This post has been written by Catherine Brackett, a former student intern with the University of Nebraska High School. She offers advice to students about to begin their lives as freshmen and what she wished she could have told herself before she began her journey through college.
There are many tidbits of advice I wish I had known when I was younger–even just a couple years ago. I’m sure many of us replay events that could’ve gone differently if we had just known what the outcome would be. Although we are unable to rewind and give ourselves the advice that we thought we needed, mistakes and trials help us become the people we come to be proud of presently–flaws and all. If I can’t go back and change little mistakes that I had made when I was a fresh face in the university dorms, I hope I can provide future students with knowledge that I wish I would have known as a spunky 18-year-old.
I first advise all of my younger peers not to take courses too lightly. I was astounded when I found that many of my high school peers were flunking and were punished to academic probation–even brainiacs who did well in school. Never think that it couldn’t happen to you, because that’s when you let your guard down and assignments fall behind.
This brings me to my next point–don’t let your mistakes define you as a person. It isn’t the end of the world, even flunking out of university isn’t the end of the world. The most important thing to keep in mind if you are ever in a situation where you think there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, is to keep moving forward. These mistakes are just that–mistakes. They’re usually fixable and they are meant to be left in the past.
You might not have had to study in high school, but now is the time to pick up a good habit. I never studied my freshman year, and I got a huge wake-up call my sophomore year. I wasn’t able to get by that long without hitting the library, but now, the library is one of my favorite places on campus. Find a good study spot with no distractions and make it a “home-y” place for you to enjoy on those late nights of hitting the books. Also, just because your friends may be taking the same class doesn’t mean they may be the best study tools for you. Know when to cut your friends out of the study equation if they start to become a distraction.
With all of that being said, don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to let loose sometimes and enjoy yourself. Many people may tell you that the best years of your life were in high school, but I disagree–college is. Be active and involved and you’re sure to have the best experience possible!
An anonymous quote I found states it well: “If you worry about what might be, wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.”
As a longtime educator and coach, I have greatly benefited from past experiences and have also planned for future situations. But I have determined for me, as much as possible, it is best to live in the now.
What is the correct balance of the past, future, and present in your life journey?
In this post, I want to focus briefly on each of these three timelines and illustrate how the past and future can be beneficial and/or detrimental to you. However, I want to encourage you to focus on the present.
Remembering our past can be useful, but fixating on it too much can be damaging. It’s essential to learn from our past experiences or the experiences of others, but sometimes we can dwell on previous mistakes or regrets and that can hinder our progress. Learn from the past, but move on to the present.
Preparing for the future is also very important. Advance preparation and planning can help alleviate potential adverse situations and gives you an opportunity to utilize your past experiences to better prepare. However, daydreaming and always thinking about the future can take away from what you are doing right now. Personally, I sometimes struggle in my mind with the “what is next” mentality instead of enjoying or maximizing the current moment.
So how do you stay engaged in the present? I would like to share three practices that help me:
Set a goal and focus on manageable time frames. For example, if you work a six to eight-hour day, break it down into smaller units like an hour,half an hour, or even fifteen minute intervals or shorter.
Be flexible and react in a positive way to interruptions.
I hope you choose to read this blog because that decision is yours.
From my limited research on the Internet, it is estimated that every adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Our choices can be something as trivial as what socks to wear, what to have for lunch, or whether to watch a particular show or movie on TV. However, I want to focus this post on decisions that matter, because some of the choices we make do have a significant impact on our lives.
Whenever I have a decision to make of significance between viable alternatives, I have learned to use four steps in the decision-making process and in evaluating the results.
First, I want to do what is right. This starts with asking myself, “Are any of the possibilities dealing with a right or wrong choice?” It is important to me to be a person of integrity and I want to eliminate any alternatives that would compromise my values.
Secondly, once my alternatives have been set, I list the pros and cons of each possibility. This helps me to potentially eliminate certain choices based on my review of the possible negative and positive outcomes.
Next, I have found it is important to involve the opinions of others. If there are people in your life whose words of wisdom you value, it makes sense to get their advice. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but your consultants may think of something that may be of importance or give you feedback on something you did not consider.
Finally, after the decision has been made and I have had ample time to review the results, it is always a good practice to evaluate whether it was a good or bad choice. Obviously, you are not always going to make the best decision each time and it is important if we can learn from the positive and negative outcomes.
So if you have to make a decision that matters today, I hope these four strategies can help you with making the best choice!
Do you agree with the idiom that seeing is believing?
Although it may not be true in every situation, sometimes you do need to see something to accept that it really exists or determine what just occurred. It is particularly important in the athletic realm.
I had the pleasure of playing and coaching football for about four decades. An essential and very valuable tool was the study of practice and game film. I have heard more than one coach or athlete remark, “Let’s not make a decision or judgement until we see what the film shows.”
With the advances of technology, being able to critique an athlete’s performance has greatly improved over the years. My initial study as a player was with 16 mm film in which the game film had to be processed and a projector would be used play back the game as a teaching tool. I specifically remember my coaches running a play over and over again to emphasize a particular point. New advancements soon came via video tapes and DVDs. Today, we have video review and performance analysis tools available for athletes and coaches that far surpass previous methods. Besides the game competitions, many coaches can now video record practice situations and use that as a teaching tool with the athletes.
For example, this allows football coaches to not only see a play from the sideline view, but also from an end zone view to see spacing and blocking angles. This added detail can give players and coaches a fresh look at the same play from a different perspective.
Just like seeing is believing in sports analysis, the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) has passed the eye test for almost 90 years. UNHS was established in 1929 and was first a paper-based correspondence study. Since UNHS became online in 2001, it has become one of most reliable, respected, and recommended online accredited high schools in the United States.
UNHS has a well-constructed curriculum of over 100 courses for students to enroll in. If you are interested in earning additional credits, want to get ahead for next school year, or just learn something new, the courses at UNHS are available to our students any time of day and any day of the year.
Regrets only, On some invitations to special events, the person who sends the invite is asking for “regrets only” or just wanting to be notified if the invited person is unable to attend. If the host or hostess doesn’t hear back that the invitee cannot show up, the event coordinator expects the invited guest to be a part of the festivity.
Have you ever received this type of invitation?
If you do not have an obvious conflict or an unplanned emergency and if you really want to attend, you most likely will enjoy going to the special event.
Relating this reply to other everyday situations, I hope your life is not filled with many “regrets only” responses if you really want to be a part of something. Using a sports analogy, I hope you choose to “get in the game” by being an active participant, not a bystander.
As you may well know, there are some obvious risks for participating, both good and bad, and usually, we focus on the negative. Adverse outcomes like failure and criticism (it is especially easy to criticize today with the availability of many types of social media) are not uncommon. Some choose not to participate because they do not want to deal with these possible unfavorable results.
However, experiencing failure and withstanding criticism can actually help a person in many ways. What is the impetus for improvement if you never fail or are criticized? The by-product of learning successful problem solving and coping skills can only be developed by overcoming these obstacles as well.
I particularly like former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt’s perspective on involvement:
“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… Who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Please consider this blog an invitation to participation in the life arena of your passion and choice.
Recently I have been asked by friends and family what I see for the future of education given changes in technology, changes in society and changes in the political environment. I think people approach me with this question because of my years in education and because I am making a formal study of education. But the short answer is: No one knows.
In the future, education will look completely different. Also, in the future, education will look exactly like it always has. How can both be true? If you think of education as policy, technology and funding, then education in the future will look wildly different. If however, you think of education as the very human endeavor of sharing and acquiring knowledge, then it will look just like it always has.
Trends in Education
I am not a futurist. I admire people who attempt to thoroughly explore the possibilities of the future and how these possibilities may arise from the present. But I am a bit cynical on what can be predicted. When people look to the future, they often start with current trends. This is flawed in my opinion. Trends are indicators, but they are superficial. Just as I cannot tell you what kind of pie I’m sampling by tasting only the meringue, I cannot tell you what the future of education holds by looking at trends.
Additionally, the trends which bubble up to the general public’s awareness are often driven by technology and money. A trend in education may arise because technology makes something possible and money is available to promote it. If there is no real need for the trend or no real problem that it solves, it is likely to fizzle as a fad rather than continue as a sustainable part of education. More than a decade ago, when technology made online course delivery possible, the trend suggested that classrooms of students would create personas to learn in virtual environments as avatars with knowledge “gamified” and levels of learning achieved by characters which they would direct. Um… Not so much.
Back to the Future
So, I am not a futurist. In reality, I am more of a historian. I have written a history of a school and I am currently working on biographical pieces about educators at that school. It is instructive to look at educational trends in the historical sense.
Education became formalized because societies became increasingly complex. The oral tradition of ancient cultures was no longer sufficient to preserve knowledge and heritage. So writing and reading came into being and as these were not daily life skills, they were taught in a separate environment which came to be known as school. Thank you ancient civilizations! Since then, education has been a swinging pendulum of forces.
“We educate only certain classes who will lead society!” “No, we educate all!”
“Education is the responsibility of the family.” “No, Education is the responsibility of the state.”
“Education should be standardized and taught in a factory model.” “No, education should be individualized and taught in a progressive manner.”
Education is to prepare citizens for basic life functioning.” “No! Education is to inspire youth to transcend daily life.”
You can probably hear these arguments echoing from ancient Babylonia all the way to today’s current education debates. Along the way, students continued to learn, teachers developed and shared ways of teaching, and societies made practical decisions about structuring and funding education. We will continue to do this.
But aren’t you worried?
So, we find ourselves today and my friends express concern regarding the current state of education and the technological, society and political forces at work. Am I not kept awake at night by what I see in Education?
No. I am not fretful. I am energized by current discussions around education. When my neighbor who farms is as interested in the discussion of education as the professionals at my state department of education, I am a happy person! There is a recognition that education is too important to be left up to politicians and professionals only. Even though it is a challenge to sort through all of the rhetoric and argument, the pendulum of forces has been swinging back and forth long enough that we can see certain truths stand fast.
Education is the transmission of culture. We may disagree as to what cultural lessons are shared and in which ways. But “We, The People” will ensure that education serves this need to bring our human heritage along with us as we move forward.
Standards are for packaging, not people. We use the device of educational standards as a practical way to package up information and set guidelines. We are packaging up knowledge for the development of people. We should not believe that we can package up people in a standard way. We The People will always need to address human differences even as we create guidelines and goals.
Learning is a human endeavor. No app, no technology can open your heart and mind to learning. Even a skilled teacher needs a student willing to learn. A teacher without a willing student is a performance artist. Education is something We The People do together.
The view from my desk
A current trend that is being noticed in education is the trend toward personalized learning. This is an extension from competency-based learning and stems from the idea that students are individuals whose educational progress will vary. Various groups will descend upon this idea to either promote it or decry it for political purposes. Any number of for-profit enterprises are already seeking ways to monetize this idea.
After the work you have put into the college application process, acceptance letters finally start to arrive. Now that you have your options laid out in front of you, how do you know which college will be the best fit for you? For some students, one school sticks out from the rest and it’s an easy decision. For others, they may feel torn between schools.
Take a deep breath and be grateful for choices.
Compare all opportunities for final decision-making.
Make a pros and cons list for each college choice.
Compare your initial reasons for applying to a specific college to how you might feel about the opportunities after you graduate.
Remember that your college campus will become your home away from home. Select a campus that will make you feel happy, confident and challenged.
Practice etiquette when accepting an admission offer.
Sign the acceptance letter and submit the required college deposits on time. Keep in mind that May 1st is the deadline for most colleges.
Housing, financial aid and scholarship forms must be returned before deadlines.
Order a final transcript and AP scores to send to the college.
Make notes on the calendar when tuition and room and board fees are due so that you don’t forget to pay them.
Attend pre-admission college events to meet future classmates and get to know the campus.
Remember to inform other colleges that you’ve decided to decline their offers.
Send a written note (preferably not email) prior to May 1st.
Be grateful for their consideration.
Provide which college you will be attending and why.
Thank staff members who assisted you with the college admissions.
Note if there was a specific recruitment effort that sparked your interest to apply to their college.
Check out the UNL/UNO/UNK Tips for the Education Journey concerning housing, financial aid and scholarships.
Lots of choices can be overwhelming, but with the right process, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.