A Refreshing Reflection on UNHS Graduation

Hugh_Responsive_Thumb
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.

 

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!

Regrets Only

Ray
Raymond Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

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.

And I hope you CHOOSE to get in the game,

No reply necessary.

The Future of Education

 

Barbara
Barbara Shousha, UNHS Director

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.

Saying Yes or No to a College

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.