Monday, October 11, 2021

Are the ACT and SAT still needed?

The ACT and SAT tests - still relevant?

Lately, there's been a lot of talk circulating about a growing number of colleges and universities across the country scrapping ACT and SAT test scores as part of their admissions requirements. Indeed, according to an article that appeared in a special section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel back on September 26, 2021, citing data from the educational consulting firm IvyWise, a whopping, "Seventy-two percent of colleges and universities adopted test-optional policies for the 2021-22 school year, and some schools are now extending that policy for the next one to two years..." (College & Career Guide, 2021, para. 5).

The article explains that the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly played a role in all of this, but that the practice of forgoing these test scores in the admissions process is not entirely new. In fact, according to the article, citing information from an education-focused financial planning resource called Edmit, "Since the mid-2000s, various universities have included test-optional clauses in their admissions policies" (College & Career Guide, 2021, para. 3).

Among the many colleges and universities that have eliminated, for now, ACT and SAT test score requirements, are, "...Cornell University, Penn State, Williams College, Amherst College, Boston College, and Columbia University" (College & Career Guide, 2021, para. 5).

But whether or not your top college choices are taking ACT / SAT scores into consideration at this time, it's still to your benefit to take the test(s), and to put forth your best effort with adequate preparation.

Even if the schools on your shortlist aren't looking at these test scores, the scores may still open doors to you in other ways. Try to see the test(s) more as a standalone, independent credential that can help pave the way to other academic and financial rewards and opportunities, rather than simply another standard item to check off on the college admissions "to do" list. Let's dive deeper and explore some examples.

The ACT / SAT and scholarship money

Many outside scholarship contests not affiliated with your chosen college(s) still look at these scores to differing degrees when determining who they are going to award. Many of these scholarships are local, coming from organizations like your own community's chamber of commerce; Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, Moose, and Elk service clubs; neighborhood businesses and perhaps even your parents'/guardians' employers; etc. In short, many organizations and businesses that award scholarships are still taking these test scores into consideration. Some may weigh test scores less or more so than others, but nonetheless, they are being taken into some consideration. It's to your advantage, then, to still take these tests seriously. Not doing so may cause you to leave serious scholarship money on the table.

A possible resume builder?

A noteworthy test score(s) can potentially be used to your advantage on your resume/CV, at least for a time being early on, during the remainder of your high school years and into your college years. Combined with some solid work and service experiences, an excellent score(s) can be an additional way you demonstrate to employers and academic institutions/opportunities that you mean business.  

An objective, proven measure of skill mastery and academic potential

While test scores are far from being the only tool to measure knowledge, ability, and potential, they arguably provide a more objective, at-a-glance, snapshot of your capabilities. Noteworthy scores demonstrate in a quick and easy-to-understand format that you not only possess a good amount of academic knowledge, but also, and perhaps more importantly, that you can think critically and act strategically, as well.

Preparing you for college

Finally, a solid score on the ACT, and/or the SAT if you choose to take this test, demonstrates that you are indeed prepared to handle college-level work. Now, even if the schools you're seeking admission to are not considering these test scores as part of their admissions requirements, at least demonstrate to yourself - for yourself - that you are prepared for college-level work. At the end of the day, you're the one responsible for ensuring you're capable and up to the task. It's not the school that's responsible. You may be admitted to your dream college or university without having to submit these scores, but you can just as easily find yourself burning out and perhaps even dropping/flunking out. That's the stark reality of it. Take the test(s) seriously, to the absolute best of your ability, and do it for you, if for no one else. Do it for you.

Now, doing well on the ACT demonstrates that you have at least been keeping pace with grade-level work all these years. In other words, you're where you should be at, generally speaking. You're performing at grade level. Doing well on the SAT, meanwhile, shows that you're generally performing above grade level.        

Conclusion

While many colleges and universities across the country are not taking ACT and SAT test scores into account at this time when deciding on who to admit, it is clear that these tests are still relevant, for a variety of reasons. Solid test scores can still come in handy when competing for outside scholarships. Scores can potentially be used as a resume builder, demonstrating to employers and various academic institutions/opportunities that you take your work seriously. And finally, if for nothing else, noteworthy scores will show you that you're ready to handle college-level work. 

Reference

College & Career Guide.  (2021, September 26).  Colleges extending test-optional practices.  College & Career Guide section, p. 5S.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Tips for avoiding burnout in college

Tips for avoiding burnout during your first year of college

Your first year of college is likely to be filled with new and exciting experiences. Unfortunately, with this significant lifestyle shift also comes the possibility of burnout. Here are three tips that can help you avoid burnout during your first year of college so you'll better succeed in your studies.

1. Keep your partying to a reasonable amount.

It's easy for students to fall into the trap of partying too often - especially if they live on campus. While the occasional party is a great way to release pent-up stress, too much fun can lead to burnout if you aren't careful. To avoid burnout during your first year of college, be sure to keep your partying to a reasonable amount.

2. Avoid all-nighters whenever possible.

It can be tempting to hold all-night study sessions when trying to excel in your classes. Unfortunately, such demanding study schedules often do more harm than good, as lack of sleep can make learning less efficient and burnout more serious. In a previous post that I wrote a while back, I go into more detail about how cram sessions/all-nighters are often useless and not worth it. To keep yourself from becoming burned out during your first year of college, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule with few all-nighters.

3. Don't sign up for too many extra-curricular activities and clubs.

Now, I'm a strong proponent of clubs and activities. The learning opportunities and the potential for building valuable networking connections and lifelong friendships that come with such participation are tremendous. But while extra-curricular activities and on-campus clubs can be both loads of fun and meaningful, joining too many can leave you feeling stretched too thin. It really is a delicate balancing act. To avoid burnout during your first year of college, limit yourself to joining only the clubs and activities for which you feel most passionate.

Burnout is a genuine issue for many first-year college students. Because of this, students should always keep the problem in mind and take the necessary steps to avoid it if possible. Hopefully, by following the advice outlined above, you will be better prepared to avoid burnout during your first year of college.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Setting up your college dorm room

Setting up a college dorm room
Photo by Pixabay
 
How to Set Up a Dorm Room for Your College Student

Setting up a dorm room with all the comforts of home - and none of the distractions - can be tricky, but it’s an important step in making sure your college-bound student is well taken care of. Whether they’re just starting school or need help with getting settled in, there are several easy things you can do to help them whip their dorm room into great shape. Think about pieces that can handle more than one job, as well as how to save space. There are many options on the market for furniture that doubles as something else, and you can get creative with things like over-the-door shoe organizers that can be used for storage.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your child has everything they need for doing homework and studying. Think about the details, such as noise-canceling headphones that will help them block out distractions while they’re reading. Also, remember that sharing a room with someone can be stressful for individuals who have always had their own space, so any items that reduce feelings of anxiety will be a good addition to the list as well.

Mr. Robertson's Corner shares a few tips on how to set up a dorm room for a successful year.

Look for Daily Deals

Stocking up on all the things your student needs for the school year can get costly. Not only do you have to worry about school supplies, but you also need to furnish their room and make sure it’s comfortable and distraction-free - and that can be a big task. One great way to cut costs is to look for daily specials, online savings, and coupons and promo codes. Often, companies will have big sales around back-to-school time; the week of Labor Day is a perfect time to look for deals. Just make sure you act fast since these sales are often updated hourly.

Get Organized

Dorm rooms aren’t known for being spacious, so it’s important to make sure your child has a way to stay organized. You can help by finding furniture that doubles as storage, storage solutions that can be mounted on the wall or hung from a door, and Business Insider suggests space-saving bags that can hold clothing or bedding that isn’t being used. Utilize any open space in a creative way to keep things neat. Combining form and function will make the room look comfy, cute and decluttered.

Clear Out Distractions

Living in a dorm room can be a difficult transition for someone who has never had to share a space before. In fact, even someone who’s used to having a roommate might find it challenging to learn how to study, do homework, and relax when there are a lot of distractions going on around them. Think about the details that might make your student’s life a little easier, such as a microwave, a comfy blanket, and a small fan. Having the ability to cook a meal without having to leave the dorm and stay comfortable will help your child focus on their priorities.

Plan for Bathroom Needs

Living in a dorm typically means sharing a bathroom with others, so it’s important to make sure your child has everything they need. A shower caddy, bathrobe, shower sandals or flip flops, and a good set of towels and washcloths are a great place to get started. It’s also a good idea to think about how they can easily do laundry; a lightweight bag or basket is perfect for hauling clothes to the laundromat, and of course, they’ll need detergent as well. The Spruce recommends strategically picking your laundry times and sorting clothes before heading to the laundry as ways to make doing the clothes a cinch.

Getting your child set up in a dorm room can be a big job, so don’t wait until the last minute to get it done. Start thinking ahead of time about what they might need and how you can help make their time at school successful, comfortable, and easy so they can focus on their grades.

Chair yoga

Improving your mind, body, and spirit connection with chair yoga

Chair yoga is the perfect exercise for those with reduced mobility who wish to improve their mind, body, and spirit connection. It is also an excellent activity to increase one's body awareness and helps develop overall flexibility and strength. If you would like to give chair yoga a try, then here is some advice on the topic to get you started.

To begin your journey, you should first determine which chair yoga positions will work best for you. One method for doing so is attending in-person yoga classes with a certified teacher. This method can be especially beneficial if you have specific medical considerations because the teacher can demonstrate safe yoga positions for your particular situation.

You can also participate in chair yoga from the privacy of your own home. This method is perfect for those who prefer a less-structured chair yoga experience. To try chair yoga at home, search online for videos describing various chair yoga positions and give some a try. Many suitable videos are currently available on YouTube, with new videos on the subject added regularly.

Before attempting chair yoga, please ensure you have a sturdy chair without wheels or a wheelchair with firmly-set breaks. It is also helpful if the chair's height allows you to comfortably rest your feet on the ground for maximum stability during the session. Finally, consider avoiding upholstered chairs. They are less supportive and can generate unwanted stress on your back.




Winter shoveling hacks

Winter Shoveling Hack: Use a Broom

Not all snowfalls are created equally. Sometimes, like after a light snowfall, it's just not worth breaking out the snow shovels. So long as the snow is light and not very deep, it could be more efficient to use an ordinary broom to simply sweep away the snow.

If such a snowfall occurs that conditions are right to sweep it away, you'll want to tackle the job before anyone walks or drives on the snow. That's because snow littered with footprints or tire tracks is not easily swept away. If you do end up sweeping away the snow in areas that have been tracked down by people or vehicles, most of the tracks will likely remain in place after you've finished sweeping. To finish the job in such cases, you'll need to quickly go over the remaining tracks with your shovel.

Please note that before attempting this winter shoveling hack, it's worth getting a second broom to use exclusively outdoors. This way, your only broom won't be rendered useless indoors while you wait for it to dry. Also, note that wet snow or any snowfalls deeper than a few inches are probably best removed using an actual snow shovel.

Winter Shoveling Hack: Cooking Spray

Have you ever tried to dig yourself out of a winter snowstorm, only to be slowed down by a shovel caked in snow? Not only is caked-on snow annoying for those who shovel, but it's also a health hazard since it leads to prolonged back strain from having to repeatedly carry around the same stuck-on pile of snow.

Would you be happy to know there is a way to stop this common problem from happening? Because there is - and it's such an easy fix. The next time you're getting ready to shovel some snow, grab a bottle of cooking spray from the kitchen and spray a layer of oil on the blade of the shovel. Once done, the snow should readily slide off of the shovel, thus making your job a whole lot easier.

Tip: If you don't have any cooking spray handy, use a paper towel to rub some vegetable oil on the blade instead. While this method of application is less convenient than applying cooking spray straight out of the bottle, it will still work just as well.

Preparing for unexpected wedding costs

Preparing for the unexpected when budgeting for your wedding

Budgeting for expenses is vital when planning a wedding - especially if you want to keep your overall spending under control. That's why it's essential to allocate some of your funds to unexpected expenses when apportioning your total budget. After all, no matter how thoroughly you budget, you're bound to run into things requiring extra money that fall beyond the scope of your carefully-crafted plans.

So, what types of issues might force you to spend more than you've budgeted for on your dream wedding? The possibilities are virtually endless. Maybe you'll need to pay extra for last-minute alterations to your wedding attire. Perhaps you'll have to redo the invitations after the rain accidentally ruins your first set. Will you be prepared if your chosen venue is no longer available and your only other option costs a little more? As long as you've budgeted some money for the unexpected, it doesn't matter what issue pops up because you'll have the spare funds to correct the problem.

In knowing you should budget for the unexpected, you may be wondering how much money should be set aside for unforeseen expenses. A good rule of thumb is allocating at least ten percent of the entire wedding budget to cover any surprise expenses. If you don't use all the money before the wedding, then no harm, no foul. Put the rest in a savings account for later, or give yourselves some extra spending money for the honeymoon. On the other hand, if you end up needing the money, you'll be glad you allocated some reserve funds in your budget.

Do I need landlord insurance?

Do I Need Landlord Insurance?

Are you currently renting or have plans to rent out a home you own? If so, you should seriously consider purchasing landlord insurance if you haven't already. After all, without this type of coverage, you could leave yourself open to severe financial losses that you may not be able to shoulder on your own. To better understand if landlord insurance is right for you, here's a brief description of property and liability protection - two common types of coverage offered through landlord insurance.

Landlord Property Protection

Landlord property protection helps landlords pay for fixing or replacing any physical property that becomes damaged or lost due to a covered event. Such protections cover the main dwelling itself and other structures on the rented property should a covered event like a fire, windstorm, lightning strike, or theft occur. In addition, landlord insurance may also cover certain maintenance items like lawnmowers and snowblowers, so always check the policy details. Please note that any property protection claims will have a specified monetary cap and will likely require you to pay a deductible when collecting on the policy. Any deductibles and limits, however, will factor into the overall cost of the policy.

Landlord Liability Protection

Landlord liability protection helps landlords pay for another person's medical and legal expenses if an injury occurs on their rental property. Please note that while landlords aren't usually required to pay a deductible when making a liability claim, the coverage will only extend to the policy's stated monetary limit.

Though many landlords are content with the basic protections offered by standard landlord insurance, additional types of coverage may be worth considering per your unique situation. Such additions may include building code protection, protection for a rental property under construction, vandalism protection, and burglary protection. If you are unsure about your rental property's best insurance configuration, don't hesitate to ask an insurance broker for their expert advice.