More Than a GPA — Seven Qualities That Matter

Throughout high school, your student worried about his GPA in order to gain admission to college.  Throughout college, students worry about their GPA in order to get a good job, make Dean’s List (or maybe to avoid academic probation), or to graduate with honors.

Grades matter.  They always have, and they will continue to matter for the foreseeable future.  Testing matters, extracurricular activities matter, internships matter.  Whether your student is in high school looking at college admission or in college looking toward a career, there are many factors that come into play.

In spite of the importance of all of the many factors that students must balance as they participate in school, we’d like to suggest seven qualities that will serve college students well.  They are certainly not the only important characteristics that will help your student succeed, but they are a foundation.  Talk to your student about their college career and their focus on GPA.  Don’t discount it, it matters, but help your student to think about some other qualities that will help them succeed — and that will serve them well as they look for a job and navigate their career.

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Is a High School Postgrad Program Right for Your Student?

This is the second of two posts about high school postgrad programs.  In our first post, we considered what a postgrad program is and some reasons why your student might consider one.  In this post, we look at the benefits of such a program as well as how to help your student know what to expect.

Your student is about to graduate from high school, but you and she have decided that spending an extra year preparing for college may be an ideal solution.  You’re considering a postgrad program at an independent school, but you’re still not sure this is the right choice for your student.  Here are some factors to consider regarding the benefits, the timing, and the expectations your student might have.

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What is a High School Post Grad Year?

This is the first of two posts about high school postgrad programs.  In this post, we’ll consider what a postgrad program is and some reasons why your student might consider one.  In our next post, we’ll look at the benefits of such a program as well as how to help your student know what to expect.

Your student is about to graduate from high school, and she’s ready to head to college in the fall.  Congratulations!

But wait; what if only part of that statement is true?  Your student may be about to graduate from high school, but that doesn’t automatically mean that she’s ready to head to college in the fall. Not all students mature and operate on the same timetable.  More and more students and their parents are considering a postgrad or fifth year of high school to prepare for college.

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E-Textbooks: A Love/Hate Relationship for College Students

More and more college textbooks are now ”going digital.”  With the iPad, Kindle, Nook and other tablets showing up everywhere, and nearly every college student arriving on campus with a computer, the move to digital format textbooks is a natural progression.  Digital textbooks may take several formats — downloadable material or online material.  But the assumption that innovation equals improvement may not always be true in the case of e-textbooks, and there is growing resistance to the use of e-textbooks.

Although the millennial generation loves electronics, students have not all rushed to use digitally formatted textbooks. Both Amazon and Apple have instituted pilot projects at several universities, with mixed results.  Publishing company Pearson conducted a study that showed only about half of students preferred e-textbooks. Students preferred paper formatted books for extended reading and studying, and students’ instincts may be valid.  Some research has indicated that comprehension may be higher for material read from paper.

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Why Your Student Should Consider An On-Campus Internship

Employers are increasingly looking for internships on applicants’ resumes. Internships indicate some real-world experience. Some students complete multiple internships — as material for their resumes, but also to gain experience or to explore different careers.  Internships also allow students to learn and practice professionalism so they’ll be ready for that first job.

But what if your student isn’t quite ready yet for an off-campus internship placement?  Or what if your student can’t travel off-campus, or has multiple time constraints?  Or, what if your student’s interests lie in higher education rather than in the commercial world?  An on-campus internship might be just the answer for your student.

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Arrive, Apply . . . Accepted! Consider Instant Decision Days

The waiting game for high school seniors can be excruciating.  All of the deadlines have been met, the applications sent, and now your student is waiting for the verdict.  In or out?

For an increasing number of students and colleges, the waiting game has been eliminated.  More and more colleges are now conducting Instant Decision or Immediate Decision Days.  Students usually submit their online application ahead of time, sign up for the IDD, arrive on campus with SAT scores, essay, recommendation and transcript, meet with admissions personnel, and leave at the end of the day knowing whether or not they’ve been admitted.  It doesn’t get much faster than that.

Instant Decision Days are not new, but they are expanding.  Ramapo College of New Jersey was one of the first schools to offer this program over twenty years ago.  Today, many schools offer the program.  It is more common for transfer students, but has rapidly expanded to include students directly from high school as well.  Several colleges not only offer the opportunity to attend Instant Decision Days on campus, but take the program to local high schools as well.  Some high schools host several colleges for Instant Decision.  Students can apply to and be accepted to several schools without ever leaving their high school.

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What is Competency Based Learning?

In the age of online learning, blended learning, flipped classrooms, and hybrid classes, the idea of personalized learning is an important topic.

We’re hearing a lot these days about competency based learning or personalized learning.   But the concept isn’t new — and it isn’t limited to online learning. The concept of personalizing learning experiences has been in place in some form through dual enrollment programs, early college high school programs, Advanced Placement, CLEP, and DSST exams.  However, it is relatively new to base an entire program on competencies. As competency based learning is being explored in the online world, the concept is being reevaluated in face-to-face education as well.

Why should college parents understand competency based learning?  Because most colleges are exploring the concept and you and your student may want to ask about your school’s approach.  If you are considering any type of online program or class, you’ll certainly need to understand the approach, but even if your student is planning a traditional classroom college program, he’ll probably be exposed to the concept in some of his classes.

What is Competency Based Education?

Competency based learning or education (CBE) varies from the traditional seat-time system because students move through course material at their own pace as determined by test scores.  As soon as a student masters a topic or concept, he moves on to the next.  The system works especially well for concrete skills and adapts well to online learning.  Many argue that it is less well suited for abstract learning and liberal arts.

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