Spring into Action: A To-Do List for Juniors

A UNHS Staff Article Collaboration

Attention all high school juniors! Spring has arrived, and before you know it, so will your senior year! It may seem far away, but now is the time to buckle down and take steps to ensure your success down the road. Below are some tips we’ve compiled for you to help you prepare.

(Re)take the ACT/SAT

Most students take the ACT, SAT or both during their junior year. Don’t be afraid to register early! Free resources are provided by both the SAT and ACT to help you study and prepare to perform your best when it comes to test day. If you’ve already taken one of these exams, review your score report to see what areas may need improvement. If you don’t reach your goal the first time, that’s completely normal! You can retake the exams multiple times.

Plan your senior year schedule

Work with your high school counselor or adviser to create a senior schedule that works for you. It may be tempting to take it easy your senior year, but continue to take courses that interest and challenge you. You never know where your interests may lead you!

Start exploring options for after high school

There are infinite paths for you to pursue after high school graduation – don’t wait until your senior year to consider these options! Many students pursue higher education by attending a 4-year institution after high school, but this isn’t the only path. Community college, technical school, apprenticeships, military and gap years are other viable options. Some students also consider entering the workforce right away. This isn’t an easy decision to make and it’s important to talk to your support system of guardians, advisers, coaches, mentors, and other trusted individuals to help make the decision that’s right for you.

Tour college and university campuses

If you plan on attending a college or university after graduation, now is the perfect time to start exploring campuses. If you can’t tour in-person, many institutions also offer virtual open houses, tours, and Q+A panels to help you learn more about their programs. Take advantage of these opportunities and don’t limit yourself; you can achieve whatever you put your mind to!

Register for AP® exams in early fall

If you’re planning on taking AP® exams in the spring, you’ll need to register in the fall. Deadlines vary by school, so make sure to contact AP® Services for a list of local AP® coordinators and approved test sites. For information on how to register for AP® exams, visit the College Board.

Start your scholarship search

Higher education is an investment, and it’s important to recognize that paying for it can be challenging. Make it easier for yourself by applying for as many scholarships as possible. Reach out to the financial aid office at your college of choice to inquire about scholarships. The U.S. Department of Education has also compiled scholarship resources for you to explore as you start your scholarship search. While it can seem daunting, the hard work often pays off!

Continue to get involved in extracurricular activities

Finally, it’s important to stay involved in extracurricular activities. These can vary from participating in sports, music, theatre, and clubs, to volunteering in your community or working at a part-time job. Higher education institutions love to see students exploring their passions outside of academics. Beyond this, building these relationships and experiences is vital to learning who you are and what you enjoy in life. Don’t miss this opportunity while you have it!

Dual Enrollment Examined

A UNHS Staff Article Collaboration

You may have heard the term “dual enrollment” before, but what does it mean? Dual enrollment, at its core, is a program that allows students to earn both high school credit and college credit for completing qualified courses. There are many advantages to taking dual enrollment courses, but there are a few things that are important to consider before signing up. Let’s take a closer look and examine these factors:

Advantages

Save time and money

By taking courses in high school that count for both high school and college credit, you save yourself from having to take that same course (or a similar requirement) again in college. Dual enrollment high school courses are also very cost effective since these courses are generally a fraction of the cost of a typical college course!

Explore other interests

Dual enrollment courses can help students satisfy general education requirements before heading to college, which means more time in your schedule to explore other interesting subject areas, join extracurricular activities, study abroad or participate in internships.

Get ahead, graduate early

If you decide to take several dual enrollment courses during high school, you can get ahead with enough credit to graduate early with your postsecondary degree and begin working on your life plans. This could mean starting your career, attending graduate school, or any other number of paths.

Complete college courses online

Many dual enrollment courses can be completed physically in a high school classroom or on a college campus. However, like the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS), other schools offer dual enrollment online, providing flexible college-level coursework to students no matter their location or circumstance.

Considerations

Check to make sure credit will transfer

While many colleges and universities accept dual enrollment credit, the requirements vary from institution to institution. Students should check to make sure that the college they intend to apply to will accept credit earned through dual enrollment.

You will need to meet your high school’s requirements

Most high schools require dual enrollment students to meet a particular standard. Often this involves a certain class standing (junior or senior) and a minimum GPA. Always double-check to see if you meet the necessary requirements before enrolling in a dual enrollment program.

NCAA status can be affected

NCAA policies on accepting dual enrollment transfer credit may vary based on many different factors and circumstances. In some cases, taking college courses in high school can start eligibility clocks early. Though some student athletes experience no problems participating in dual enrollment, students are encouraged to work with academic advisers and the NCAA to make sure that dual enrollment will not negatively affect their future NCAA participation.

Dual enrollment is a great opportunity for motivated high school students to earn college credit while also saving time and money on future college expenses. Are you considering dual enrollment? UNHS currently offers 10 dual enrollment courses in partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). For details on approved courses, eligibility requirements, application instructions and registration deadlines, visit the UNHS website.

If you have any questions, contact a UNHS academic adviser to discuss if dual enrollment would best fit your needs.


Resilience

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Hugh McDermott, principal, UNHS

Editor’s note: A post on this topic was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated with a note from the author, Principal Hugh McDermott:

The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on each of us in some way. During this time, I have had first-hand knowledge as to how students and parents have demonstrated their resilience through unprecedented challenges. Disruptions to everyday life such as work, school, athletics, and other extracurricular activities have forced many of our students to return and remain at home. Parents and other responsible adults within households have had to become test proctors overnight and many have witnessed the unique struggles students face in their everyday course learnings. Through this, students have shown how they are able to adapt and overcome barriers to learning. Over much of this past year, students and families have had to approach schoolwork in many different and new ways that have stretched persistence and re-imagined resilience. As I reflect on the current obstacles that many of us have been facing, a previous piece I wrote in April 2016 on the topic of resilience came to mind. As now, more than ever, we have seen the importance of resilience and how it continues to resonate within our communities.

We hope everyone remains safe and healthy during this unique time and that we are able to see an end soon to the disruptions brought on by this pandemic.

As a former English teacher, there are some words I just love—like “resilience.” What is resilience, really? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” I love this meaning and what it stands for, and it’s very easy for me to recall example after example of resilience throughout my career.

As a principal, I have witnessed many students demonstrate resilience. For example, with students who struggled to pass their courses, their displays of resilience were often admirable. Many of these students knew they were struggling in their classes—in fact, some had been struggling academically for years! Yet they persisted and saw their courses through to a successful completion and ultimately earned their high school diploma.

Sometimes as a teacher, counselor, or principal, we would discover more about these students from a context outside of the school setting. It was then we better understood the word resilience! Many times, these students came from very difficult personal situations—a broken household, abuse, or low-income families. Even though they were dealing with these troubles, many students did not have an attendance problem. They liked being at school, and once we figured out together how they could be successful, nothing stopped them from overcoming obstacles.

I think resilience springs eternal and internal within each of us. Everyone exhibits some degree of resilience throughout their lives, but how we nurture it makes us all different. Many students who struggle on a daily basis with life circumstances display resilience, but during difficult times, it must seem like it’s nearly extinguished. Others guard and protect their resilience because they feel it is all they have. No matter the situation, your resilience will pay off if you work hard enough.

As educators, we carry a responsibility of inspiring hope within all our students. Students have their hopes and dreams, whatever they are, and it is our job to encourage them, support them, and motivate them into believing anything is possible.

What examples of resilience have you witnessed or what have you overcome?

The Keys to Senior Year Success

A UNHS Staff Article Collaboration

Your senior year of high school is a very exciting time. Whether you’re in the classroom or schooling from home, the finish line is in sight! Soon you’ll be starting a new and very important chapter in life. Before you get too carried away though, it’s important to remember that you’re not done yet. Your final year of high school is the most crucial time in the college planning process. This fall there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth transition if you have plans to attend college next year:

Retake the ACT/SAT

Many seniors retake the ACT and/or SAT at least once during the fall. Make sure to sign up early and create a calendar of dates to keep yourself on track. This is your last opportunity to increase your scores – make it count!

Complete the FAFSA

The FAFSA is key if you’re looking to apply for student financial aid, whether in the form of scholarships or student loans. It only takes a few minutes to fill out. Learn more about the  FAFSA application process at: https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid

Narrow down your list of colleges

You’ve probably been looking at a number of colleges, trying to decide which ones are right for you. Now is the time to narrow the list of 3-5 potential colleges of choice. Narrowing down your options helps you find which colleges meet your criteria and makes it easier to manage your application materials. During this time of social distancing due to a global pandemic, consider exploring whether your schools of choice offer virtual options to help you learn more about the institution, such as a virtual campus tour or a video conference with a college ambassador.

Ask for letters of recommendation

Some college applications require letters of recommendation. These can come from advisers, teachers, coaches, or other adult figures in your life. Make sure to check if the college you’re applying to requires this! Don’t wait until the last minute and scramble to find someone willing to write a letter for you. Ask for letters early and remember to send a thank you when completed.

Apply for scholarships

College is an investment, and it can be expensive! Scholarships are a great way to help you finance your education. Check with your college’s financial aid office, talk with your high school advisers, and search scholarship databases to find which scholarships you are eligible for. The U.S. Department of Education scholarship page is a great resource to start with.

Start applications early

Most colleges have deadlines when applications must be completed by, with most regular decision deadlines falling sometime in January. Don’t wait until December to start working on your applications. Take the time this fall to start completing your applications, well before the deadlines. Make sure to check if your school accepts the Common App – it could save you countless hours!

At first glance it can seem overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time you will be on track for success. And remember to reach out to teachers, advisers, parents, and other trusted adults for support if you need any advice or help. You’ve got this!

Productive Study Strategies for Homeschool Families

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A UNHS Staff Article Collaboration

Whether you’re a seasoned homeschooler or got your first experience with homeschool through the COVID-19 pandemic, you can always create a more productive home study environment for your family.

At the University of Nebraska High School, we have been developing distance learning curriculum for over 90 years. The academic success of each student is our top priority, and an important part of that success is productive, healthy home study strategies.

Read on to give your study routine a boost before the new school year.

1. Establish a schedule and stick with it.

One of the nice things about homeschooling high school is the flexibility you can have with your child’s schedule. You can build in time for extracurricular activities, rehearsals, and practices beyond the regular curriculum with a lower risk of burnout. UNHS courses can be completed at your student’s pace and at any time of day, so you have plenty of freedom to build the ideal schedule.

Once you find a schedule that works, develop it into a routine for optimal results. A reliable schedule makes it easier to consistently study, and regular, predictable studying habits help students retain information better than occasional bursts of studying.

2. Rely on your teachers and advisers.

Just because your family has chosen to homeschool, doesn’t mean you have to manage your child’s entire education alone. UNHS teachers, advisers and customer support staff can be contacted during weekdays and are happy to help you and your student solve problems.

By the time a student reaches high school, he or she should be equipped to independently study for periods of time. However, during independent study, it can be useful for your student to have an expert resource like a teacher to briefly discuss a problem with. UNHS staff members are friendly and passionate about elevating students to new levels of success.

3. Create concrete goals.

Measurable goals with reasonable benchmarks are a simple and fun way to motivate students to achieve more. You and your child can set an overarching goal for each course, then break down that goal into smaller objectives that he or she can accomplish in each unit or lesson.

Be sure to write down each goal and the steps your student needs to take to achieve them, then display the list in a visible place. A physical reminder of a goal makes it easier to reach. Work with your student to monitor progress and feel free to adjust goals to better fit your student’s learning needs. Developing productive study strategies is an evolving process, so don’t be afraid to change direction and try something else.

UNHS is an accredited online high school that prepares students for college and beyond with a wide variety of challenging courses. Visit our website, browse our courses, or contact us today to learn more!