Author: jjamison

Covid or College: Do I Have to Choose?

So many things in our world have changed in the last 3 months and it IS extremely overwhelming.  Last year my conversations with students and parents were centered around what to bring to college, understanding changes to parent student relationships with FERPA and enjoying the excitement of the new year through Facebook and Instagram posts. 

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Today the conversation is DIFFERENT!  Students and Parents are asking should I still go to college?  What is the value if everything is going online?  What options do I have?  Do I still need to pay the full price of school and dorms?  The thought of students paying a premium to stream classes was very creatively displayed in this Facebook post.

First, I want to remind you…There is value to education.  While the image is funny, we realize it is not really a true comparison.  Colleges and Universities are planning to provide in person, online or some hybrid of education and there is a cost and a value to that education.  If you thought so last year while you were applying, that should not have changed.

What might have changed is your financial situation and sensitivity to the cost vs value proposition.  Your family finances will definitely impact your decisions, but you should reach out to your school and explain your situation and see what is available.  Each school is managing financial aid requests separately. 

Recent High School Graduates started a very grueling application process.  Blood, sweat and tears, YES tears, went into a large majority of these students’ efforts to get accepted into the school of their choice.  Then COVID hit and they had to decide pretty early what they were going to do in the fall.  Some students changed their plans about going out of state or far away from home, some decided to stick with their initial plan.

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The choices were tough but were made. Now we are seeing a surge in cases and colleges are sending out invoices for the fall semester not only including the cost of a dorm room but requiring contracts signed from families stating that refunds would not be given if college campus has to close.  Now families are second guessing their May decisions, campuses are scurrying to provide information that is sometimes only good for a few hours. 

Everyone is asking WHAT SHOULD I DO? 

  • Don’t make hasty decisions – You spent 6 months or more researching schools, completing applications and then deciding on an institution to attend.  Be sure you review your choices and understand your ultimate educational goals.  If you change now, what are the implications on future options. 
  • Read EVERYTHING VERY CAREFULLY- There is A LOT of information on each school’s website.  Before making or changing any decisions, be sure you understand every aspect of the decision.
    • Find options or choices that work for your student
    • Understand deadlines for changes
    • Understand cost or fees associated with changes
    • READ – READ and then GO Listen to the volume of video communication about all of it available on YouTube. (Don’t believe me, type in your school’s name and 2020 and up will pop short videos about managing ever-changing campus life.
  • Communicate with your school – If you have researched all available information and still have questions, reach out to admissions, student services, and financial aid to address specific circumstances of your family.  Some schools have resources that might be able to help you overcome a change in plans. 
  • Be careful what you sign!  – Schools are pushing more documents than ever before.  Make sure your student reads or at least forwards the email to you to read before they agree.  Examples of documents:
    • COVID prompted and changed the housing agreement
    • Tuition agreements
    • Code of conduct – Check out the level of detail in behavior they are asking students to sign.  UMass Code of Conduct
  • Be confident in your decision – Once you have worked through all of the issues, stand firm in your plan, work to support your student as they begin the year.  The stress associated with this transition is big enough but when you add COVID, that multiplies.  Make a plan and check-in. 

So, yes YOU WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE!  But this is not an either-or proposition.  Ultimately, you have to do what is right for you and your family.  Consider learning styles, location, safety, cost, and family.  Luckily there are so many pathways to education and you have options.  You don’t have to choose COVID or COLLEGE. 

In closing I will say that you also need to CHOOSE to be a member of the community and take steps to ensure your health and well-being and that of your community.  CHOOSE to be SMART.


Why being the exception should not be your rule.

Why being the exception should not be your rule.

Ever seen a sign at someone’s desk that reads, “Poor Planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”? 

I really do enjoy working with students and helping them to achieve their goals.  I love the “a-ha” moments when it all seems to click and students learn something about themselves and succeed in ways they never thought they could.  On the other hand I am just as crushed when I see one of my students struggle or fail because of something silly like a missed date, requirement, or misunderstanding.  But win or fail, we learn from each circumstance.  The lesson might be hard but it is valuable and often times that mistake is not repeated — an achievement in itself.  Today’s Lesson is “Exceptions should NOT be your RULE! 

In my role as Senior Program Coordinator for Crosby Scholars Iredell County I often have to ask a question of hundreds of students.  The answer then drives processes.  Every time I send out an email I hold my breath.   Then I hear it, my phone signals that I am getting a response.  Every time I hear the phone ding, I know it is an exception.  Want to know how I know?  Nowhere in the instructions did I say to send me an email to respond.  The reason being, I can’t keep up with 300 individual emails.

I started this blog wanting to help students understand that always asking for exceptions and doing things in a special way just for them is not really doing them any favors.  In today’s world everyone needs an exception, an accommodation, and special excuses.  I am not talking about IEP or 504 accommodations.  Asking for exceptions because of learning differences is one of my exceptions.  (Ha Ha)

You know what I am talking about.  Go into a room of 25 students.  Announce that you need them to perform a specific task on a specific day at a specific time.  Sit back and watch the 5 – 10 hands fly up for the – I can’t make that day, that time does not work for me, I really don’t like that task is there something else I can do.  I am here to say — NO.  Sometimes if you want to benefit from a program or a job or an experience, you are going to have to make it a priority.  Go back to that room of 25 kids.  Take a look at the 15 to 20 students that said, yes, I am here, I am ready, tell me what I need to do to benefit.  These kids are the rule.  Sometimes it is good to be the rule.  For the kids that take every opportunity and meet the requirements and engage with interest and sincerity.  Those are the kids that are going to succeed.  Not only in Crosby Scholars, but in LIFE. 

This does not mean that I am looking for a cookie cutter world where everyone is the same and everyone is alike.  I strongly believe we THRIVE on diversity.  Different views, different ideas, different backgrounds, bring something special to the world.  Let’s take those 15 – 20 students that did not ask for exceptions but each have different educational goals and paths.  I love helping kids explore what can be next and know that they don’t have to follow the crowd.  They will succeed and thrive if they follow their own path.  Checking the boxes of a designed and planned program will only enhance their ability to be successful. 

When did we start thinking that groups, organizations and programs have to bend and sway for individual likes and dislikes?  I believe that we too quickly jump into participation to look good, or check a box, or build that resume.  I would offer that we should be selective of our time and participation and only engage in activities that bring value and fit with your goals, desires & passions.  Ask these questions?  What is the value of the Program? Why do you want to participate in the Program? What do you hope to get from participation?  Do I have time and capacity to see this through?  What are the alternatives if I DO NOT participate in the program?

Your time is valuable. If you do choose to participate I suggest you try to be the rule.  Complete the requirements, participate, engage, and use the resources.  If you don’t someone else will.  Stand out in a positive way and not as the person that always needs a workaround.

In the game of college admissions, scholarships and jobs, there is always an application process.  There are specific steps and processes that need to be followed.  If you are looking for exceptions, don’t be surprised if you do not get them.  When 42,000 students are applying for 9,000 spots, this is not the time to not follow the process or look for an exception.  You will be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons.

Think about how excited you will be when you get that acceptance letter!


Have a Little FUN!

GO HAVE FUN!  In the middle of a pandemic, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

By Jenniffer Jamison

Nope, I am totally serious.  The stress of homeschooling, technology learning curve, lack of social contact with friends and family is the perfect reason to add a little fun to your current situation. 

First – Fun is relative.  You might not agree with my definition of fun.  That is okay.  You have to discover what fun looks like for you.  I found an article on Fun written by Rebecca Crespo “Ten Simple Benefits of Having Fun”, on www.minimalismmadesimple.com.  She states that there are two living creatures to look to for guidance on having fun, Children & Dogs.  Think about it, she is right.  Both children and dogs, explore new things, have a sense of wonder and play.    They don’t take themselves so seriously. 

Then, I thought, I need to prove the importance of having fun.  Scientific proof that fun helps with learning and relieving anxiety, and everything else that goes with it.   BORING.  Reading all the data is itself the opposite of FUN! 

Next, I thought I should take a look at the group of people this blog is written for, teens and their families.  This is when I found some examples that took some ingenuity and thought.  I will not bore you with facts about the frontal lobe and cognitive behaviors of teens.  Needless to say, they don’t always think everything through.  They also want to prove to the world that they are so grown up while really still being a child at heart. 

Sixty days ago if you told me that Graduations were going to be postponed, college orientations go virtual and the possibility of not being on campus for the freshman semester was a thought, I would have told you that was CRAZY.  Well, here we are. 

Once the initial newness of the Zoom conference call wore off for my middle school student, we had to look for different ways to keep her engaged and interested.  Middle School students are not the only people in this boat. 

The more you dread something the less you will want to do it.

Add a little fun and like May Poppins says “Snap the jobs a game, and every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake, a lark a spree it’s very clear to see….Okay, finish the song.  You know you want to ….”Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

You don’t have to look far on the internet for examples of how people are either dreading zoom calls or disrupting them.  I love the one where the class made it look like they were passing a pencil from one window to the next. 

Some people say that was a waste and a shame – I say what a way for teamwork.  You know it took those kids some problem-solving skills to figure out how to make that a seamless process.  Looking for the videos I found the same class had about 10 other videos posted with different ideas, dancing, sleeping, etc. Everyone had to work together to produce the outcome.  And guess what — It was fun!  While I am not encouraging kids to be disrespectful to their teachers or employees to their bosses, I believe the teacher was in on this.  This is something they will share with others (clearly), talk about, have others talking about.  I am sure something from that experience will help them in the future.  So I say— Worth it!

There are times to be serious but I believe you have to add a little fun, especially in the current time of unknown anxiety and increased isolation. 

While you are having fun you are also, learning, experiencing new things, sharing with others, team building, and problem-solving.  Some might even say the exploration of fun, hobbies & interests can add to finding the right career path and building your college resume. 

I asked our Facebook community what they are doing to have fun and below is a list of things that were shared. 

  1. Get Moving– Run, Walk, Jump, Skip just start moving. Exercise helps with mood and energy levels.
  1. Get Outside – Something about nature that is calming.  I am currently typing this blog outside and I have to say I feel inspired.  Just look at that blue sky! Sunrise, sunset, meteor shower this month, and a couple of really cool Moons.  Look it up.
  1. Get Together – In a socially distant way.  There are ways to be with people.  You cannot isolate yourself completely.  Being with others will have a positive effect.  Can’t walk 6 feet apart from a friend then take your dog for a walk.
  1. Play Games – UNO, Monopoly, Cards, Sorry, Trouble, Pictionary, Tabu, Trivial Pursuit, etc.  I dare you to go find your family’s stash of old board games.  Play one a week.
  1. Cook – Great time to learn your Mom’s recipes for when you go to school or try something new.  Better yet grab the family recipe box on the back of the top shelf in your kitchen.  Find the recipe handwritten by your grandmother and go for it.  Just no bread — you will not be able to find the ingredients at the store right at this moment. 
  1. Explore your Family – Ancestory.com is a great way to learn about your family tree.  Too techy for you, then pick up the phone and call your grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  Heck, ask your parents about when you were a little kid or better yet when they were a little kid.  You will not regret this time. 
  1. Explore a Hobby – Sewing, art, writing, dance, playing an instrument, learning a sport.  Pick something you have wanted to learn for a while and go for it.  You might find something you are really good at and a new passion.
  1. Help Others – You can find great joy in helping others.  Find ways to help your family, neighbors, and community.
  1. Clean your room — Now some of you are calling foul – That is not fun!  You never know what you are going to find at the bottom of that pile of clothes and clearing the clutter from your life might have a positive effect on your mood.  I know your MOM will think that it is FUN!  “Happy Mother’s Day?”
  1. BE YOU – Everyone has a different opinion on what fun is.  Go figure out what that is for YOU and do it!

 All of this requires action so GO have fun! 


#2020RememberWhen?

By Jenniffer Jamison

For the last 13 years you have been working towards one goal, completing your high school education.  Some of you started thinking about graduation even in Pre-school.  If you are a senior right now you might be able to look back in your photo album and find a picture of you in a cap and gown at the end of Kindergarten.  Didn’t graduate from kindergarten, what about grade school, middle school, etc.  Being the mother of 3 children at some point I have even scoffed at the idea of a graduation from elementary school or middle school, until you don’t have the opportunity. 

Graduation!  Have you planned for it?  Have you imagined it?  This year, your senior year was cut short.  No one could have possibly imagined a worldwide pandemic bringing the country to a halt and preventing seniors from experiencing the final quarter of their senior year.  So this is happening to everyone.  How are you handling it? 

First, don’t lose sight of the wonderful experiences you have had over the past 13 years.  Starting in kindergarten – 12 grade.  Schools, teachers, friends, activities, class parties, pep rallies, promotion/graduation from k, 5th & 8th grade.  I am sure you have many memories of 9 – 12th grade.  Games, dances, prom, yearbooks, clubs, activities, competitions, friendships, etc.  Savor all that you have experienced.  Don’t let the current situation take away from 13 years of education, fun, friends and family.  

  1. Look through old yearbooks.
  2. Dig through old photos.  (Trust me your Mom has already started this exercise!)
  3. Get creative and share pictures of your fellow graduates from years gone by.  Use #2020rememberwhen?

Second, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishments.  Formally mark the occasion.  I have seen many examples of families marking this special occasion from signs to drive by parades and even online senior awards ceremonies just for their students.  There is no right or wrong way to celebrate.  This is totally up to you.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Decorate your door at home to celebrate your senior year.
  2. Put a banner or sign in your yard celebrating your accomplishment.
  3. Pick up your Cap & Gown and cords, honor sashes and pins & have a backyard photo shoot to mark the occasion. 
  4. Participate in virtual celebrations with your high school, clubs, organizations, etc.  (Crosby Scholars Iredell County will go live on our Facebook account on April 21, 2020 at 6 pm to celebrate our seniors)
  5. Create and mail out your Graduation Announcements.  These can be homemade or more formal.  Your friends and family are at home and would love to get mail.  Be sure to include a photo and a note about what you plan to do next. 
  6. Create a family celebration/ceremony and include family using Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or another online meeting tool.

Last, but not least, look forward and highlight your future plans.  I know this is a very unsure time.  Many of you know what is next.  Let the world know what is next and then start planning for your future. 

  1. Wear that College gear with pride!
  2. Explore your colleges and universities’ websites and virtual tools.
  3. Join group pages on social media to get connected.
  4. Crosby Scholars Iredell is going to offer Zoom calls for all the scholars planning to attend the same school, so you can get to know other students from Iredell County that will be in the same place next year.
  5. Start planning!  Dorm room, class registration, orientations. 

Allow yourself to see the light at the end of this tunnel.  Let yourself be excited and anticipate all of the wonderful experiences and adventures that are to come.

The class of 2020 can get down about the current situation or you can use this time with family and friends to connect, remember, celebrate and plan.  I am not sure you will believe me, but what you are going through right now will make this moment in your life MORE memorable and just imagine the stories you will have to tell your kids and grandkids.  #2020rememberwhen?


Snap Out Of It

The Crosby Blog has to be written and there is a pandemic, what’s the point?  I will tell you I have started this blog no less than 5 times.  First, I was going to connect a song and its message to a powerful inspirational message.  Clearly that did not happen.  Next, I came up with a list of 10 things you can do to be a successful student during your virtual learning experience.  I am sure that has been written by others and everyone is done reading it.  I even thought about writing about making the best of a bad situation.  Then I thought…I don’t want to write a Blog. 

What’s the point?

Sound familiar? My kids are in the same boat.  They want to do their best but they really don’t want to do anything at all.  Motivation is gone.  Maybe you are in middle school and you can’t figure out how to submit that PDF doc your teacher is asking for in just the right way.  Maybe your Internet is not good at home and you are having problems accessing your assignments.  Maybe you are a senior so bummed about missing Prom that you don’t want to do anything. 

I am going to tell you my favorite quote from the movie Moonstruck.  “Snap out of it!”  Cher delivers the line with a slap in the face.  I will refrain from the slap.   But it is time to “snap out of it”.  This is the new normal and we all have to figure out the way that we are going to be able to meet our school, work and family expectations. 

How do we SNAP OUT OF IT?

  • Get up and put forth the effort!

This is not going away.  You can’t hide from this.  So read your emails, follow instructions and ask for help.  Keep trying until you figure it out. 

  • What you are doing is important and will make a difference!

So many students are disappointed with what they are missing and they wonder if the assignments or work are really going to make a difference.  I think the phrase I have been hearing the most is “What’s the point?”  Your actions will have a consequence and you still have control of your effort. 

  • Look for fun ways to encourage and motivate others around you. 

Take a moment to observe the people in your circle:  parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, and friends.  Do they look tired, sad, stressed?   What can you do to help?  Call, face time, text, email, send a card.  There are so many ways you can spread a little joy and encourage others.  You will find your spirits lifted as well.

I know it is hard.  This new unknown is scary and hard.  YOU have something that no one else has and what you do is important and will make a difference.  There is a point.  When we pass through this time, you will look back and have learned something new about yourself.  This experience will change us and will make us all better.  Time to Snap out of it!


Get Started on Career Exploration

Career Exploration:  Action Items to Get Started!

Students, do you feel like your parents control everything?  Are you looking for ways to test the waters in your future?  The best way to start is to just start! You will probably need help.  Ask your parents.  A crazy thought.  Believe it or not, they had a life before having you and they have experiences and resources that can help you.   

If you are a parent or guardian you can help students in this exploration path.

  1. Let your student take the lead.  Up until now, we have controlled every aspect of their life.  Time to let them start to control aspects of their life. 
    1. Let them TRY
    1. Let them FAIL
    1. Let them TRY AGAIN!
  • Provide your student opportunities to try new things.
    • Community Service – Helping others actually can expose your student to different life experiences and help them see beyond themselves.  Volunteer at school, church, community, senior center, animal shelter, food pantries, political campaigns, library, national park, local rec center, museums, habitat for humanity, etc.
    • Extracurricular activity – Sports, Music, Art, Technology, Student government, and academic teams and clubs. 
    • Part-Time Job/Internship or Job Shadow– encourage your teen to start working part-time during school breaks.  Working a summer at a fast-food restaurant can be excellent motivation for continuing education and clarifying job/career goals. I have seen many students gain very valuable experience by just going to work with their parents or adult, job shadowing.  Internships are another route to gain experience.
    • Chores & Responsibilities – Students can learn and obtain skills by helping their family around the house, with younger siblings, managing personal and family responsibilities.

Like it or not, obtaining your career goals starts with YOU, your education, and your opportunities.  In today’s day and age, understanding your path early can make a difference in future success and opportunity. 

Learning about YOU helps you make important decisions like:

  1. How much education do I need? Certification, Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate.
  2. Do I need to start in High School?  Some schools require certain classes before you are admitted.
  3. What Path should I take?  Start at Community college, 4-year or Gap Year.
  4. What school is best for what I want to do?  Over 3600+ Colleges and Universities to choose from.  You will save time and money by researching before you go.

I ramble…and if you know me I can go on for days.    What is the best way to start?  Look above for ideas…by the way not just for students.  Adults can benefit from a little self-evaluation from time to time.  When?  Start exploring NOW! 


Why Career Exploration?

Do You Want to save TIME, MONEY & ANXIETY?  Then keep on reading. 

What do you want to be when you grow up?  …. Relatively harmless question, but for some it causes a lot of stress.  Which ultimately leads to putting off the question or not really thinking about it. 

Before anyone has a panic attack and needs to go practice stress-relieving techniques, let’s look at a few words in the question. 

WHAT do YOU WANT to be WHEN you grow up?   English teachers forgive me.  My new question is:   What you want when? 

WHAT – What a loaded question.  Do you want a job that you can show up daily, leave without worry that gives you a paycheck to get basic necessities?  Are you thinking long-term for a career that has a path for growth and development? 

YOU – Unique, only you can answer.  You might look to others for advice or guidance but no two paths are identical and the career/job you choose and how you obtain that role is unique to you.   Look at this circle chart.  Note that you are at the center.  All of the surrounding factors have an impact on your choice.  Personality, Skills, Values and Interests.

WANT – Want verses need.  That is the difference between Job and Career.  I need, shelter, water, food, transportation.  I want a lifestyle, relationships, a home, travel and life experiences.  What you want to have will drive your decision-making process. (I tell my students to look up careers and jobs on Salary.com to see how much they might make in a specific job/career.  The answer you find will drive some decisions.)

WHEN – Timing is everything.  Most adults struggle with answering these questions.  Let me really blow your mind…I want middle and high school students to start thinking about career choices.

Let’s be clear, I know very well that 11 – 13-year old students have no idea what job or career that they are going to have for the rest of their life.  In fact a high % of people will change jobs several times before they are in their thirties.  This is the time for our students to start learning about themselves.  My question to a student breaks this down a little better. 

  1. What do you like to do? (Interests)
  2. What are you good at? (Skills)
  3. What is important to you? (Values)
  4. How do you work?  (Personality)

The internet is full of free career assessment tools.  A few I like are https://scholarmatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Career-Interest-Survey.pdf https://www.ucango2.org/publications/student/Career_Interest_Survey.pdf

J  So I started this blog with a simple question, “Why career exploration?”  Because it can save you time, money and years of frustration and anxiety.  Read Next week’s blog to find out how you can help your student Explore Careers.    


..And it begins!

Today marks the beginning of the Iredell Crosby Weekly Blog. It really only marks the official beginning of the written blog on our website. I don’t know about you, but I have been writing a blog in my head for years. Have you ever been in a dental or medical office waiting room and someone is on their phone having a conversation about whatever? You know what I am talking about. Depending on the topic of discussion and the opinions being shared really impacts the length of the blog in my head.

Example – “My kid is a straight A student about to apply for college and we anticipate we will be getting so many scholarships for his grades.” I could go on a good 30 minutes on that topic.

Then there are all of those Social Media Articles that are shared, sometimes without a thorough read and always including so many advertisements that you really don’t know what you are reading. You know the ones I am talking about. Always have a title that is a little confusing or controversial, and you are not really sure where the writer is going to land.

My favorite blogs to write in my head are to my kids. How many times have you said the same thing to your kid and they have brushed it off? Then one day another parent, adult or friend says the same thing and your child looks at you like…”Why didn’t YOU tell me about that!” (Insert Eye Roll)
Over the past 5 years Iredell County Crosby Scholars has shared articles and resources on our website in the hopes of providing valuable and helpful information. Our blog will be an addition to the other resources available on our website.

There are thousands of blogs on the internet about multitude of subjects. Today marks the beginning of the Crosby Blog. According to dictionary.com the word blog can be a noun or a verb.

Let’s get to the heart of what you want to know, your key questions: Who, What, Where, Why, When & How

So mark your calendar for Thursday mornings. Tell us what you think and if there is a topic that you would like us to cover, let us know. Also, share this with your friends or family that might be interested. Until next time.