currently expanding our team by looking for marketers and website designers.

As for myself, I’m currently touring various colleges. I hope to major in business or economics, and be involved in the startup world in college. Whatever I do, I know that I will continue running Breaking Book Barriers for a long time!

Question 6 : Do you have any advice for anyone interested in starting their own initiative?

I’d say to just go for it! Starting something new can be very intimidating, but it is easier than it looks. Something that really helped me when I was first starting out was to make daily goals for myself. These can be as small as thinking about social media posts or as large as launching a new website.

I think it is also very important to have a strong support system. If possible, I’d recommend that people try to look for a mentor or other students to help and advise them.

Question 7 : What’s your favorite study method?

I like rewriting/condensing my notes as it forces me to really learn them. For example, I try to summarize all of my notes into a single page before a major test. I also use the pomodoro method to keep myself focused while studying. Basically, I set a timer for 30 minutes and work the whole time. As a reward, I give myself a 5 minute stretch break. This keeps me motivated and gets me moving around a little too!

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Instagram: @breakingbookbarriers (