A Refreshing Reflection on UNHS Graduation

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Hugh McDermott, Principal, UNHS

As 2018 nears its end, I have been reflecting on some of the more memorable activities that happened at UNHS this year, and my thoughts immediately turn to our annual graduation ceremony. This past summer, I presided over my third UNHS graduation ceremony. What a fun time it was for all, as we had 18 students attend this year’s ceremony on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus. Relative to previous years, this was a large group to be in attendance and was part of the more than 200 students who graduated with us this year. For those who are not familiar with UNHS, we are a distance education program and therefore we serve students all over the planet. So, it can be difficult for students and parents to travel thousands of miles for the actual ceremony. Therefore, we “live stream” our commencement so that folks around the world can see what it is about and stay connected with us.

At this year’s ceremony, we had 12 students from Nebraska, but we also had students from Thompson’s Station, Tennessee; Centerville, Georgia; Lubango, Angola; Katy, Texas; Bogota, Colombia; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our total class of graduates represented at least 31 different countries and 30 of these United States. The graduating class had at least 26 Nebraska students, representing approximately 15% of the total class. The cultural and geographical diversity of our graduates demonstrates the strength of our program and the need that exists for UNHS.

Graduation remains one of those rites of passage that allows students to recognize that a high school diploma is a “big deal.” It’s the culmination of many years of strong academic work and other activities and experiences. Just for a brief moment in time, students can reflect on reaching this milestone which then opens the door to many additional opportunities and experiences ahead of them. At UNHS, we are anxious to support our students in any way we can. Some students take our courses to supplement their local high school diploma, while others take all of their coursework with us to obtain the UNHS accredited diploma.

Here are some comments I gleaned from the 2018 student biographies at our ceremony:

Cassara dreams of one day working for National Geographic or starting her own business and is toying with the idea of pursuing a degree in photojournalism or business management.

Nick is planning to become an electrician and liked UNHS because it allowed him to work independently and at his own pace.

Abigayle’s advice to others is to embrace hard work, not avoid it. Hard work is what helps you grow and achieve what you want in life. Abigayle plans to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing degree.

Jazmine learned that UNHS teachers play a valuable role and are critical to helping students learn. She also encourages students to “find a good role-model or someone you can depend on to help you through difficult times.”

Gabriel had the experience of playing soccer at age 16 in Spain! He believes that taking courses online taught him to assume responsibility for himself, and he is thankful for his teachers who were always there for him. He also mentioned the importance of family support in helping him reach this goal.

Maxwell is looking forward to an internship at a medical center in Omaha, which may also guide him in the direction of his future course work. He commented how UNHS provided him with access to a good curriculum.

Conner expressed several options awaiting him, such as attending a community college to further his skills in auto mechanics, or he may join the U.S. Army or Army National Guard as a helicopter mechanic.  His optimistic advice for fellow students was, “go for it” and to not be afraid of learning online.

Logan indicated that he will pursue an occupational therapy degree because he finds great satisfaction in helping people make the most of their everyday lives. He even is attempting to write a book by the end of this year! His advice, “Keep going! The end is never the end until you say so.”

Emma stated that what she liked best about UNHS was that she was able to travel whenever she wanted without worrying about the structure of a traditional school. This gave her the freedom to learn the way she wanted to and at a speed that worked well for her.

Denton plans to major in Agricultural Business. He was raised in an agricultural community here in Nebraska and was exposed to the business side of it at an early age. He chose UNHS because his local school schedule made it difficult for him to participate in rodeo at the level he desired.

Paul is interested in multiple fields in the area of information technology. What Paul looked for in UNHS was, “I wanted a school that could teach me from home but still challenge me and carry the weight of a proud Nebraska program.” He especially enjoyed psychology and several elements of the English reading assignments.

Camryn is taking a “gap year” to pursue her modeling career before making other career choices. Camryn advises others to establish a schedule that works well for them and stick to it. She also says that in times of need, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

Jay has recently been an artist intern at a non-profit. Jay is passionate about animation, cosplay, sewing, art, and writing. Jay’s advice is, “Do whatever works best for you and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

Odon came all the way from Lubango, Angola (approximately 8,000 miles) and believes in “investing in technological innovation and providing resources to encourage bright ideas and talents.” UNHS allowed him to travel with his family without compromising on his education.

Shaye said that UNHS was a good fit for him as he traveled to Barcelona, Spain to play for a soccer academy. He progressed at his own pace and worked around his soccer schedule. He learned from UNHS that communication is key, and he encourages students to consult with teachers anytime they do not understand a concept or material.

Laura came all the way from Colombia, South America and loved the fact that UNHS courses allowed her to take control of her studies, and she also chose UNHS because of its accreditation. She encourages students to use their time wisely and take advantage of the many things that UNHS has to offer them.

Princesse also came from far away, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and headed to Fresno State University this fall. She believes the courses at UNHS have made her more independent and responsible without sacrificing her ability to participate in her extracurricular activities.

William is planning to pursue a degree in construction management and someday become a general contractor. He learned through UNHS to manage his days well and still make time for his extracurricular activities such as fishing and camping. His advice to others doing online schooling is to maintain a strong network of friends to feel connected and supported.

As I reflected on these students’ comments, I am reminded of how important a role UNHS plays in all of these situations. Every student is unique and UNHS helps each of them meet their specific goals. The UNHS graduation ceremony will always be a special event that reinforces the importance of students earning their diplomas. Congratulations once again to all the graduates of the UNHS class of 2018! And for those interested and eligible to attend the UNHS graduation ceremony in 2019, mark your calendars for Friday, June 14, 2019

The Future is Bilingual – 5 Reasons to Learn Spanish

If there was ever a time to follow the crowd, this would be it. More than 400 million people speak Spanish. The future lies in knowing at least one language apart from English.

 

sumitThis post has been written by Sumit Jagdale, Social Media and Communications student intern with the University of Nebraska High School. Sumit is an Advertising and Public Relations major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Being multilingual, he brings a unique and valuable perspective to this article.

If there was ever a time to follow the crowd, this would be it. More than 400 million people speak Spanish. The future lies in knowing at least one language apart from English. Even if you are a native Spanish speaker, being able to converse isn’t enough. True proficiency lies in being able to read and write just well as you can speak. If English is your first language, Spanish is one of the easiest languages you can learn. Stats look great on paper but there are some tangible benefits to being fluent in Spanish as well. Read on.

  1. It Makes You More Marketable

That near-perfect GPA might open some doors for you, as would being president of that popular student organization on campus, but Spanish-language fluency would get you a definite foot in the door. Large companies have an increased global presence and prefer to hire bilingual employees as it simplifies their operations in other countries. So whether you’re pursuing your company’s interests in Guatemala or helping develop relations with businesses in Argentina, you’d be dealing with native Spanish speakers. Chloe, an advertising and public relations major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln declared Spanish as a minor because Hispanics are one of the largest growing demographics in the United States. Understanding both the language and their culture will definitely work in her favor.

  1. Don’t Settle for Safety Schools

You’ve sacrificed enough in high school to get good grades and clock in all those extra-curricular activities, as have most of your peers. Well-rounded students make universities look better. You need to bring more than just academic potential and your charming personality to the table if you hope to enroll at a prestigious university. Most universities require two or more years of the same world language training for admission. Start your Spanish courses early. The competition’s heating up.

  1. It’s Not a Niche

No, you aren’t going to be restricted to embassy jobs (which are pretty cool, by the way) or work in some stuffy cubicle translating the pile of documents lying on your desk. Learning Spanish is a value-add irrespective of your degree. Taylor, a business major at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln, decided to learn Spanish because it helped her connect with her extended family who are of Mexican descent. Needless to say, a minor in Spanish also complements her business degree and opens up a world of possibilities that otherwise would not have been accessible to her.

  1. Immersion Is a Click Away

While traveling is a great way to expand your horizons, Spanish cultural immersion won’t require you to travel several thousand miles away. Netflix and HBO already have several Spanish language programs and your laptop is your gateway to the world. Your favorite podcast probably has a Spanish option. Broadcasts of most sporting events have an option to switch to Spanish commentary. You won’t just expand your vocabulary, you will end up learning colloquialisms and master the cadence and pronunciations of the native speakers.

  1. Hola! At Me

Language skills are the best ice-breakers. There are at least 21 countries with a majority Spanish-speaking population. You can bring a smile to the face of the person you interact with by just saying “Hello” in their native tongue. Imagine what you could do by conversing entirely in Spanish!

Have we given you enough reasons to add Spanish to your course load next semester? The University of Nebraska High School has four years of comprehensive Spanish-language courses. Students can increase their vocabulary and their understanding of grammatical constructions as well as their knowledge of Hispanic culture.

Confused about where to start? Take the University of Nebraska High School’s Spanish Placement Test and find out what level of courses to apply for.

UNHS advisers are happy to discuss our Spanish courses with you and, if necessary, develop a personalized curriculum plan. Contact our advising team at unhsadviser@nebraska.edu or visit highschool.nebraska.edu for more information.

 

How UNHS Courses Promote Student Success

 

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

All UNHS courses are designed with a gating and sequencing component.

Gating

Gating means only one assignment per course can be submitted per day. If students are enrolled in five courses, they may submit one assignment from each course. Gating ensures that students study at a pace that helps them understand the subject matter before moving forward with the coursework. The purpose of gating is not to delay learning but to allow students to study at a pace that sets them up for academic success and increases content retention.

Students may always move forward and explore the next lesson in a course. Parents should expect their student to complete all reading and activities within a course and textbook assignments. Although some course activities are not graded, they will help students expand their knowledge and ability to answer questions of higher order thinking and problem solving. Doing everything that is offered within a course is important for success.

By monitoring study sessions and assignments, and making certain their student has a dedicated place to study, parents can emphasize that they value education and believe in being proactive in UNHS’ academic expectations. Gating in courses is appreciated by parents as it helps students get a better learning experience while preparing them for college-level coursework.

Steps students can take toward their own success

  1. It is important to invest in note-taking that will support course, unit and lesson objectives. All Unit Evaluation and Progress Test questions are written to the objectives. Students will be better prepared for the Progress Tests if they can discuss their knowledge thoroughly and answer the objectives.
  2. Wise students will read the maps, charts, and diagrams offered throughout a course and look for patterns, variables, rates of increase or decrease, and expand the chart to predict future outcomes. Important information is missed by the scholar when these reading opportunities are skipped.
  3. Students are advised to look up unknown vocabulary that impedes understanding. Flash cards are an important tool so that students gain the ability to accurately apply the learned terms to future assignments.

Sequencing

Sequencing means all Teacher Connect Activities, Unit Evaluations, Projects and Progress Tests within a UNHS course must be completed in the order they are presented. All UNHS courses are presented in a progressive manner (step-by-step) and this helps students with both retention and understanding. Students can achieve a higher level of understanding if they go through a course correctly. Sequencing is like a map for success, and taking shortcuts may hinder the students’ intellectual development.

Gating and sequencing are tools designed to help students be successful and ensure that the love of learning will be sustained throughout their lifetime. At UNHS we believe that success in academic life is a collaborative effort involving parents, teachers, and advisers as well as the support staff who work together to ensure students always have access to a world-class education.

Advice to My Younger Self

Catherine BrackettThis 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!

Learn From the Past…Prepare for the Future…But Be Engaged Today!

Ray
Raymond Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Be flexible and react in a positive way to interruptions.
  3. Take mental and physical breaks as needed.

Make the most of your GIFT of today!

Decisions That Matter

Ray
Raymond Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

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!

The Eye in The Sky Does Not Lie

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

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.

Could UNHS work well for you? See for yourself!