The October 8th issue of Education Week had an outstanding article by Steven Sawchuk entitled “Learning How to Learn Could Be a Student's Most Valuable Skill.”  This piece articulates the need for students to be able to “learn things on their own.”

            The article points out that school systems are structured entities that are slow to adjust to changes. This clearly is an issue in a world which is constantly changing to meet the needs of the workforce.

            Sawchuk discusses the importance of teaching students how to learn so they may adapt in future situations.

            The article may be viewed at           

            Sawchuk also discusses a study in the Association for Psychological Science entitled Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology.” The article is definitely worthwhile for teachers interested in how effective techniques including rereading an article or elaboration-interrogation.


Common Application 2017-2018 Essay Prompts




The Common App has released their 2017-18 essay prompts. As you review the prompts, please keep in mind that this is one opportunity to share yourself with the admission representatives who will read your essay. Please note that Common App has kept two essay prompts (#1 and 4), revised three essay prompts (# 2, 3 and 5) and included two new essay prompts (#6 and 7).

Please read each essay carefully and the select the one that will best tell your story.


1.                  Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their                                     application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2.                  The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when                      you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3.                  Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What                          was the outcome?

4.                  Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a                                research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its                       significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5.                  Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new                                  understanding of yourself or others. 

6.                  Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it                          captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 

7.                  Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a                               different prompt, or one of your own design.


Prompts and further information is available at the Common Application Website                                                    


Iowa Private College Week offers students and parents an opportunity to visit any of its 25 private colleges. Among the colleges included in this tour are St. Ambrose University, Clarke University,Iowa Wesleyan University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, and William Penn University.

The program offers two sessions a day which allows students the opportunity to manage their time.

Professors, coaches, and current students will be available to chat with students and parents. 

Students are encouraged to register at




The Virginia Private College Week is an opportunity for students and parents to explore 24 colleges including Emory and Henry, Mary Baldwin, University of Richmond and Washington & Lee University. You may learn more about this event at

Students are strongly encouraged to register at

Students who participate in this program and visit 3 or more participating colleges will be eligible to receive 3 application fee waivers to use at any participating institution.


Wisconsin Private College Week is July 10 - 15. 

Students and parents will have an opportunity to visit 24 colleges including Marquette, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Marian and Columbia College of Nursing.

Admission counselors and financial aid officers will be available to answer questions. This is a great way to explore several schools, meet professors, visit the dorms and connect with other students.

Students are encouraged to register at

The RMHC®/HACER® National Scholarship

McDonald's continues to demonstrate their commitment to students across the United States. Through many intiatives, McDonald's has been able to help students fulfill their dreams of attending college despite the rising cost of higher education.

This scholarship is open to all student who are high school seniors; legal resident of the United States, less than 21 years of age; have a GPA of 2.7;  and are eligible to attend a two-year or four-year college. For further information please go to

To apply online please go to

Applications must be postmarked by January 20, 2016.


Completing Your FAFSA

FAFSA ( Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the application all students need to complete in order to determine their eligibility for financial aid for college.  The official site to complete the FAFSA form is There is NO FEE for completing this finacial aid application. If you are asked to enter a credit card to pay at the end of completing your FAFSA form, you are on the WRONG site. The FAFSA pdf link below will provide you with a list of information you will need to complete your FAFSA.

Never Give Up On Your Dream

In the Fall of 2015, my former department chair (MaryAlice) asked if I could help her grandson reach his goal of attending Massachusetts Maritime Academy. If you knew MaryAlice, by far the most outstanding and selfless woman I have ever met, you would understand why I said I would do whatever I could. I spoke with Jay and asked him to forward me a copy of his high school transcript. Jay had applied to Mass Maritime in 2014, but was not accepted. Unlike some students who give up on their dream, Jay chose to enroll in a welding program and enroll at the community college. His decision to demonstrate he had the skills and determination to succeed in a college setting was Jay’s first step toward reaching his goal. Although Jay had done well in high school, he had not taken some of the prerequisites for Mass Maritime Academy including chemistry. Jay was a good student, athlete and well respected by his teachers and peers.

After speaking with an admission representative at Mass Maritime, I learned that if Jay took chemistry, trigonometry, and received grades of C or better, he would meet the academic requirements for admission. Of course, meeting the requirements and getting accepted depends on a myriad of factors including the depth of the applicant pool.

This story has a great ending. Jay successfully passed his classes and will be attending Massachusetts Maritime this fall. So NEVER give up on your dream and do not be afraid to ask for help to achieve that dream!

Congratulations Jay!

Attaining My Dream- Jay

My senior year of high school, I saw most of my friends getting accepted to traditional colleges.  I knew I wanted to further my education, but I had no idea what I degree I wished to pursue.  I had a friend who had gone to Mass Maritime and the curriculum sounded like it would be interesting. The program would prepare me for a profession on the water that I would love.  I applied, but was waitlisted. After that, I continued working and learning multiple trades.  I still wanted to attend MMA, so I started taking classes at a local community college and based my class schedule on MMA’s transfer requirements.  I completed my application and waited to hear back from the academy.  My grandmother mentioned to her friend, Cheryl Leaver, that I was applying to MMA and she jumped right in giving me advice and talking to her contacts at MMA.  Her help was huge!

Once I received word that I had been conditionally accepted, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.  All I had to do was pass every class I was currently taking with a C or better.  I made that my main priority and finished the semester with two A’s and a B. I couldn’t feel more proud and accomplished about becoming a student at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

From Jay's Mom:

So many kids these days sail on through school and on to college and beyond, never skipping a beat.  I have two children.  One did just that and the other one, needed something different.  Jay was not going to college just to go.  He wasn’t going to try to figure it out while in the middle of it. He wanted to go to a college that specifically lined up with a career path.  He has always learned better by doing things, so when he heard about Massachusetts Maritime Academy, he decided that it was the school for him. What they teach is applied either in a lab or on their Sea Term.  They will do three Sea Terms and will be learning while doing all the jobs on a ship as they cruise to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, or elsewhere.  At the end of their 4th year they will take licensing exams and will finish up fully licensed by the Coast Guard ready for employment. If he wants to, he can go from there to Officers Training School and into the Navy.  I know he has chosen wisely and is setting himself up for a nice future.

Not getting in on his first try was probably a good thing.  He had a chance to try some different jobs and that helped him realize that he wanted MMA more.  It motivated him to move in another direction and get a degree. The time is right for him.  He is more mature and knows how important education is.  He had to figure it out for himself and thankfully he did.  I am proud of his perseverance and determination.  I am also grateful for Mrs. Leaver’s help and guidance through the process.


As your junior year comes to a close and summer is fast upon you, now is the time to begin to prepare for your post-secondary options. Before you can blink, your senior year will be here. So what can you do to reduce the stress of your senior year?

1.      After your junior grades are completed, request a copy of your transcript to review your grades, rank and GPA. Now would the time to correct any errors.


2.      What are you planning to do after graduation? Will you be attending a four-year college, two- year college, technical school, military or enter the work force? Now is the time to begin your exploration.

3.      Take a moment and check out the list of states that offer Private College Week visits to students. Each group of colleges offers different incentives. The first opportunity is in June.

4.      Check out the college planning calendar to see the “tentative dates” for SAT and ACT tests next fall. College Board and ACT confirm their dates by the end of June.

5.      If you qualify for a fee-waiver for the SAT or ACT, and you would like to take the test in September, please see your school counselor before the end of the school year to obtain the necessary information.

6.      Check out your family’s EFC (expected family contribution) at You will find the EFC calculator in the heading entitled calculators. This will give your family an estimate of what the federal government believes you and your family should be able to contribute toward your education.

Keep checking back for more information.

Things To Do Before January 1st

As the winter break approaches there are a number of tasks you should complete before January 1st.

The first one is to create a username and password for the FAFSA application. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid must be completed by any student who will be applying for financial aid (grants, loans, work-study). The federal government has eliminated the PIN (personal identification number) and replaced it with the FSA ID (federal student aid identification). While you cannot begin your FAFSA application until January 1, you may create your ID. Remember you, and one parent or guardian, must each complete an ID. The username may be 8-30 characters in length including numbers, uppercase, lowercase and special characters. Go to to create your username and password.

The second task is to begin your search for scholarships, if you have not already begun this time-consuming project. I have posted a 4-step process for searching for scholarships along with a list of scholarship sites I have compiled. Please note that many of these scholarship sites may share your email address with the companies that sponsor their sites.

How To Find Scholarships

Step 1. Stop by your guidance office to see how scholarships are posted.

Step 2. Sometimes the best scholarships are found with the help of your parents, guardians and grandparents. 

  • Do any of the local banks and credit unions to see if they offer scholarships? Most will require you to have an account.

  • Do any of their employers (present or former) offer scholarships? 

  • Do any of these people belong to an organization which might offer scholarships such as Knights of Columbus, Elks, Lions, Rotary, VFW, Post, Kiwanis, Shriners, Loyal Order of Moose, Chamber of Commerce, Church, etc.?

Step 3. Search the Internet for your particular major to see if there are scholarships available. There are many scholarships available for anyone planning to major in nursing. 

Step 4. Check the college websites to see if any offer scholarships for which you are eligible. 

Scholarship Sites:

Talking about my Major

Choosing a major right for you is probably the most difficult thing in the college process. The average person changes his or her major two times. As of right now, I am currently majoring in Biology with a minor in Marine Science and I don't plan on switching out. Ever since I started high school, it has been a dream of mine to work on or around the ocean. Being from Rhode Island, I was never more than a half hour away from the Atlantic. I would go to the beach constantly, whether to go surfing and swimming with friends or searching for sea creatures in the tide pools. The ocean has been and will remain a big part of my life. I’m sure of it. In fact, my common application consisted of only coastal schools. Here at William and Mary they work very closely with a marine research institute known as VIMS (Virginia Institute of Marine Science). My aspirations are to intern and hopefully work for this corporation in the near future. We rely on the ocean for almost everything and it would be a shame to let its potential go to waste. It is my goal to harness as many resources as possible from the ocean while also preserving the marine environment. I believe William and Mary, in combination/association with VIMS, will greatly prepare me for this task and I can see no better alternative for the future.