Tips for Preparing for College

As a high school teacher, it always amazed me the number of juniors and seniors really had no plan for the future. Usually, they had a career goal in mind but no plan for achieving it. Other times the dream career was unrealistic. Other times I would see otherwise, good students enroll at the local community college only to leave after few semesters never really accomplishing anything. One common thread I observed was that the students had never really planned or thought of the future.

Begin planning early. I think sixth grade is a good time for many reason. Find out what types of careers interest your child. Spend time exploring careers. Help your child develop a plan to achieve their desired career goal.  Encourage your child to research high school and college or technical training needed to achieve these goals.  This helps your child take ownership of their education and future.

Select high school and middle school courses that give you a head start in college. It is good idea to know what high school courses required for college admission. Most colleges include a list of suggested and required courses students need to take in high school for admission. This is especially helpful if your child already has a college in mind. It is not uncommon for students to take pre-algebra in seventh grade and algebra in eighth grade. This makes it easier to meet the math requirements for college admission. This first year of Spanish or another foreign language are often taken in eighth grade. While taking algebra or foreign languages in eighth grade give you high school credit, they do not count in the high school GPA. Taking AP courses, dual enrollment and/or CLEP not only help get college credit they also reduce the cost of college. The Big Guy started college with 30 hours of college credit due to AP classes. He was able to start as  sophomore and complete his undergrad degree in three years.

Be a well-rounded student. The trend in college admissions is to de-emphasize test scores and consider other credentials like course selection, grades, community service and extra-curricular activities. As a note on community service, many colleges do not consider mission trips or other church activities as community service. One guideline I discovered is that church activities that involves teaching religion or evangelism will not count as community service. However, church sponsored service projects or even a mission trip spent building an orphanage or similar activities will count. It is better to describe what was done on the mission trip and not call it a mission trip. For example if your teen participated in a summer mission trip to build houses in Haiti. List this trip as a house building project not First Church Summer Mission trip 2010.

Have a plan for paying for college. Don’t count on getting scholarships especially athletic scholarships to pay for college. Be prepared to pay for at least part if not all of your child’s college. Consider state pre-pay tuition plans.

My Views on Technology

Disclaimer: If this sounds like a school essay, I know it is something I wrote for my class.

Technology plays an important role in my personal and professional life.  I worked in a technology related position for about ten years as a computer teacher, computer lab assistant and in tech support.

Personally, I see the computer as both a cool toy and a vital tool. One of my earliest experiences with the computer was my dad bringing home a stack of floppies with games and other programs from school. He gave me a few basic lessons on how to get them to work. After that it was up to me to figure out how to run the programs. I approached the task of learning to use the computer like a puzzle. Most of my computer skills have been self-taught. As a first year teacher I was discovered that the computers (Apple IIEs) in my classroom were broken and there was no money to replace or repair them. So, once again I was left on my own to find a solution. I rebuilt both machines and was even given access to a closet full of other non-working machines for spare parts. Soon, I had a several working machines and was often called to repair other machines. While I quickly learned to make computers or software work there were huge gaps in my knowledge and skills. I often knew how to do things but did not know the way to accomplish a task. This is where technology literacy is important. As a computer teacher, I often had parents and students that did not understand that being computer/technology literate was more than being able to surf the web, play games or even type a paper. For example when teaching students to use MS Word for I insisted they learn how to use styles and formatting rather than just manual formatting each piece of information.

Professionally, I rely on computers to complete my job.  Outlook helps me stay one top of meetings that I must attend, communicate with colleagues and schedule meetings with students. Currently, my job is as a consultant rather than a classroom teacher. On a daily basis I use a database to monitor student’s progress and placement.

So Long and Good Luck, Timmy

Last Friday’s Sugar bowl marked the end of an era for Gator Nation.  It was the last game for one of most accomplished classes in Gator Football history.  Tim Tebow had an amazing run as the quarterback for the University of Florida. He won the Heisman as a sophomore. I really wasn’t in favor of Tebow winning the Heisman as a sophomore because I believe the award should be reserved for seniors. Yes, I think players shouldn’t be allowed to go to the NFL until at least after their junior year.  Tebow also graduated in December 2009. Graduating in 3 1/2 years is accomplishment for any student especially an athlete.

Quarterbacks are supposed to be the field general and a team leader. Tebow embraced that role both on and off the field. Under Tebow’s leadership the Gators went 35-6. After the Gator’s only loss in 2008, Tebow took responsibility for the loss and promised to do better. Tebow was not the only player on the field but as the quarterback he accepted responsibility.  Tebow is very humble after a win sharing the glory with teammate. Off the field the Gators have volunteered more since Timmy became the starting quarterback. Even Urban Meyer and his family participated in a mission trip.

I have heard a lot of talk in the media about how Tebow isn’t cut out to be a quarterback on a pro team. The Big Guy has tried to explain it to me. Tebow has proven that if given a chance he will work hard and I believe excel. Personally, I would like to see more good guys like Tebow in professional sports rather than spoiled brats who cause problems.

Way to Go HSU!

Alumni Wall that contains the name of every graduate from the first class to the most recent class.

In July, my alma mater Hardin-Simmons University received two well deserved honors.  Yes, that is my unbiased opinion.

The Chronicle for Higher Education named HSU one of the top ten colleges to work for in the small school division (under 3,000). The results were based upon a nationwide survey of  about 41,000 employees on 247 campuses.

The Princeton Review selected HSU as one of its Best of The West regional schools. Each year the Princeton Review selects about 25 percent of the nations colleges and universities as top regional schools. My time on the 40 acres was a good time. For me Hardin-Simmons was the right school. I gained far more than just a good education.


schoolbusLast night I overheard a conversation from a couple of college students regarding teaching. It seems that the young lady is an education major. Her friend was loudly proclaiming how teachers were really over paid. He thought that teachers had a very easy job because they only work 8 to 3 with a lunch break and an hour off period. Further teachers get two months off a year. The young man had obviously never been on the other side of the desk.

There are many who think because they have been students that they must know about teaching. Further there are still many misconceptions about teaching. First teaching is not an 8 to 3  job; those are just the hours that students are there. For me teaching was more like 7:30-5:00 and then I took several hours of work home each night. While teachers are supposed to get a half hour lunch and conference period each day there is often so much to do during those time that it is rarely free time. I was always doing good to get fifteen minutes to inhale my lunch. It is ironic that the gentleman thought teachers were being over paid was in the one of the, if not lowest paying counties in Florida. Florida’s teachers are some of the lowest paid teachers in the country.

One of the things that has always frustrated about teaching was that those who made the policies (ie politicians) had for the most part never taught. In our society grown men are paid millions of dollars to play with a ball but teachers barely make a decent wage. In many areas education is so underfunded that teachers must spend large amounts of their own limited resources for classroom supplies. In Florida, the education funding situation is so bad that many school districts are looking at drastic measures to reduce spending including shortening the school week to 4 days and reducing electives.

If we really wanted to improve education in this country maybe we should provide better funding instead of just adding more regulations. Give teachers the respect that college educated professionals deserve rather than always blaming teachers.

Cool Idea

Connley Missions Center

Connally Missions Center

I’m taking a break from Top 10 this week. I’ve been wanting to write about something I found while working on another post.

The Social Work Club from my alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University, is hosting a Prom Party for young women who live in foster care. The event is February 28th, from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm in Connally Missions.  The girls are able to shop for a prom dresses and accessories.  There will be a limo ride provided that morning, lunch will be served.  Door prizes for salons, hair styling, manicures and pedicures will also be given to the young ladies.

I think it is such a cool idea. The students are giving back to the community and helping those who are often overlooked. Oh, if you are in the Abilene area, they are looking for donotations.

My World Tuesday: Hardin-Simmons Landmarks

This week we I would like to share some more scences from my alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University.  A few weeks ago I posted a quick visual tour of the campus or the “40 Acres” as it is called.  Today I would like to share some of the landmarks from campus. Most are from the pond area of a campus.  Located at the front of campus the pond is  the centerpiece of the campus.

Reflection Pond and Leggit Bridge

Reflection Pond and Legett Memorial Bridge

The reflection pond was built from a gift by Mr. & Mrs. Frand M. Woods in 1978. In 1979 a gazebo was built beside the pond in honor of the class of 1929’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the gazebo. When I was a student sometimes we would bring a TV and VCR out and watch movies by the pond. The Legett Memorial Bridge spans the Reflection Pond was dedicated by the May 2002 senior class in memory of of one of HSU’s founders. When I was a student freshman caught without their beanies or walking on the grass during “Howdy Week” were often ponded (thrown into the pond). Surprisingly, I made it 4 1/2 years without ever being ponded. That was a little known fact that I didn’t  reveal as a student.

Cannon located near the Reflection Pond.

Cannon located near the Reflection Pond.

Bell that once hung in the Old Main building. Today is displayed near the pond.

Bell that once hung in the Old Main building. Today is displayed near the pond.

Grave marker for Dam-it, College Mascot from 1916-1920.

Grave marker for Dam-it, College Mascot from 1916-1920.

Dam-it or Fritz as he was called on Sundays was a stray dog that became the college mascot. According to campus legend he was named by Gib Sandifer son of campus president J.D. Sandifer.  Supposedly the purple and gold hydrant marks the remains of the beloved dog. I seriously doubt that it does because that marker has been moved several times.

Memorial for J.D. "Prexie" Sandefer.

Memorial for J.D. “Prexie” Sandefer. University president from 1909-1940.

Memorial located between Moody Center and Sandefer Hall.

Memorial located between Moody Center and Sandefer Hall.

The area contains memorials for the Sandefers and Simmons.  When I was as student there was a decorative fence around the memorials. It was a common occurrence for students from Abilene’s other university Abilene Christian University or McMurry University to get a picture of this for scavenger hunts and occasionally leave a sign or other item there.

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