Making It Count


Movin' Out, Movin' Up, Movin' On

Movin’ Out . . .


         Movin' Up  Movin' Up . . .

                                                               Movin’ On . . . Movin' On


Graduation! Graduating brings lots of changes. It is a time for defining what you want in life and how you plan to set and meet your goals. It requires action if you plan to be successful, however you define success. It requires far more than simply earning this piece of paper.

A Diploma, no duh

     Let’s begin with a profound truth: moving is hard. I’ve finished the year and it has been a year of big changes. My family has moved. My friends have graduated. I’m pondering what I need to do to be successful. My counselor always asks graduating seniors what advice they’d give high school freshmen. Yeah, you're on your own When she meets with them for the last time before graduation she lets them in on a secret: if they take the advice they give the incoming high school freshmen and apply that good advice to whatever college they Lightbulb Moment! end up at—WOW—it’s amazing how useful those thoughts are. Here are a few:


  • Just relax–it’s never that bad . . .
  • Enjoy the little things . . .
  • Freshman year is the easiest year so make As . . .
  • Take your first years seriously . . . don’t start out slowly . . . 
  • Befriend your teachers . . .
  • It really does go by in a blink of an eye . . .
  • Get ready for lots of work, but lots of fun too . . .
  • Don’t be scared
  • Get involved as much as you can . . .
  • Work hard from the beginning but have fun . . .
  • Grades–not video games–are important . . .
  • Service work is important . . .
  • GPA is key . . .
  • Don’t be afraid to join clubs . . . 
  • Challenge yourself . . .
  • Don’t be scared to step out of your comfort zone . . .
  • Study hard and don’t burn bridges . . .
  • Don’t slack off . . .
  • Do your homework . . . stay organized . . .
  • Ask questions . . .
  • Don’t get caught up in the drama . . .
  • Don’t hesitate or you lose . . .
  • Have fun, but don’t procrastinate . . .
  • Your first year will define the other three–take advantage of that . . .
  • Seriously–try your hardest because it will bite you if you don’t . . .
  • Keep working hard and finish strong . . .
  • Enjoy the little things . . .

 Remember to do what you love and be really good at what you do. Always be willing to learn and adapt, and you’ll not only love what you do, but you’ll also be able to change with Yes, those are mine the times and take care of yourself.

Right now I’m headed out to take one last look at the bay, get a snack (ahem, donuts), and take a little rest.  Keep on movin’ up!





The Class of 2011 – College Search Advice to Parents

  • Don’t pressure your child to go to the college you want him to attend.
  • Help your kids out – this is stressful.
  • Let your students set up the appointments.
  • Tour lots of colleges.
  • Motivate your students.
  • Don’t hover too much.
  • Don’t put any more pressure on your students on which college to go to – let them pick one or two they actually like, and then encourage them.
  • Don’t get pushy unless your child just procrastinates - most of us know the right Helicopter parents decision.
  • Be aware of what your student wants in a college and what makes them happy.
  • Just encourage.
  • Encourage your student to look for scholarships $$$$$.
  • Visiting a college is the most useful thing you can do. What looks good on paper isn’t always the right choice.
  • Don’t breathe down your student’s neck – just . . . 
  • Help your students when they need it, but the student needs to do the work. 
  • Choose your words carefully.
  • Don’t be a black-hawk attack helicopter parent.



Off to a graduation party  Smileyface1


Recipe for Success in the College Search . . .

Advice to the Class of 2012 from the Class of 2011

  • Don’t pick a college only on how much fun it is.
  • If you visit and you generally feel you would love it there, go with your gut.
  • Consider a wide variety of colleges.
  • Research everything. Microscope
  • Maybe a community college is a good place to start.
  • Try not to stress  out too much and go where you love .
  • It isn’t all about the academics.
  • Visit many schools. Suitcase
  • Chill out and don’t stress out about it–you will find the right school no matter what.
  • Be open to all colleges.
  • Remember–this can be very stressful and so much will be thrown at you, but go where suits you best and makes you happy.
  • Look at schools with different selectivity ratings .
  • Divide your schools based on size, type of institution, etc., and narrow the list down. Apply to a reasonable number of schools.
  • Stay organized.
  • Do not procrastinate!
  • Don’t waste time applying to a college you don’t really want to go to.
  • Don’t just pick a college because your friends are going there.
  • Don’t follow the crowd–go to the school that is best for you.
  • Don’t give up on a college because you think you won’t get in or can’t afford it.




Getting into College is...

Getting into College is really about getting out and finding your way in the world.

Map image Start early with Career Center on campus. That office can help you determine what you re  ally want to do with your life. They’ll set up practice interviews and keep you posted about opportunities to interview for internships and jobs.

Here are a few more pointers from a Career Center expert, Mary Lowrey:

  • Questions that interviewers ask are meant to determine: can you do the job? will you do the job? will it be fun to have you as part of the “team?”  how will you contribute to our organization and function in our environment? Your work ethic and motivation will be assessed in your record – academic, extracurricular, job history and in the interview. It won’t be, "can you..." it will be, "how have you demonstrated that you can and will do the job?"
  • How you dress and conduct yourself will be assessed – formally and informally    Interview  image
  • Go to career fairs on your college campus–as early as your freshman year –you learn a lot from these experiences. Dressing the part matters here too.
  • Every day has networking opportunities–look for them.




Getting Ahead: Meet the Career Center on Your Campus!

Benji So, my friend Benji is graduating this year – headed off to Big State U. Our counselor had Benji and all of the seniors at my school participate in a video conference with a career planning and placement officer, Mary Lowrey, Assistant Director, Career Education/Development at The University of Alabama Career Center.

I thought I’d share some pointers from the video conference with you. Next week I’ll share some Ms. Lowrey
thoughts from the graduating class of 2011 indicating what they learned from the experience.

  • Employers and/or graduate school admissions personnel want good grades, but getting the position/gaining admission is more than grades.
  • Soft skills matter, too, and they can be learned and earned in any major and in any job/activity – things like the ability to be an effective part of a team, willingness to take initiative and go beyond the minimum without being told to, truly being a hard worker (something that earns a network of references), communication skills – verbal and writing (no text speak), a willingness to continue learning, and respect for the personal space of others.
  • Facebook and Internet postings can cause you to lose the job offer, and what you A Computer, no duh post or what others post about you can cost the interview – what is online about you matters, and it isn’t as private as you think it is
  • Be able to demonstrate that you have, in addition to soft skills, the specific skills required for a job – believe it or not, to be a rocket scientist requires a specific skill set.


More later,



Juniors–There are No Magic Bullets

This is the time of year that students are ????? what they have signed up for in terms of classes for the next school year.  Many of them want a magic bullet–something that “looks good” on their academic resume and some seem to be in search of the same magic bullet for activities. Take my friend Benji. He keeps looking for that special class or activity that will make his application a sure YES. There are no magic bullets. There is no enchanted formula for admission to the school of choice.

Students should take the toughest classes they can, do their best, and participate in activities they are passionate about because they are, indeed, passionate about the activities. Participation needs to be purposeful and meaningful. Students need to show progressive commitment and leadership–it doesn’t matter whether that is in the Chess Club, the Scholars Bowl team or other endeavors.

If you want to have options for college:

  • think about who you are, what your skills are and what is important to you in a college
  • assess your strengths and review your transcript
  • be actively engaged in the classroom, extracurriculars and in your community
  • craft a vertical list of options that match your talents, goals and objectives

Remember almost seven out of ten applications get a yes answer.

Time for a snack break.



Getting Back into the Groove

At this time of year, it’s good to talk about covering all the bases. Seniors are analyzing admissions and scholarship/aid offers. Remember that the national rate of acceptance is around 66.5%. Of course the highly competitive places regularly run below 10%. Highly selective schools deny qualified, quality applicants – most of those applicants could do the work and contribute to the campus life if they were admitted. It’s all about “fit” from the college perspective – filling institutional needs and crafting a class according to those needs.

Most seniors who have done a thoughtful search will have good options. A vertical list of schools, all of which are desirable from the student’s perspective, is critical to a good final Cookiecutterindex decision. There is no cookie cutter method for predicting admission/scholarship. Some seniors like my friend Jingle Belle can relax as they have been admitted to every place they Jingle Bellephoto2 applied and some will have good scholarship offers. Others will be denied in admission or denied in merit award. It is an extremely competitive environment.

The best applications begin in the freshman year of high school with an actively engaged student – one who is purposeful in the classroom and in extracurriculars.  Avoid the dart throwing Throwing  Darts mentality. There are multiple reasons to hold the line in terms of number of applications. If you are a junior, talk to your counselor about crafting a vertical list of college options appropriate to your interests and abilities.


Gotta run – teachers are really piling on the work. I miss the beach already!



Have you seen my shades?

Towelandglasses Towels ready.

Snacks packed.

Can you say spring break?

Fun in the sun–and I’m ready for it. Beach1

My idea of a good spring break is a beach umbrella, a book that has nothing to do with a school, some good music, and friends visiting at a leisurely pace. Beachumbrella

I’m lucky to live where getting to the beach is easy–palm trees and decks abound. Deckandpalms

See you on the far side of much needed Rest and Relaxation!


PS–I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but . . . remember to bring the gray matter Beach3between the ears back from the beach. The school year isn’t finished and neither are you. AP exams, finals - there is much to be done. There is a cloud that can descend on you: rescinded admissions. Check out those acceptance letters – they are ALL conditional, contingent upon the successful completion of your senior year. Remember, play when it is time to play and work when it is time to work. Right now - back to PLAY!



April 1: Good News, Bad News, Not What You Expected

Suggestion 1: Take a break from deciding which school will get your enrollment deposit (if you are a senior). If you are a junior, take a pass for a week in the college search. Enjoy the moment.

High school has some moments that can be a lot of fun and present some challenges.RFrose

Take prom for example. Ours is this week. It’s a big deal. The clothes, the flowers, the dinner–wonder if those economists realize what an impact proms have!

Suggestion 2: While you are enjoying those magic prom moments, remember to act wisely too. You know what I’m talking about–enjoy, but BE SAFE!

Suggestion 3: Before those big, fun events arrive–make sure you are up-to-date with all your school work. That way, there will be no guilty feeling while you are having fun.

CYA–I gotta look for a good place to have dinner before the prom!




The Envelope Please . . .

RFMailcar2OK, if you thought it took forever to get the admissions letter, for most of my friends, the much-coveted aid award letter really does seem to come via snail delivery. When it gets there, evaluate it carefully. Sometimes the dollar amounts look impressive, but just how are those dollars doled out?

How much loan aid do you have? Do you have work-study money? Do you have any grants -- money that doesn’t have to be paid back -- in your package? Do you have any merit awards? Are those merit awards (a.k.a. scholarships) renewable? If they are renewable, what does it take to maintain eligibility for them?

Sometimes what looks like the biggest $$$$ amount isn’t really the bargain it first appears to be. Be a savvy consumer. Read e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n–g in that letter.

By the way, are you still seeking out scholarships? My counselor is still posting scholarship information.

Assess your options carefully.