Author: kmontgomery

Building a Strong Financial Record

As a high school student, conversations around the topic of money are not usually had with friends or family. Why is this? One big reason for this is because our education system in America places little importance on financial literacy in the classroom. Currently, only twenty one states in America require a personal finance course. If parents don’t discuss financial basics with their high school student either, then many are leaving high school without a foundational knowledge about money. This can be detrimental for many.

When I entered college, I didn’t know the difference between a debit card and credit card. I didn’t understand interest. I didn’t know why it was important to have a budget or savings account! Listen folks, my decisions would have looked very different had I known more about money.

In order to set yourself up for financial success in the future, take note of some important advice.

  • Start a saving’s account while you are in high school! Time is a precious commodity. You have the time to start saving money while you are free from having to pay rent or bills. Maybe you babysit or lifeguard in the summer, and although it may not seem like a lot of money, at least it’s something. You will be happy you put that money aside one day.
  • Do comparison shopping. Before opening that savings or checking account, research different banks to see which ones charge the least amount for routine monthly maintenance fees. Most banks charge you a fee for holding your money unless you maintain a certain balance throughout the month.
  • Download a budget app like Mint or YNAB. Learning how to budget now will keep you on track when your financial responsibilities increase later.
  • Don’t spend money you don’t have. Once you get your first credit card (you have to wait until you are 18), don’t use your credit card on purchases you won’t be able to pay off. The APR (annual percentage rate) for credit cards is usually VERY high. That means if you don’t pay your balance off in FULL each month, you will start accruing interest on the total balance. It’s simple- don’t spend money you don’t have. Use credit cards to build a good credit score. 
  • Build a good credit score. If you don’t pay the balances off on your credit cards, your credit score will go down. Your credit score is determined by many different factors, but the important thing to remember is this:
    • Some employers do credit checks on potential hires
    • Apartment complexes run a credit check on potential tenants
    • Loan officers run a credit check to see if you are a high risk or not. This could affect whether or not you are approved for a high or low interest school, car, or home loan.

Your credit score will follow you EVERYWHERE!


Independence

I’m sure you have heard people say, “Adulting is tough. I have so many responsibilities and I wish I had someone to help with the bills.” Being an adult has its perks but it also comes with a bucket full of responsibilities. As a high schooler, I’m sure you are exercising a lot of freedom from the influence or control of many people, except for your parents or guardians. It’s natural to desire independence from those who raised you, but remember that life will really change when you are no longer under their roof.

Take advantage of living at home. Embrace the opportunity to save money, learn new skills, and plan for your future without having the full responsibilities of an adult. Your time will come. For now, focus on who you are as a person.

 What are your values and interests? Who do you want to become? What changes do you want to bring about in this world? Leverage the resource of time. Use this time wisely as you plan and prepare for college in the next two to three years. Use this time to gear up for what is to come. Most adults wish they could go back in time and make different decisions. It’s just you right now. You don’t have a husband, wife, or kids. Take this time to focus on YOU!

How can you become more of an independent thinker? What are your weaknesses? How can you challenge yourself to grow? Adulting is not all that it is cracked up to be. Focus on developing an independent mind first. Push yourself to read books and explore all your future options after high school. If your mind grows and matures, you will already be ahead of the game when true adulting begins.


Leadership

While in high school, it is important to remember that the extent of your growth and learning is not limited to the classroom. Leadership has many definitions, and students tend to think that they must be the person with the title in front of his or her name in order to have influence. Being a leader does not always mean that you lead from the front. You can lead from the middle and the back, too. 

What do  I mean  by this? We can be a leader in our families, to our best friend, or to a group of people. Many of you will not be the public figure or spokesperson of a club or organization. Some of you may end up being the quieter leader that builds up the motivation of others from within the group. We can all be leaders, regardless of being introverted or extroverted. All you need is a desire to see change occur. If you want to see your family relationships improve, be the example of that change. If you want your friends to stop participating in activities on the weekends that you don’t agree with, be the example of that change. If you want to see your community improve, build relationships with people of influence that will help you bring about that change. 

If you have helped an individual or a group of people reach a goal by being inspirational, then you have displayed leadership. It’s that simple. Why do you think college admission officers review applicants holistically instead of reviewing students based on just intellectual ability? It’s because they see the importance of students with the drive to change their families, friends, and communities. They want communicators. They want to see students with a passion to make this world a better place. So, be the change that you want to see around you. Lift up your neighbor and seek opportunities to build your character.


Crosby Scholars Academies

Throughout your time as a Crosby Scholar, you will continue to hear about the academy topics that we offer. Our personal enrichment and academic workshops are called academies and we strive to prepare topics that will prepare students for success.

The goal is to expose our students to an array of topics that will produce self-awareness, academic success, an acknowledgement of resources, and the ability to choose the right path after high school. So what are some of those topics?

  • Financial literacy
  • Time management
  • Study skills
  • ACT/SAT Prep
  • FAFSA completion
  • Essay writing
  • Scholarship searches
  • Mental health
  • Tips for success
  • Career exploration
  • Healthcare
  • Engineering
  • Perseverance

This list of topics does not cover all the ones we offer! We are constantly developing new topics so that our students are getting the best, most relevant information. Make sure you are logging into your Student Portal to register for an academy!


Resilience

Are you the type of person who gives up after failing the first time? Do you feel defeated when life doesn’t go your way? If you are easily numbed by setbacks and are unable to reach your goals, begin to reflect on the word resilience and why it’s important. Life will always throw you curve balls and disappointment is inevitable. How can we be better prepared?

By definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly after enduring difficulties in life. In order to be resilient, you must take an active role in protecting yourself from the negative effects of stressors. Developing the right behaviors and positive perspectives during times of hardship will enable you to bounce back more quickly.

Think about your life. Have you struggled with the loss of a relationship? Maybe someone close to you is no longer around. Maybe you fight mental illness or perhaps you made a decision last year to hang out with the wrong group of people and you have now become the worst version of yourself. I know what you’re probably thinking out loud…”some people may not have the tools to push through hardship, Ms. Montgomery. They might not have the mental capacity or the right support system.” Well, you’re right. Regardless of your personal situation, you have the decision to develop skills that will protect you when circumstances are tough.

  1. Accept what is and embrace change. I like to think of the word redirection. If your current strategy isn’t working, re-strategize. Know what you can control and what you can’t control in life.
  2. Build strong relationships. Invest in people that will invest back.
  3. Find your purpose in life.
  4.  Push in and through the problem instead of around it. Deal with the pain instead of suppressing it. You will recover more quickly.
  5. Don’t relive the event. This will not propel you forward.
  6. Overcome your fears. Push yourself to try things that scare you, like public speaking. This is having a growth mindset.
  7. Practice expressive writing. You will gain new insights.
  8. Be kind to yourself. Take care of yourself mentally and physically.
  9. Cultivate forgiveness if someone has wronged you.
  10. Practice meditation

When looking back on my own life, it’s helpful to identify seasons of growth. What happened during those times? Did I have a positive perspective and embrace change and new challenges? Yes. In times of hardship, how long did I stay in a broken place? How resilient was I during those times? Learn from past mistakes, press forward towards your goals, and strive to grow and learn daily.


Choose the Program, not the College

The college search and application process can be a difficult one to start without knowing what your first steps should be. Parents and high school seniors tend to feel overwhelmed before beginning the process because they don’t know where to start. Crosby Scholars exists to help ease the inevitable anxiety that joins students and parents!

Here is some important advice before writing down your target list of colleges- choose the program, not the school. If you get too hung up on the school name, you might make a terrible decision. For the most part, employers look for the degree you received. They care more about the degree than the school you attended. I have worked with many seniors who have an unwavering desire to attend a specific school. Well, that dream school doesn’t always have the program or major they would like to pursue and they still choose that school. Yes, the school you attend must be a good “match” (academically and financially) and a good “fit” (desired location, size, etc), but you shouldn’t base your decision solely on the school name. Our culture tends to tell us that labels matter. Well, they don’t. Tear off the labels.

 Some students are willing to go into major student loan debt because the school becomes more important than the degree. Approach this with a cost-benefit analysis. If you leave school with a debt you will struggle to ever pay back, reconsider the school you are choosing. Will the salary of your desired career enable you to pay it off in ten years? What is more important- claps for attending a school with a good reputation or a freedom from crippling school loans throughout your adulthood? Student loans ARE NOT BAD. I want to be clear about this. Make sure you are practicing SMART loan borrowing. Research, research, research! Does your dream school have the program you would like to pursue? Have you thought through the financial side of things? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Talk to several people you trust as you navigate this process.


Make Your Summers Count

Back in high school, my summers consisted of socializing with friends, sleeping in every day, and laying poolside. Although I look back on those times with fond memories, I regret not making my summers count.

Whether you enjoy cooking, robotics, theater, or basketball, there’s always a summer enrichment program out there for you to join. If you wish to hone skills, explore your interests, create a new passion, or even meet friends, summer enrichment programs will help you do just that. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, virtual enrichment programs are becoming an option for students as well. Many summer enrichment programs are held on college campuses. So, you not only get to enjoy experiential learning, you also get the chance to see what a college dorm is really like! If you get to live on a college campus for a week while still in high school, the transition from high school to college will be much easier!

Are you curious about how to research different summer enrichment opportunities? CFNC has a great search tool. You can search by location and interest. Try looking at the different opportunities being offered at your college or university of interest. Utilize the time you have over summer to deepen your learning and life experiences!


The secret to self-care

It sounds cliché, but when you have a healthy mind and a healthy body, you will have a healthy life. Some of us are good at maintaining a healthy body, but forget that taking care of our mental health is equally important. Others are good at maintaining a healthy mind but forget to look after their physical bodies. If you take care of both, you will live a healthier life.

Realizing what is in your control and what is out of your control is the first step to self-care. What is the good of incorporating self-care activities into your daily life if you don’t cut out unhealthy activities, too? More often than not, we respond to disappointment and loss in negative ways. We cling to bad habits that actually make us worse off than we were before. We start to practice numbing habits, such as drinking or overeating. The secret to managing all of the emotions we will experience in this life is to know how we can respond positively even when our situation is crummy. Self-care is not the same thing as self-improvement. Self-care is the practice of allowing yourself to have a pleasant or nurturing experience.

Instead of worrying about the things you can’t control, focus on the areas of your life you can control. Maybe you are exerting control in a relationship that you know is doomed to fail and it is causing you emotional pain. Maybe you are exerting control over a family member that partakes in destructive behavior, but to no avail because they continue to make bad decisions.  Look at your life and name the areas that you have control over. Most of us have control over how we spend our free time, right? Let’s look at a few self-care activities that you can incorporate into your daily life. Keep in mind, if you add self-care activities into your everyday life, you may need to get rid of a couple activities that aren’t adding value to you. Maybe you play too many video games or you spend too much time watching a particular show. Think of several activities you can cut out so you can add one of these!

  • Journaling. I love this activity. It frees my mind from the fears I have and I get to focus on being grateful for the blessings in my life. You can also practice getting negative vibes and thoughts out on paper.
  • Photography. Taking photos of nature can be such a peaceful activity. I personally love taking photos of flowers and scenery.
  • Try yoga or pilates. This is especially important as you get older. Having a solid stretching routine will loosen up your muscles and help you practice clear thinking.
  • Find ways to connect socially. Think through the people in your life you care most about. Ask them to coffee or schedule a phone chat with them.
  • Focus on having a well-balanced diet. Try eating a green every day. You will feel better and keep down your weight.
  • Prioritize sleep. Sleeping at least eight hours a night will help you become more efficient in your daily tasks and you will have more energy.
  • Go on a walk or a run.
  • Meditate on deep breathing for five minutes. Don’t force yourself to “think” about anything in particular. Just try to be still and focus on breathing in and out.

Try several of these out in the next several days. Remember, those who care for themselves well are the people that have more capacity to pour into their families and community. A healthy body and a healthy mind equals a healthy life.


What’s Your Learning Style?

Are you frustrated with your academic record so far? Do you wish to make better grades in the future? Maybe you are satisfied with your grades, but you would like to raise the bar a little higher and instead of making straight B’s, start throwing some A’s in the mix. If you have not discovered what type of learner you are, now is the time! Understanding how you process and learn information will help you navigate the study methods that work for you.

Maybe you are a visual learner because you have the ability to synthesize information presented to you through visuals such as charts or graphs. Data is best understood through various visualizations.

Maybe you are an auditory learner because you find that taking notes in class is a distraction. Perhaps you feel that you can remember information being taught if you can maintain your attention and not be distracted. You might be an auditory learner if you find group activities helpful, when you can discuss the material with others.

If you are a reading or writing learner, you might find that taking notes and looking through powerpoint slides helps you recall the information for the test. This is my learning style. I process information as I write it down, so taking notes is absolutely paramount to my success.

Maybe you are a kinesthetic learner, one who has to take a hands on approach to learning. For you, interactive learning is key.

So what do you do after understanding your learning style? Research different study methods that work for your learning style. Need somewhere to start? Here are several study techniques that are inspired by the research of Barbara Oakley, presented in her book, A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel in Math and Science(Even if you Flunked Algebra).

  1. Use recall. After you read a page in a book, look away from the page and try to recall the main ideas. You can think through them or say them out loud.
  2. Test yourself. Create a practice test or make some notecards.
  3. Chunking the material. Group large amounts of information in smaller sections in order to memorize it more effectively.
  4. Space out your repetition. Don’t spend an excessive amount of time studying just one subject but divide your study time with several.
  5. Take breaks. You can’t study for five hours straight without a break. Take little breaks along the way! Just like an athlete needs a break from physical exertion, your brain needs a break, too.
  6. Use simple analogies to explain complex concepts. Try to think of a way to explain the concept to a ten year old. The additional effort you put into explaining it allows you to encode (converting neural memory structures) what you have learned.
  7. Focus. Turn off your phone for thirty minutes at a time so that you aren’t distracted. If you are constantly distracted during your study time, you will not be effective. During each break, give yourself a small reward.
  8. DO THE HARD WORK FIRST! While you have the most energy, focus on the harder stuff earlier on in the day.


Does the Degree Matter?

by Kristen Montgomery
March 20, 2020

Is pursuing a degree really worth all the money and effort? Many have started to question the value of pursuing a degree after high school due to rising cost of college tuition, the issue of underemployment post college graduation, and the fact that only 27% of people in the U.S. are working in a job that relates to their major.

Many career coaches will tell you that having the degree, regardless of your major, is essential. I would have to agree with them. The higher paying jobs will require at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Here is the caveat-according to a recent report by the Burning Glass and Strada Institute, 43% of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college. Two-thirds of those students are still underemployed after five years. After ten years, still over half of those remain underemployed!  

 The degree does matter because it shows you are a committed person and employers like to see this.  Picking the right major is also important. Some majors have more return on investment than others, meaning more pay and less chance of being underemployed post graduation. For example, degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which require specific skills on the job, will yield to a greater chance of not being underemployed after graduation. If you reference the chart by the Burning Glass and Strata Institute below, you will see that students coming out of these majors still experience the problem of underemployment. STEM majors are also not for everyone! If your heart is not in it, there are plenty of other majors that pave the way towards successful careers.

Source: Burning Glass, “The Permanent Detour.”
Source: Burning Glass, “The Permanent Detour.”PRESTON COOPER/FORBES

I know this can be a difficult process, so here is my advice. If you feel clueless on how to begin choosing the right path after high school, begin by taking a personality test. You can click the link below to get started. Understanding your personality type, interests, aptitudes, and values is essential. Your next step would be career exploration. Once you learn about yourself, you should explore targeted careers. Learn about the education, qualities, and experiences that you need to attain careers that you are interested in.  

My last bit of advice is this- while you are in high school or college, get as much experience as possible. Job shadowing, internships, and summer enrichment programs are key. Regardless of your major, developing workplace skills while still pursuing your degree can increase your job prospects significantly. Employers understand that recent graduates will not have years of experience in that particular field. Seems pretty obvious, right? Having some experience is better than having none. Trust me! Pursue every opportunity you can so that when you step into your first interview, you can talk about what you learned during that internship or summer enrichment program. Crosby Scholars is always here to walk you through each step of the process.

Assessment tools and career exploration