Valuable Cargo Aboard: Your child is in the backseat

Remember Marvin Gaye’s song, “What’s going on?”  It’s quite appropriate as we  frequently hear tragic stories regarding young children left in cars, and more horrific, HOT ones.

Personally, I am just not understanding how a parent can justify the mistake as, “Oh, I just forgot about him.”  Really, did you put him in the car?  Then how can you forget to take him out?  Do you have so much on your mind that it excludes the safety of your child?  To be honest, if you have so much on your mind, perhaps you are not in the best condition to drive your car.  Think about it, how can you focus on the highway and be a conscientious driver if your mind is “elsewhere?”

A court celebrity admitted to leaving her child in the car while empathizing with a convicted parent last month.  She and her husband didn’t realize their error, leaving their child in the car, until they were in the mall for ten minutes.  Maybe their plan was to shop for shoes and soon realized the major player was missing.  They were lucky that circumstances did not result as for the unfortunate child who died.  But still, is it possible to be that clueless to other passengers in your car?

Recently, a television station offered tips to parents as a reminder to check their backseat; such as, put your purse or a stuffed animal near your child.  The assumption is that you will remember, or be concerned, to get your purse.  Interesting, is your wallet more valuable than your child?  Not to be facetious, but I’m not feeling the urgency to check on a stuffed animal.

One media source suggested putting your pet in the backseat.  The principle is that you will retrieve the pet and then notice your child.  I’m not sure how helpful that might be considering locally, we had a tragic incident with both child and pet being left in a HOT car, with 90+ degree weather.

Maybe one option is to pay more attention to what “goes in” and “comes out” of your car.  Just as we are taught to always be conscience of our surroundings, especially when we exit or approach our car, we should also check the interior of our vehicle, as a standard practice, as we close the door.  Mount the reminder, “Have you checked the backseat?” on the dashboard.

This is a very serious situation that surprisingly is on the rise, especially with all the car technology that’s available.  Every passenger in a car is valuable cargo, including your dear grandparents.  Please don’t forget about them too.



Schedule a Summer Meeting with Your School Counselor

Does this sound like an unreasonable suggestion?  Well, it shouldn’t because scheduling a summer meeting with your school counselor is probably one of the best decisions you might make before school begins.  I always encouraged my counselees to schedule an appointment with me during the summer; why not, since I worked 21.5 days.  At least they didn’t have to worry about missing a class, which some fretted during the school year.  Many students, and their parents, accepted my invitation and for those who didn’t, as the cliché goes, “You can bring the horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.”

Yes, many counselors work, at school, during the summer; I did for twenty-eight years.  Of course I observed raised eyebrows indicating a desire to ask, “What do you do, there are no students in the building?”  Even without students, I managed to stay busy enrolling new ones, resolving schedule conflicts, meeting with students/parents regarding academic and pertinent guidance issues, conducting college planning seminars, and if lucky, cleaning my office.  Unfortunately, the latter never occurred until I retired.

Summer is a great time to get better acquainted with your counselor.  You can have an informal chat about your academic achievement, personal goals, college and post secondary plans, next year’s schedule and anything else on your mind.  It’s a time to establish rapport with him/her if you have not connected.  There’s more time to talk and you will probably feel more relaxed.

I know you might be thinking, what’s the point if my counselor might change before I graduate?  Well the same situation will more than likely happen with your teachers during your high school career, but that’s not a valid reason to foster a distant relationship.  If nothing else, consider the correlation between unfamiliarity and your letter of recommendation.  The content is enhanced when a counselor can provide colleges a “picture” of a student, worthy to be a candidate for their next class, based on professional observation and information not presented on a transcript.

Suppose your counselor has not met you, or if so, it was only for a schedule change or to plan next year’s classes.  What should you do?  Then schedule an appointment to introduce or “re-introduce” yourself.  Simply say, “It’s been a while since we’ve met and I would like to update you on what I’ve been doing.”  Another approach is, “I’ve been thinking about colleges and careers and I’d like to talk to you about it.”  If you are still out of your comfort zone, just casually talk about the summer and other easy topics.  Remember, the clock is ticking so you don’t have a lot of time.  If summer ends, then you will need to “take care of business” when school begins.

Trust me, it’s easier for counselors to write letters of recommendation when they know more about you than just your GPA and test scores.  Colleges will find this information on your transcript and school secondary report form, so help your counselor by sharing information that will be impressive, not redundant.

By the way, these recommendations are not just for rising seniors, they are pertinent to freshmen, sophomores and juniors.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!!


Expand your college search: Private Colleges in Virginia

It’s an exciting time in high school when students start thinking about their next academic journey; also known as post secondary education.  Options include a two- or four-year college and possibly a vocational school.  However, a large number of college-bound students are focusing on four-year institutions.

Many students experience anxiety as they try to understand the differences between public and private colleges.  Some of their resources are not objectively equipped to assist; therefore, making the distinctions less comprehensible.  This is a prime example of the value of a college visit.

Even as a college planning consultant, I must admit that all the “conveniences” available to me cannot always make me feel content about my research.  An opportunity to visit a campus can take the prospect to a higher level and bring a sense of closure to the process.  Think of it as a “touchy, feely, kinesthetic” experience that can help with college choices.

Private colleges in Virginia will be hosting their Virginia Private College Week, Monday, July 28th – Saturday, August 2nd.  The sessions for the majority of the participating colleges will be held at 9AM and 2PM, Monday-Friday, and 9AM on Saturday.

There is also a financial bonus to participating in Virginia Private College Week.  If you visit three or more participating colleges, you will receive three application fee waivers. You can use them at any CICV (Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia), not just the ones you visited during College Week.

To view a list of the participating colleges, the schedule exceptions, and other pertinent information, click:


Shop for College: BED BATH & BEYOND + The Container Store

College Freshman,
As you are preparing for your departure to college, you might find BED BATH & BEYOND and The Container Store to be helpful resources.  Their website offers a checklist, discount coupons, and special shopping events to help you transition to your “new bedroom.”  Explore the following links:

The Container Store:
Happy Shopping!!

Friendly Reminder: High School Summer Math and Reading Packets

Hope your summer is going well.  Just a brief reminder, as you are enjoying yourself, that school will begin in another month and you don’t want to forget about your required assignment(s) in designated math and English classes.  Some schools also have required science summer work in honors and AP courses.  Check your school’s website for details, if you do not know.  It would be in your best interest not to procrastinate, since the work will be a graded assignment (in most schools).  It’s a great opportunity to start off the first quarter with good grades.

Will Historically Black Colleges & Universities Become Extinct?

Recent news in higher education media has kept its audience informed about challenges facing HBCU’s.  Any news of this magnitude can cause negative distraction; unfortunately, compromising the optimism for student yield.

Every spring, many colleges and universities face an unbearable “wait and see” period, after applications are submitted, as they approach the May 1st commitment deadline for high school seniors.  The institutions most vulnerable are the small and lesser known ones with a limited endowment.  They don’t have the funds to attract and persuade talented college-bound students to matriculate to their campus with a lucrative financial package, as most of their competitors.  The fear of low enrollment brings unwanted gloom as it sets the stage for “survival of the fittest.”

Another fate is possible loss of accreditation that begins with probation.  Most people are not aware of the impact it has for the reputation of a college.  There are regional and professional accreditations; high schools can receive regional accreditation.  During my school counseling years and currently as an educational consultant, I always stress the significance of noting the accreditation status during a college search.  It’s one of the top priorities on the checklist.  Not all departments have professional accreditation, but regional is definitely necessary.  Pursuing a college education is a major financial investment, and prospective collegians should feel confident that the institution will provide an academic experience that will make them successful in their future endeavors.

If a college’s accreditation is in jeopardy of probation, it’s a “no-brainer,”  enrollment will be effected, along with competitive programs, faculty, construction, and generous donations.  According to the Inside HigherEd June 30, 2014 article, “For Storied Institution, a Historic Low,” (, the challenges of Wilberforce University (OH), the oldest private HBCU, are presented.  The article is newsworthy as it shares history, probably unbeknownst to most people, and its relevance in early years of providing post secondary education to African-American students.  Even though there can be similar profiles in HBCU’s, each campus presents uniqueness, whether it’s a strength or weakness.

Another Inside HigherEd article, June 24, 2014, “Fighting for Survival,” ( addresses the stigma of low enrollment for HBCU’s associated with political agitation, financial deficits, poor management, faculty/position cuts, and other concerns that weaken the educational prosperity and integrity of the campuses.  Some of the colleges affected include Elizabeth City State U (NC), Langston U (OK), Central State U (OH), Cheyney U (PA), Texas Southern U, Lincoln U (PA), Florida A&M U, North Carolina Central U, and South Carolina State U.

The article noted that West Virginia State University, Bluefield State College (WV), and Lincoln University (MO) have become more creative in their enrollment management by enhancing their majority population; more white than African-American students embrace their campus.  White students attending HBCU’s is not a new concept.

It doesn’t help to point fingers; more importantly, find a solution to restore the integrity and educational climate of salvageable institutions.  A respected and competitive HBCU can offer diversity to a college search.  Remember, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.


July 1, 2014: The Universal College Application Goes Live!!

Universal College Application (UCA) went live today, July 1st.  You can set up an account and work on applications of colleges that are members.  Ten more were added a couple of weeks ago.  Some colleges are members of both UCA and the Common Application (CA); however, you can only submit one of the two when you apply.  Of course, that’s assuming your intended colleges are members of UCA and/or CA.  Read the newsletter below from Universal College Application for more information.  The Common Application will launch August 1st.

The UCA is Live

Applicants can now start to apply to First Year and Transfer programs for Fall 2015 and other terms at over 40 colleges, including 10 new institutions, using the Universal College Application (UCA) at
Best regards,
The UCA Team
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Address: 500 W. University Pkwy Suite 1M Baltimore, MD 21210

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