How to Finance Homeschooling

Financing homeschooling

  • When people talk about teaching their children from home in the absence of any definite or structured curriculum, it is perhaps natural to think that homeschooling is cheap or at least a cheaper option that traditional or “structured” schooling or education.  This is in fact far from the truth. Although homeschooling in general does not stick to any particular text, this is perhaps more of a bane than a boon, when it comes to finance.
  • When you need to make sure that your children receives state-of-the-art education so that they can compete with regular school goers, expenses will naturally mount.
  • The actual cost of educating a child at home is surprisingly high. Up-to-date textbooks, course materials, a library, computing equipment, lighting, specially designed furniture all cost money. In this case, the cost may be slightly lesser when it comes to homeschooling the second child. Add to this any additional tuition cost for tutors who come to teach subjects that cannot be handled by parents, like higher-level math or science. The total cost can be a bit mind boggling.
  • If you take another important factor into consideration, homeschooling costs may effective triple. The need for having one of the parents tied to the house and fully dedicated to providing education deprives the family of a second earning member. The average homeschooling teacher is usually a lady with a college degree. This means that she can easily bring home a pay of $35,000 p.a. (R350,000,00) or more. It is also interesting to note that research in USA shows that most families that have more than 2 children do not opt for homeschooling at all.
  • But, there are those who have been successful in carrying out homeschooling at low rates. This is dependent on the size of the family, the support group, and the type of materials used and the availability of the material. When successive children can reuse the materials, cost goes down. Much of the course material can be got from vendors of homeschooling materials.
  • A membership in a public library, theatre, concerts, ballets and other cultural events also help in cutting costs. Sometimes, it is even possible to barter expertise. For instance, the mother of an 8-year old gives dancing classes, and her daughter receives drawing classes for free.
  • Support groups allow you to divide the cost of field trips, science projects and fairs.
  • Whatever the cost, advocates of homeschooling say that the benefits far outweigh these considerations. When you are able to decide what knowledge your child receives and when he or she should be taught and to what extent, it gives you a lot of freedom and a lot of power. Both the children as well as the parents benefit from this mutually enriching experience.

Tips

* Make extensive use of the internet and free resources. Download! Download! Download!
* Searching for free curriculum and free workbooks or worksheets on any particular subject will produce for you any number of age appropriate printable materials that will enhance your teaching experience.
* You will soon gain the knowledge and experience to create your own worksheets and before long have an on line storage system that will contain everything you need from A-Z.
* Although preferable, a 24 hour or super-fast internet connection is not vital.
* Utilise the resources you obtain from internet & library research and create your own workbooks, together with your children.
* This has proved for us to be the most effective way of including your child in the studies and promoting him or her to the position of author.
* By the time the child gets to actually work in the draft masterpiece he or she will have gained so much knowledge on the subject that going through the workbook or worksheets will be an easy task for your child, and one of which he or she will be proud of when showing you the final product, content in the knowledge that he or she has played a vital role in creating the learning material.
* Repetition is often necessary, be it in a certain subject on the whole or a certain aspect of a subject. Repetition does not necessarily have to mean monotony.  Repetition does not necessarily mean printing out the same worksheet five times.  An activity can be re-worked in such a way that the results aimed at can be achieved through use of the essential elements within a topic and disguised in various other formats.
* Make every activity fun. Fun worksheets, fun activities, field trips, fun discussions, working together as a team. 
* Make a motto such as “Make learning fun” and  in every aspect of homeschooling you are involved in.
* It is not necessary to purchase expensive Homeschool Curriculum if you are inclined not to do so or not in a position to do so. Everything you require is at your fingertips (or an internet search) and freely available or can be obtained at very minimal cost.

Warnings

* Harsh criticism is never a good thing for any child in a learning environment and can discourage your child from a certain subject. 
* Avoid criticising your child when he or she doesn’t quite grasp a subject.
* Make allowance for the fact that at least one parent will not be earning an income whilst homeschooling the child/children.

International Schools in Mallorca

Bear in mind that many of the international schools in Mallorca have long waiting lists, especially for primary classes.

The thought of disrupting your child’s education, especially during the crucial examination years, can be a real stumbling block for parents planning a new life abroad. Fortunately, the number of international schools offering high-quality education here in Mallorca means that this is not necessarily a problem, especially if you wish your child to receive a British education. In fact, small campuses and reduced class-sizes along with a multi-cultural environment usually means that most children thrive, developing language skills more quickly and effectively and benefiting from the attention of teachers who know the names of every student in the school, never mind the class!

The main difference between the international schools on the island is the language of instruction. Although the majority of the schools here teach in English and follow the British curriculum, there is also a French school and a joint German and Scandinavian college. If you choose your child to be educated in a second language, then obviously he/she needs to either start very young or already have a good knowledge of the language. It’s unrealistic to expect a teenager to integrate into a whole new system of education in a language he/she barely understands and international schools are aware that this scenario is not in the child’s, or the school’s, best interests. Most of the centres require students to sit entrance exams in the core subjects -Maths, English (or another language of instruction) and sometimes Science- and will not accept students who show little understanding of the work their future classmates are doing. Tuition can sometimes provide the answers: if parents promise that their child will have extra curricular language coaching until he/she reaches an acceptable standard, the schools are often flexible. But you have to ask!Also worth bearing in mind is that many of the schools have long waiting lists, especially for primary classes, so it’s better to contact the centres as soon as you know your child will be needing a place. As well as the school fees, there’s often an enrollment fee to consider, payable when you register your child, as well as the cost of any uniform, books and equipment.

British Schools

The Academy was founded in 1985 and is set in seven acres of spectacular grounds, which include playing fields and a swimming pool. Unlike the other international schools, The Academy is situated well outside Palma, but this is compensated by a privileged location with its own sports facilities. The school takes students aged 3 to 16, and from 2007 will offer Cambridge IGCSE exams as well as nursery education for children between 18 months and 3 years old. The language of instruction is English and other subjects offered include Catalan, German, history, geography, Spanish, maths and science.The school offers a huge variety of extra curricular activities, from ballet to guitar, as well as revision and extra help in academic subjects. Students wear a uniform, which is available from the school. For information about current fees, please contact the school.

Baleares International School (B.I.S) celebrates its half century next year. The school offers full-time education to students aged 3 to 18 and follows the British National Curriculum, including Cambridge examinations for students aged 16 and 18. As the school is not licensed to teach the Spanish education system, the majority of the students are English and German and both languages are taught at the school alongside French and Spanish. However, there is also a broad mix of students from many other cultures and countries. Sciences, social sciences, mathematics and computing are also taught, as well as music and art. There is no uniform at B.I.S., although students are expected to dress appropriately for the school environment. Students have some sports facilities on-site, but are also taken to a local sports centre each week. The termly fees start at 1400€, including textbooks, and increase with the child’s age.

Bellver International College was founded in 1950, making it the longest established British school in Spain, and offers the British National Curriculum to students aged 3 to 18. All students are expected to take the Cambridge IGCSE exams at age 16 and the Advanced Levels at 18. The school has students from many nationalities and offers the Spanish system in tandem with the British, so local students are able to take both A Levels and Selectividad (the Spanish university entrance exam, due to be phased out). Students born in Spain also learn Catalan, while those born outside the country take Spanish and French. Extra curricular German is also offered. The sciences, maths and humanities subjects are also offered, with music in the primary school and art in the senior school. The school has limited sports facilities, so all students are bussed to a local sports centre each week. There is a strict uniform code for both normal classes and sports which all students are required to adhere to. Uniforms are sold in the school shop. Termly fees start from 1300€ per term and increase yearly to 2390€ in the last year of school.

King Richard III was known as the American school until 2001 and now teaches the British National Curriculum. Students are taken from 3 years old and continue in the primary school until 11, when they move into the secondary school. At 16 years old, students are expected to sit Cambridge IGCSE exams in the core subjects as well choosing from a range of other subjects from the arts, humanities and sciences. Advanced Levels are taken at 18. The school caters for foreign nationals as well as Spanish-born students, offering both systems of education to Selectividad. Students are expected to wear school uniform and there is a separate sports uniform. Termly fees start from 1600€ and increase yearly as the child moves up the school.

Queen’s College accepts students from 3 to 18 years of age and follows the British National Curriculum. Spanish nationals also have the opportunity to follow the Spanish system. Students study a range of subjects throughout the primary school, before choosing subjects to sit for the Cambridge IGCSE exams, with options including sports as well as the more traditional academic subjects. There is a school uniform and a sports uniform that students wear on their weekly trip to the sports centre.Termly fees start from 1360€ increasing to 2467€.

Schools of Other Nationalities

The College Français de Palma provides a French curriculum based education for students from 3 to 18 years old. The school is licensed and inspected by the French government. Students study English, Spanish and Catalan and all other subjects are taught in French.The majority of the students are native French speakers, although there are a large number of Spanish pupils who are able to follow the Spanish system as well as the French and can take the Selectividad as well as the International Baccalaureate in their final year. Fees start from 830€ per term.

Eurocampus: The German and Scandinavian Schools joined forces in 2003 and now share a site in the El Terreno district of Palma.This small school follows both the German and Swedish education systems for students aged 2 to 14. Although students study many subjects separately according to their nationality, the two schools share Spanish and English classes as well as sports. Eurocampus also works in parnership with the Colegio Français to provide French language classes. The average termly fee is 350€ and only German or Swedish students are eligible to attend.

Learn English Free – 7 Stages Of Language Learning (part 3a)

STAGE 3: GRAMMAR – DOESN’T THE WORD JUST MAKE YOU SWEAT?

I know from experience that above all other points in language acquisition, students in our English courses Dublin fear the word

“GRAMMAR”

Like the elephant in the room, they avoid dealing with it, they hide from it, and yet they think about it constantly. Therefore, before they even begin to start learning English they have created an obstacle for themselves. But like any awkward topic the best thing to do is to introduce that elephant in the room. Normally you’ll find it’s not so scary once you talk it through.
What new learner wants to sit in a class and be confronted with titles like

“PAST CONTINUOUS Vs PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE”

Uninviting isn’t it? It is a dull kind of banner, and while it may address an important topic the approach is not going to excite any student in a meaningful way.
If this type of thing has turned you off learning English, then don’t worry, you are not alone. What we must remember, however, is that grammar is a system of rules that helps us structure our communication. Here are two important points (which should make everybody feel relieved):
1. Language learning does not start with grammar, it starts with listening
2. Grammar is not necessary for communication in English
Language learning really begins with parroting, or repeating what you hear. The meaning is extracted slowly and once you can transmit this meaning you can begin to interchange and exchange the various parts of learned phrases. By experimenting like this your teacher (and your brain!) will help you to assimilate a set of rules.
Another useful angle is to imagine yourself speaking to a foreigner in your native tongue. When you hear non-natives speaking to you and their words are not grammatically correct, you can usually piece together what the person is trying to say. The same is true for you speaking in English. So speak first. Get confidence through improving your fluency. Don’t worry about the grammar. It will come.
At its most simple, the steps to beginning (and continuing) your language learning are
1. Repeat – parrot the phrases you hear
2. Produce – begin to use the phrases to communicate your own information
3. Experiment – play with the structures by exchanging the words.
Now let’s continue and consider the following methods and examples.
Sentence Templates
Take a very simple phrase such as

“What did you do?”
We note from above that the first step is to repeat and learn the phrase. The next step is to begin to substitute different words to learn how to use them.

“What did he do?”
“What did she do?”
“What did they sing?”
“What did they write?”
“Why did they write?”

You can continue this pattern and for all stages of learning. It provides a solid lexical methodology for utilizing your vocabulary while at the same time becoming familiar with a grammar structure. Notice how much faster you can learn using this method. It’s a better way to go and you can apply it to any grammar structure no matter how complex.

In the next article we will discuss the outcome of ULearn’s English schools Dublin poll. We will discuss the very relevant issue of how NOT to study grammar. See you then!

Can Students Get A Speech Therapy Degree Online?

For many students, the convenience offered by online learning and distance education can be very valuable, enabling them to complete or advance degrees on their own schedule, and even while working.

Those entering a medical or therapeutic profession will probably have difficulty finding an acceptable degree course offered in an online format however, since most medical professions need to be taught in a more hands-on, learn by doing manner.

It is not possible to earn a degree online for this very reason, although students who could benefit from taking online courses do have a few options that might help them.

Getting the Right Education in Speech Therapy

In many medical or therapeutic professions, certification is either required, or strongly recommended, both as a way to prove expertise and to allow for career advancement.

In order to become certified as a speech-language pathologist, students are required in most cases to earn a Master’s degree from one of the many accredited college programs available; in some countries such as the UK, approved Bachelor’s degree programs are also available.

Only through completion of an approved program are graduates eligible to take their certification exam, or in the UK, become registered with the national health professional organization.

Online Offerings for Students

Students looking to enroll in an appropriate speech-language pathology program that will enable them to become certified should be prepared to take almost all of the specialized coursework on campus, as there are no graduate programs that offer a speech therapy degree online.

Because of the fact that a degree – just like most other medical or healthcare degrees – requires that students complete a considerable amount of hands-on learning through clinical experiences and other work-study situations, doing so is not possible.

It is not generally possible to recreate this type of hands-on experience sufficiently in any kind of online or distance learning format.

What may be an option for students, however, is taking a portion of undergraduate class work online if the right classes are available.

Since many undergraduate classes required for entry into a good speech therapy program are theory-based prerequisites and general education classes, this can sometimes be a convenience for students looking for other learning options.

Before doing so, students should first inquire from either the program they are interested to enroll in, or from their country’s professional organization as to which general courses they should take, to make sure they actually take classes that will count toward the right undergraduate education.

In most cases, general and prerequisite courses for a degree in speech therapy will be science, math and English classes, social sciences, psychology classes and other courses aimed at either teaching or communications.

The great thing is that many of those classes can be taken online. While this may not be exactly the same as earning a whole degree online, it should at least help somewhat, enabling students the most flexibility during their undergraduate career.

Other Online Learning Opportunities

Students who already have their required degree and certification are generally required to accrue a specified number of Continuing Education credits per year in order to stay certified.

Since these are short courses and professional career building aids that are created with working practitioners in mind, most of them are offered in an online learning format for convenience.

Along with Continuing Education, most higher education for professionals who are interested in advancing their degree are also available online for the same reasons.

Those actively working in their career, and who may be interested obtaining a Doctoral degree, which may enable them to specialize, or gain employment in supervisory or teaching roles, can usually earn their advanced speech therapy degree online since it is assumed these people are working, and cannot simply stop to attend classes again.

Students entering any kind of medical or healthcare profession should understand before enrolling that there are very limited opportunities for distance learning, and prepare to be in class throughout their four-year graduate program.

They will get the best education, and have the most success in their new career this way. However, for those who were hoping to be able to earn a degree online, through careful research and enrolling in the right classes, they can at least usually take a good portion of their undergraduate degree this way, which may be a help.

For information about accredited schools, and the availability of online classes for undergraduate, graduate, CE or advanced education, students should get in contact with their country’s professional organization of speech-language pathologists for guidance.

International Schools

‘International School’ is the term used to refer to an educational institution that promotes ‘international education in an international atmosphere’ by adopting a required curriculum or syllabus which differs from the country where the school is operational.

Such schools function mainly to teach students who are not nationals or citizens of the host country; they are ideally suited for children of people employed in foreign embassies or missions, international business organizations etc. Local students from the region around the school who wish to obtain a degree or suitable qualifications for further studies or a career, are also given admission into schools.

History

The concept of an international school began in the second half of the 19th century when they were set up in countries like Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and some others for families that travelled extensively, like missionaries, NGOs, embassies etc. These schools were set up with the help and assistance of the particular establishment that required the schools – e.g. defense establishments, scientific communities, diplomatic missions etc. – and based on the specific country’s school curriculum.

In due course, globalization and technology have created a spurt in schools around the world to cater to the increased movement of people around the world for work, business and other purposes; such movement has created generations of children living away from their country of origin and has necessitated the presence of international schools. In this context, improved national schools alone do not spell success; the benchmark for success depends on the educations systems that perform best internationally.

Criteria for an international school

In 2009, the International Association of School Librarianship decreed that an international school had to fit the following criteria:

• Multinational and multi-lingual student community

• A moving population of students

• Transferability of the student’s education – e.g. credits – across international schools

• International curriculum or syllabi

• International accreditation – e.g. International Baccalaureate (IB), Council of International Schools (CIS), University of Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), Schools Services etc.

• A multinational and transient teacher count and number

• Use of English or French as medium of instruction with the option of adding an additional language

• Non-selective student enrolment

Such schools have more or less the same curriculum as state and national schools – arts, humanities, information technology, language, mathematics, physical education, sciences etc. The method and mode of education is highly systemized and depends greatly on a technology induced classroom environment; periodical tests, assessments and grading of students are done on an ongoing basis.

These schools allow continuity in education for children of expatriate families, especially as they grow older. In many countries, relocation services and assistance agencies help expat families find the appropriate international school for their children.

Drivers Education In California

A high school student spends over 30 hours each week in a classroom. The State of California requires a student to spend 30 hours in driver’s education sessions to obtain a learner’s permit. There are also drivers education courses offered online that allow people to study at home at a pace, schedule and time of their choice. A computerized program scores the exams and a DMV Certificate of completion is mailed out to the successful online attendees. The system is designed to work well with PC’s and Mac’s and with any Internet connection speed. There is no special plug-ins needed.

A few decades ago, driver’s education was traditionally taught in regular high school classes in California. However, shrinking school budgets has limited the availability of driver education classes in these high schools. The Internet has created a low cost alternative to acquire driver’s education from private driving schools. In California, there are a number of agencies that offer driving education to people.

It is considered a privilege for citizens to obtain a California driver’s license. It ensures that the driver knows the rules of the road and what steps need to be taken to get a driver’s license at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CADMV). Services such as dmv.org have a variety of links that enable people to find out the current answers to CA DMV driver license questions.

TeenDriversEducation.com offers online driver’s education courses to high school students throughout California. The courses are developed by Golden State Private Schools, an institution licensed by the California Board of Education and recognized by the Department of Motor Vehicles. It has helped over 20,000 California residents obtain their driver’s license.

California’s Home Study Drivers Education Class is a service of Pacific High School. This home study correspondence course satisfies the California Vehicle Code driver education requirements for students to obtain a DMV learners permit and drivers license.

APS is a unique Internet study and testing system for driver’s education in California. It provides California driver’s education, online driver’s test, California driver’s test, online drivers education and driver’s test.

Many organizations offer a way for students to study driver’s education on their own, instead taking 30 hours of classes in a local driving school. These online services have proven to be a convenient source of obtaining driver’s license in California.

International Education Grants For Educational Advisors

There are many organizations that give international education grants to students. NAFSA is one of these organizations. It serves the field of international education by providing grant opportunities to overseas educational advisors.

By educational advisors, we mean the people who work with students, scholars and trainees interested in education, research and training in the United States. A vital role is played by them in the development of services and opportunities for NAFSA members.

Educational Testing Services (ETS) generously supports NAFSA. US government affiliated advising center is also eligible to apply for this grant. Before the award is granted a selection committee of overseas educational advisers reviews the applicants.

A grant award of $2,000 is given to be used for the purchase of new equipment or supplies, or it ma be some other kind of thing. The travel grant for overseas educational advisers provides a $2,000 USD travel grant to the overseas educational advisers who need support to attend the NAFSA annual conference.

The eligibility requirement for this grant is that:

• The applicant must be an adviser in one of the certified educational advising centers.
• The applicant must devote at least 50 percent of their professional duties to advising undergraduate /graduate students about the programs that they can pursue in US.
• Preference is given to the advisers who fall under and are subscribed to the NASFA Overseas Educational Advising Professional Network.
• The applicant must not receive any kind of grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), US Department of State to attend the NASFA annual conference and Expo.

The former grants given away by NASFA include the Advisors’ Professional Partnership Program (APPP) that sponsors 10 US based international educators to EducationUSA advising center in 14 countries worldwide.

The purpose of this program is to facilitate international exchange experience that would strengthen the tie and improve the understanding of the role and work of EducationUSA advisers and the US based international educators and their home institutions.

Cooperative Grant Program (COOP) has provided seed funding for 977 creative programs since 1974 involving more than 460,000 US and international students and scholars community member’s faculty and campus staffs. This grant closed its last cycle in 2004 with the summer incentive grant.

5 Tips for Surviving International School Job Fairs

Attending international school job fairs can be a harrowing experience, but are an efficient strategy to incorporate into your hunt for a teaching job abroad. All international teachers have a few stories to tell about their experiences at these job fairs.

I was sharing job fair stories with a colleague today and I was surprised at his take on the whole process. He nearly made a choice that would have cost him the job that he is currently enjoying here in Thailand.

We were talking about the initial job fair session – the sign up. During the sign up session schools are set up with a desk in one or two rooms at the venue. Teachers then come along and sign up for interviews with the schools that interest them. Depending on which job fair you attend, this can be a real cattle market of pushing and shoving. At the very least it’s going to involve standing in line.

My colleague didn’t want to wait in any lines, so he initially approached only schools with short ones. The line for our current employer was one of the longest in the room and put him off. Finally he decided to join the line after reading some of the literature the school had with them for prospective teachers. During the 25 minute wait he nearly gave up and left several times, but didn’t. Which is just as well because the position he currently holds is one that really suits him and he’s enjoying living and working here in Thailand.

I approach the sign up session with a plan. I have several copies of my application pack already prepared and spend the time waiting in line talking to the teachers around me to get insider information on schools and positions.

What is your plan?

Check the international teaching job fair organiser’s website the evening before the sign up session for changes in vacancies. International school vacancies are fluid and can change from day to day, especially once the job fairs start. When you go into the sign up session take with you an up-to-date list of schools with suitable vacancies. This will enable you to line up in the lines that are going to get you the best result.

Look at the international schools’ websites prior to attending the sign up session. If possible look at the school’s websites to find out what programs they offer, whether they are in the center of the city or in the suburbs, what extra curricular activities they offer, what accreditations they have. This can assist you in deciding whether they are going to be a suitable employer for you.

Take extra copies of your application pack to give to school recruiters. Your application pack is your ticket to getting interviews. If you’re following the strategies I give you in The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School, you should have emailed your application pack to the attending schools that have relevant vacancies prior to the commencement of the job fair. In
addition to this, take extra copies with you to the job fair, and especially the sign up session, to give to schools that suddenly put up vacancies that interest you.

Be prepared to wait in line to talk to the international school recruiters. When you attend a job fair, remember that a long line could indicate a school where teachers want to work, and vice versa. To help you make the decision about whether you stand in line and wait, go to the front of the line and see if there’s any literature on the table that you can take away and read.

Use the time you stand in line to gather information. International school teachers attend these teaching job fairs and they are a vital source of information. Use the time you are standing in line waiting to talk to recruiters to elicit information about different schools, programs and conditions. Ask them all the questions you have because they’re the best source of information you’ll find and while you’re all standing in line, what else can you do?

Learn English Free – Constant Feedback Is Key (part 3)

The Big Brother Factor: How you can get feedback 24/7

Just like the contestants of the TV series you, if you are in an English course in Dublin or any English speaking city, your teacher, and classmates are cooped up together for long periods of time with only each other to talk to and bounce ideas off. How you view that time with others could mean the difference between success and failure. So if you don’t want to get voted off after the first week, have a think about the following example.

Picture the scene. You’re trying to tell a group of foreign people you’ve just met about your weekend. You want to tell them you went to the beach but you just cannot think of the word for ‘beach’. You freeze and feel terribly embarrassed because you just cannot spit the word out. There is one core factor causing this feeling.

You are afraid people might view you as stupid

Let’s analyze the implications of this cognitive barrier to rapid advancement through the stages of language learning.

1. The belief is “cognitively disadvantageous” (meaning your attitude or mental set in this particular moment and situation is not to your benefit)

2. Either your teacher or another student is going to know the word. This is a positive thing – you are going to learn faster.

So, remember it’s just a belief. You do not and will never know other people’s thoughts and beliefs – only your own. So it makes sense to change those beliefs if they stop you achieving the key milestones and goals in language learning. Pause for a minute and consider the following

Try to think of one sentence you can repeat to yourself to overcome this disadvantageous belief
Stop reading. Write it down.

Upon hearing this technique I must share with you that my learning took off quite suddenly and I was more relaxed. I began to enjoy my classes and my learning much more. If something is fun we will learn more. Fun is central to just about everything here. It has to be fun – otherwise why would we keep doing it? By the way, here’s the sentence I used to repeat before going into learn a foreign class

“The next time I am with people and I and I do not know the answer I will be happy because they are going to tell me the answer – they are helping me to learn faster and more successfully.”

Imagine yourself now in all types of situations – going shopping, a dinner with friends who are all native speakers, playing Frisbee in the park, even visiting the dentist can result in a language learning opportunity. Do you know already know the word “toothache”? Remember:

Top Nine High School Tips

When you are first starting high school, getting used to all the changes from previous schools can be daunting. Fortunately, keeping in mind a few simple things can alleviate most of the stress that comes with attending high school. I wrote this article less than a year after I graduated high school to pass on some of the most important lessons I learned during my schooling experience.

9. Life isn’t fair

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably been warned that life isn’t fair. The saying is uttered so much that everyone begins to forget exactly what it means, and nobody stops to consider its meaning. Is life not fair when you’re passed up for that promotion for which you’ve worked for months? Is life not fair when your neighbor can afford to buy a more expensive car than you can? Or, is life not fair when a close friend or relative is stricken by a serious illness but you are left unscathed?

In all of the above circumstances, life certainly isn’t fair, and this statement applies to high school as well. Life isn’t fair when you’re rejected from the National Honor Society because you participated in more out-of-school activities than in-school. Life isn’t fair when someone sitting next to you can solve an equation in two seconds, while you ponder over it for two hours. Life isn’t fair when athletes receive all the recognition while other clubs and activities are forgotten.

Not only is life not fair, but no matter what you do, you can’t make life fair. Most of the important decisions are completely out of your control and you have no power whatsoever to change them. There are those who are gifted in every respect, and there are certain people who fail utterly even though they’ve tried their hardest. And finally, even though several teachers told me that they disagreed with many of the school’s policies, their efforts to change them were in vain.

So therefore, in such an unequal world, how can one strive to succeed against all the odds? Some people would say to “try hard,” but sometimes trying hard is not enough in such an unforgiving environment. As long as you’ve tried your hardest, however, what does it matter to everyone else? Sure, you could worry about what happened, but as an English professor once told her class, regret is an empty emotion. If things don’t go your way, there’s only one action you can take:

Accept defeat, and try again.

8. Take a wide variety of courses

Whereas many of the top ten on this list were prompted by my regrets or by experiences that I didn’t have, one of the positive decisions I made during my high school career was to take a variety of courses.

I would recommend that everyone take a wide range of courses, regardless of intended college major. For example, my parents and I were browsing through the course catalog in eighth grade and we stumbled upon a woodworking course. Even though I had no intention of becoming a carpenter when I graduated, I had enjoyed “industrial arts,” as it was then called at the Upper Moreland Middle School. While I was nervous on the first day of class as to whether I would benefit from the course, by January I had produced several pieces, all of which are still in use in our and other family members’ homes four years later.

I was also hesitant about putting AP Government on my roster at the end of my junior year. Again, I didn’t know whether I would benefit from taking a government class when I could have taken any number of easier courses. While I had some luck in that I took the course during what could have quite possibly been the most eventful presidential election in history, I enjoyed the class thoroughly and learned much general knowledge about political systems that will help me in the future as an American citizen and voter.

AP courses are also a great benefit. Through these courses and the related tests, I was able to accrue 18 credits before attending college and will be able to graduate in seven semesters. With the exception of one course (which didn’t even count for college credit at Penn State), I would recommend highly all of the AP courses that I took. Be cautious though – some of these courses do require quite a bit of work, and those who don’t think they can keep up would probably be best with a lighter schedule.

In conclusion, if you see a course you might enjoy or think might be of benefit in the future, take a chance and schedule it. AP courses are also a great chance to earn college credit in high school, so take advantage of these opportunities!

7. Keep your grades up in 9th grade

The Upper Moreland School District has a very good “transitional” program for helping students succeed in their freshman year of high school after attending the middle school for three years. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the high school, I didn’t have any idea of how difficult the workload would be.

For reasons that escape me now, I somewhat slacked off during 9th grade, earning a B average. While some of the courses I took were very difficult, I should have been able to earn better grades if I had tried harder. After I was ranked 59th in the class (in about the 22nd percentile), I decided to pull everything together and work harder, eventually graduating in 10th place. While a final GPA of 99.59 wasn’t bad by many standards, it wasn’t good enough to earn scholarships at Penn State or (even though I had decided against it before I received their final decision) to attend the University of Pennsylvania.

Most likely, I was misled into believing that 9th grade wasn’t important because of what some seniors said at an orientation day the year before I began high school. On the contrary, a poor performance in your freshman year will haunt you for the next three (or possibly even seven) years. Therefore, treat each course as if it could determine the rest of your life.

Depending on your goals, it could.

6. Ask around before taking courses

One of the worst mistakes I made in the past four years was not investigating the courses I was taking. Having no information on what a course was actually like or how it would benefit me in the future, I was blindly thrown into situations for which I could have been better prepared.

Three courses in particular come to mind when I look back at experiences I may have been better off without. While I won’t go into details, I will say that I gained little or no lasting benefit from these courses and could have better spent my time doing something else. However, looking at the past, I now realize that courses in which teachers attempt to “prepare students for college” are most likely not worth taking.

Throughout high school, I continuously heard certain teachers state their goals to “prepare students for college.” As far back as 9th grade, I took a class where the teacher asked students in the class to define hundreds of terms in a single weekend. While I spent hours completing the assignments and “preparing myself for college,” I remember very few of the terms now and have realized that college is actually easier than those teachers would have students believe. College teachers don’t require students to define hundreds of terms for homework credit.

I encountered the last and worst class of my high school career in my senior year. At times, the teacher of this course assigned over 10-15 hours of homework in a single weekend, and I received the lowest grades of my twelve years of school. In short, what I didn’t know was that most colleges, including Penn State, didn’t accept the AP credit for this particular course (even though I scored a four on the test), and that scholarships were awarded for higher grades as opposed to tougher courses. Therefore, my work was in vain – but I could have discovered all of this information by simply doing a little research before creating my schedule.

Therefore, while I’d like to say that the attitude of the teacher of a particular course shouldn’t have an impact on whether you roster the class, there are certain courses that simply aren’t worth the effort. Becoming an informed student is another step on the road to success.

5. Don’t be intimidated by college planning

In today’s world, successful people plan well ahead of the times. The typical retail chain, for example, begins ordering Christmas inventory in early January. Look at any celebrity’s success story and you’ll discover a hidden story where someone was outstanding in some activity at a very young age. Therefore, it’s not surprising that high school students are flooded by college propaganda. Somewhere in a pile of old papers I have a college admissions “road map,” which details how students can prepare for college as early as seventh grade!

Obviously, such a flood of information can be overwhelming. Between preparation for the SATs, decisions about which college to attend, and the pressure to keep the grades up, those I know who were inundated with this information took one of two paths of action: began their college search as early as tenth grade or put off the process until the last minute.

First, don’t check the box on the SAT’s which gives you the option of receiving information directly from colleges. Not only will you receive a thousand useless pamphlets that will require hours of your time to review, but you’re probably more likely to make the wrong decision because of a nice looking picture or an unsubstantiated promise.

Believe it or not, you probably already know where you want to continue your education. As early as the beginning of eleventh grade, my dad first brought up the idea of my attending Penn State. I pushed it aside, figuring I would look through all the pamphlets, attend visitations, and eventually make a grueling decision in crunch time. As a result, I visited ten colleges and spent a hundred hours or more of my time writing nearly twenty essays, having them proofread, and completing application after application.

In the end, I decided to attend Penn State anyway, which required no essays, and from which I had already received a decision before I even began applying to the other colleges.

I also took an SAT preparation course, but in truth, statistics agree that SAT preparation programs rarely, if ever, improve a student’s scores. Finally, as I discovered, attending an ivy league school doesn’t assure success in the real world – as I’ve heard from stories involving those who attended such schools. In most cases, a more reasonably-priced university will be as good as, if not superior to, the education offered at an ivy league school. One of my teachers at UMHS once told his students that the only reason private high schools appear prestigious is because they can afford to reject those who won’t succeed no matter how much guidance is offered. The same applies to ivy league universities – they appear exceptional because their reputation allows them to reject less capable students from their larger pool of applicants.

So, in essence, the college admissions process is simpler than you might think. Ignore all the rhetoric and decide where you think you would succeed and be happy, and stick to your decision.

4. Learn to drive at 16

The headline for this tip is somewhat misleading. Let me state that if I were the dictator of the world, the legal driving age would be 18. Since the driving age in Pennsylvania is 16, however, I have to include advice to learn to drive as soon as reasonably possible.

With the enaction of the new six month wait laws, however, I waited until I was 18 to learn how to drive. It wasn’t until after I knew how that I realized how important the skill of driving is to everyday life. It had never occurred to me how many seemingly insignificant tasks that would normally require days to be completed could be finished in a short time when one has the ability to drive to obtain whatever is needed. More importantly, I discovered that many of the commonplace activities in which many young people participate frequently (such as going to the movies), while not all that difficult before, become infinitely easier with the freedom to come and go as I choose.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that everyone obtain a license to drive back and forth from school every day. Driving to school is one activity I strongly recommend against. However, if you have the money to hold a license after you are 16 1/2, then do so. While it might not seem important in the beginning, having a license earlier rather than later will save a lot of hassle when you really need one.

3. Don’t be afraid to pursue romantic relationships

Of all the tips I’ve included in this feature, this one is by far the most difficult to comprehend. Not only is it an awkward topic to discuss, but you probably won’t listen to what I have to say anyway. Hey, I didn’t listen to what anyone else had to say either.

While a number of experiences shaped my opinion on romance, one that stands out occurred during the fall of my senior year. Someone with whom I was enamored suddenly began making idle conversation and showing all the traditional signs of flirting. As the person in question was quite possibly one of the most “popular” students at UMHS, had won about every award imaginable, and most importantly had at least two other guys I knew swooning over her, I figured that what was happening was impossible. For weeks, I battled within myself as others attempted to convince me to ask her out, but eventually decided to give up because the embarrassment of rejection would be too great because of her “social status.”

It wasn’t until well after these events (and a conversation with some fellow students) that I was able to remove the dust from my eyes and realize what had actually been happening. Contrary to my belief, I wouldn’t have died had I decided to take a chance, and so-called “popular” people aren’t any different than anyone else. A girl doesn’t stare at a guy throughout an entire AP Government class for no reason!

On a side note, I was never very enthusiastic about attending school dances. While I had danced somewhat in the past, I ridiculously assumed that dancing was a laborious task that required years of practice to master. Therefore, I was nervous that by dancing, I would make an idiot out of myself. To make a long story short, since I hadn’t danced much before the senior prom, I believed that my lack of experience would be painfully obvious. As you can see by the picture of me that somehow made its way into the 2001 yearbook to be preserved for all eternity, it wasn’t that hard after all.

I should also note that I know someone whose parents “strongly recommended” against dating until the junior or even senior year of high school. This person was forced to reject four girls’ questions during his freshman year and not attend the annual dances and formals. As a result, this person was completely unprepared for later experiences when many of his peers had been associating with members of the opposite sex since they began high school.

And finally, one last tangent – if you’re stuck in a bind and a major dance is approaching, ask a friend. I made an entire weekend out of the senior prom to meet old friends, and I can say (as my “date” probably can as well) I had much more fun doing the things with the group that weekend than I would have looking across the table and smiling at a first date.

So in conclusion, if you’re in doubt, just ask. This statement applies to a number of life’s lessons, and it applies to relationships as well.

2. Be your own person

College, like many universities boast in their propaganda, is a place where you will meet people with a variety of interests. In high school, by contrast, everyone is (or appears to be) startlingly like each other.

Peer pressure is referenced constantly by the media. For example, parents are urged to talk to their children at a very early age to prevent them from being talked into taking drugs by their peers. All of this attention is given for a simple reason: peer pressure plays a huge role in high school life.

In college, however, the pressure vanishes overnight. There aren’t any popular “cliques” that are exclusive to certain people, nor is there a group of forgotten academics who put their grades above everything else. Whereas a student who sits alone at a cafeteria table in high school preparing for the next day’s classes would be labeled “weird” by those who care more about sports during high school, college students make no such divisions because there is one purpose to attending a university – to get good grades and graduate.

A fellow student and I joked about the state of the world’s affairs one day during my senior year. The premise was simple: one day, the jocks, who were the most “popular” kids in the school, would be the average joe, while the “nerds,” scorned by a large number of people for their studiousness, would be running the world.

At your fiftieth high school reunion, nobody will remember who was the most popular or who was involved in the most activities. Even Mr. Daher recognizes the impact of these social “cliques” when he said that each class tends to “pull together” around the time of the senior prom. It’s true – the social divisions vanish, and everyone is left with a realization that the “in” group wasn’t much different than everyone else who was trying to be accepted.

In short, if someone thinks you’re “strange” because you are unique among everyone else, it’s not the end of the world. Just because you aren’t part of the group that everyone looks up to doesn’t signify that you’re any less intelligent, attractive, or “cool” than they are. Be your own person and do what you want to do.

1. Get involved

“That’s the number one tip?” you ask. That’s right – my number one pointer is something that your teachers, parents, older siblings, and just about everyone else says every day. I must have heard this phrase at least a hundred times during my high school orientation process.

Unfortunately, I didn’t listen, at least in the beginning.

One of the biggest changes I swore that I would make when starting college was that I would become involved from the beginning. For some reason or another, in 9th grade I limited myself to the school orchestra. What high school orchestra, you ask? Actually, the orchestra fell apart at the end of the year, leaving me out of the loop in tenth grade.

During that summer, I had a revelation that I was missing one of the most important parts of high school life. As a result, I came back sworn to become involved, and that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I discovered an entirely new aspect to high school life. Why is it important to become involved early? Most of the upper positions in clubs are chosen from those already involved in the clubs, as one would expect. If you want to be the captain of the football team, join the team in 9th grade. If you want to be class president, join class council in 6th (!) grade. In short, as is true in the working world, the important positions are reserved for those who have been with an organization the longest.

I should note, however, that while I joined activities that I enjoyed, I also joined a few organizations for the sole purpose of being accepted to colleges. Attending meetings of these clubs was a chore that I didn’t enjoy, but I persisted because I believed that my résumé would look more impressive to college admissions officers and employers.

I found out too late that most admissions officers would prefer a fewer number of activities toward which a prospective student dedicates him- or herself rather than participation in every club imaginable. And even though I participated in so many activities, I still was unable to obtain a paying job during the summer of my senior year. Therefore, I recommend participation in activities that you enjoy to add a new dimension to your life, but don’t join clubs because some college in Indiana told you to “participate.”

Also, becoming involved in out-of-school activities isn’t a bad idea either. Myself, I was involved in more out-of-school activities than in-school organizations, and I enjoyed both equally. However, don’t expect to be nominated as Student of the Month or be accepted to the National Honor Society if you’re involved in out-of-school activities, simply because many of the awards at UMHS are given to those closely associated with school clubs.

Speaking of the NHS, however, I should add a word of caution. In eleventh grade, I was rejected from the society because I had concentrated on my out-of-school involvements. I immediately decided that I would get involved in so many clubs that they couldn’t possibly turn me down the following year. Surely enough, I was accepted, but into an organization that met once a month for five minutes and held one event during the entire year. Universities, for some reason, boast of the NHS as a club for the best of the best, while in reality the only goal in which it succeeded was to provide another means of further separating the all-around students from those who were more reserved in their participation.

In conclusion, get involved early. If you don’t, you’re missing out on exciting experiences that could never be had otherwise. But be involved because you want to be involved, not because you want to satisfy an admissions requirement.