Monthly Archives: July 2015

Strengthen Relationships

four happy studentsStart with your old friends. Take pictures of all the friends you’ll want to remember when you are 80 years old and your memory is beginning to fade. Make prints and write a little about each of your friends – information you’ll want to remember.

Take time to talk about your past experiences and time to talk about each person’s future hopes and dreams. While you think it would be great to email each other every day or two  –  it’s not a great idea. You can get together when you’re home for the holidays but most of the time you should be busy making new friend, participation of college activities, and studying.

Spend time with your sisters, bothers, and even a few nearby cousins. Get to know each other better. Learn about their hopes and dreams for the future and share your goals. Do something exciting together. Again, take pictures and be sure to label them.

Most important is spending time with your parents and even your grandparents. You might not have spent much time talking and listening to them over the past several years. This is a great opportunity. Share with them your goals for your future and you concerns for your freshman year.

Ask them about their memories of when they were your age. You can share your favorite memories of things you’ve done together.  Apologize for things you have done or not done that might have upset them. Ask them for their advice. You might not follow all of their advice, but having you ask will make them happy.  Be sure to tell them how very much you appreciate their advice and how much they love you.  Be sure to get pictures of your family – together or separately. They will feel honored to know that you’ll have your pictures in your dorm room. The pictures, of course might be on your desk or bulletin board or they might be in a lower drawer.

You might even take time to visit a few of your favorite teachers and tell them how much you enjoyed or learned in their classes.

While talking with your parents, discuss your future communications. Sure, they’ll enjoy having you call three or four times in the first week. Then you might switch to a weekly email and a phone call every two weeks or every month. Some students get in the habit of calling home every night and later wish they hadn’t. And, when you do call, be sure to tell your parents occasionally how much you appreciate your support.  It makes everyone feel happy to know they are appreciated.

Now that you are in college, takes pictures of your best friends and even your favorite professors. Either write information including names on the back or use a scrapbook. You will really enjoy looking at the pictures and strengthening your memory as the years pass.

Learn Vocabulary

Every day is a great day for learning vocabulary.

When you are reading a book, watching TV, or talking to someone – and you read or hear an unfamiliar word, write it down. Keep a list of everyday words that sound familiar but you can’t quite define.

If you expect to take a course in the fall in a subject likely to use many new terms, start learning them now and you’ll be ahead of the game. It will make it so much easier to understand what the teacher is saying and what you read.

SIX Suggestions for Learning Vocabulary

1. Choose the words you want to learn. They might be new terms in your classes. Create your own Flash Cards.  I like to start with the 3×5 index cards and cut them to a convenient size. I prefer to cut them in half. Others cut them into 3 or 4 pieces. Print the word neatly on one side and the definition or definitions on the other side.

2. Study them regularly. You might learn 5-10 new words in a day – or less when you’re busy. But don’t think that you will remember the word after one day’s work. You need to review the word regularly.

Here is my recommendation.  If you don’t like this schedule, write your own. This sort of schedule is an example of Distributed Practice (also called Scheduled Reviews.)  It is one of the most powerful learning strategies.

Day 1:               Review 3 times – more if you have trouble remembering the word
Days 2-7:        (The rest of the week) Review once a day – and again if word forgotten.
Weeks 2-3:     Review twice a week – or more if forgotten
Weeks 3-         Review once a week
Months 2-12  Review once a month. If forgotten, review twice more that month.
Years 2- ?        If term is important – review 1, 2 or more time per year until you know it well.

3. Practice both directions. Sometimes look at the word and  state the definition in your own words.  Sometimes, read the definition and state the word. If not sure about the pronunciation, ask someone or check on internet.

4. Don’t worry about forgetting.  “Re-Learning” the word results in longer lasting memory. For this reason, research shows that you learn more – although it doesn’t feel like it, if you practice with a stack of 50 cards rather than just 10 cards. Again, the reason is that you forget more easily and need to re-learn the information more often.

5.  Check the dictionary for words with similar roots. I you look up autocratic, you’ll autocracy, autonomous, autograph, autonomy, automatic, automotive, autofocus, and more. You’ll find it easy to learn them all at one time.

6. Use a Thesaurus. To truly master your vocabulary, take a group of words that seem to mean the same thing. Do some research to understand how the terms are different. For example you might study the differences between big, large, huge, enormous, gigantic, giant, colossal, and immense.

For students in high school, building a strong vocabulary will help you do well on the SAT or ACT.


Girl thinks about her future Paying for College

The girl in the picture could be a high school student taking a test. Perhaps she is distracted by her concerns about how she will be able to pay for college.

If you will be starting college soon, you might find these suggestions helpful.

All students in High School or in College need to think about how to pay for college.

1. Have a long talk with your parents about money. You should have already filled out the FAFSA, and know what the computers think your parents can afford to pay toward your college expenses. But computers don’t know you and your parents very well.

Most important is that you have about $1000 – $2000  (maybe from your savings) to start the year for books and other expenses and then have your parents send you a regular monthly amount of money. Students don’t like calling home for more money and parents will appreciate knowing when to send each check (or bank deposit) Ask for extra money only in a real emergency!

You should also know by now how much the college you plan to attend is contributing to your educational costs (financial aid, grants or scholarships).

Try very hard to avoid taking loans unless you feel  certain you’ll be able to pay them back easy and fairly quickly. Imagine attending a school costing $40,000 a year and needing to borrow all of that. If you managed to graduate in four years, you’d graduate owing $160,000. Most students won’t get a job that will allow them to pay the yearly interest on that amount and they get deeper in debt each year.

Add what your parents really can afford to pay, your savings, what the college is offering you in financial aid, scholarships or grants, and any scholarships you have won. This is your income.

Subtract this from the expected cost for the year including books, room and board, travel, school supplies, etc.

Decide HOW you will cover the rest of the cost.  You can probably get a work/study job on campus. Will this be enough? What else can you do?

1. Call or visit the college finance office and describe any family circumstances that they should know. Let them know that you are worried about being able to cover the costs. Ask if there is any way they can increase the amount they can give you. The sooner you do this, the more likely they will be to add a little to your package. And really, it never hurts to ask.

2. Create a reasonable but tight budget for the year and look for ways to save money. You might rent books instead of buying them. Sometimes you can buy used books online for a bargain – but be sure it is the correct edition.

3. Begin now to list all the scholarships you can apply for during the next four years. If you take this seriously, like a real job, you might earn enough to repay any loans before you graduate.

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Weekly Study Tips

Summer Tip 1: Setting Goals

Whether you are in Middle School, High School, College, or other – You should begin by setting goals.

In Straight A’s Are Not Enough, the five characteristics of meaningful goals are described as being specific, related to your other goals, challenging, realistic, and taken seriously.

Now is a good time to list your summer goals. By the end of the summer you should have also created your goals for the next school year.  To get you started, let me suggest a few.

1. If you are heading to college, make a list of questions about college that you would really like to know. Plan ways to find some o your answers. Some will have to wait until you get there. If you are still in high school or already in college, you might list questions about some of the classes you will be taking.

2. You might spend time reflecting on what you’d like to study in college and what sorts of careers you’d be most interested in. Find people in these careers and talk to them. How much do they earn? What education did they need. Do they still love what they’re doing.

3. If you are in college or planning to go to college, read books about college. Visit colleges,  and make lists of scholarships you can apply for.  Too many students think they can only apply for scholarships when they are in college.

Too many younger students think they need to wait until they are seniors. There are a few scholarships for middle schoolers and  younger, more for students in high school, and many you can’t even apply for until you are a sophomore or older.