Higher education

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Ten Things Highly Successful Women Would Have Done Differently In High School

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

About a year ago, I read an article written by someone who was giving advice to her younger self. I found it interesting, as I am always interested in learning from my mistakes and the mistakes of others. I am very focused on success for young women in high school and I thought it might be interesting to find out what some of the most successful women would have done differently in high school. High school really is the springboard to future success and I am forever and always a proponent of hard work and high achievement.

I devised a questionnaire and asked 60 highly successful women what advice they would give to current high school girls yearning for great successes in their lives, as well. My list of successful women included those that had reached the pinnacle of success in their respective fields, such as a Supreme Court Justice, several Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers, Law and Medical Professors at the most elite colleges in the country, a University President, a Governor, several Senators, a championship winning athlete, an Academy Award winning actress and a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Although it took me about a year to contact and compile my responses from these women, I was pleasantly surprised at their willingness to communicate their experiences and advice with me. It was also interesting that many of these women shared similar responses. In my prior research studies, high school girls who successfully embraced this advice ended up at the most elite colleges in the country. There may not be a scientific correlation at this time, but it is an interesting outcome, nonetheless. I have published this in my other articles, which I encourage you to read.

The following are the top ten things these highly successful women would have done differently in high school and some advice they shared, ranked in order of the most responses:

1. Never Let Go Of Your Dreams And Dream Big– Your dreams become your inspiration to work harder and set goals for high achievement. These women related they purposely picked goals that were difficult to achieve, such as making partner in a prestigious law firm or becoming a tenured professor by the age of 35, becoming a Supreme Court Justice and running for the office of Governor and winning. Just because a state has never elected a female Governor before doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you believe in yourself, you can make it happen. If you focus, work hard enough and stay away from the distractions in high school, anything is possible. Many of the women interviewed told me that high school, retrospectively, is a little part of a bigger picture and they focused on the long term, not the short term. They advised to stay away from the drama and negative peer pressure in high school and just follow your own unique path.

2. Learn To Say “No”– Don’t pretend to be something you are not; be yourself. You are not out to please the world and you shouldn’t do anything you are not comfortable doing. “No” is a very powerful word and the respondents alluded it will serve you well in the future if you learn this now. They also commented is it better to excel in a few areas than to spread yourself so thin you can’t excel at anything. They also reiterated that parents are usually right, so listen to them and don’t discount their advice and opinions because experience does matter.

3. Success And Money Really Are A Result Of Hard Work, Grit & Determination– Sorry to burst your bubble, but there really is no free ride or luck that takes you to the top. It is all about hard work, determination and dedication. These women kept themselves focused on the end result and worked longer hours and networked more than their peers. They were willing to take risks, work harder and pursue higher levels of education. An interesting point was all these women sacrificed something today for a greater return tomorrow. The respondents related their exceptionalism and their drive to keep achieving as drivers of their success.

4. Stay Away From People Who Tell You That You Can’t– The overwhelming advice on this point was not to let others judge you. It doesn’t matter what others think about you, it’s what you think of yourself that makes all the difference. It is this strong sense of self that will point you in the direction and the choices you will eventually have to make to determine your future endeavors. Keeping toxic people out of your life allows you to succeed and focus on accomplishing your goals. They also advised not to give up on something you are passionate about. Many told me they regretted quitting playing the piano or another musical instrument and cannot afford the time to learn it today. Time is precious and they advised sticking to a hobby or passion, as it will enrich your life at a later time.

5. Grudges Will Never Take You Anywhere, Let Them Go– It is important to understand that everyone has an opinion or belief that may differ from yours and should be the basis for discussion and learning, not resentment and avoidance. The capacity to forgive has produced great leaders, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, who recognized that by forgiving people that hold you back, that have managed to hurt you, and forgiving yourself for the people whom you have hurt, you alleviate the toxicity that steals your energy, ambition and self-confidence. Essentially, it diminishes your leadership ability. Learn from the past and embrace the future.

6. Take Care Of Yourself Now– Studies keep coming out that show what we do when are younger may have dire consequences on us when we age. Now is the time to develop healthy lifestyle changes. Exercising and eating healthy, along with the determination not to smoke, take drugs or abuse alcohol, are all imperative for leading a longer, happier and more successful life. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night and try to avoid the drive through. The respondents said these bad habits will show up in your 30’s and 40’s and prevention is the key.

7. Be Curious And Take Risks– “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”, is a famous quote by Rabindranath Tagore. Every reaction requires an action. You’ll never achieve your goals if you don’t take a chance. With every decision comes risk, but you only need to win more than not. The fact is you are not even in the game without taking the risk of stepping in. Take the road less traveled- these respondents said it made all the difference in their lives.

8. Failure Is Inevitable, But It Can Make You Stronger– One thing these women had in common is they were rejected from something they intensely wanted at least one time. Each one took it as a sign to work even harder and that’s what they attribute to their great success. Every one of your failures is laying out a path for your eventual success. Michael Jordan, who is regarded as the greatest basketball player in history, was cut from his varsity team numerous times and said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” How do you really know what a success is if you have not experienced a failure? These women advised embracing the failure and working harder to get an even better outcome.

9. Study, Study and Study– Get off the video games and reality television and put the time into improving your grades. With all the social media out there, it is hard to not let it invade your life, but you must. The difference between a valedictorian and a salutatorian can typically come down to one grade in high school. Colleges love to boast about the number of valedictorians and often provide greater scholarships and admissions. Students who work hard and achieve in high school learn to develop high expectations and demand stellar outcomes from themselves, which, in turn, become life-long traits. As Socrates said so eloquently, “Wisdom begins in Wonder”, so start contemplating and studying.

10. Get Into The College You Really Want To Attend– According to Vanderbilt economics and law professor Joni Hersch, who has researched and published on this subject, students who attend low-tier undergraduate institutions seldom transition to top-tier graduate schools. Even more daunting is those who do, rarely achieve the earnings power of peers who attended elite colleges. Women have it much tougher- A lower tier college graduate who attended a higher tier law school, as an example, earns only about 60 percent of the salary of a lawyer with a bachelor’s degree from an elite level college. Christopher Avery, a professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, has published and researched college as a mode of social mobility. Students who earn a degree from an elite college, even those with unremarkable grades and test scores, are handily too far ahead of those who don’t, which is why they will never catch up. The networks, resources and teaching at the elite schools typically cannot be rivaled by other colleges and set the path for success into motion. The most elite recruiters go to the most elite colleges. Recruiters often like to select candidates from the elite colleges they attended. The take away here is work hard and get into the best college you can. It will make a difference, according to the respondents and the research.

This was an interesting and thought provoking project for me personally. As a high school sophomore with two high achieving sisters currently attending elite colleges, I have seen firsthand how the right choices in high school can impact options for future success. I hope this list helps guide you to a life filled with opportunity.

7 Reasons to Choose an Accredited Homeschooling Curriculum

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

In the world of homeschooling, not all curricula are created equal. For the parent who wishes to give his or her child the most effective learning experience possible, the best choice is to go with a curriculum that is standards-based and fully and officially accredited. While these accredited homeschooling programs are often a little pricier, using a properly accredited curriculum is cheaper than having to make for not using one in the first place.

While economic times may determine many of the choices parents make regarding their child, here are seven important reasons to choose an accredited homeschooling curriculum over one that is not:

1. Increased odds of college admission – One of the main reasons why parents choose to use an accredited homeschooling curriculum is because it increases a child’s chances of gaining admission into college. While students who have been taught using a non-accredited homeschooling curriculum can still get into college, an accredited homeschooling curriculum is already in line with state or federal academic standards, as well as with the academic requirements of individual colleges, making college admissions that much easier.

2. Certified and official education – By choosing to use an accredited homeschooling curriculum, parents can be sure that their child will receive an education from a qualified and certified staff. Accredited homeschooling programs require that their educators hold current and relevant credentials, ensuring that a child will receive an education that is on-par with that of any traditional public or private school.

3. Individually tailored curriculum – Unlike a traditional school, an accredited homeschooling curriculum can be tailored to the individual needs of an individual child. Wherever a child’s strengths or weaknesses might be, the benefit of a homeschooling curriculum is that it can be made specifically for one person, without sacrificing the academic integrity of the program.

4. More personal attention – Again, unlike traditional schools, a homeschooling curriculum allows a student to receive more personal attention from educators. Unlike in a classroom of 35 or 40 students, a student who is a home and participating in an accredited homeschooling program can have instant and almost exclusive access to a teacher.

5. Added structure to existing curriculum – Most parents are satisfied with their current homeschooling curriculum, however, an accredited curriculum adds just a bit more credibility and structure to what already exists. Even parents can get off-task at some points, but with the help of an accredited curriculum, they can easily get themselves, and their students, back on the learning track.

6. A one to one relationship – Personal attention and access to educators is one of the many perks of an accredited homeschooling curriculum. By making the decision to use this academic approach, parents can virtually guarantee that their child will have access to his or her own teacher who will be focused on his or her individual academic needs.

7. The benefits of both – The final and obvious benefit of using an accredited curriculum as part of a homeschooling program is the fact that a student can receive the benefits of both. Besides being able to receive the one-on-one attention associated with being homeschooled, the use of an accredited curriculum also ensures that the education received will be accredited, and at the same level (if not higher) than the education being given in a traditional school setting.

Rethinking High School

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

How we educate high school students in the U.S. needs to change. Our high schools are no longer relevant to the needs of 21st century learners and the system must be restructured. This restructuring will allow students to choose from a variety of new study options. The days of “one size fits all” for secondary education services are coming to a close – it is now about providing students with a “customized” course of study in their pursuit of a high school diploma. Students should have a choice among the traditional high school model, a community high-school model (a hybrid between traditional and online instruction), and an early-college model that will allow students to graduate with both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree by taking a fifth year of high school.

Central to all three high school study options, or combination of options, is an intensive focus on making each learner’s secondary school experience a successful one (particularly at the freshman level), and offering ubiquitous student access to the Internet both in school and at home (using a variety of mobile computing devices). A synopsis of each program option required in a restructured high school include:

Freshman Academy

Research has shown that the transition between middle and high school is one of the most difficult developmental challenges a person faces in life. Students who are not successful in 9th grade are six times more likely to drop out before completing high school compared to their peers. The reasons for such a high failure rate include a variety of student factors upon entering high school:

– Physically and emotionally changing;

– Different setting with different expectations and experiences;

– Moving from a school environment designed to nurture children to one that

is designed to produce independent young adults;

– Academics are more challenging;

– Young teenagers are immersed with older teens.

A Freshman Academy helps to ameliorate these potential problems and issues by creating a “school within a school” environment as part of the larger high school student population. This is done by clustering 9th grade teaching teams and classrooms together, and utilizing group of upper classmen that will provide peer support. The program ensures that teachers have adequate student-focused common planning time and engage in cross-curricular instruction. Parent involvement and peer mentoring are also key components of the Academy.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Technology plays a large role in our students’ lives today. Personal devices can enhance and enrich learning opportunities both at home and at school. High schools today must be committed to allowing responsible, learning-centered use of personal devices at school so as to provide as many pathways to understanding and learning as possible for students.

Access to robust wireless networks is vital to student success these days using a variety of mobile computing devices. These devices can be either school-provided or personal laptops, tablets, or smart phone; however access to the Internet must be filtered to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Access from a personal device should be primarily for Internet use, but students can be given access to their own email account and document folder on the school’s network server.

For purposes of allowing students ubiquitous access to the Internet for instructional purposes, “technology” means a privately-owned wireless and/or portable electronic hand-held equipment that includes, but is not limited to: existing and emerging mobile communication systems and smart technologies, portable Internet devices, hand-held entertainment systems or portable information technology systems that can be used for word processing, wireless Internet access, image capture/recording, sound recording, and information transmitting / receiving/storing.

Hybrid Community High School

The creation of a hybrid community high school, in addition to traditional high, merges traditional and online learning into one customizable secondary education program. This hybrid is particularly attractive to students who do not do well in the traditional high school setting, such students at-risk of academic failure, gifted students, or students who are just plain bored and need something different. This merger results in one, united flexible-program high school for “non-traditional” high school students who, for one reason or another, would prefer to complete many of their required credits online instead of in the classroom.

Every student attending the hybrid program receives a graduation plan during their enrollment period that best meets their individual needs. To ensure that students have the best opportunity for success with a program of this sort, a mandatory three-week (15 day) orientation is required of all new students designed to prepare them for independent online work using an online curriculum (such as e2020), while the faculty assesses each student’s strengths and weaknesses.

In my school district, students are required to complete a series of in-classroom courses that include: Career Cruising, Effective Note-Taking & Study Skills, and Strategies for Academic Success before being placed in one of three tiers that allow for independent work online anywhere, any place, and at any time. Each tier is designed to offer a customized blend of in-school support with a student-centered approach to providing educational services online on the student’s terms, not the staff’s terms. Students are assigned to an instructional track based on in-class performance, online attendance and activity, grades, and level of self-motivation after they complete orientation.

Students are reevaluated at the end of every session, at which time they may be assigned to a new instructional tier based on the above criteria. Tier 1 students are required to attend class five days per week, receiving the most in-class support and supervision. Tier 2 students receive in-school instruction 2 to 4 days per week. Tier 3 students need only attend school one day per week. In all three tiers, students are able to work an unlimited number of hours at home and have access to e2020 courses 24 hours per day. All students have access to teacher support via email or phone. Additionally, students in the hybrid community high school program must have access to the regular high school program and allowed to take courses there and participate in the full range of extracurricular programs alongside their traditional high-school peers.

Early College Program

It is widely accepted that a majority of today’s jobs, eight or nine of every 10, require education beyond a high-school diploma. It is also known from U.S. Census data that most adults in the U.S. have not yet completed a two or four year degree. Although nearly 70% of high-school graduates start some college classes, only about 20% actually complete a degree. One significant problem today is that many students find that completing a college degree is difficult because of the many conflicting financial and time commitment priorities they face in today’s economy. A successful pathway to a college degree now requires a coordinated collaboration among high school, college, family, and community partners.

In my school district in Michigan, we have developed an early college program for a cohort of 50 committed students who agree to a rigorous academic program beginning in the 11th grade and continuing in a dual-enrollment program with a local community college through a 13th year in order to obtain both a High School Diploma and an Associate’s Degree. The program also provides an occupational track for students who wish to pursue a one year Certificate or Associates degree in a skill based area of technology, health, or business.

The cost of tuition for obtaining the Associate’s degree is paid by the school district, which utilizes it’s per pupil state aid payments to fully fund the program. There are very little out-of-pocket costs to the students. The savings on two full years of college tuition alone is estimated to range from $8,000 to $50,000 and beyond. The early college program also reduces the amount of actual time it will take a student to complete a degree by one year, which could provide one extra year of potential income in their lifetime. This earning opportunity value could range anywhere from $25,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on the student’s degree. Although textbook expenses are covered, some personal transportation costs will be the obligation of the student; although bus service between our high school and the community college is provided free of charge.

Early college students are enrolled in both high school and college for grades 11, 12, and 13. These students will complete a traditional six-year college education (four years of high school and two years of community college) in only five years, thereby accelerating their baccalaureate and/or graduate degrees.

Students with the Associate’s Degree are eligible transfer to most colleges and universities throughout the country. Because the first two years of tuition will be paid for by the school district, the student eligibility for sports scholarships, academic scholarships, and/or Pell grants will be extended to the year following the 13th year. Students do not lose eligibility for opportunities for college scholarships or federal financial aid because of their participation in our early college program.

Students who may not wish to pursue a Bachelor’s degree program are eligible to enter into a career program that provides employable skills while earning credits toward an Associate’s Degree or completion of a Certificate in the field of technology, computer occupations, nursing, and health/medical areas. Those obtaining an Associate’s Degree in any the community college’s technical/career program are eligible to transfer to universities or colleges that have approved Bachelor degree agreements with the community college for their specific area of study.

Through a unique partnership, counselors from both our high school and the community college provide services to early college students that support them throughout high school and their 13th year.


By rethinking how high school instruction is delivered, American secondary education can begin offering a truly customizable to its students. In so doing, we can produce high school and Associate’s degree graduates with a comprehensive set of critical thinking and tech-savvy skills that will serve our country well as these students compete for the new jobs in our global economy.