Educational Reflections of 2012

An educational glance at 2012

As the clock ticks, we will soon welcome 2013.  It seemed so far away, at least for me at one time, because it was my original year of school counseling retirement.  However, professional opportunities afforded an earlier exit, 2012, which I could not resist.

Everyone, young and old, can probably identify some “highs and lows” of 2012.  Take some time today to reflect on the year; cherish the positive and pursue changes for 2013.  We all know the routine, thanks to many years of practice.  I like to review the current year’s resolutions to see how many were achieved.  Success is increased when you know how far you have traveled, and how to plan ahead.

I am listing a few educational reflections of 2012, from my perspective.  It is not a comprehensive directory of events; therefore, I welcome any additions in the comment section.

2012:  Educational Reflections:

1. Higher Education Tuition Freezes and Adjustments:

-Mt. Holyoke (MA), private college, continued its tuition freeze

-Belmont Abbey (NC), private college, announced (December) 33% tuition cut for 2013 entering freshmen and transfer students

-At least 24 private colleges froze tuition and eight decreased it (NAICU)

2. Common Application Essay Change effective 2013-14:

-It was announced that the option, “Topic of Your Choice,” will be eliminated

-The 250-500 word limit will remain with monitoring; alerts will inform minimum and    maximum restrictions

3.  Hurricane Sandy:

Major tragedy for residents in many east coast areas; seniors with pending application deadline dates received extensions.  A thought to consider:  Since we can’t regulate “Mother Nature” and other acts beyond our control, it might be wise to plan ahead, and fulfill obligations weeks in advance of the deadline date.  Generous extensions are not always guaranteed.

4.  Connecticut Tragedy:

Schools must return to their original purpose….a safe haven for learning.  Students should not feel embarrassed to express concern for safety or feelings of mental distress, including high school and higher education populations.  Educational communities should foster an environment of support and students should not hesitate to reach out for help.

5.  Changes in DSM 5 – The elimination of Asperger’s Syndrome:

It has been proposed, and approved by some sources, that Asperger’s Syndrome will no longer be a mental diagnosis in the 2013 revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  The Asperger’s diagnosis will be changed to Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Even though change usually brings disappointment, many specialists, educators, and families can identify positive and negative benefits.  However, the educational perspective of the change for K-12 and college students will be its impact on accommodations and services that provide academic success.


Happy New Year!!

Sadness surrounds the Connecticut tragedy

As the nation mourns this tragedy, the “powers that be” need to seriously pursue interventions that will prevent this type of atrocity from happening again.  Schools and churches are expected to be safe havens for all; it’s an assumption.  However, the security of schools, at all levels, has become very vulnerable and this is sad.  Students expect to be safe within the building, regardless of whether they are motivated for the learning environment.

I heard an interview yesterday in which a former criminal justice employee said we will not learn from the Connecticut

Sadness surrounds school tragedy

experience, and it will happen again.  It is unfortunate that once this emotional event passes, all will be forgotten, as have others.  Some people talk a good game, but nothing substantial happens.

The innocence of the young victims is unforgettable.  In respect to their loss of life, we need to take back our schools, and return them to their original purpose…a safe haven for learning.


When is it too early to start thinking about college?


When is it too early to start thinking about college?


This little guy appears all excited because he is going to start a college search.   You will notice that he’s got his equipment ready and he seems to be handling the system quite well.  The budding college searcher has his hand on the mouse, and to his right are a few of his college resources.  So off he goes on his virtual college tours!!

A typical round-table or mother’s playgroup discussion is, “How early, is too early, to think about college?”  I remember sitting in a seminar at a College Board regional meeting, in the late 80′s, when one of the presenters, who happened to be an admissions officer at a highly selective university, stated that her office frequently received phone calls from parents-to-be and others with newborns and toddlers.  You are probably wondering, what on earth could they want to know… is it about the high cost of college tuition?  Well no, the parents were inquiring about the best daycare nurseries and elementary schools for their children, in order to increase their chances for college admission, at that particular prestigious institution.  Actually, that was not the first, nor the last time I had heard a similar story.

I want to believe that all parents have high aspirations for their children.  Some parents want so much for them, that their objectivity can become slightly distorted.  I’ve had many parents share with me their regret for not fulfilling their potential, so they want to make sure that their children do not fall prey to the same “mistake.”   And I can’t exclude the parent who really wanted to be a physician, and couldn’t for whatever reason.  However, the parent was determined that his child was going to be one, whether or not she had a desire, not to mention an aptitude for science.  The same happens with college choices and other post secondary options.

If the idea of thinking about college at an early age is ludicrous, why not change the approach?  Think “outside-the-box” and focus on early preparation.  That might make more sense to you because in the scheme of things, that’s why we start education at an early age.  Certain behaviors can have an impact on the foundation of a child’s intellectual growth, that begin at a very early age.   As a high school counselor, many of our educational team meetings consider factors in childhood development and the early educational history to be essential in placement decisions.

Here are some tips for parents of young children to consider as they prepare for their future:

  • Be a good role model
  • Encourage a positive attitude for learning
  • Allow your child to be creative and open-minded
  • Assist with organization skills
  • Maintain a structured environment, when possible
  • Be consistent with your thoughts and behaviors
  • Help your child build confidence and positive self-esteem
  • Encourage good communication skills
  • Monitor personal and social development
  • Encourage reading and include book discussions
  • Make vocabulary development a family activity
  • Monitor your child’s math skills
  • Ask your child questions and encourage him/her to be inquisitive about new information

Sure, this may be starting early…but it’s for a good reason.  Remember, it’s all about having the option of choices.