College Bound!

College Bound!

I recently attended a social function where some of the other ladies sitting around me were discussing how they could best support their children, who had just started their senior year in high school, find a good balance between all the fun and excitement of that final year and making the necessary preparations required to help them make a smooth transition into college life the following year.  (Boy, how well I remember the angst that can be felt during that crucial time period in your children’s lives!)Quote on getting a good education.

No doubt about it, the final year of high school is filled with many exciting events as you celebrate the last hoorah’s of your secondary education, so focusing on your future college career oftentimes isn’t exactly a top priority.  Ideally however, students intending to continue their education after high school should start thinking about what college they would like to  attend as early as their junior year.  Making your choice early will allow for ample time to prepare all of your college admission requirements, and yet not make it seem so overwhelming.

The campus of Utah Sate Univeristy.

Tucked away in a corner of the Wasatch mountains is the beautiful campus of Utah State University, my Alma Mater!

A Checklist For Preparing For College!

I have a wonderful friend, Neola Jones, who is a well-versed college and career advisor at our local high school; she plays a crucial role in giving students guidance as they prepare for their future education.  Here’s her suggestions to help make preparing for college more streamlined.

College checklist.

•  Review your online graduation summary NOW!!   Most schools provide an online summary of all the requirements needed by graduating students.  Talk with your guidance counselor if you have any questions or concerns.  Not much use looking ahead to what you’ll need to do to apply for college if you haven’t made the cut for high school graduation.

•  Start earning college credit through Concurrent Enrollment and AP classes, or attending early college or technical school.  Many high schools offer classes that count toward both high school and college credit…sort of a two for one type of deal!  If you have already met the requirements needed for graduation, it might be a good ideas to get a jump start on your college career by attending early college.  Again, visit with a school counselor to figure out the best way to go about doing this.  (My son did this his senior year and loved it, but it definitely took some coordination and follow-through with the advisor for early college to make sure all the necessary paper work was completed correctly.)

•  Take or retake the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  When you’re applying to college, you will most certainly need to submit a SAT score on your admission forms.  Many schools offer significant scholarship money based on SAT scores.  A wide range of companies also ask job-seekers for their SAT scores.  Be sure to check this website for further information.

•  Apply for a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Apply for FAFSA in January, or as soon as you parents file their tax return.  This is an online form that can be prepared annually by prospective and current students in the United States to determine if they are eligible for financial aid.  (All 18 year-old males should be sure and register for the draft–you’ll be ineligible to receive any financial aid if you don’t.)

And finally…

•  BE AWARE!!  Listen to announcements, read emails, pay attention when counselors come to talk in your classes!  If you have questions, go to your counselors and ASK!  Your parents can help you, but ultimately it is YOUR responsibility to take charge of all that is required for securing your future college education!

(You can find a more detailed monthly checklist here.)  

The earlier you get planning and preparing, the easier the process for college admission is going to be.  From experience, I found it helpful to make my own checklist to track the specific requirements and deadlines for each school I applied to; the same held true as I helped my children.  As exciting and fun as that final high school year is, it’s integral to prioritize your time and stay up to date on your current studies, since most colleges and universities will still look at your grades and work throughout your senior year.  This time like no other helps determine your future–so embrace the journey!

Good luck and remember… 

Graduation quote.

Any advice you’d give to a graduating senior to help make the college application process less stressful? 


Getting A Good Education–The Word On The Street Edition!

Getting A Good Education–The Word On The Street Edition!

Utah State University in Logan, Utah

One of my favorite stories that my father often told me about getting a good education was during his first year of college at Utah State University, then known at Utah State Agricultural College.  My dad initially registered his major in premedicine.

“I think there was not a more difficult course at the college than premedicine.  Each quarter’s work was carefully outlined and the teachers involved were some of the most esteemed on campus, but also some of the most difficult.”

“One teacher, Dr. Sherwin Maser, Professor of Chemistry, had students scared and buffaloed.  His classes were required for many majors and were therefore large in size, which he didn’t like.  He got smaller classes by failing students who weren’t scoring high marks.”

“I entered Dr. Maeser’s Inorganic Chemistry class fall quarter of 1932.  While I learned a good deal and studied hard, I didn’t measure up to his standard.  I got a failing grade in chemistry that quarter.  I was offended, angry and ready to pop Dr. Maeser over the head.  (I love that description!)  A couple of days cooled me off and I realized I needed to be a better student.  My level of performance during high school would not carry me through college.  I spent most of the Christmas holiday going back over every chapter and experiment we had covered fall quarter.  I then took the class over winter quarter and did very well; in fact, I earned all A’s and B’s in the 30 hours of chemistry which followed.”

“Dr. Maeser and I became better acquainted, and while I was not the top student I wanted to be in his classes, his social quotient was lower for a teacher than it ought to have been.  He was not a friendly person for most students to be around; rather, he was quite cold and standoffish.  Since I became a teacher later, it was good that I met and associated with this man, for he taught me–in a reverse way–the importance of being friendly and encouraging to students.  I have often felt that the first grade I received in Dr. Maeser’s class was one of the most important grades I ever received, in clear language, he said to me, ‘You’re not the student you ought to be and can be!’  I accepted his challenge and did what I needed to do to improve.”

–from history of LeRoy Jorgensen

Word on the Street!

It’s been a little over a month since the beginning of the new school year, (that’s about how long it took my children to establish a routine when they were at home) so I thought I’d check in and see what the “word on the street” is, so to speak, on how things are going for some of the students and teachers I know and admire.  Even though teachers may carry the heavier obligation for helping their students, like most things in life, getting a good education is a two-way street between both the teacher and the student, as well as the parents!

Sesame Street's Word on the Street!

It’s a funny coincidence, but the title of this post came about one afternoon when my two granddaughters were watching Sesame Street while they ate their lunch.  The segment, “What’s The Word On The Street” came on and “teacher” was the word of the day.  Silly characters on the street were asked what the word teacher meant to them.  By this time, Makena had been in school for a few weeks and readily commented that her teacher was nice!

Getting a good education--word on the street edition!

As her parents, my daughter and her husband are happy that Makena is liking school so much and that she seems to be developing a good relationship with her teacher.  In fact, when I asked Shane what attributes he liked in a teacher, his response was…

Getting a good education!

“A great teacher is one that cares more about the student becoming better than the grade on the latest test.  There are many teachers, both spiritually and secularly that have touched my life.  The great ones inspire students to want to learn, regardless of the situation or where the learning takes place.”

I hope Makena can have teachers each year that inspire her to be better every day!”

I have a good friend and neighbor who taught school for many years and is now a computer specialist for several schools.  Talk about superpowers!  Leslie told me that as a teacher, she recognized that children and parents had to both be active participants in the educational process!  The students that Leslie taught that did well in school often had the following traits in common:

Organization:  “Help your child learn to be organized.  Set aside time to take care of school work.  Before you go to bed each night, make sure you have everything you need for school the next day collected at a central location.”  Leslie told me that she would put things by her back door–that way she had to almost trip over it or pick it up to take with her on the way out the door!

Parents that value learning:  “Parents that are life-long learners tend to have children that enjoy learning new things.  Read to, or with your children.  Let them see you reading for your own pleasure or knowledge.  Discuss things you read.  Encourage kids to create and explore.  Curious students are delightful to teach!  They stretch a lesson plan or activity by their questions.”

Getting a good education! Mandi in 6th grade.

Leslie taught my daughter, Mandi, in sixth grade, and to this day she credits her as one of her most influential teachers!

Now that Mandi is in graduate school in New York City, she has had the unique experience of being a teacher at the same time she was a student!  When I asked her if that affected her teaching approach, Mandi said,  “It made me very aware of student’s schedules and how difficult it can be to get everything done.”

Mandi also told me that something one of her math teachers used to do that she found to be vert helpful was that he gave his students an extra day to redo any problems missed on an assignment.  Mandi said this gave her a chance to learn what she had missed and get a better grade too.

Mandi’s husband, Cole, said that in medicine teachers have a dual responsibility, both to the patient and to education.  Some definitely focus more on the patient care and lack in the education area.  “Good teachers are able to educate through patient care!”   

Getting a good education!

Even though another friend’s daughter could pass for one of her fifth grade students, (she’s in the middle with the bun) I assure you she’s wise beyond her years!  In talking with Stacie, Mrs. Rasmussen, about what she’s leaned as a teacher in her second year of teaching, she reiterated how important it is to have parents and children read aloud to each other!  Stacie also said that when parents work and are short on time, it’s a good idea to take real life situations and turn them into learning experiences.

Stacie also said that a valuable resource of information for teachers is other teachers!  All the teachers at Stacie’s school meet at least once a week with those who teach the same grade.  They can then share ideas with each other on how to implement lesson plans in a way that will best benefit the students!  I would imagine that having a little moral support makes you a better teacher too.  From the looks of the picture above, wouldn’t you just love to be a student in Stacie’s class!

Getting a good education!

When I asked what words they’d used to describe their ideal teacher, Kaden and Clark, two neighbor boys, responded with patience and a sense of humor, among other traits.  I personally think that if you have good work habits in other areas of your life, then being a good student seems to come more naturally!  (A huge shout out to Kaden and Clark for helping my husband haul all the dirt back to our flowerbeds after our yard construction–and this was after they’d been to football practice!!!) 

And finally, in response to my question about the role great teachers played in his life, my son, Jake said…

Getting a good education!

        “Teachers make all things possible!”

What I’m learning now is…

My father wrote in his history that he learned to not always chase after the “popular” teachers,  “…for often they were merely showmen and entertainers.  I have learned more from the teachers who were more commonplace, but showed a personal interest in me.  It’s hard for students to realize this however, for we all have our educational sweet tooth!”.  What I’m learning now is that no matter our age and regardless of the teachers we have, being good students of life only proves to help make many more “streets” readily accessible to us!

How did teachers make an impact on your life?



Back In The Saddle Again!

“Back In The Saddle Again”!  A New School Year Anthem!

Do you recall the Staples advertisement where a dad joyfully gathers school supplies,  “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” plays as background music, and his two forlorn children seem to be less than amused?  My father would wake us early on the first day of school to the smell of eggs, bacon and hash browns, as well as a rousing rendition of Herb Alpert’s “Spanish Flea”!  (Also known as the “Dating Game Show” theme song to my generation!)  In fairness, my dad didn’t do this because he was glad to see us gone and out of the house, (at least I never believed that was the case) he was simply a college professor with a penchant for higher learning, who loved to teach!

"Back In The Saddle Again"! Gene Autry

When our three children started school, a new anthem marked the dawning of another school year!  Have I mentioned before that my husband loves country music?  Come the first day of school, the cassette tape of Gene Autry’s “Back In The Saddle Again” was played loud enough on our old Marantz sound system, that our house seemed to shake a little!  At the time, our kids would bemoan this tradition, but now, they often remember it with fondness!  (“Back In The Saddle Again” is also song #6 on the “Sleepless in Seattle” soundtrack.)          

"Back In the Saddle Again!

Malia-6th grade, Jake-4th grade, Mandi-1st grade.  The last year all three would attend the same school together.    

Celebrate A New School Year With Fun Traditions…

  • Just like I did with my granddaughter, Makena, I had fun school shopping trips with my children.  The girls would come home and play “fashion show” and model their new clothes for their dad.  Good times!
  • Breakfast was usually “Mush Cake” made by my husband, while I helped the kids get ready.  Obviously, all this happened to the strains of “Back In The Saddle Again!”

Mush Cake! 

A Wilding Family Classic!

I was a little leery of this recipe when I was first introduced to it, since I didn’t like hot mush cereal growing up–but this warm, spicy cake served with fresh bottled peaches and milk is the perfect breakfast to send your kids out the door to a new school year!

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups dry Cream of Wheat Cereal

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 c. applesauce

Combine dry ingredients.  Cream together shortening, eggs, sugar and milk.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir until smooth then add applesauce.  Bake in 9×13 inch pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with milk and peaches on top.

Mush Cake!

You can add milk or have it with just the peaches.  It’s so good! 

  • We have a tradition of using a “You Are Special Today” red plate for fun days like birthdays, etc.  After school, I would have some of my kid’s favorite snacks waiting for them on this plate–then I’d just sit back and listen while they chatted about the events of their first big day at school!  (Usually, I went for more healthy snacks after school, but on the first day after school, I’d splurge.)

After school snacks!

  • For a long time now, we have had a neighborhood BBQ that we attend after the first day of school.  It’s sort of the last “Hoorah” where we all enjoy each other’s company one last time before homework projects, sports practices and cooler weather.
  • My kids usually ate school lunch, so I didn’t send any of the clever sack lunch notes that you hear so much about now–I’m not so sure they would have loved them anyway…I mean a note from mom, that’s a little embarrassing, right!  I did however, try to leave a few surprise reminders in their bedrooms during the school year to let them know I was impressed with their efforts in school!  (There are a lot of fancy ideas online now for these type of things too, either way, your kids just want to know you are thinking of them!)  

Doing good in school!

When I saw this new brand of gum at the store, I had to laugh–if my dad were to make me a candy poster today, this would probably be his message!

Candy bar poster

In his autobiography, my dad shares a story about how he and a few high school friends would skip class on occasion to go fishing in a nearby river.  My dad also relates that when his father became aware of what he was doing, he said to him, “Roy, I know you’ve been missing some of your classes.  It’s very important that you graduate from high school.  I didn’t graduate and I know what I’ve missed.  If you can’t see why you should attend class for your own sake, then do it for me.”  My dad then records that since his father was such a good man, he started attending class regularly for him, “…but as time went on, I got a clearer vision of things and started going for myself!”     

What I’m learning now is…

When I was young, I used to think it was kind of corny that my dad celebrated the first day of school almost like it was Christmas!  But like I’ve said so many times before, as I’ve gotten older and a little wiser, I now see the wisdom in the things my parents did!  I have come to know that like so many other days in our lives, the first day of school is very much worth celebrating!  What I’m learning now is that often the family traditions we celebrate can’t help but impress upon our children the importance of these special occasions to us.  Initially, our kids may go through the motions, so to speak, simply out of respect for us as their parents, but in watching my own children as they’ve excelled in school and other areas of their lives, I realize that before long, they develop their own strong convictions that motivate them to do well and succeed!

I’d love you to share how you celebrate starting a new school year, and what you do to help the enthusiasm last throughout the year?