I am no stranger to dealing with stressed out students. When my sons were in high school, most of their stress was associated with sports and girls. Fortunately, they both thrived on competition and responded well to incentives, so whenever their grades started to slip, I simply offered a monetary reward or threatened to bench them if they did not take their studies seriously; it always did the trick. Now, it’s my daughter’s turn, but unlike her brothers, her stress is mostly confined to academics. Gabby is a sophomore at one of the best International Baccalaureate (IB) schools in the country, Paxon School for Advanced Studies. She came to the school from an IB middle school with a perfect grade point average (GPA), so I thought she would be well prepared to handle the rigorous courses at Paxon. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. For the last three semesters, we have tried a variety of tactics to help her raise her GPA, including the incentives offered to her brothers, but her grades continued to slip. We took away her extracurricular activities, restricted her time with friends, and removed distractions from her room (television, computer, video games, etc.), but nothing worked. So, this semester, I decided to take a completely different approach. Read the rest of this entry »
For many parents, these next few weeks will be a whirlwind of emotions; there are sure to be some tears and maybe even a few arguments, as high school seniors across the country get ready to take on the world. It doesn’t seem that long ago that these same students clung to their parents legs, begging them not to go (remember kindergarten?). Where did the time fly? Now, seniors can’t wait to leave their parents behind and start a new adventure. Although these past 18 years may have been filled with ups and downs (no child is perfect!), it’s time for parents to celebrate this milestone and show their children how proud they are of their accomplishments. Choosing the perfect graduation gift, however, can be a bit tricky. After consulting several soon-to-be graduates, I think I have created a list of potential items that every high school senior would be grateful to receive. Read the rest of this entry »
A few years ago, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a study that asked 614 people, aged 22 to 30, to rate their guidance counselor’s effectiveness in helping with the college planning process. An overwhelming majority responded that their counselors gave little assistance in helping them decide which college was right for them or helping them with the college application process. Even more startling, nearly half of the students felt they were just ‘another face in the crowd.’ Given that the average high school guidance counselor has to juggle over 400 students a year, it’s no surprise that most students felt lost and alone.
According to a report published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the majority of high school guidance counselors spend an average of just 38 minutes per year on each student helping with college admissions or planning tasks. Should we, as parents, be angry about this? Read the rest of this entry »
It’s hard to believe, but in a few short months your child will be in college. You may think that all the hard work is behind you, now that his/her college applications are complete and financial aid forms have been sent, but don’t get too comfortable. While your child is waiting to find out where he/she will be attending college this fall, you still have plenty of tasks on your college to-do list. Along with trying to figure out how you are going to pay for your child’s education and all those ‘back-to-school’ items he/she will need, you’ll also need to cover some other items of importance before he/she leaves the nest. To avoid any delays in your child’s college journey, be sure to tackle these items before your child graduates this spring. Read the rest of this entry »
The last year of high school is overwhelming for many students and parents. While students are busy taking entrance exams, completing their college applications and waiting for acceptance letters, parents are anxiously trying to figure out how to pay for it all. For some families, there will be difficult conversations that may result in a few dreams being crushed, but for those that plan ahead, the college planning process can be much smoother. Here are some things for parents to consider when starting the college conversation with their children. Read the rest of this entry »
Letting go is never easy. I know because I have been there. When my first child was getting ready to graduate from high school, I was a basket case. I watched him grow from a fussy baby who never let me get more than an hour of sleep a night, to a precocious toddler who loved to take things apart. As he grew into a teenager, I was there to guide him through the confusing world of girls and help him focus on his dream of becoming a teacher. With so much time and energy invested in his life, I couldn’t help but feel that I had the inalienable right to know where he was and what he was doing, even though he wasn’t living under my roof anymore. I was seriously just a few inches away from becoming a helicopter parent.
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This spring, I will be spending a few weeks with my daughter touring college campuses; she’s a sophomore in high school and eager to start exploring her options. Just as her brother did before her, she has visions of stepping onto a campus and finding her perfect match. Fortunately for her, I have learned a thing or two about college tours over the years, which means her experience may actually come pretty close to the one she’s envisioned and not end up like one of those road trip horror stories; her brother, unfortunately, wasn’t so lucky. Depending on how you handle the situation, your time with your child can be something to treasure or something that can pull you apart. Here are a few things I have learned over the years that may help you keep the peace during your child’s college tours.
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Did your child make the AB Honor Roll or Dean’s List every semester? Are his/her college entrance exam scores above average? If so, congratulations! Unfortunately, those grades will not necessarily earn him/her a full-ride scholarship to college. Each year, countless students believe the hype that if they make a 4.0 grade point average or ace their exams, colleges will be throwing money at them to attend. Although some students will receive generous financial aid packages, the odds are not exactly in your child’s favor. It is estimated that only 0.3 percent (roughly 20,000) of all full-time undergraduate students receive enough scholarship money to cover all their costs. Read the rest of this entry »
It was always easy to pick out gifts at the holidays when my kids where in elementary school and younger; they were happy to get new clothes, shoes and even a board game or two. Now that they are in high school and college, it’s exceedingly more difficult to decipher their tastes in music and the latest fashion trends. Although I could take the easy route and simply hand them cash, it doesn’t quite look the same under the tree. I also enjoy watching them rip open the packages on Christmas morning and watching the expressions on their faces. The trick is finding those perfect items that will elicit that ear-to-ear grin that I so fondly remember seeing when they were six years old. After some trial and error with my older boys, I’ve developed a system that seems to work well for my kids that are still in high school – I’ve turned their college packing list into their holiday wish list. Read the rest of this entry »
As a mother of four, I have been down the college planning path a time or two. I’d love to say that it gets easier each time, but every child is different and each one comes with a new set of challenges. However, one thing has remained the same – my desire to help them succeed. We want the best for our children, and college is no exception. But it’s all too easy to get caught up in our own dream and forget that our children may have a completely different vision of their future. That’s why it’s important to sit down with your child early during his/her high school years and discuss what expectations you may have for college and balance them with your child’s. Here are a few things you can do now to help your child begin the college planning process. Read the rest of this entry »