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Bubble-gum Books, Student Exchange,
Your Power Triad on Campus,
& Protect That New Paycheck
What goes up must come down is the ‘ole saying and it’s so suitable to the month of June. One moment, exams are finished, yearbooks circulate and a variety of academic and athletic milestones has everyone at an all-time high. By the summer solstice, it’s easy to feel spacey, blue and void of course. Are you on the beach, camping, working a job, taking a class or having a stay-cation? This month’s Guidance on the Go offers a fresh perspective on summer reading, international student exchange programs, finding support to excel in college and watching your wallet as a new graduate.
Reduce Bubblegum Books for Increased Math Ability
When it comes to math aptitude, the United States was ranked 27 out of 70 countries in a recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). PEW Research Foundation echoes similar sentiments showing that the average scores of American 15-year olds significantly lag behind 29 other countries in demonstrating Math, Science, Technology & Engineering (STEM) ability. Parents experience these disparities firsthand as they scramble to get help for their students in critical core math courses – Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. Furthermore, American students are behind in reading quality literature and peer-reviewed publications so much so that literacy data collected by the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) finds (1) Americans are spending less time reading, (2) reading comprehension skills are eroding and (3) these declines have serious civic, social, cultural and economic implications (To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence). The NEA goes on to say that more than reading is at risk. As a math teacher and tutor, I have seen a direct correlation between accomplished readers and math acumen. When confronted with critical thinking in college against a backdrop of traditional cultural and religious upbringing, Louise Cowan, Former Chair of the English Department and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Dallas, points out the value of good literature at the secondary level when facing a crisis of belief in her Catholic faith in The Importance of Reading the Classics:
At this moment I was standing at a crossroads… By the time I entered graduate school I had put aside the entire question of faith. But then, when reading Hamlet to my class, I saw incontestable evidence that Shakespeare or his chief protagonist, at least had come to rely on divine power…. And it started me on the process of reading all serious literature more closely…. It was a year later, in teaching Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, that I rediscovered Christ in his fullness and came to see the urgency of his teachings…. Before literature came to my aid, I had perused theology in vain. Even the Bible was unconvincing. Not until a literary work of art awakened my imaginative faculties could the possibility of a larger context than reason alone engage my mind. I had been expecting logical proof of something one was intended to recognize. What was needed was a way of seeing. I had to be transformed in the way that literature transforms by story, image, symbol before I could see the simple truths of the gospel.
So, summer reading matters, especially as the NEA found fewer American youth are reading for pleasure. I am deeply grieved that public and charter schools where I have taught start students early on a diet of books, I call bubble-gum-for-the-brain. Classics like the Caldecott Medal Winners for our youngest readers, Fitzgerald’s, Great Brain books, and all the Roald Dahl books are nourishing books and can be read as early as 1st grade. Nourishing books not only change the reader with new ideas or alternative ways of viewing a topic, they transform the reader who may start as a caterpillar, but by the end of absorbing all the literary work, exits a butterfly. Bubble-gum-for-the-brain books like Captain Underpants require chewing, but deliver little to no nutritional content to the awaiting organ, the stomach. Sadly, I feel they stunt the growth of emerging or “reluctant” readers in a manner that will dumb them down for meatier literature and mathematics reading later on. Both Bubble gum and bubble-gum-for-the-brain books are ultimately con artists cheating body and mind from vital fuel. This summer get to your local library and grab the classics for your student’s grade level and slightly above. Be sure to check out reading lists from sources like The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Good Books for Bright Kids, The Greatest Books List, and Barnes & Noble 45 Novels of the 19th Century. As a math person and businesswoman, I would be remiss not to mention critical financial literacy books beginning with Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. For a full list of must-read financial literacy books from America’s tax code history to comprehending currency wars, contact Victoria at Full Spectra. Here’s to nutritious summer reads!
Critical Core Math Summer Packet
Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2
Get a Global Perspective with Student Exchange
Since 1995 when i-Gen babies crawled onto the scene, pretty much everything ordinary has gone global in scope. It’s not just tech or distribution companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon that are global, but Air BnB, UberEats, Netflix and Meet-Ups! Around the corner is around the world and this is challenging our students to be both Americans and global citizens. It makes for a tough job in public and private departments of education. Middle and high schools are where we instill national culture – for better or worse – that is intent on fine-tuning students’ life-learning skills, quantitatively and qualitatively.
Learning techniques differ from country to country and foreign students who study in the US are closely vetted for their academic achievement (Cultural Academic Student Exchange). Quid pro quo: there may be a way to increase your student’s math and cultural competency gap. Why not try a global lens to tackle a home-grown problem and broaden your household’s horizons by hosting an exchange student? Take it from a home-school mom, Jeanne Faulconer who says of her son in Nine Benefits of Hosting an Exchange Student, “he had previously been a kid who was interested in a lot of things, but had no specific likely academic direction…international exposure gave him focus.”
Hosting a foreign exchange student may be a great way to prepare your child for college and effective cultural competency in a global marketplace. At a minimum, they’ll have a fresh perspective to answer any of the CommonApp essay prompts. For more information on getting international in your education, contact Victoria at Full Spectra.
Faculty, Staff & Administrators: Understanding Know Your Power Triad of Support
For the newly enrolled first-year student, June marks the last summer before college starts. Graduation parties are in full-swing and gifts are flowing in for Bed, Bath & Beyond dorm room registries. Very shortly, fall semester registration packets will flow in via social media, email or snail-mail. High school graduates are professional high school students but they are clueless when it comes to choosing their first-semester roster of courses. For four years it’s been English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Now it’s 100 and 200-level introductory courses from varied disciplines and most likely a Freshman Seminar course. By the way, the mantra once in college is “2.0 and you go” which means earn “C” or better and you’ll be turning the tassel from right to left in four years. Most high school students in college today were B+ – A+ average students. The larger 100-level courses can be brutal pouring on the vocabulary of that discipline like a fire hose (e.g. Intro Psychology, Intro Macroeconomics, Intro Biology, General Chemistry, and Calculus I). They are designed to baptize incoming first-years with fire and many earn a “C” for the first time in their lives!
Your Power Triad of Support
How can a student make a sane selection that will get them important major requirements or general education courses without sacrificing the GPA? To get through from first-year to final year, it is critical students do their homework around the faculty, staff, and administrators who make up their power triad of support. Get to know 100-and 200-level course faculty by (1) emailing them directly, (2) reading their bios online and investigate their research passions, (3) ask current students through social media for the inside scoop, and (4) check out websites that review faculty such as ratemyprofessor.com.
Often you don’t get your first pick of courses and need a Plan B list, this is when knowing staff matters a lot. In particular, staff in the Registrar’s Office are on tap during the summer especially for new students to help them add and drop courses before the fall starts. Many colleges have mandatory or optional on-campus summer programs that dovetail with registration. Attend these and get your schedule, accommodations, and residence hall preferences squared away. That said, Student Support Services and Residence Life make staff available who help with academic support including academic advising, tutoring, dining/dietary restrictions, and transitioning help. Watch for more on staff in the next couple of months.
Administrators have their function setting the vision of the unit on campus they oversee. Many also are faculty teaching within their departments. As students engage in clubs and organizations that create a vibrant campus climate, administrators keep their doors wide open to students to align their mission to ever-evolving campus culture. As the spotlight on enrollment revenue increases, there is a Crisis on American Colleges. Administrators are center stage to “build pricier construction projects such as climbing gyms and luxury dorms.” Rather than avoid or become anti-administrator, get to know them and the mission of your college better. How effective a third side of the power triangle they are depends on the initiative and creativity of the student, but bottom-line, they definitely play a role. For more on cultivating a community of support in a specific college environment, contact Victoria at Full Spectra for a free 15-min phone discussion.
Intelligence solves problems and produces money. Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.
Protect Your New Paycheck with Financial Literacy 101
In the early 1900s, families were agrarian and transitioning to industrial. With often less than an 8th-grade education, children learned how to plant and grow money like seeds on a farm: trades were passed on generationally and money matters were taught at the kitchen table. In today’s gig economy, Millenials and Gen-Z graduates are similarly entrepreneurial and retirement is not in their vernacular. Long-term employment for one company is scarce and frankly naive to expect. Financial collapse after collapse slashes 401Ks to 201Ks. With investing left in the hands of uneducated employees and financial advisors who profit from fees, either way the wind blows, one’s paycheck is quickly under siege. Capital One touts, “what’s in your wallet?” Here at Guidance on the Go, the question is who’s in your wallet? If you answered the tax-man, you’re on the right track as Americans pay a lot more than the three visible taxes deducted from your paycheck. The answer is it depends on how financially literate you are and which way your cash flows – how it enters and leaves your wallet.
For more information on how to navigate your first-career paycheck,
student loan debt and financial literacy, contact Victoria at Full Spectra.
June is for joy over
a job well done,
being mindful of opportunities
and tools to take you
to the next level.