3 Things Every Busy High School Student Needs to Know

What does an F-14 Tomcat aviator have to say to your high school student? 

  • Follow your dream, it's worth it.

  • Make academics #1 priority.

  • Learn to manage your time-schedule.

Here's a link to a YouTube broadcast from Commander Ward Carroll (USN, Ret.).

Before you click to watch, finish reading this. Make sure you notice the following facts about Commander Carroll's experiences.

  1. His dream was the Naval Academy. However, because he did not give his maximum best effort in high school, he was forced to spend a year at a prep school in order to earn admission to Annapolis. That was expensive in dollars, and in time an entire year of his life.

  2. At the Naval Academy his dream became F-14 Tomcat officer specifically he chose RIO (Radar Intercept Officer; second seat) due to a substandard eye test.

  3. Once again, by not making academics his #1 priority at USNA, he had to detour for another year in order to qualify for the assignment.

  4. A highly significant skill he acquired, however, and by his own testimony in the video, is the skill of time management. Commander Carroll remarks that the USNA intentionally overloads your schedule. You cannot do everything with equal attention. Therefore, you learn to prioritize and focus on "first things first." He states emphatically, that skill is invaluable in a combat aircraft. It will save your life!

Here's the reason I write this blog, and share Commander Carroll's wisdom. The greatest challenge I have in coaching teenagers to achieve their goals is their overly busy schedules. School, part-time job, sports, friends not to mention self-care such as sleep all add up to more than can be done in a 168-hour week. Then I come along and ask a 16, or 17-year-old to accommodate one hour (two at the most) per week. Crash and burn!

The facts are:

  • None of the students I work with plan to be professional athletes, yet everything in their lives seems to get subordinated to the practice and play schedules.

  • None of the students I work with is working their part-time job in their anticipated, adult career. Behind sports, work seems to get the next time grab. Even asking a student to notify an employer a week or two in advance of a need for a day free, is met with resistance from most students.

  • Success in our common goals (right college, right price, graduate on time with the right degree) can be valued, literally at thousands of dollars of savings, plus a college education with purpose for the future.

Bottom line: Commander Carroll's video is an admission of poor priorities, as well as testimony to the value of his military academy education.


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Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies. Tagged as college planning.

Why Campus Visits Deserve Your Time and Energy

Campus visits matter a lot!
According to the prestigious non-profit,
Complete College America, the second factor in students needing more than four years to complete their four-year undergraduate education is transferring from one college to another.

That is often precipitated by a change in major; which is the number one reason for prolonged, undergraduate education.

One extra year of college, in many instances, is the cost-equivalent of the first four years. You can look for the white paper, "The Four-Year Myth" (www.completecollege.org), and learn the details. I have also posted a 6 part series on the subject. You can check those out here - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

There are a few "must-do" activities every prospective college student must complete during their high school years (and before they start 12th grade). 
I have those detailed in my book
College is a Consumer Purchase, 2nd edition (now available for purchase on amazon). Among those are strategic, campus visits.

Remember, students live and work at the college of their choice, for weeks on end. If a student is not more than comfortable on that campus, it is nearly inevitable that he or she will leave hopefully to transfer rather than drop out. 

"The" pandemic (you know of the one I mean) further complicated campus visits. My current students, rising seniors in high school, are scrambling to complete a strategy for campus visits; one that has proven powerfully effective for more than a decade. The reason for the scramble, of course, is that college campuses were closed to visitors for more than a year. A virtual tour is great. In fact, it is one of the responses to COVID-19 lockdowns that represents an advancement. I am a fan! However, the virtual must, eventually, be followed up with the in-person inspection.

My recommendation to you is actually an urgent appeal. Whatever plans you have to change in order to fit in at least six, meaningful campus visits before high school resumes (August?), do it. The consequences of slacking off may include:

  • Great(er) anxiety a year from now (or whenever the student starts college),
  • Increased likelihood of transferring colleges,
  • Costs of a college education rising more than 50%, to as much as double.

Listen, you may be making a mental list of reasons why you can't align your summer to a heavy, campus visit schedule. Consider, as a counter-balance to excuses, that this is the most important decision for nearly every family. It is your student's first step along the adult path of life. My prayer is, that step will be made confidently, on the best path among the many choices facing you.


Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies. Tagged as Campus visits, college planning.

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