college preparation

college preparation

19 Arizona High School Students Will Graduate College Before Finishing High School

Graduation paraphernaliaWhen I was in high school, I took a few AP classes in order to earn some college credit. Some of my friends took a few college classes at the local community college. When we graduated high school, we had already earned enough credit to be considered second-semester college freshmen, and we thought we were ahead of the curve. Turns out, when compared to 19 high school students in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we were way behind.

This year, 19 seniors at Lake Havasu High School will graduate high school will also earning their associate’s degrees. These students all took a test during their sophomore year of high school which allowed them to take dual enrollment classes during their junior and senior years of high school.

“We’ve all had to adapt to teaching ourselves how to study because things have come so easy to us before; so now our teachers expect us to help teach ourselves,” said Savanna Bailey, a senior at the school. “I’ve had a couple of anxiety attacks, but it’s all worth it whenever you really do learn more. You have to bring every single thick textbook home with you and you look, obviously like the nerdiest one in the school carrying all of your books.”

Looking nerdy seems like a small price to pay for two-years worth of free college credit, if you ask me. So how do these students make it through the insane amounts of homework and stress they must encounter while studying for both high school and college classes?

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High School Senior College Checklist

As an upcoming high school senior, you may be thinking ahead to college. There are a lot of different things to do and dates to have on your calendar. For those that plan to continue their education beyond high school, several things must be done so that you are properly prepared for your freshman year of college. Making a list and prioritizing it by deadline is a helpful way to make sure that everything is taken care of in plenty of time so that you can have things lined up and enjoy your last year of high school. A little bit of planning now will ensure that you have nothing to worry about later. Below are a few things to keep in mind so that no deadlines are missed.

FAFSA: The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, for the academic year of 2012-2013 is not currently available, but it will be on January 1, 2012. You only need to file once for each academic year and filing early is always best. The deadline for the 2012-2013 academic year will be June 30, 2013. Receiving free money like government grants can truly depend on how early you file, so keep that January 1 date in mind.  Once those government grants are gone, the only options available for federally funding your education would be student loans or work study programs. When filling out the FAFSA, you will need your parents’ tax and income information for 2011 and you can choose what schools you want your award information sent to. You can pick several schools to receive this information, which is helpful if you haven’t picked your college when you start filling out your FAFSA.

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What We Can Learn from Toy Story 3’s Andy Going to College

Toy Story 3 Spoiler Alert!

Toy Story is one of those movies I feel like I grew up with. It’s one of the few I can remember going to see in the theater as a kid, and one of the few I made sure to own on DVD. andy-toy-story

I was thrilled to hear that Toy Story 3 was releasing this summer. I’d heard the plot line was going to send Andy to college, so I was curious how the story would handle it. When the movie opened and the nostalgic home videos by Andy’s mom of him playing as a young boy started rolling, I cried. I admit it, I started crying. Maybe there’s some residual from having recently had a baby, and maybe I’ve just got a soft spot for remembering those carefree days myself. Read the rest of this entry »



Are High School Students Unprepared for College?

Here’s a recent article in the Denver Post that reports that about 30 percent of all incoming Colorado college students are unprepared for college and need remedial classes.

As someone who used to teach college in Colorado, I’m not the least bit surprised. I had plenty of terrific students when I taught at Colorado State University, and I had plenty of students that should not have been admitted.  Maybe even 30 percent.

It’s not just Colorado though.  According to the article, the 30 percent figure is around the national average.

As a former professor, I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating this was for me. I had students in my junior and senior level classes who couldn’t write at anywhere close to college level. I taught difficult theoretical concepts in my classes, and I found myself tempted (and sometimes giving in) to dumbing things down. Read the rest of this entry »



Writing Skills are Important Preparation for College

Are you a high school student thinking about what classes will be most helpful for college, or a returning adult student wondering what skills you should practice before you go back? Here’s something many students don’t realize: college students need to know how to write, and how to write very well. In my experience, it sure seems like high schools are failing students terribly when it comes to teaching them how to write.

Unfortunately, many high school students simply are not being prepared nearly well enough in the crucial area of writing skills. There’s often a huge gap in what professors expect students to know how to do in terms of writing, and in what students actually do know how to do. This results in low grades, frustrated students, and frustrated instructors. It also results in many students falling through the cracks and never learning how to write well enough, which can be an enormous disadvantage when it’s time to get a job.

pencilWhen I was a professor, the level of writing exhibited by many of my students was incredibly frustrating. In my experience, here are some of the elements of writing instructors expect students to understand that they do not:

  • How to use punctuation properly—especially commas
  • How to use proper nouns properly
  • How to write and use a thesis statement
  • How to organize a paper in a way that makes the information easy to understand and easy to follow
  • How to write a bibliography
  • How to follow a style guide (APA, MLA, etc.) and cite information correctly throughout the text of a paper
  • How to cite information in a way that doesn’t unintentionally plagiarize
  • How to back up claims made throughout the paper with evidence
  • How to write a strong paper introduction
  • How to do research for papers that doesn’t exclusively involve the Internet

So, if you’re a high school student, how do you obtain the skills you need to write well enough for college? One thing you can do is to take all the writing classes you can in high school with teachers who have a good reputation for knowing how to teach writing. If you’re not doing well in these classes, meet with the teachers for extra help. If Advanced Placement English is available in your high school, consider taking it, even if English really isn’t your thing. Hands down, AP English was the best class I took in high school, and it prepared me well for college level writing.

If you’re a returning student, how can you prepare? If your writing skills aren’t as strong as you think they should be, consider taking a remedial class at a community college before officially enrolling as a student.

For all students, here’s one thing you can do to help you become a better writer: read, and read often! Many of the skills needed in writing come intrinsically as you immerse yourself in language.

Also Read:

How to Become a Better Writer





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