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.

The Reality Check: “The Wait and See List”

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Colleges want to make sure that they will have a full freshman class, so their admissions offices often create “wait lists” to make a plan on how to fulfill that goal if fewer students than predicted accept admission offers.

Receiving a college acceptance letter is an ego boost; receiving a college “wait list letter” may momentarily feel quite the opposite. Emily Dickinson wrote, “Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.”

The first thing to remember is that the sun will rise tomorrow. With a positive outlook, future opportunities may require perseverance and, like Milton Berle once said, “If the opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

  1. Remain calm in adversity; remember that being on the wait list is not a rejection. A wait list letter is just saying that you haven’t been accepted at this time, be patient. Time may allow you to be accepted or you might find the perfect opportunity elsewhere.
  2. As students notify colleges with their enrollment decisions, colleges may begin seeing more room for freshman students. This is when colleges send students on the “wait and see” list acceptance letters.
  3. Reviewing your options is important. Contacting the admissions department will help you develop a clear understanding of the size of the wait list and may encourage you to compare other options.
  4. If you feel the school is your only perfect match, write an upbeat letter to your college admissions adviser indicating your very strong interest. Explain why their school is the best fit for you and give specific examples that meet your needs, wants and desires to build the door.

Don’t depend on a wait list letter to get accepted into a college; keep your other options in mind.

Remember being put on a wait list is not a rejection; it’s merely a test of your patience and a chance for you to evaluate your options thoroughly one more time.

 

From One Procrastinator to Another

 

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off.  I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.

 

Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.

Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.

Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”

Coping mechanism for a lot of people.

Really would rather play video games or do something else.

All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.

Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.

Time management skills development (use a planning device).

I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?

Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).

Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.

Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.

Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).

Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.

Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!

Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”

It’s your choice which advice you will follow!  All the best to my fellow procrastinators!

Note to High School Educators: Consider Slowing Down that Start Time

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

The most recent Phi Delta Kappan issue (December/January, 2017) contains an excellent article championing the cause for high schools to start school at later times. The idea isn’t new, but the research keeps getting more convincing that a later start time is certainly in the best interest of  students and carries many benefits for them. This article, written by Kyla L. Wahlstrom, looked at some earlier studies in Edina and Minneapolis schools. The author points out that what we know about the teenage brain is that the need for more sleep is “a matter of biology, not choice,” and many teens are not able to fall asleep before about 10:45 p.m. and remain in a sleep mode until about 8 a.m. This appears to be connected to the circadian rhythm and is directly related to hormonal changes during puberty and eventually disappears as teens enter their 20s.

start-time

Wahlstrom points out that medical research (Carskadon, Acebo, & Jenni, 2004; Jenni Achermann, & Carskadon, 2005) shows negative effects of sleep deprivation such as depression, obesity, substance use and abuse and increased car crashes (this should concern all of us!). Early research showed that absences, tardiness and sleepiness in school had significantly declined with later start times, and that moods and feelings of student efficacy had improved (Wahlstrom, 2002).

Wahlstrom went on to study eight high schools in five school districts in three states—Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming, from 2010 to 2013 (Wahlstrom et al., 2014). It was found that in those schools that implemented the latest school start times of 8:35 and 8:55 a.m., there was a significant decrease in absences and tardiness in grades 9-12.

Finally, the study indicated that  those students who slept eight or more hours each night were significantly less likely to report symptoms of depression, fall asleep in class, drink caffeinated beverages, have a phone or computer in their bedroom and do dangerous things.

At UNHS, we are fortunate that students who are working through their online courses can choose when and how much time they spend on their coursework. They have much more control over starting their work later in the day to match their circadian rhythms. The ultimate expectation remains the same—the work must get done and having a regular routine study time is an important part of making progress. Aligning a teen’s brain efficiency with their work schedule is a plan for better academic performance. I encourage you to read the entire article in the Kappan as it goes further in discussing how best to approach your school board and community about making a later start time a possibility. It begs our attention.

(“Later start time for teens improves grades, mood, and safety”, Phi Delta Kappan, December, 2016/January, 2017).

Celebrating Differences

Barbara
Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

Recently my best friend and I celebrated a special birthday together! It was fun and exciting and a wonder that we even pulled it off. Rarely do you find two friends more different than my best friend and I. She loves adventure while I love the quiet life. She is a night owl; I am a morning person. Her idea of a great birthday included sky-diving and riding roller coasters. My thoughts tended toward art galleries or a contemplative retreat.

Science has proven the benefits of diversity over and over again. In biology, greater diversity leads to healthier ecosystems and increased sustainability. Science also informs us that there are social benefits to diversity as well. The publication, Scientific American, cites research showing that interacting with others different from us requires us to prepare better, anticipate alternative viewpoints and to expect that effort will be required to reach agreement.

This was certainly the case in celebrating our birthdays! Together, we traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. We were within driving distance of both nightlife and nature. I spent a terrifying afternoon on a ski lift up into the mountains and navigated steep trails on horseback. She indulged me with an afternoon of viewing pottery and a quiet nature walk. We each had experiences we would never have had on our own. Our differences became a source of humor and memories that will last forever. Believe it or not, we both enjoyed the other’s chosen activities, because our different preferences helped us experience things we would not have otherwise.

UNHS courses feature much diversity across the disciplines. In each of the areas of study, there are many different types of courses for whatever your passions are. Check out Biology, World Cultures, Multicultural Literature, International Relations and more.

I hope you have many reasons to celebrate differences in life!

 

 

Phillips, K. (2014) How Diversity Makes us Smarter. Scientific American.  Retrieved from

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

Your High School Experience: Years From Now, Will You Be Thinking, Redo?

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

For some of us, a trip back to high school means going back in time, for some (like myself) at least 40 years! What’s interesting though, is that I have a very vivid memory of those high school years. I can easily remember my many wonderful teachers and friends, but it was the high school experience that really stuck with me and pushed me to further my education.

I feel fortunate to be able to hold onto those great memories of fun times and great friends, and not look back wishing that I could redo my experience.

Much of this has to do with my experience during this time. High school was a time of expanding my knowledge base beyond the core academics of English, math, science and social studies. I had the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded public education that included many electives in areas outside my core classes. Forty years later, I am still proud of what I accomplished during my time, but even more grateful for the excellent teachers who invested in me during this time in my life.

To avoid the pitfall of wishing for a redo, I offer this advice: Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Venture into the unknown areas of the curriculum that you never thought you’d try. Take as many advantages of this learning experience as you can, because you can. No one can stop you from trying out for any of the sport teams or plays, or speech debates that are available to all students.

This advice may seem intimidating, but it starts with small steps:

  • Start early. If there is any way you can get into a program at your future high school the summer following your last year in middle school, do it. This could be participating in a weight lifting program during the summer. If the school offers drama, music or speech opportunities during this time, take advantage of them. This will give you a chance to meet fellow students before the school year starts, it also gets you involved right away in activities offered at your high school.
  • Each quarter or semester, remind yourself of your priorities and goals. You are there to get the best education and learning the school has to offer. What grades will you demand of yourself? Build a study schedule and then adjust according to degree of difficulty as you go through the year. Once you reach a goal, cross it off and establish a new one. Push yourself to accomplish any goals set.
  • Take advantage of unexpected experiences as they come your way. You never know when an opportunity becomes available and if it does, be willing to take advantage of it.  For example, school announcements mention great experiences for students, whether it is an opportunity to volunteer at the recycling center or to audition for a school play. Take a chance, get involved and you’ll find that stretching your experiences pays a benefit to yourself and usually expands your skill set.
  • Keep a record of your “beyond the classroom” experiences. After high school, you may be looking for employment before taking on the next educational experience, so keeping track of any community or volunteering activities you participated in, can put you in the driver’s seat of employment opportunities.

High school is a time to grow your experiences, your own learning opportunities and develop social and developmental relationships all around yourself. Forty years from now, you do not want to be that person that says, “I should have participated in the band. I should have gone out for wrestling. I should have participated in debate.”

Go out and make it happen.

Biding Your Time: The College Application Process

Debby
Debby Bartz, UNHS Academic Adviser

Patience, internal fortitude, self-control and poise are all traits required when waiting for a college admissions letter. After all, the past year was spent studying, completing forms, preparing for important tests, writing essays, reading college websites, consulting with college admissions advisers and visiting campuses – one more time. 

 

It’s been a very busy time and now you are checking the mailbox daily for any letter that could contain good news from the multiple applications submitted. The formal acknowledgement is just around the corner—and it will be one of the first big decisions of your life. You will finally get to say, “YES! This is it, I’m going to ____________!”

 

Congratulations, if you’re an Early Decision or Early Action Admission letter recipient. Congratulations, if you have received a letter of intent and/or will be invited to National Signing Day. Congratulations, if you have been awarded a college scholarship. However, be advised that only a few colleges begin notifying students in mid-December to the end of winter (as early as late February). Be assured that many colleges load the mailboxes in March to late spring, and the most competitive colleges allow their applicants to test their patience until April Fool’s Day or later. Rolling college admissions is an ongoing process.

 

In the meantime, what should you do?

 

1.       Check online to review the status of your application.

2.       Check to see if pieces are missing from the application (e.g., order the necessary transcript, test score report or request a recommendation letter).

3.       Call the college if you do not receive an email confirmation within 10 days to three weeks after submitting the application.

 

Chill-lax. Waiting for a college acceptance letter means you are just like thousands of other students worldwide.