Posts filed under ‘college success’

Don’t Drop Out!

If your student ever flirts with the idea of dropping out, just show him or her this chart of unemployment rates by educational attainment.

Then talk about how much you hate having to rewrite resumes, search job postings, write cover letters, and go on interviews where you have to brag about yourself without seeming to brag about yourself, then wait and wait and wait for someone to decide they like you enough to hire you.   Maybe that will motivate them to stay in school.


February 4, 2011 at 10:14 am Leave a comment

Used Textbooks & Learning Style Differences

“As a random learner, I never buy a new textbook.  I always buy a used textbook that has been underlined by a sequential learner.”

George Betts, Professor of Special Education,

University of Northern Colorado

Most people think of used textbooks as a solution to a budget problem.  Leave it to a random learner to realize that they are a solution to a totally different problem!




January 25, 2011 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

Free proofreading service

My daughter has a tendency to skip prepositions in her writing.  Word like “the”, “for”, “to”, and “of” just seem to get left out.  Because she knows that she intended them to be in the sentence, when she’s proofreading she often doesn’t notice that they aren’t there.

But, she found an easy way to catch these mistakes using Adobe Reader.

She saves her document as a .pdf file, opens it in Adobe, then click on View, Read  Out Loud.  Adobe reads the document out loud to her and those missing words become glaringly obvious.   Plus, this proofreading service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

December 11, 2010 at 10:25 am Leave a comment

Why live on campus?

Selective colleges generally have higher graduation rates.  Why?

  • They offer a more campus-focused experience.  According to the book “Crossing the Finish Line“, students who live on-campus their first semester are 7 to 8 percentage points more likely to graduate.
  • The corollary is that students who start at two-year schools (a.k.a., community colleges) are less likely to graduate.

Maybe it’s a commitment issue.  A student living on campus, going to school full-time, is committed in front of the entire community to being a student.  To drop out is to fail.  A student ‘taking some classes’ at a community college is dipping a toe, not committing.

November 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

Save 25% off tuition

  • Only 4.2% of U.S. undergraduates earn their bachelor’s degree in 3 years (per the Department of Education.)
  • The average public university student spends 6 years to get a degree (per the College Board.)
  • At private institutions, the average is 5.3 years.
  • Only 36.1% of students earn a 4-year degree in 4 years.

Obviously, how long a student takes to graduate has a huge impact on total costs.  So what are the keys to graduating in 3 years?

  1. Earn AP (or IB) credits in high school to get college credit.
  2. During freshman year, plan out what courses to take for all 4 years. (But allow enough time to explore majors because changing majors will blow the plan out of the water.)
  3. Take more than 15 hours per semester (but not so heavy a load as to fail a class).
  4. Do a summer internship for college credit or study abroad in the summer.  (Granted, study abroad will still have a price tag.)

A student who graduates in 3 years saves 25% or more on college costs and gains a year of income, so there’s a big financial incentive to finish as soon as possible.  On the other hand, it’s possible to be pennywise and pound foolish if a student rushes through and fails classes or gets a degree in an area he or she is not interested in or which doesn’t prepare her for her chosen career field.

November 3, 2009 at 10:08 am Leave a comment

More tips on choosing classes

My daughter is in the middle of her first week at college, where she has been sitting in on classes she is considering for this or next semester, trying to decide which ones to take and which to drop.  Her are some of her tips:

  • Try and get a copy of last year’s spring semester course catalog. It’ll give you a good idea of what classes are and aren’t offered in the spring. For example, if Intro to Comparative Government isn’t offered in the spring and it’s necessary in order to become a government major, it would behoove you to take it now rather than next year so you know if government is the right major for you or not.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick a section of a class offered earlier in the morning or in the late afternoon. Every student is trying to take courses at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., so they not only fill up fast but they usually succeed the cap. With earlier or later classes, you can get a smaller class and receive more individual attention. For those that are nervous about speaking up class, it’s much easier to do so when there are only 39  students instead of 61.
  • It’s easy to slip into taking only classes for your major. There’s nothing wrong  with doing so as long as you look for courses that place an emphasis on something else. For example, take a political science class that looks at literature for examples of societies that work or not. Take a world politics class that places an emphasis on world economics.
  • Can’t get into a class when you first register? Buy the book anyways. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on picking up a used textbook that’s significantly cheaper than the new ones that’ll be there when you do get into the class. And even if you don’t get in, most college bookstores have a one week, full-refund return policy, or you can hold onto it and use it for when you take the class next semester/year.

September 1, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

5 Ways to Choose Classes

If you’re wondering how to pick the best courses to take at your college, borrow some approaches from Harvard College, where students have the overwhelming task of  choosing from 3500 courses:

  1. Most colleges will assign you an academic advisor freshman year, and then you may change or add advisors once you select a major.  (Don’t be afraid to formally or informally ask for another advisor, if your first one doesn’t work out.)
  2. Harvard also arranges for older students to provide advice.   If your college doesn’t designate people, you can still ask others for advice.
  3. Harvard posts course surveys / evaluations online so students can read reviews by previous students.  (Wow!  Our high school refuses to let students evaluate classes.)
  4. The first week of classes is “shopping week”, when students can attend many classes, get the syllabus, understand the expectations, see the professors’ teaching styles, and then decide which classes to take.  If your college doesn’t formally do this, you can still start by identifying a couple backup courses or sections that you might take if you decided you want to drop a class, try them out, then make your decision. (But you may have to explain to the professor what you are doing ahead of time and make sure there is room in the class.)
  5. A former advisor at Harvard said she directed students to read old final exams in the library. Often the students’ reaction is “that’s not what I thought that class was about.”

A little investigation during the first 2 weeks of the semester can help you avoid dropping a class in mid-semester, loosing credits, and having to extend your college education into a 5th year.

August 20, 2009 at 4:11 am Leave a comment

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