📉ADHD Executive Coach Seth Perler shared that the high school students he works with start to dip in performance 6-8 weeks into the semester.
🏊🏻♂Things fall apart. Now they having to swim upstream to catch up and turn in missing assignments.
🏈Then they are doing a "hail mary" in the final two weeks making up work and preparing for final exams. Exhausting!
🤷🏾♂Does this sound familiar? If so, would a different academic calendar be better for you to consider? If you take one course in three weeks or 2 in ten, would that improve retention and increase your GPA?
If you haven't considered the impact of the academic calendar, that should be a question to ask college representatives.
🧠In the comments below, which academic calendar would you prefer in college?
Semester (15 wks) - Offered in 90% of college settings. Most are traditional 14-15 week term while some use block terms of 3 1/2 weeks. Block terms are ideal for students needing to focus on one course at a time. It's intense. Then it's done!
Trimester (11-13 wks) - Some colleges are set up with trimesters. On one hand, you could possibly graduate faster; on the other, it's more challenging if wanting to change majors.
Quarter (10 wks plus summer) - Colleges with quarter academic calendars are beneficial for students transferring after a few weeks into the semester. If your college setting is harder than you imagined or your family needs you closer to home, you would stay on target attending a college with this type of system.
4-1-4 (4 mo + 1 mo + 4 mo) - This means you'd take a 4 week, "mini-mester" in January instead of having an extended winter break. Colleges with a 4-4-1 will offer a "Maymester."
Congratulations to the Class of 2020! Some of you are DONE and some of you are SO CLOSE to walking (six feet apart) across the graduation finish line. Here are a few things to remember as you prepare to attend college in the fall.
 Celebrate your accomplishment! You did it!
 Check in with your college – weekly. Some colleges are starting on campus classes in August, September, or October. Some will be completely online for the fall semester. Some won't make a final decision until early August.
 Schedule student orientation. Many colleges are holding orientations online or delaying until just before the fall semester. Either way, orientation usually includes valuable advising information and allows you to register for classes.
 Submit your final transcript and other required documents.
 Say thank you! Tell teachers, counselors, mentors, tutors, coaches and others that have helped you, “Thank you”. Give SPECIAL thanks and appreciation to your parents and family for support. Invite them to remain a part of your community to help you succeed in college!
 Make summer meaningful. Plan to work, improve your study skills, learn something new, or spend time (whether online or in person) with friends and family this summer. Save any money you earn for when you start college in the fall.
 Check your health records. Get your physical. Confirm your health insurance. Purchase a small first-aid kit. Maintain your exercise and nutrition routine over the summer. Don't allow the Freshman 15 to piggy back on the Quarantine 15.
 Reaffirm your higher calling and determination to graduate with a bachelor's in four years!
In the previous blog, I started sharing three tips to help you break through the walls and obstacles in your life that could be preventing you from accomplishing your goals. Once you are ready to forget your life, you’ll be prepared to finish the race and focus on the task.
FINISH THE RACE
Many of us are good at starting things. We start projects...
We start digital scrapbooks...
We start running…
We start movie subscription services...
We start college…
We start cooking…
But we don’t finish.
It took years of running marathons before my friend Mike qualified for the Boston Marathon. After starting strong with 7-minute per mile pace, his glycogen depleted while negative thoughts and fatigue filled his mind and body. But he was determined to push through mile 18 and mile 19 because he didn’t come this far to drop out of the Boston Marathon. Before Mike could finish, he had to start.
One way to stay in the race is to start. Mike started with 5Ks before running marathons.
In a post for CrusherTV, a program to help people with ADHD conquer procrastination, Alan Brown wrote:
“Think back to Dr. Neil Fiore’s wise advice (not to worry about finishing – and instead, setting a time to just start). This is itself a great procrastination hack. But it’s not always so easy to “just start” when there’s a powerful sense of overwhelm and dread; or when we’re reluctant to begin because we know we’ll just get bogged down soon after starting; or when we just don’t know where to start.
Hack #2 solves this. It is simply to give yourself permission to fail.
That’s right. Drop all expectations of any success, let alone finishing. The only thing you need to do is start, with no demand on yourself other than to give it a few minutes’ effort.
If you start and bang away for 45 seconds then give up? That’s a victory. If you re-start and bang away for 5 more minutes but then get stuck? Victory! Twelve minutes? VICTORY!!”
At the beginning of a semester, it’s okay to try different clubs, activities, and sit in on classes. Eventually, you need to finish starting and start finishing. You start finishing by making and keeping commitments to others and to yourselves.
Another way to stay in the race is to finish. Beth Main shared tips on “How to Finish What You Start.” For people with ADHD or ADD, “keeping a mental to-do list just doesn't work. It takes up brain bandwidth you could be using for other things. You forget stuff, and then remember while you're in the middle of doing something else.” People who are impulsive can be stressful themselves and others. Main recommends “detailed planning” to stay on task.
Work with your admissions officer, advisor, or professor to create a course of action for your major. Review your plan at the end of each semester, quarter, or block and make necessary adjustments.
At Spalding University (Louisville, KY), their block scheduling allows students to take one or two classes every six weeks, with one week between blocks. This allows athletes to take one class while focusing on their sport and students with learning disabilities to focus on a few concentrated classes instead of four and a lab for sixteen weeks.
Work with a college pastor or spiritual mentor to grow deeper in your faith while away at college. Too many students quit following Jesus because their faith was shallow – like seeds tossed on a sidewalk.
Develop a habit of praying, reading and studying the Bible, serving others, discipling others, and worshiping God with a local church.
And don’t procrastinate until Christmas. The first six weeks of the new school year is formative to your success. Beth Main shared two reasons why we put things off: “disorganization — you aren't clear on what you need to do — and disinterest — you don't feel like doing it.” Be creative and implement personal rewards and consequences each semester. Celebrate small successes to help you remain committed to finish the race.
If you are not committed to Christ, any obstacle or hill or crisis can knock you out of the race. During the 2006 Winter Olympics, snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis lost the cross-country gold when she fell – showboating or "snow"boating – on the last hill. The one thing Paul wanted to do was finish the race. Your life matters to God. So even when the course is difficult, finish the race by continuing to grow in your faith, honor God, and serve others.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” The first step to finishing the race is taking the first step. And Paul is confident “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
FOCUS ON THE TASK
Despite the obstacles, Paul remained focused. He wanted to complete the task of sharing God’s grace with everyone without hesitation. It’s okay to struggle with your faith in college. Just don’t do it in isolation. Along with joining a local church, connect with a group of dormmates, people on your intramural kickball team, or co-workers and focus on the task.
Like I mentioned in the previous post, too many students are not getting the higher education they need to fulfill God’s calling in their life. God wants to equip you to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people you work with in your industry.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Paul, Acts 20:24).
Are you ready to finish?
Student-athletes who run cross country, swim long distances, or endure long tennis matches know that moment when they have to decide to dig deep to stay in the race or give up and fall on their faces. You know that pushing yourself mentally and physically to compete and complete the race, swim, or match would be the best story ever! It’s also just as easy to grab a protein drink and a shower when your mind and body are ready to end the madness.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the educational race, more than 25 percent of high school students drop out before graduation. More than 30 percent of college students drop out before their sophomore year. Too many students are not getting the higher education they need to fulfill God’s calling in their life.
In the book of Acts, the author (many believe it was Luke) recorded the acts of the apostles and shared them with Theophilus. Toward the end of the book, we read Paul’s words: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
I want to share three tips to help you break through the walls and obstacles in your life that could be preventing you from accomplishing your goals. In this blog, I’ll write about how to forget your life. In the next blog, I’ll conclude by writing about finishing the race and focusing on the task.
FORGET YOUR LIFE
When Paul said I consider my life worth nothing to me, he wasn’t saying that his life, or any life, was not important. He wasn’t being fatalistic. He wasn’t saying that wisdom, laughter, education, work, shopping, or eating chocolate cake was bad. Even King Solomon tried all of that and discovered that everything is meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). (Okay, maybe he had fig cakes, instead of chocolate.)
Paul was saying that he did not value his life above the calling God had given him. We have multiple callings in our life: salvation, vocation, occupation, and avocation. Your salvation begins when you confess your sins and trust Jesus Christ with your heart. If you are ready to make this decision, read this and then share your decision with a Christian friend, pastor, or me.
As you learn to pray, read your Bible, experience life, and discover your interests, you will hear God’s calling for your vocation as a carpenter, welder, engineer, nurse, or missionary. Then you can choose the best path to learn a trade or attend college after high school.
Paul valued and enjoyed life! He loved taking risks (he was bold), being outdoors (tentmaker), and traveling (mission journeys). He just wanted to be obedient to the teachings of Christ and follow His example.
When you are ready to forget your life and focus on the Lord, you are making the most important decision to stay in the race.
"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
You may have heard that without vision, teenagers wander into food court water fountains. Or something like that. It's the same with college planning, without a vision, college-bound students may wander. College planning is a process. You need a plan. In the "Rising Cost of Not Going to College," researchers learned that "the surest path to a good job and satisfying career runs through college."
In Genesis 2:15, we read that God placed man in the garden to "work and watch over it." The original desire for work was a blessing. It sounds like Adam's higher calling was to be a gardener!
Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why." Here are four steps you can take to help you find your why.
Step 1: First, decide that you want to earn a post-secondary education. This is important because some jobs may only require a certificate or some technical training. Others require more education. I recommend earning a four-year bachelor's degree since 65% of future jobs will require a bachelor's degree.
A 53-year old firefighter has been working as a professional fireman in Dallas since he was 19 years old. What an incredible career of service to his community! He earned his 2-year associate's degree years ago. When a Fire Chief opening became available, he wanted to apply. While he has the required experience, he does not have the required education. To become a Fire Chief, he needs a 4-year bachelor's degree. It is important to know what your career goals are, so you can plan accordingly.
Once a decision to earn a bachelor's degree has been made, you need to develop a plan. Start by searching for a major in a fast growing career that complements your calling. When trying to figure out what you're called to do, remember to consider what problems you want to solve, what grips your heart, and even what keeps you up at night - besides cramming for that world history midterm.
Step 2: Once you have selected a major, find a college that is a good academic, social, and emotional fit. If you select a college before you select a career option, you may find out that your favorite I'm-going-to-this-college-no-matter-what doesn't have a program with your desired major.
And what about the potential social and emotional fit. Angel Perez, Director of Admission at Pitzer College wisely said to “keep an open mind about everything you do in college. . . ‘some may’ make you uncomfortable. If you are always comfortable, you will never grow.” Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College added that "Students who know what they are looking for have better luck finding it and can do a better job of articulating their hopes and interests in their applications.
So step 1 (major selection) comes before step 2 (college selection).
Step 3: Then, when you have a list of colleges that are a good match based on your career choice, you can determine which is the best financial fit. If you start with the cost in mind, you may eliminate affordable options. Since the average four-year cost of attendance is between $83,000 - $183,000 depending on the college (public or private) and career (liberal arts, engineering, aviation), you need to have a plan to pay for college.
Step 4: Now that you've made a commitment to attend the college that is the best fit for you, you're ready to begin preparing for your higher calling, future career and life goals. So let's start career planning.
Robert J. Massa, VP for Enrollment at Dickinson College once said that "There are at least 50 colleges that will be a “right fit” for you!” The challenge is to narrow them down to the right one. Making wise decisions doesn't just happen. You need to plan, work, review, and revise your plans. Remember, discovering your higher calling, as well as college planning, is a process (video by Chispa Motivation).
FUN FACT: At some colleges, students are tossed into campus water fountains on their birthday. Hope you were born in a warm month!
So, your fourth grader is interested in climbing trees, Minecraft, macaroni and cheese, dressing up like Princess Mulan, and college? How exciting!
One elementary school student just celebrated birthday number ten! She enjoys singing, playing the piano, drawing, and Skittles. She has already “committed” to attend Texas Southern University. That’s right! One of her young classmates was talking about college, declared where and what she was going to study, and all the girls followed suit. I told her mom not to discourage the decision, because she can build on that desire later. Let them “play college.”
If you think about it, didn’t we all have career dreams or play career dress-up? I wanted to be a fireman, policeman, teacher, architect, astronaut, and a preacher. I soon learned that I was not fond of heights, so flying to space was no longer an option.
Even though some states require that every grade explore careers and college options, nurturing your young child to prepare for college is actually a brilliant idea!
My wife and I had lunch with mom of three children ages 12, 9 and 4. After the meal, the kids were playing with cars, reading, wrestling, and crying. Once mom learned that I was an educational consultant in the world of college planning, she began asking a lot of questions. She shared that in her circle of influence, the parents were already discussing the possibility of their children going to college.
In one conversation, we discussed what it would take to major in astronomy because her middle child is interested in flying (her dad is an airline pilot), telescopes, and space. I mentioned attending space camps, playing with telescopes, and having fun. I also emphasized math, science, and learning a second language.
Kids love connecting the dots to discover the image on the paper. As parents and educators, we need to help them connect the dots from careers to majors to higher education to their higher calling.
Consider how the National Association for College Admission Counseling is helping build a career superhighway. They have a guide called “College Awareness and Planning: Elementary School.”
I agree that “introducing students to career and college exploration in elementary school will provide them the opportunity to establish a foundation for more in-depth conversations and exploration about their futures in later years.”
School counselors should help students identify personal interests, link those interests to possible careers, and encouraging students to express their initial thoughts about college. They should also prompt students to list some characteristics they might look for in a college, understand basic college-related terms, and incorporate aids that match their preferred learning styles.
Caralee Adams wrote that, “by creating a college-going culture in elementary school, the hope is that students will aspire to a lifelong path toward higher education and deeper learning that ends with a degree.” While higher education is not every student’s dream, creating an environment in the classroom and at home establishes a mindset that all things are possible.
Prepare for College
Here are four simple ways to help your children prepare for college.
Students need to do their best in school. Encourage them to try new things and work through problems.
Let your children explore the world of ideas, art, creativity, science, and diversity. Visit children’s museums, visit college campuses, invite college students to the elementary school, and have a career dress-up day. There is no replacement for a great education.
And encourage your kids to have fun playing games as they learn about jobs.
Read. A. Book. One that has paper, a cover, a spine, and the potential for paper cuts. While technology is wonderful, limit their screen time.
Another tip is to encourage your child to read a lot.
One more tip is to read aloud to your child so they develop an interest in reading, careers, and hearing the voices that you give the book characters.
After they read, encourage them to play inside and outside. They need to explore, be creative, learn to fall, learn to fail, communicate, and enjoy being a kid. Challenge them to build a “sand-campus” – a college university in the sand (I did this with adults!).
One of the MOST IMPORTANT decisions you can make as a parent is to include higher education in your annual budget. Yes, it will be hard. But it is worth it. Just know that the four-year cost of attendance for a highly selective private college bachelor’s degree program is a quarter of a million dollars ($250,000).
There are many ways to reduce that by 50%-75%, but not if you wait until the second semester of their sophomore year.
The Student Aid Checklist for Elementary School gives three steps you can take now:
Elementary school is not too early to think about what you want to be when you grow up.
Since learning, reading, playing, and saving are important for your elementary school children, it is more important if you have a student in high school. Contact me when you are ready to start planning for college!
“Three seniors at Brooklyn, New York high schools are determined to get their entire classes to college, even though they aren't even sure they are going to make it there themselves. They are working as college counselors in their three schools because many of their friends have nowhere else to turn for support.”
Does this resemble your high school? Why or why not?
What would you do if your school lacked college planning resources?
Unfortunately, some public high schools lack the funding to support a college resource center. Some school counselors can only spend 22% of their time to work with students planning to go to college. They also have to do mental health counseling, check on attendance, volunteer as bus monitors, administrative duties, and much, much more. While private high schools may have better resources and support, rural and urban public high schools need help building a college-going culture on their campus.
This is one reason why this documentary was filmed. To help the general public understand what students have to do to apply for college and why it can be hard for many. It’s the raw and the real.
Only 16% of students from low-income backgrounds obtain a bachelor’s degree, in comparison to 60% of students from high-income backgrounds.
To help fill the gap, many organizations and CBOs (Community Based Organizations) are working to provide the college-going resources needed for these students. However, school counselors and peer leaders are still needed. People (not programs) are the key!
“PERSONAL STATEMENT is a feature-length documentary that follows Karoline, Christine and Enoch through their senior year and into college. They work tirelessly as peer college counselors to realize better futures for themselves and their peers. They struggle and they stumble, but refuse to succumb to the barriers that prevent so many low-income students from attending and graduating from college.”
I had the opportunity to preview Personal Statement during the 2018 NACAC Conference in Salt Lake City (a conference for college counselors).
You’ll laugh at what happens at the dinner table. You’ll feel the suspense when the students open their acceptance notices. You’ll see the determination of three students. You’ll learn how hard it was for one student to simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’ll understand how their life experience becomes their personal statement.
There are thousands of high-achieving students who don’t know HOW or WHEN or WHERE to submit a college application. And there are hundreds of school counselors that desperately want to guide their students to discover the right fit college and career.
This is why I am encouraging all policy makers, parents, principals and people interested in higher education to watch and support this documentary. Especially if you work with low-income or first-generation college students!
HOW TO WATCH
Use this episode link: http://bit.ly/ARF_PersonalStmt to stream the film online.
You can check your local PBS station schedule to see when PERSONAL STATEMENT will be broadcast by your local PBS affiliate here: https://www.thirteen.org/schedule/
HOW TO SUPPORT
To help spread the message of this documentary, donate here. To make an immediate impact and support the college expenses of the main characters in the film (like Karoline above), donate here.
After watching the documentary, share your thoughts below…
It’s never too early to explore career options. Going to a children’s museum to play farmer, astronaut, fireman, or teacher is a great way to start. However, as a teenager, you might resist attending that family outing (while secretly wishing you could go with your friends).
So, before completing any career assessments or having informal conversations with industry professionals, take a few moments to research the career data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
And ask yourself a question: what would you enjoy doing for 2,000+ hours a year?
There are around 300 occupations that require at least a bachelor’s degree for employment. So, you’ll have plenty of options to consider. There are only 14 declining occupations that require a 4-year degree including computer programmers, reporters and editors.
The good news is that there are over 100 occupations with an excellent future based on percentage job growth. So, among the first things to consider when researching your career options are median salary (after 10 years on the job, the average is $77,000), number of annual job openings (it varies between 300 and 200,000) and the required time to earn your degree (4-11 years).
Ultimately, your goal is to earn a degree in a growing occupation that will provide a competitive salary, challenge you, and allow you to contribute to society. And you should have fun too!
A bachelor’s degree takes four-years or less to complete. There are 56 bachelor’s degrees that are considered to be growing faster than average. This means that the occupation has a projected growth between 10% - 37% over the next decade.
With a median salary of $100,080 per year, applications software development is the fourth fastest growing career. At 30.5%, it has the largest projected growth for graduates with a bachelor’s degree.
There are over 85,000 projected job openings per year for applications software developers, second only to registered nurses. Job titles may include Computer Applications Developer / Engineer, Database Developer, or Software Applications Architect / Designer / Engineer.
Information security analysts has a projected growth of 28.4% and Operations research analysts is projected to have the third largest growth at 27.4%
Low but steady growth is projected for 13 occupations including civil engineers (10.6%), technical writers (10.9%), software developers, systems software (10.8%), and financial analysts (10.8%).
In reviewing the data from all 800+ occupations (including those that don’t require a college degree) the one thing that stood out to me was the number of declining professions that require a master’s degree. Zero. Depending on the occupation, you’d only need an extra year or two in graduate school to secure a better job outlook. More education provides more options.
If you think you might be interested in pursuing a graduate degree, know that the top three occupations projected to grow over the next decade might be good fits for those who enjoy math and science.
Nurse practitioners have been among the fastest growing occupations for the past six years. Currently, the projected growth is 36% over the next decade. Nurse practitioners have 14,000 annual job openings and enjoy a median salary of over $101,000.
Surpassing them with a 37.4% projected growth are physician assistants. They may work as an assistant in anesthesiology, family practice, pediatrics or radiology. This health science occupation also has a median salary of $101,000 with about 11,000 annual job openings.
For those who enjoy playing with numbers and formulas, you might enjoy becoming a statistician. Statisticians work in government research, biology labs, large corporations, with environmentalists, and in professional sports. This career has a projected growth of 33.4% (about 4,000 jobs a year) and median salary of $81,000.
Low but steady growth is projected for urban and regional planners (12.8%) and school counselors (11.3%).
DOCTORAL / PROFESSIONAL
The health professions that require the most education (up to 7 additional years after earning your bachelor’s) and have the greatest growth projection are postsecondary health specialties professors in clinical sciences, dentistry, neurology, physical therapy (25.9% growth), physical therapists (25%), postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers (24%), and audiologists (20.4%).
Even though additional education (consider the cost!) is required, the top five fastest growing occupations have a median salary of $84,000. Students need to research all of their options to determine how much and how long they are willing to learn.
Pharmacists have a 5.6% projected career growth. The three occupations with the lowest projected growth are appointed or elected positions as judges.
Now that you’ve considered these numbers, pray about your higher calling, complete a reliable career assessment, and start researching your top three career options using O*Net OnLine and the Occupational Outlook Handbook to discover a career that is right for you.
(And its okay if you want to visit the children's museum.)
Autumn A. Arnett (Education Dive) points out some changes to the Department of Education (DOE) data that I believe could reshape the success rates (and those treasured rankings) in higher education.
She writes that “many institutions hide poor outcomes for lower income students by enrolling fewer of these students and lumping their graduation and retention data in with that of more affluent students, who are naturally better prepared to succeed on campus. However, with more students coming from lower income backgrounds than ever before, shedding light on how well schools are or aren't serving them could be a critical first step to actually ensuring their success, which is critical to meeting national security and workforce demands.”
Reporting this new data could elevate Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) as affordable examples of college success. In 2014-2015, there were around 700 MSIs (14% of all colleges) that enrolled 4.8 million students (28% of all undergrads).
Arnett continues, “Though often the lowest resourced institutions and traditionally raked over the coals for their often dismal graduation rates, data has shown that when controlled for the same population — that is largely Pell grant recipients and students of color — these institutions actually do a better job of retaining and graduating these students. And they're doing it with less money, which could serve as a lesson for the industry as a whole as it continues to struggle with declining public support against the reality that these students are more expensive to educate.”
Reporting this new data could slow the annual 4.0-4.5% rise in college tuition. Some students are paying a quarter of a million dollars to earn a four-year bachelor’s of science in biology. This makes sense when you equate the quality higher education with higher costs. As students (and their parents) compare the cost with the outcomes, they will begin to attend more affordable schools. In the long run, this may help drive costs down.
Reporting this new data could help prospective college freshman understand that “where you go is not who you’ll be” as Frank Bruni shared. This is echoed in the Gallup-Purdue University survey that shows the learning and living experiences in college impacted their future more than the type of institution they attended. The data will allow parents to consider all outcomes (full-time, part-time, transfer, Pell grant recipients…) to inform their decisions.
Generation Z students understand the need for higher education. And they do not want to pay for what they don't need. They are not as concerned with athletic programs and dorm life and are more concerned about earning a degree.
In Pulling Back the Curtain (ACE and CPRS), they show that minority serving institutions have better than average outcomes. Consider the completion rate (students who completed their degree at their starting institution within 6 years) for public full time students. (NOTE: MSIs have received federal recognition between 1965 and 2008.)
The report rightly states that their "analysis cannot directly speak to the quality of education offered by these institutions (PBTC, p8)" but it looks like these MSIs are producing college graduates! That is one HUGE step in the right direction.
Eventually, this new data will improve conversations with college-bound students and their parents and help them make better decisions about continuing their education.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.