World Student Support
(001) 303.526.9148

World Student Support helps families identify appropriate schools and programs that meet the specific needs of their student, be it internationally or in the United States. World Student Support understands that every student requires an educational environment unique to their profile. We help you to find the right university, boarding or day school, Gap Year program, tutorial service and/or summer program. Clients of World Student Support are of all school ages and represent a variety of nationalities.

Services Include:
  • University Search: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe
  • University Search-Special Situations: Students with specific learning issues
  • Prospective Schools K-12: Review of a school's curriculum and program
  • Day and Boarding Schools: Schools for students who wish to continue their education at a private school or for those who need a school with special programs
  • Gap Year Options: Quality time between high school and university, or semester away from university
  • Summer Programs: Students looking for academics, artistic endeavors, ESL support, recreational programs
  • Referrals: Psychologists, neuropsychologists, educational specialists, private tutors, and consultants who will assist in therapeutic placements.

Sandy Furth: International and US Independent Educational Consultant:
Sandy has a Bachelor's degree from the University of New Mexico, Master's degree from the University of Utah, and a teaching certificate (Educationally Handicapped) from the University of Colorado/Denver. In addition, she has her College Counseling Certificate from UCLA. Sandy has taught for over twenty years in Colorado, Malaysia, Japan, and England.

News Feed
A Book Review: Buddy A Story for Dyslexia
by Robin McEvoy Ph.d
Illustrated by Tessa McEvoy
Buddy is a colorful picture book about a family of birds – a mom and dad and their three children: Betty, Billy and Buddy. Betty and Billy sing nicely for their dinner, Buddy struggles with the 'Birdy' song. Of course, we all know baby birds sing for their food, so what is a mom to do? Focus on strengths; of course and certainly address the singing. Of the three, Buddy clearly flies the best, but the singing, well, there needs to be some improvement, particularly if Buddy needs to eat. Through very colorful illustrations, and understandable and concise explanation, Buddy has a happy ending.

The author, Robin McEvoy is a developmental neuropsychologist in Denver, Colorado who evaluates and diagnoses specific learning issues in children, adolescents and adults. She is an assistant professor at University of Colorado at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Dr. McEvoy's daughter, Tessa is a talented artist who has with challenges of her own, which in turn fostered her artistic talents, as can be seen by the illustrations in Buddy. For full disclosure, Tessa worked for me several years ago folding 1000 paper cranes for my daughter's wedding. She can fold a crane a second. She worked with the top florist in Denver on how to integrate the cranes with floral design. Tessa is extraordinary.

Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Author of Overcoming Dyslexia, Co -Director of Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, has endorsed Buddy, A Story for Dyslexia
It's Gap Year Fair Season!
The New Year is behind us, and so begins Gap Year Season!

While seniors have put their college applications behind them, there may be a feeling of wow; the next step is almost here... am I ready for a heady academic experience quite yet? Or is there something else I would like to accomplish before embarking upon university experience. These are questions that seniors often ask me, as well as some juniors. This begs the question, what about a Gap Year?

Parents are becoming familiar with this term, though there are several definitions, and most boil down to the fact that it is a time of structured and intentional exploration generally between high school and college (and sometimes a break from college) to step out of a traditional learning experience to explore a passion, see the world, and as Kathy Chang from Dynamy and Director of USA Gap Year Fairs so perfectly stated in the IECA INSIGHTS Newsletter this month: "reflect on personal values and goals, and prepare to take the next purposeful step in life." It is time on, not time off.

Qualified Independent Educational Consultants and Gap Year Specialists can assist with the multitude of opportunities for 'Gapping' and do an inventory of interests to determine a great Gap Path. The sky is the limit regarding options from domestic or international options, group or individual options or a combination.

The biggest question and concern parents might have concerns their student not returning to school, he or she will continue wandering. I share this data along with the idea of... who chose the age of 18 to attend university? Other countries, students often are 19. There is data from Middlebury conducted by Bob Claggett ( indicating that students returning from a Gap Year will be far more focused on their studies and complete university within four years, not only that, these students may have a better time choosing their major. In addition, there is also information that there is less 'burn out' from these students as well. Soft data from interviews indicate that these students come back with confidence and may take leadership roles in their universities.

How does a Gap Year work if a student has determined that this is the path they wish to take? First, it is helpful to attend the USA Gap Year Fair, or speak to a consultant with experience. Still keep those college applications active and wait for the response. Once the response comes in, contact admissions and find out how to defer the year, and then begin the Gap Year launch.

Encourage families, even if perhaps the applications are in, and they are set on college to attend USA Gap Year Fair. Encourage Juniors, even Sophomores to attend:

Web site and additional information:

USA Gap Year:

And remember, safety first. American Gap Association ( has some excellent thoughts and questions regarding safety. Remember: SAFETY First

Books worth a read:

From the American Point of View:

Haigler and Nelson: The Gap -Year Advantage Helping Your Child Benefit from Time off Before or During College

Haigler and Nelson: GAP YEAR American Style Journeys Toward Learning, Serving and Self Discovery

From the British Point of View

O'Shea, Joseph gap year how delaying college changes people in ways the world needs

Vandome, Nick PLANNING YOUR GAP YEAR Hundreds of opportunities for employment, study, volunteer work and independent travel
Gap Year: Should You or Shouldn't You?
Seniors are wrapping up their university applications and hopefully are breathing a sigh of relief to have this massive task behind them. Choosing which university to attend is one of the biggest decisions a young adult will make, if not the biggest decision of their young life so far. So much research to determine what is deemed a life changing experience went into this decision. Not only did they undertake a real life research task, students had to juggle this task, academics, extra curricular activities as well as family life. It's a lot to do. It is also a major economic undertaking. The research leans towards the fact that students are finishing university in five to six years.

So, what might happen to students who may wish to research a Gap Year? They may experience several things: first, students may feel that their whole existence has been swallowed up in their academic lifestyle and eye on that college admissions prize. What if... students felt like they were swallowed up in academia and had no time to pursue a dream, a passion or wanted to become really good at something? What if... a student wanted to travel the world before pursuing their university career? How does one do this? Does it mean that higher education will take a back seat forever? Doubtful, in fact, the research indicates quite the opposite. Big questions... how does a student defer their university acceptance? How does a Gap Year allow a student to grow and focus on the their studies? What changes in a student's life? How does a Gap Year help focus a college student and one question I will answer is that the research is leaning towards college students not only completing their degree within four years, but finding their focus and major.

Listen to a web cast on Sunday, November 22:

Sunday, November 22, 2015
Time: 3:00 PM Eastern / Noon Pacific
Will Your Student Benefit From a Gap Year?
To listen in to the streaming audio over the web, go to

Phone Number: (425) 440-5100
Pin Code: 441436#

First, keep in mind; there are professionals who assist families with students who wish to take a Gap Year. Second, there are organizations families can look to. First, The American Gap Association ( is one organization, with one of their many goals of normalizing gap years along with the proven benefits of Gap Years. A great way to research these organizations is by attending a fair: USA Gap Year Fair. These fairs launch in January and may come to a city near you. Check the website:

Again, as many families employ Independent Educational Consultants for the university search, there are the same for Gap Year. Enjoy the teleseminar and feel free to contact World Student Support either by email or phone: 303.526.9148

Happy Gap Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!
It's College Fair Season!
What an exciting time for our juniors and seniors – the time of exploration and university application loom either in the distance or at hand. For juniors, it is a time of research and for seniors, the time is right now to complete the last bits of research if necessary. For juniors, this may be the first of one or more fairs, for seniors, this will be your last. So, how does one navigate the massive amount of schools represented at these fairs? How does one walk into the fair and look down upon row after row of table after table and decide upon which school to visit with? Well, let's make this easier.

Before you go

Do your homework: Be sure to read about the schools on line, try not to ask any questions you can find on line. If you own any college handbooks, read about the schools in the college handbooks as well. You may craft some questions regarding the school from the website and handbooks and that is great.

Both juniors and seniors, you will be spending some time at the fair. Be sure to choose schools of interest to speak with. For seniors, this is the time to talk with the schools you are very serious about. Seniors, even if you know you are making application to a school and have not visited, this is a great time to touch base. Juniors, you should talk with schools you are curious about and might wish to visit. For the juniors, don't worry if you don't make it to all tables, but try to get cards from all the schools you want to speak with. Let's try and make this efficient for you. Seniors will spend less time at the fair, as their list will be fewer schools.

The Fair

Dress neatly

Arrive early – these fairs can get crowded, they attract a lot of students and parents. The fairs are generally set up in alphabetical order, so don't waste a lot of time walking up and down the aisles looking at all the schools, but, do ask how the schools are organized, as who knows, maybe a fair is organized differently.

Organize yourself

While you probably have not written a letter in a while, your folks may have some return sticky labels for you. If they belong to a return label that do not have your name, but your address, cut off their name, and take the labels with you. That way, when you approach a table, you will be able to affix an address label to and just write your name on a query post card or list. While not a big time saver, every bit helps. Be sure your post -code is on the label.

While most schools will have bags as well as a lot of swag, bring your own bag. You have no idea when a bag will show up in the process. The bag will be helpful, as you will be given a lot of brochures, pens, mugs, etc.

Bring paper and pencil, or if you are comfortable, take notes on your iPhone. When I go to fairs, I do like to photograph booths and significant information, this is a place- holder for me. Be sure to get the name and address of the admissions officer present. If the person at the table is an alumni, find out several important pieces of information:

1. Is that person the one who gives the interviews (if you need an interview), or can you get additional information from this person?
2. Who is your admissions representative and what is the number of contact?
3. Be sure to take a card so you can write a letter of thanks or additional inquiry?

While some may prefer to record information using a smart device, I hesitate, as these devices may not work well in the crowd and noise.

Upon meeting the representatives from each school, smile, shake hands and introduce yourself: "Hi, my name is _____________________, I am from _________________ High School in Lakewood High School, I will graduate in _________________. I have an interest in your school with an interest in majoring in ____________________. Our time is limited I know, so what should I learn right now.
Questions to ask: Do I need to have an interview? How will that happen? How much wiggle room is there with the GPA and Board Scores? I am interested in Economics, with a lean towards Political Economy, am on the right track with your university? Or anything relevant beyond the website of the school. These questions are just samples.

After the fair

Read through the brochures of the schools that are relevant to your school search. If you can schedule a school visit, do so.

Go back through your information and notes. Follow up with the schools you have keen interest in making application. By following up, this means writing a note and this can be done either snail mail or email. Either way, this needs to be done properly (I do prefer mail):

Dear ____________________:

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me at the (name the specific place and date of fair). I have a keen interest in making application to –name the specific school – I enjoyed discussing university life, particularly academic life and internships available at such and such a school.

Sincerely Yours,

Joe College
Your Address
Phone Number
Email address

If you have brochures you may not use, take them to your counseling office; they may appreciate the extra brochures.

Don't be shy, if you have questions that you forgot to ask, or questions that come up later, you should call your rep. That's what they get paid for.

This is the start of the 'season'. Stay organized and focused, before you know it, you will be walking onto a campus of your choice!
Advice About College Admissions
At a press conference, President Obama was asked about the college application process. He speaks well about the selection process and about college itself and getting out of ones comfort zone. Here is the link:
Testing Time: The SAT and ACT
It is that time again to start registering for SATs and Acts. For those students who wish to take the first tests of the year, the time is now to register before late registration fees kick in. Be sure to check the websites of each of these testing centers:

College Board for the SATs

As a visual reminder for the current tests:

The first SAT is October 3; students need to register by September 4
The second sitting is November 7, with a registration date by October 9.

See the website for the rest of the testing schedule. Seniors need to have their tests taken sooner than later, November at the latest, optimally, October. Discuss this with your consultant and counselor.

Note that the the new SAT will be implemented March 5 2016.

Be aware, the SAT is offered approximately seven times a year in the US, six times internationally. International students need to look carefully to see where their test centers will be. Check the website for details, or your consultant or counselor for necessary details.

Subject Tests: Taken right from the website, be aware of these rules and regulations:

Subject Tests
As stated, From the College Board's Website Regarding SAT II Subject Tests
Important Information About SAT Subject Tests:

1. You may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on a single test date.
2. The Language with Listening tests are always given in the first hour of testing. Only one listening test can be taken per test date.
3. Calculators may be used only on the Mathematics Level 1 and Level 2 Subject Tests.
4. You cannot take the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT on the same test date.
5. You must indicate which SAT Subject Tests you plan to take when you register.
However, you may change which test(s) you actually take on test day — except for Language with Listening tests.
6. Only one Biology test can be taken per test date. After the first 60 questions, you must choose either Biology – Ecological or Biology – Molecular; you cannot take both.

Again, it is very important to check with the SAT website for important information regarding testing. It is also important to check with universities you have interest in to see what they wish for you to have as far their requirements.

Students with Disabilities

Students with Disabilities will have another hoop to jump through. You will have to submit appropriate paper work prior to registration to be eligible for accommodations. This could take up to seven weeks. Start early for approval. Visit the SSD website so you can understand the process. While your consultant can assist you through the process, it is the school that must sign off on the paperwork.


The first date for the ACT is September 12. The registration deadline is coming up FAST... August 7th, with a late fee for registration between August 8-21. The second test date is October 24, registration starts September 18th. Again, for seniors, the sooner you take the test, the better. For all testing dates, see the schedule on the ACT website:

International students often have fewer options for test sites, therefore, these students need to look carefully at their test site options.

Students with Disabilities

As with the SAT, students with disabilities need to pay attention to a few things, particularly deadline dates, enough lead time for documentation to get to the office before registering for the ACT exam. The information can be found on the ACT website at: and: - this will tell all students with disabilities the documentation necessary for submission.

Test Prep

There are a many test prep options. Contact World Student Support for your best options.
A very Necessary But Uncomfortable Topic
Two weeks ago, I attended a conference where a group of college counselors gathered to discuss a variety of topics from best practices in college counseling to standardized testing, paying for college... you get the idea. There was one session that struck me and I decided that the topic was important. The session was called:

Campus Safety and Girls: Hype, Fear and Strategies Presented by Scottie Johanna Hill Director of College Guidance, Archer School for Girls

Please be aware that I am summarizing what I heard, I hope only for the safety of our students, both female and male, which is the purpose of this blog, major points may be left out, and contacting the presenter would be the best way to receive all facts.

We often discuss what to do in case of terrorism as well as if there is an attack on college campus with violent weapons. But personal assaults are rarely or fully discussed.

This session discussed the uncomfortable topic regarding sexual assault on campuses and the prevalence today. Is it really happening more today, or just not reported in the days of yore? I do remember when I attended university, and while I lived in the era of dorm curfews and single sex dorms (though I have to say that co educational dorms were just being launched), this issue was broached through campus newspapers, alerts in our mail boxes, but as far as we knew, nothing in the news. But then again, we did not have the news as we see it today.

Today, it just seems to permeate the 24-hour news media loop. But what this means is that students and parents need to understand their role as they search for schools, and universities need to respond to perhaps some questions never asked on college tours and information sessions. Or maybe they need to make this information a part of the information session.

Here are some things to think about if you are touring a campus:

Tour guides point out highlights of campuses; they include safety features on campuses. For those who have toured campuses, you know that these are the safety phones that hook into the campus police/campus safety and often claim someone will be at the phone location in a matter of minutes, which is fantastic. Many of the tours also discuss the fact that someone will pick up students from campus locations after dark to take them to dorms if the do not want to walk back to their dorm alone. It may be that the knowledge of this safety stops here, or not, but remember, these student guides are on script and they do a fantastic job. Sometimes they don't have all the answers. They were never meant to have all the answers and that is okay.

The safety of campus features and statistics probably is in the hands of admissions or deans. Thus, these questions should be directed to these departments. These safety questions should be answered (though my tour guide with University of Chicago was able to answer a few of the Residential Life questions regarding Dorm Life, i.e. who lives in the dorm).

According to the speaker, these topics should be addressed before students or parents need to ask, below is a beginning path, however, parents or students may need to place a phone call to receive answers to these questions.

Structure of Residential Life:
• Who lives in the dorm: Faculty, College Staff, RA
• Residence advisor training in sexual assault training and follow up
Which department on campus oversees safety
• Security Dean or Provost
• Process for complaints: Judicial Board or do local authorities take over
Efforts to prevent sexual assault
• Assault statistics
• Policies and prevention policies, statistics on campus

Other queries: Do you have a women's center? During orientation, do you discuss health and safety in relation to this topic and how in depth is it? Do you discuss Title IX and the Query Act? (See below).

Title IX, The Clery Act and VAWA

We all thought that Title IX ( had to do only with women's sports, but it does not. It has to do with other topics as well, including sexual assault. Students should know their Title IX.

In addition, The Clery Act ( refers to the reporting of campus crimes, especially assaults against people of any gender age or creed (formally called the "Campus Security Act, renamed after Jeanne Clery a young college student after her death). Campuses must comply with the Clery Act.

VAWA stands for "Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2014" and it requires expanded reporting for incidents of all sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, inclusive of cyber-stalking and any and all hate crimes. Colleges must report these incidents whether the perpetrator is found guilty and convicted or whether or not a victim reports the crime days, weeks, or years after the act. (Claire Law, IECA Member – Blog, please refer to her blog:

You may wish to visit two links addressing these issues in real time: The Hunting Game, a documentary film out soon, and a YouTube address by an attorney who was part of the Vanderbilt lawsuit. Both should be watched with students as they are getting ready to go off to university (male and female); however, feel free to screen before watching with your student. Both are mature viewing. (you will have to bear with school announcements).

I am not going to state that I am an expert on safety, but common sense tells me this:

Male or female, when going off to a party, or even late at night anywhere, don't go alone, don't let anyone get you a drink – get your own so you know what is in it (watch the bottle of whatever you are drinking be opened). Don't drink anything out of a tub that looks like a mixture of unknown substance, bring your own drink, just don't drink. Don't leave a party alone; don't go to a party alone. Know your rights.

Tags: Clery Act, Title IX, VAWA, Claire Law, World Student Support, Educational Avenues, Scottie Johanna Hill, The Archer School
Grade 12-College Admissions Punch List
Grade 12

This is the juggling year: Academics, college applications, choices and what seems like a race to the finish line. Finalize the college search, writing applications, asking for recommendations. Take pride in your work and keep your grades up all year, as colleges have been known to rescind acceptances based on dip in GPA. This is the abbreviated short list without deadlines dates. You need to fill in these dates with your counselor/consultant. Have conversations with your parents, consultant and counselor. Open the lines of communication.

• Check credits for graduation and check transcripts for accuracy.
• Determine if you will apply Early Decision/Early Action, Regular Decision.
• Ask teachers for letters of recommendation.
• Meet with any College Reps visiting school.
• Do not count on friends and relatives for accurate information. Be sure to ask your counselors to verify information.
• Discuss college selections with your counselor and your parents.
• Finalize college selections.
• Work on essays and short questions
• Complete College Applications
• Work on Financial Aid
• Retake SAT I SAT II Subject Tests, ACT, watch for deadline dates (in the Fall).
• Keep a backup file of everything...
• Again... watch for deadlines.
• Keep up your grades.
• Study for AP/IB and Final Exams and complete all projects.
• Hooray! You were accepted! Evaluate aid packages. College acceptances: Accept by May 1st, inform other colleges that you will be attending. –Deposits may need to be sent.
• Thank your teachers for recommendations and general thanks to all.
• Gap Year: If doing a Gap Year, defer your college acceptance.
Eleventh Grade -The College Path Really Begins!
{Semester 1

Seriously think about the College Search and by the end of the year, a college list should be crafted (though it still may be a fluid list).

Class schedule Review: Check in with your counselor and review your schedule and think ahead to senior year and plan senior year as well. Remember, if you are an athlete and planning to play sports in college, refer to NCAA guidelines. These guidelines often change.

• Take the PSAT in October, this is for the National Merit Scholarship (
• Meet with College Reps who will visit your high school.
• Go to College Fairs and Gap Year Fairs in the area.
• Maintain grades, and remember, your grades remain permanent on your record.
• Continue your involvement in extra curricular activities.

Semester 2:
• Attend any parent nights the school offers.
• Attend any college counseling workshops the school offers (even if you have hired an Independent Educational Consultant).
• You might want to make a preliminary list of colleges, this list is fluid, it might change. Also, when you have a chance, visit campuses.
• Look into Financial Aid and discuss finances with your parents
• Identify characteristics you want in a college.
• Talk with your college counselor at school – remember he or she may be writing that letter of recommendation.
• Research colleges, keeping in mind that the websites of colleges are a form of advertising.
• Sign up for the appropriate college testing (SAT/ACT) and watch those deadlines (, (
• Remember, if you need accommodations, there are two deadlines and particular paperwork that need attention. (, (
• You may wish to take SAT II tests if appropriate for your situation (
• Think about your summer plans.
• Think about teachers who write good letters of recommendation

• Continue working on your College List
• Summer Activities
• Summer School if necessary
• Write or email colleges that pique your interest(s) and request information
• Have some fun!

Reflect on your year... what went well... what would you like to do next year?
Keep some of your outstanding assignments from each class in a portfolio. Keep all grades and transcripts. Remember to keep your activities list up to date. It will come in handy next school year.
Starting High School-Grade 10
Grade Ten

Revise your four-year plan or make sure you are staying on track
Weigh your options for community service, summer plans and extra curricular
Introduction to university/college and Gap Year possibilities

• Remember, grades are permanent on your record.
• Continue being involved in extracurricular activities (that you enjoy).
• Contact your college counselor
• If your school offers a college-counseling workshop attend it!
• Think about a summer study program, work experience, community service or something enjoyable.
• Research colleges: Grade 10 is a good time to start an unofficial college search in order to set academic goals for yourself.

Testing: Some students do take the PSAT and/or the PLAN Test. Registration takes place in September, check with your school counselor regarding these tests.


Reflect on your year... what went well... what would you like to do next year.
Keep some of your outstanding assignments from each class in a portfolio. Keep all grade reports, transcripts, and awards.

Some students do craft an unofficial college list and tour schools. This is a great idea; it will give families an idea of what is out there. Another way to get an idea of what college is like is tour the local colleges in the state, or if the family is living abroad, on home leave, definitely take a tour of a school in the state you are visiting.

Keep up with your activities profile.- as mentioned before, it will come in handy for job applications and future college applications.
Starting High School-Grade 9
Grade 9

For some students, the school year has started, for others; it is days or just weeks away. Grade 9, or freshman year in high school is the launch of a new beginning. Perhaps the course work is already planned, for some, this year's grades will determine the curriculum path for the upcoming high school years.

No matter what curriculum path Grade 9 students are taking, there are several things that need to be accomplished this year.

Become familiar with the counseling office and find out who the counselor is. Become aware of the credits necessary for graduation... be aware that credits for high school graduation may differ from requirements for various universities.

Plan ahead to see what is ahead for your first year in high school and beyond. Know that this plan may change, but gives you a rough idea of what credits you need to graduate. Look at your high school's requirements and plan accordingly. While you may have your eye on different curriculum paths, your path to learning may change based on your future plans. Think flexibility.


• Be aware that grades are permanent on your record.
• Develop good study skills, good self-advocacy skills, and check on your grades consistently.
• Familiarize yourself with the college counseling office and your college counselor.
• Consider a study program or community service over the summer, or some type of fun program over the summer. You might even consider one now.
• Since this is the first year in high school, get to know the extra curricular offerings and see what piques your interest.
• If you are interested in sports, know the National Collegiate Athletic Association requirements (NCAA).
• At the end of the year, check your grades and make sure you are on track for the academic path you wish to pursue (i.e. IB, AP, Honors, Waldorf, Independent Curriculum). Be sure your credits are intact and nothing is missing.

Reflect on your year and think about your highlights academically, socially as well as your extra curricular activities. Fill out an activity sheet so you can recall everything you did this year, this will be helpful for both seeking a job and university application time.
School is Starting!
School is starting....

For some students, school has started, which is rather early. For others, it is days or weeks ahead. So, while some are enjoying these next few days or weeks of vacation, let's see what is ahead for eighth grade students.

Starting in Grade 8 – the last year of Middle School –what do these students have to look forward to this year? For many, they are top dogs in their school. It's a nice feeling. Many of these students will be presidents of their student councils, have the benefits of being the elders in their building, and with these benefits comes responsibility.

In addition to the responsibility factor, 8th grade students and their parents do have to think ahead about high school. While being in Middle School is all about, well, being in the middle – between elementary and high school, and a lot about growth and development, this growth and development will coincide with perhaps the choice of where to go to high school as opposed to the 'feeder' high school. It is time to choose the high school curriculum path. While not set in stone, the beginning of this year is a good time to investigate what the options are, as there are some deadlines to consider.

There are a lot of options for secondary education, whether it be International Baccalaureate, specialty science schools, dramatic arts, sports, international culture and the list is endless. With all the specialized schools come applications, perhaps auditions, and of course –deadlines. In addition to all of this, once in these specific high schools of choice, there may be standards that need to be maintained in order to stay in good standing. In addition, IB schools in the US often have a two-tiered system of admittance – entrance in what public schools call 'pre IB' and then another entrance requirement for the IB program specifically.

So, for grade 8 students who wish to make a move from their home 'feeder' school to another district or a school within their district, do your homework, watch your deadlines and be sure you are looking for the right fit. Leaving your home feeder school will entail a lot of drive time as well.
The Polar Vortex and Dreaming of Summer
These past months weather wise have been easy to dream about summer holidays. The weather has prompted dreams about warm weather, dry sidewalks, and never seeing a snow shovel ever again (not to mention the heavy jacket, boots and numerous layers to keep warm). Summer can't come soon enough.

While it seems awfully soon to even think about June, it really isn't. As an Independent Educational Consultant, my email and snail mailbox are inundated with summer offerings for students. So how do students determine what to do with the lazy hazy days of summer?

Long ago, summers seemed to be easier – it was basic, summer sleep away camp or a summer job that often involved knocking on neighbors doors and asking if they needed their lawns mowed, dog walked or perhaps a baby sitter. Today, it is a bit more complicated, only because what the extraordinary amount of options available. Please be aware, I am not endorsing any of these programs, but using these as examples. As always, programs have to be suitable to the student as well as carefully vetted.


A Job: a job is always good, it can be anything from a camp counseling job, waiting or bussing tables, babysitting, mother's helper – anything to bring in a paycheck!

Camp: Camps are a fabulous way to spend the summer (full disclosure – I spent years at sleep away camp, from camper, to counselor in training, to counselor). There are many kinds of camps from a general camp where participation in waterfront activities as well as land activities (tennis, sports, arts and crafts, etc.). There are specialty camps focusing on drama, technology, and specific sports. A tremendous resource as a launching point:

The American Camp Association:

Pre College Opportunities: Most college and universities these seem to host some sort of pre college experience for students. These experiences allow for students to spend time in dorms and perhaps focus on a passion or extreme interest. Allowing a student to investigate engineering, graphic design, journalism, and programs for students who have specific learning issues to mention a few. There are several goals; one to explore the specific interest, to get a taste of college life and perhaps another goal – a taste of independence.

Explore this website in reference to a journalism program at American University in Washington DC:

Summers Abroad: Making sure the passport is up to date, this is a great option to explore. Several schools in England are beginning to offer options in the hopes of piquing interest in UK higher education system. Other programs offer a variety of art options from art history, graphic arts, painting, and fashion design. Be aware that there are programs world wide.

Explore this one program in the UK taking place in Oxford and Cambridge:

Or, if you wish to travel in a specific European country and focus on a language and skill:

Abbey Road:

Boarding Schools: Just about every boarding school in the US offers summer programming appearing to balance academics with recreation. These programs are great options for students needing to boost their English skills. There is one boarding school that is specifically set up just for summer and focuses on improving academics. While students are not consumed all day with academics, the day is well balanced with work and play. Interestingly, it is tech free zone, cell phones checked upon arrival, though phone calls can be made just about anytime. Check out this web site:

Cushing Academy:

The next website is for specific academics and academic issues are addressed in the morning, recreational pursuits in the afternoon, study hall in the evening. Check all technology at the door.

Wolfeboro: The Summer Boarding School:

Or, for those with specific learning issues:

Landmark School:

In your "Big Back Yard': Quite often, there are local recreation centers or even private schools that have terrific course and recreational offerings from cooking classes, a way to buff up academics, or perhaps combine recreational options and recreational pursuits.

Here in Colorado, we have Colorado Academy, and here is what they offer. Keep in mind these programs often fill up quickly:


There are a plethora a of summer programs to choose from: travel, to stay at home, community service., arts. It boils down to passion, needs, price point, and possibly geography just to mention a few of the characteristics. Bottom line now is the time to think about the summer months.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and College Admissions, Oh My!
Clean Your Twitter, Facebook, and Perhaps Soon… Instagram

This has been a tumultuous college application season for sure. The Common App had a rough start. Hopefully, it will have a smooth finish. Due to the rough re branding of the application itself, many schools have done something unheard of US universities have extended deadlines for Early Decision/Early Action… something absolutely unheard of.

Now that many applications have finally been successfully turned in, students applying early and admissions are breathing a sigh of relief and have now begun reviewing applications. And guess what? Admission are now looking at student twitter accounts and may not like what they see… so, not only do students need a clean Facebook account, their Twitter accounts better be respectable, and now that Instagram is becoming the new form of communication, that had better be squeaky clean as well. Read the article from the New York Times to be enlightened and then go double check all on line accounts:
NBC News Salutes College Grads
NBC news states that this is one of their favorite newscasts of the year. I could not help but take some of the sound bytes and list them below. From the likes of Michelle Obama, Julie Andrews, and Brian Williams as well as from the mouths of the students, here are some quotes. Be sure to go to the link and listen to the joy and wisdom:

From First Lady Michelle Obama: DO BETTER, DREAM BIGGER

How students feel on this graduation day: Optimistic, inspired, excited, especially excited, grown up, proud, ground-breaker

What some of the speakers have to say?

Never lose site of what brought us to this day
Don't fear uncertainty
Be in this moment
Look on the bright side of life
Launch out into the deep
You are all incredibly lucky…you have choices

From students: We need to do our best to make the world a better place
I am optimistic, I feel so grown up, I did it! I am inspired, Mom-I made it, I did it!

Some of these quotes are paraphrased, and this is the condensed version. Here is the link to here to share in the joyous moment with these grads and their families and friends, because it sounds much better live:
To Gap or Not to Gap... Taking a Gap Year
Gap Years

I have written about Gap Years in the past, given presentations about Gap Years and am a supporter of Gap Years. If it were possible, I would encourage each and every student to take a Gap Year. With students ending high school and starting down their college path, a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders, or has it? Sometimes, students feel that they have been under an extraordinary amount of pressure through high school to maintain grades and activities to reach that college dream. Looking back on my high school career, it seemed much more of a developmental process (clearly while in high school, I did not say to myself, I am in the throws of a developmental process). Today, it seems as if high school is just about the 'eye on the prize' – higher education. We explored activities we enjoyed, and engaged in those activities, I am not sure we looked down the road and asked if these activities would 'look good' to the admissions officer at whatever school (though I will not lie, my school was grade and score competitive). Most of us went on to higher education. Today, there seems to be a shift. For some, activities seem more about what looks right, rather than what feels right.

So, with this in mind, perhaps some high school students feel that there is more left to explore at the end of high school before embarking upon their university path. Even students accepted at the top-notch schools, from Ivies, Junior Ivies, top ten; state schools and the Colleges that Change Lives (CTCL) can consider this option.

With this in mind, a Gap Year may be just thing. Gap Years are for students to fulfill that passion not fulfilled during high school: raise funds for school, learn a language, travel the world, participate in community service, really, the sky is the limit. The most important thing, of course, is to have a goal, and no matter what, be safe.

If accepted to a university, and the desire to take some time off before entering higher education, contact the university; they will have their method for deferring. Also, there are programs that do offer college credit. While appealing and wonderful to get a jump-start, contact your university because some of the schools might reconsider your status as a transfer student or perhaps may not accept all the credits.

There are many ways to organize a Gap Year… through an organization, a private consultant like World Student Support ( Whatever you do, be sure you find a reputable company to work with and make sure you are traveling safely.

Take the time to listen to the Huffington Post interview below. While a lengthy interview, it is fascinating. One student traveled with a friend to China and had a goal to learn Mandarin. He deferred Harvard for a year. Another student took a Gap Year to Israel, while the last student started a business while living at home. All three had very astute observations. Here is a verbal trailer of adapted sound bytes:

The transition to college from the Gap Year: I learned how to adapt to the unexpected
I stayed home because I know there were opportunities to study abroad at university… I know that college is an investment, and I thought I wanted to be a writer, I realized it was really a hobby.

I realized I did not want a desk job, I feel it is important to be out of ones' comfort zone.

Should American Students Embrace the Gap Year?
Huff Post Live
April 24, 2013
One Week Plus After May 1st!
It has been a little over one week since seniors have had to make their final decisions on where to go to university and place their deposits. So, now what? What's a senior to do?

Well, for starters, finish up the year in good standing. That is really important. Easy for me to say, isn't it? This is important, because schools can reverse their decisions based on poor performance.

A few things need to be done before the year ends:

Don't forget to have final grades sent to your university

Remember to have AP/IB scores sent if you desire credit. Those scores come later in the summer.

An important thing that needs to be accomplished is for students and parents to thank the teachers for a high school experience, and particularly those who wrote letters of recommendation, and those special teachers to hung around and gave your student that extra boost. The best thing a teacher can receive from a student is a gratifying personal letter, as well as one that sits in their personal file. And of course, parents need to be thanked big time, as well as anyone else who assisted in the university search/application process.

Appropriate closure: Be sure to say the proper good byes at the end of the year. While some students will come back and visit school and see their classmates at some point, others will not… take pictures of favorite places around school. Take photos of hangouts whether on the school campus or off. Take photos of friends, teachers, coaches, and teammates. No doubt, many of these will be posted on the facebook wall, but just in case they are, or not (or who knows down the road where facebook will be), put them somewhere digitally, or in an old fashioned sense to keep forever- in a scrapbook. Don't forget to mark them as to date and who everyone is. Believe it or not, you might one day not recall who's who!

Be safe! While this a time of celebration and cheer, and sometimes, students drop their guard. Drive with care, drive in a safe manner and drive smart and maintain safe habits all around.

Celebrate the wonderful accomplishments and have a great summer… because the work is just beginning as you reach for the next educational goal.
Decision Time
Decision Time

This is either a tough week for students making decisions about where to go to school for university, or perhaps it is an easy call, depending upon how many acceptances were received.

Higher education has a shocking sticker price, and while the lure of a 'name brand' has tremendous appeal, the repayment of the loans once school is completed is rather daunting. Will the designer label/name brand education pay off at some point? Is that the point of accepting at one of these schools? Or can the same outcome be had at a lesser-known school or flagship university with just as active of a faculty. The bottom line, as we have been told… no matter where a student goes, it is what the student puts into the university is what the student takes from takes away from the educational experience.

The Motherlode blog from the New York Times puts this very well. Take the time to read it, and perhaps it will put some things in perspective. As my mother used to say… "It's all about the money."

From The New York Times:

MOTHERLODE BLOG: Choosing a Scholarship Over a Name-Brand College

Four years ago, our daughter and our family faced the "college costs vs. prestige" decision. Here's how it turned out (so far).
Tourette's Syndrome
Tourette's Syndrome

According to the article in April/May issue of Neurology Now, Tourette's Syndrome (TS) is a disorder characterized by chronic tics. I have paraphrased the main facts, and truly the purpose of the newsfeed is to highlight Tim Howard and his success as an athlete

Tourette's Syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system characterized by repetitive involuntary tics. An official diagnosis occurs when someone has chronic motor and vocal tics lasting more than a year. TS starts in childhood, approximately at age seven. Symptoms may worsen through the teen years, perhaps persist through adulthood, but frequently lessen with age.

The symptoms of TS are tics, ranging from mild to severe, simple or complex, involving a limited number of muscle groups. TS is diagnosed clinically and often occurs along with conditions like ADHD and OCD. The number of known people with TS is unknown, though, there is an estimated of 1 -3% of people around the world are affected by TS.

Treatment options do exist, but it depends on the severity of the TS (definitely see the article for these options).

There are successful people with Tourette's Syndrome. Professional Soccer (out of the US, better known as football) Tim Howard, goalie who has played for Manchester United Football team, now plays for Everton team discusses his professional path, treatment options as well as how the public treated him upon arrival in England. In addition, the article discusses his path to England. Mr. Howard works with kids as a member of the board of directors for the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome and Associated Disorders.

While the article is long, it is worth the read as it illustrates that someone with TS can live a purposeful life, and with the right support, there are treatment options.

For additional information and detailed information, see the following link:
Admissions, The Movie
This is perfect timing for the movie Admissions to come out with Tina Fey. The movie is based on the book Admissions by Jean Hanff Korelitz published in 2009. I read it when it came out, thinking it would be an entertaining read, and found it tremendously entertaining. As a matter of fact, I thought it might make a fun movie. And, so it no doubt, is a fun movie.

I have yet to see the movie, as I am currently in the UK, and of course it won't land here for quite a while, if at all, as admissions here is quite a different process than the US. Perhaps the UK will find our system interesting, amusing or even baffling of sorts. So, I will have to wait to see it. But, what I can recall from the book (since I read it in (2009), it is entertaining, fun and some aspects may be accurate in the terms of what goes on in an admissions office, while other aspects may be somewhat embellished. Though, many of us in college consulting (unless we were in the admissions office prior to our current lives), or college counselling in high school, or unless we turn into flies on walls, we will never know.

I look forward to seeing the film, keeping in mind that it is a fictional account of one person's journey into the admissions process. But with this in mind, Tina Fey, with her many interviews promoting the film, this, on National Public Radio, has it right when she said the following:

On Admission's college application themes:
"It was one of the things that appealed to me about the movie. ... I feel like there is a lot of inherent humor in the stress and insanity surrounding that process. People lose their minds to try to prove their parental worth by getting their children into one of five colleges, when there are thousands of good colleges across the United States and elsewhere. I have two daughters, and we live here in Manhattan, and having gone through the Manhattan kindergarten application process, nothing will rival to the stress of that. They'll find somewhere [for college]; we'll find somewhere."
I look forward to an entertaining movie.
College Admissions/Education Nation
As the seniors in high school have put their college applications to bed, the juniors are now in the throws of choice and will soon embark upon visits to a variety of universities. On February 13, the Today Show featured a segment as part of the their Education Nation series and this time, focused on college admissions and tours. Clearly, a timely segment, as these juniors and perhaps sophomores are getting ready for spring break and tours of universities.

The guest was University of Pennsylvania Dean of Admissions Dean Eric Furda. He gave excellent tips on what to think about, and what to look for in a university. Some of these tips include:

• Be honest with your choice: Do you want to be close or far from home?
• Be relaxed when going to the admissions office, know your goal
• Observe where students ‘hang out'
• Check out the library
• See where the university is putting their money/investments
• Have a clear conversation about affordability
• Transcript discussion: Is it better to have an A in a ‘regular' course, or a ‘B' in an advanced course? (great question to ask at an admissions Q & A)
• How many applications are students generally filling out?
• How important is that essay (Dean Furda briefly discussed the change in the Common Application Essay choices)
• And by all means, have fun!

Some additions I would add to the tour…

• Stop by the health center and see what kinds of services are offered. How comprehensive is the center, what medications can a student receive, from allergy prescriptions to prescriptions for ADHD. Are their mental health services available?

• Stop by the tutorial center. How does this service work? How many students use this service?

• If relevant, and the student has a specific learning issue, stop by the support services office and see what it takes to receive special accommodations and what programs are offered and how it differs from the tutorial center.

• Go by the Student Union, eves drop on conversations

• Go by the Career Services Center and see how they help job placement, career fairs, help with resumes, interview skills as well as internships.

In other words, with the high price tag of a college education, not only does one want this to feel right (in Al Roker's terms, this is like buying a house… it is a huge investment), you want a bang for your buck.

To watch Dean Furda, click on the following link:
Using Sound to Navigate One's Way Around University of Colorado
University of Colorado/Boulder campus has introduced a new mapping system to assist students in navigating their way around campus. The purpose is to make campus more accessible to everyone. Students can now use sound to navigate their way around campus. For someone like me, who is directionally challenged, the system is nothing short of brilliant. For students with handicapping conditions (vision impaired, for example), this system opens up new avenues in navigation as an alternative to paper maps or one of those large stand up maps seen on campus.

Ryan Warner from Colorado Matters (Colorado Public Radio) interviewed Karen Rosenchein of CU Disability Services who pointed out the unique features of this navigation system. It is definitely worth a listen, as it not only highlights the wayfinding map project as well as a discussion of Universal Design. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and have a listen to an exciting and innovative project that is being looked at around the country, and will no doubt catch on worldwide. Kudos to University of Colorado
On Choosing a College
Frank Bruni wrote a poignant column last week for the New York Times that has stuck with me all week. He speaks to students and parents on the rationale of choosing a college. It spoke to me personally.

While in high school years ago, my college search was painful for a variety of reasons. While I went to one of the best high schools on the North Shore of Chicago, my family and I stumbled through the process. In the end I landed at University of New Mexico. From the environment of the North Shore, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, it was almost like going to a foreign country back in the day. To paraphrase Frank Bruni's byline, I was force to grow, really forced to grow. And it was good for me.

In the end, I had no choice of where to go, and that was a good thing. Very few of my classmates attended University of New Mexico (UNM), and those who did, I rarely ran into them. I was surrounded by new cultures: Native American, Hispanic and a relatively new concept for me â€" first generation college attendees.

This experience at UNM suited me well academically, socially and personally. I left with a great education, a view on life I never would have imagined if I had stayed in the neighborhood of the Midwest, and a view of our nation and geography that I would never be able to wrap my head around if it were not for that experience.

Further into the future, as my family worked and lived internationally, UNM helped ground me in what it would be like to (in Frank Bruni's words), "stretch in multiple directions, take in surprises, roll with changes, adapt to newness and improvise." Thank you Mr. Bruni for so eloquently stating this and thank you University of New Mexico.

How to Choose a College

When picking a school, you can focus on ranking, reputation, ivy. Or you can ask yourself where you'll really be forced to grow.
'Tis the Season: College Application Essays and Short Answer
A few nights ago on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams reported on The College Essay. Kevin Tibbles interviewed several students regarding some curve ball short answer (25 characters) responses to questions that may leave one shaking their head or perhaps leave a smile on their face:

What is your favorite amusement park ride? What was the favorite thing you did last Tuesday? Who is your favorite Super Hero? So, what are the right answers? What are college admissions looking for? One person in this report says the next Bill Gates. I am not so sure. I have my answers, though not in 25 characters, and perhaps that is the key. My favorite amusement park ride… The Tilta Whirl,My favorite super hero… who else but Superman? Favorite Ice Cream? Tough call depends on how hot the day. Last Tuesday? A few minutes of me time.

How does an admissions officer find the next Bill Gates from these answers, I don't know (Bill Gates did not graduate from higher education-no doubt he has many honorary degrees). I do agree with admissions…kids need to relax and be themselves and be honest. Be who you are, not who anyone wants you to be. Don't game the system. College application season… it is a season and in many ways, it is a rite of passage.

For the full report, go to:
To Gap or Not to Gap - That is the Question
Tag: Gap Year, Experiential Learning, College Consulting

The acceptance letters are in, and while some students are insanely happy with their choices, some may be disappointed. There appears to be an alarming number of wait listed students, and as well as an unfortunate number of students who received no offers from their university options. Or, students may be completely burned out after intense years of academics. There are several universities now offering students second semester admittance to their programs. With much agonizing over where to go and why, perhaps this is a good time to contemplate the virtues of a Gap Year. With much agonizing over where to go and why,

Here are some good reasons for taking a Gap Year:

A Gap Year offers the :

• Ability to broaden ones' horizons, increasing confidence in new situations.
• Opportunity to meet new people
• Opportunity to volunteer, or continue to volunteer, have a paid job and put money towards college
• Opportunity to learn a new language or continue to perfect a language one is currently learning
• Opportunity to re energize after an intense high school experience
• Experience to experiment with a taste of independence

Technically speaking, a Gap Year is a "prolonged period between life stages". Gap Years are often taken for a year, may be taken after high school, some students take them after college or even graduate school. Some students take them in the middle of course work in college. Universities view Gap Years positively, as long as the year is productive and well planned. Many programs offer volunteer work abroad, while others might offer apprenticeships, the ability to study art, home stays and language course work. There are hundreds if not thousands of options.

Some offer college credit, and while that is enticing, one has to be sure that the credits will transfer to the university of choice.

Some students will plan a year in thirds, while others might stick with a program for a full year. Some programs are very structured; some students start with a completely structured program and move on to less structure as they become more comfortable on their own path. Be aware that some colleges want to see a viable plan and may have the final word on deferral.

There are safety caveats to keep in mind. First and foremost, always let someone know the itinerary. If traveling abroad, register with the state department, be sure travel insurance is included. Be sure immunizations are up to date. This is just the beginning of the safety list.

Students should be prepared for adjustment not only in a new situation, but upon return. After a year of experiential learning, students often see the world through different eyes and come back to their university more mature and ready to launch into their experience refreshed and focused.
ADHD Support Groups in Denver, Colorado
Dr. Rosenthal is a private clinical psychologist in Denver, Colorado. He is very active in the community regarding students and young adults needing specific special services. In February, he is offering two different support groups for ADHD; one for high school students (male) and one for college students. Below is his biography from his website.

Dr. Rob Rosenthal is a licensed psychologist based in Denver, Colorado. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University, his Master's Degree from the University of Denver, and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver. He has worked with adults and adolescents in outpatient and inpatient settings. He has provided clinical services at Kaiser Permanente, the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program, Denver Veteran Affairs Medical Center, the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital, and the Professional Psychology Clinic.

Group for High School Boys with AD/HD


Many students with AD/HD have much greater academic attention than they are able to use during high school. Dr. Rob Rosenthal, a licensed clinical psychologist, offers a skill-based group that focuses on the typical difficulties of managing AD/HD. The group will discuss strategies for managing AD/HD and achieving short and long-term success. This is a great opportunity to take charge of your challenges and learn from each other about ways to find a new path.


The group will meet from 5:00pm to 6:00pm on six consecutive Wednesdays, starting February 15, 2012. The group will be limited to 9 people between the ages of 15 and 18; members will gain the most benefit from attending every week. The cost is $275, due at start of the group, with cash or check accepted. A specific topic will be discussed during each group, and homework will be assigned related to behavior changes. Following the last group, there will be a parent education meeting that reviews what was presented in the group.

Topics Will Include:

• Study and organization strategies
• Academic concerns
• Strategies for managing inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity
• Identifying strengths
• Intersection of AD/HD and mood, anxiety, and learning difficulties
• Self-advocacy
• Medication


The office is located at 1231 South Parker Road, Suite 103, Denver, 80231. It is on the south side of Parker Road, one block east of where Leetsdale becomes Parker Road. It is not far from both the I-25 and Evans exit and the I-225 and Mississippi exit.

Group for College Students with AD/HD
Many students with AD/HD have much greater academic attention than they are able to use during college. Dr. Rob Rosenthal offers a skill-based group that focuses on the typical difficulties of managing AD/HD. The group will discuss strategies for mastering AD/HD and minimizing its impact on short-term achievement and long-term goal attainment. This is a great opportunity to take charge of your challenges and learn from each other about ways to find a new path.
The group will meet on six consecutive Mondays from 5:00pm to 6:00pm, beginning February 27. The group will be limited to 9 people between the ages of 18 and 25; members will gain the most benefit from attending every week. The cost is $240 due at the start of the group, with cash or check accepted. A pro-rated refund is available should a student wish not to continue after the first meeting. A specific topic will be discussed during each group, and homework will be assigned related to behavior changes.
Topics Will Include:
• Study and organization strategies
• Academic concerns
• Relationships
• Strategies for managing inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity
• Identifying strengths
• Intersection of AD/HD and mood, anxiety, learning difficulties, substance use
• Self-advocacy
• Medication
Contact Information and Location:
Dr. Rosenthal can be reached at (720) 319-7272 or The office is located at 1231 South Parker Road, Suite 103, Denver, 80231.

www.drrobrosenthal.comchildren and adults with attention deficit disorder, self advocacy,
College Essay Writing: Cracking the Code/NBC Nightly News
Last night on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams reported on The College Essay. Kevin Tibbles interviewed several students regarding some curve ball short answer (25 characters) responses to questions that may leave one shaking their head or perhaps leave a smile on their face:

What is your favorite amusement park ride? What was the favorite thing you did last Tuesday? Who is your favorite Super Hero? So, what are the right answers? What are college admissions looking for? One person in this report says the next Bill Gates. I am not so sure. I have my answers!
Teens Who Talk Back- Really?
Why A Teen Who Talks Back May Have A Bright Future

A story from National Public Radio (NPR) aired last week called Why a Teen Who Talks Back May Have A Bright Future is worth a listen and a read…
Anyone who has raised children has gone through the agony of arguing and debating a variety of topics with their teens. These topics may range from curfew (big debate for teens and parents), to structured homework time, to how much recreational computer time crosses over to TV time, and when is it time to hand over the car keys. Arguing with our children goes with child rearing, it is part of the package. There is arguing, and then there is arguing.

For those of us who have raised kids, read the child development books, been worried sick regarding the future of our children, this NPR piece will hit home. For those with children, there is some sage advice. It is definitely worth a listen and worth clicking on the links. With all this said, I may re title the story: Effective Arguing With My Teen, or perhaps Effective Discussions With My Teen.
The Fragile Adolescent Brain
Now that the New Year has launched and many of us made New Year's resolutions, perhaps, some adolescents who have had their first taste of hard core partying have solemnly sworn to never party like they did this past December 31st.

Here is some food for thought based on article from the publication Neurology Now in the December 2011/January 2012 issue. I encourage readers to reference the link as this article simplifies the brain functions (page 9, paragraph 4 Dr. Robin Brey, editor of Neurology Now) and how alcohol impacts teen-age brain ( In addition, one of the anchor articles called Buzz Kills how does alcohol affect the teen-age brain by Amy Paturel discusses the long-term effects of drinking and the teen-age brain.

While I list some of the major points, be aware that anyone who lists major points takes things out of complete context, thus reading the article in entirety makes the most sense:

Editor in Chief of Neurology Now Robin L. Brey, M.D. discusses in her editorial the best parenting advice she ever received from Louis Caplan, M.D. "Keep children busy… in activities that promote discipline and teach the benefits of delaying gratification."

…The article Buzz Kills discusses how alcohol affects the adolescent brain. Each year, more than 10,000 young people in the US are killed and 40,000 injured in alcohol related motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Young people are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors…

"Alcohol and other substances of abuse affect the developing brain differently than the mature brain."

In the complete article, Amy Paturel focuses on Toren Volkmann of Portland, Oregon who took his first drink when he was 15 years old. He drank out of 'coolness' and boredom (hence, stay busy). Volkmann and his mother authored a book describing his experiences… you can find the title of his book in the article. Woven through the article is scientific evidence of the impact of substance abuse and the impact it has on the adolescent brain.

Aside from knowing that the teen brain is not fully developed and can be hurt by drugs and alcohol, the explanation of the complexities brain connections and networks are explained in simple terms that all of us can understand. Plus, one can see brain images of affected brains.

This is an important article that can be understood from an adult point of view as well as from an adolescent standpoint. Hopefully, teens will read it, and perhaps it will become required reading.
For the complete article:
"Clack, Clack, Clack, Please Write Back"

I encourage readers to take a look at this article regarding an activity Amherst conducted for students who wanted to stay out late and remain sober form the Chronicle of Higher Education. The assistant director of student activities ordered three manual typewriters, quill pens, postcards, postage stamps and other 'snail mail' accoutrements, and set up 'shop'. While most students needed tutorials on manual typewriters, the activity was a tremendous success and will no doubt be repeated. Students were actually seen typing and heard the clacking (instead of texting) and the ding of the end of the line of when one has to return the carriage of the typewriter (does this bring back any memories?). These students were inclined to write notes to their professors, postcards to friends and family members. Hats off to Crista Reed, the assistant director of Student Services.

This brings me to an article that was written in The Wall Street Journal on October 5th, 2010, repeated in Brain in the News ( in the November 2010 edition on the virtues of handwriting and the brain. In the article called How Handwriting Trains the Brain by Qwyndolyn Bounds, she discusses the "benefit of adults studying new symbols such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand, researchers say. Some handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age." I wonder if this is a good exercise for all ages in order to slow down our thought processes. The article also cites advantages of children continuing to learn manual penmanship despite our technological universe (or along with) of today.

While one can point out ramifications of bad handwriting on SAT essays (scorers unable to read writing and assigning an 'illegible' score of 0) from the Wall Street Journal/Brain in the News article, I urge readers to read the articles and judge for themselves. As for children and adolescents, the activity of learning a manual typewriter, learning calligraphy and writing with a quill pen and the lost writing of the past may be great fun on one of those snowed in holidays as a way to while away the hours. For older folks… a way to keep the brain in shape and for all, back to an old tradition of communication. These days, it is a thrill to receive a letter in the mailbox.
Personal Choices
Becoming a Rhode's Scholar is an extraordinary opportunity. The quarterback at Yale has an opportunity to interview this week end for such an opportunity at Oxford University in England. He has quite the conflict: The Harvard/Yale football game, and this young man is THE starting quarterback. Sounds easy to remedy, right? Just call and say, "Is it possible to change the interview, the biggest game of my life is taking place this week end, as I cannot let my team mates down." Rescheduling does not seem to be an option. From what I gather, there are perhaps over 800 applications for approximately 40 Rhodes Scholars openings in 2012. In all of our lives, we make life-changing decisions; clearly this young man is about to make a huge one. Go to the link view details from NBC News:
University College London to Pilot New Grading System
University College London (known as UCL) will be piloting a new grading system next year based on the United States' Grade Point Average system. Fearing grade inflation and far more honor degrees granted than in the past, it appears that UCL is trying to figure how to combat this climb in grade inflation. In the UK, it is common for prospective employers to ask to see grade/degree status and if a student has graduated with honors this may be the tipping point for not only an interview, but job status as well. See the complete article at The Daily Telegraph:
Liberal Arts Degree in the United Kingdom
Students often determine their very specific majors and career paths as they enter university in the United Kingdom. On the personal statement section of their university application, students write about their majors and their commitment to these majors. Liberal Arts education is generally not an option. However, this past week, two universities will begin this educational path next school year.

King's College in London will be offering this degree starting in 2012. From Charline Appleby, Independent Educational consultant states that Year 1 is a basic year with a plan to follow the topic of: 'London Life and Mind'. The city of London will be used as classroom along with intensive reading and seminars to integrate the rich history England brings to the world. Year 2 is called 'Perspectives' and aims to look closely at power and society, especially at politics in the broadest sense. The focus is to develop in students a critical understanding of the individual in the social and cultural context. In this year, a major and minor subject will be chosen for deeper study. Study abroad is available in second semester. The final year is one of research called 'Connections and Research'. Students will produce an in depth dissertation on a topic of choice. Advisers will guide this work and help students develop their research and analytic skills. Students will be required to complete a language requirement and take part in an internship.

University College London will also launch a Liberal Arts degree starting in 2012. The rationale for this Liberal Arts degree appears to be students asking for more choice and flexibility in undergraduate programming. This Liberal Arts program will have students major or minor in a science or humanities with a focus on interdisciplinary studies. This particular program has a three or four year option. If a student wishes to study abroad, then the program will be a four year program. 80 students will be taken the first year of this program.

Both programs will require students to write an additional personal statement to the individual university.
College 101 from The Today Show
While getting ready to go to work, I had on the Today Show. They focused on four main elements of basic college survival:
Budget, Dorm, Computer and Study Skills. Through the eyes of either students or recent college grads interviewed this morning the points were succinctly presented. For complete details head on to the Today Show's link


Only one credit card is needed. The purpose of the credit card is to establish good credit, and each month, this bill should be paid off. Keep track of spending with a special app available for the i phone. Another money saving tip includes renting textbooks from Amazon for electronic readers. Finally, this young entrepreneur from NYU highly recommends beginning to put $15- $20 a month aside for retirement. Never to early to start.

What to Bring to the Dorm:

Living in the dorm is a task of paring down. Dorms do ask that nails not go into the wall, so sided tape is a must. Definitely keep extra batteries around and a surge protector. Save on closet space with a personal valet hanging system, and unfortunately, one must protect themselves from insidious bed bugs with bed bug covers.

College Bound Computers:

From a columnist, some terrific advise regarding computers and the type of computer necessary for college ranging from not super-expensive but all inclusive for multi taskers. She recommends lap top screens no bigger than 13 inches, big enough for surfing the net, writing papers, taking notes and of course, kicking back and watching movies after all homework is complete. Bottom line: Affordable, long battery life, and light.

Study Skills:

From a Columbia College of Journalism Grad student, some sage advice regarding the differences between high school and college. The first being that high school finds students with a lot of quizzes and projects. Not so in college. If possible, arrange classes in order to suit your work and intern schedule, always go to class, take good notes, be organized. During exam time, go on a 'social networking diet', surround yourself with study groups and use your syllabus.

All four of these students and young professionals gave terrific advice for students. Be sure to go to The Today Show's website for more details.
The Power of Self Advocacy
I attended a terrific workshop called The Power of Self Advocacy sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Branch of The International Dyslexia Association. What made this workshop so unique is that it was student run based on their personal experience as student advocates.

The heart of the student discussion was the need for understanding that self-advocacy is a lifetime skill, giving power to the students as age appropriate.In addition, these advocates discussed importance of understanding their specific disability, how to work in a positive manner with teachers, figuring out one's best approach to learning, learning one's rights, and how to solve problems creatively.

Through a variety of very clever role-plays, and several case scenarios, the veteran self-advocates showed the rookie self advocates how to advocate for their necessary accommodations as well how to remind and educate teachers of their specific needs.

Through some very clever role-play portraying several types of teaching styles, these students passed on some sound advice as well. Several examples of this advice include:

Meeting with teachers for clarification or help before tests, on homework before it is due and to review grades in progress
Retaking tests or take tests verbally (a gentle IEP reminder)
Ask for extra credit
How to ask for help appropriately
Making meetings at a convenient time for teachers
Being polite
Students must know their accommodations and their specific learning disability

An impressive aspect of the workshop was after the role-play, the parents went to their own breakout session, while the students were left in the hands of the veteran advocates. The purpose of the session was to meet students who face similar challenges, to find their voice, practice using that voice and gain confidence. No doubt, this was a morning worthwhile for everyone involved.
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