A co-worker recently shared this poem with me. I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to read and reflect as you start your new year.
The start of something new brings the hope of something great. Anything is possible.
If there were ever a time to dare
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing
It is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily –
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that is worth your aspiration,
something that is your dream.
You owe it to yourself
to make your days count.
Have fun. Dig deep. Stretch.
that things worth doing
seldom come easy.
There will be times when you want to
pack it up and call it quits.
Those times tell you
that you are pushing yourself,
And that you are not afraid to learn by trying.
Because with an idea,
determination and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts, your intellect
And let your heart guide you.
Believe in the incredible power
of the human mind,
of doing something that makes a difference,
of working hard,
of laughing and hoping,
of lasting friends,
of all the things that will cross your path.
The start of something new
brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you
And you will pass this way but once.
We all love the convenience of virtual meetings and events. Since the pandemic, we have gotten used to how easy it is to attend almost anything from the comfort of our home in front of our computer screen. It saves time and money—plus we don’t have to get dressed up! These benefits are the upside of virtual meetings.
Crosby Scholars embraces the convenience of these options, too. We love the fact that students don’t need to have transportation to get to an event every time. It’s also been great to be able to offer speakers from around the country to share their expertise with our Iredell students. The future will continue to include these virtual offerings because of the upsides they offer.
One thing that can’t be duplicated in a virtual meeting, however, is the energy that comes from meeting with other people who share common goals. There is something magical that happens when students from across the county come together on a college campus to learn together. Maybe it’s the commiserating about having to get up on a Saturday morning to come to a Crosby event. Maybe it’s seeing people you didn’t expect to see—but it makes you happy to know they are there with you. Maybe it’s the sense of community that comes with knowing that others care about your future and are willing to spend some time with you on a Saturday to help you grow.
Whatever that magic is, it’s there every time we get together in person with a group of Crosby Scholars. So if you haven’t attended an event in person yet, we encourage you to try it! We will be offering our next on-campus academy on January 28 at the MCC campus in Mooresville. There will also be chances to complete community service projects and to go on college tours with us in the coming months. We hope you will join us so you can experience the magic of the positive Crosby energy for yourself!
Many students and parents are confused about Career and Technical Education (CTE) and whether it’s a path they should choose.
Below is an excerpt from the NC Department of Public Instruction Website that explains more about the goals and outcomes of these pathways:
The mission of Career and Technical Education (CTE) is to empower all students to be successful citizens, workers, and leaders in a global economy. CTE gives purpose to learning by emphasizing real-world skills and practical knowledge.
Programs in Career and Technical Education are designed to contribute to the broad educational achievement of students, including basic skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as their ability to work independently and as part of a team, think creatively, solve problems, and utilize technology. These tools and experiences make school more relevant, and ensure students are ready for the real world. Whether students plan to further their education in community colleges, technical schools, four-year colleges, and universities, receive on-the-job training, or pursue careers in the military, CTE can be the first step in a pathway toward productive employment and citizenship.
CTE Delivers for students:
Real options for students for college and rewarding careers
CTE programs allow students to explore a range of options for their future – inside and outside of the classroom.
Through CTE, students can start their path toward a career that they are passionate about while earning valuable experience, college credits and more.
CTE students are more likely to have a post-high school plan – including college – than other students; just 2% of CTE students say they “don’t know” what they will do after high school.
Real-world skills for students
CTE is a unique opportunity for hands-on learning – putting students at the center of the action.
Students in CTE programs and their parents are three times as likely to report they are “very satisfied” with their and their children’s ability to learn real-world skills as part of their current education compared to parents and students not involved in CTE.
Real middle and high school experience with more value for students
CTE programs are a part of middle and high school – students can participate in CTE and the other activities they enjoy, such as sports, the arts, or whatever else their friends are doing.
CTE takes students even further during their high school experience – providing opportunities for specialized classes, internships, and networking with members of the community.
Students in CTE programs and their parents are twice as likely to report they are “very satisfied” with their high school education experience compared to prospective CTE students and their parents.
People commonly think that a student should choose EITHER CTE OR college, but it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both!
For example, students who want to pursue a nursing career are well served by completing CNA training as part of a CTE pathway. Some nursing degree programs (including Mitchell Community College) require it for admission to the RN program.
As another example, students wanting to major in graphic design might consider a CTE pathway that includes learning how to use Adobe software such as Illustrator and Photoshop. Undergraduates have found that when they started a 4-year design program, professors expected that students already knew how to use the software. Students had to learn it on their own (while keeping up with assigned classwork) if they didn’t know how to use it prior to coming to the university campus.
So, explore your options. It might be worth your while to consider a CTE course even if it doesn’t add an extra .5 point to your GPA! It might be well worth it in the long run.
College access programs offer services that have typically only been available to students attending private schools or to students whose families could afford to hire a private college consultant.
Crosby Scholars, like many other college preparation/access programs across the country, offers similar programming and services found in private preparatory high schools. These programs aim to help public school students have access to the same level of services as students in private schools.
Here is a very short summary of what college access programs (like Crosby Scholars) do, starting roughly from the beginning (middle school) until the end (high school graduation). All of these activities are done in partnership with our local schools, and especially our guidance liaisons at each middle and high school.
College Aspirations. We help students see themselves as potential college students.
Academic Planning for College and Career. We provide information to help students and families make choices about high school programs and class options available. The goal is to have great options at graduation.
Enrichment & Extracurricular. We let students know the importance of having more than a good GPA to get into college and connect them to opportunities to build a great activities resume.
Career Exploration. We offer programs and resources for students to learn about careers, especially new and growing opportunities.
Career Assessments. We offer tools and connect students to free resources to help match a student’s interests and aptitudes to careers.
College Affordability Planning. We offer information to students and parents about the costs of college and ways to make it more affordable. We encourage families to talk about what is affordable and discuss options that are doable for the family.
College and Career Admissions Processes. We offer advising and training on how to apply to all types of college. We also help students with job-seeking skills such as resume writing, interviewing, and where to look for jobs and internships.
Transition from High School to College and Career. We offer assistance throughout the summer after graduation for any questions or issues that may arise. Students may contact us for help with changes in college plans. Crosby Scholars is unique in the fact that we offer need-based grants that are renewable throughout the four years of undergraduate study for those Crosby grads who apply and qualify.
My process of choosing a college was pretty simple compared to what many students endure today. Here it is in a nutshell:
Choose a state school (we didn’t think a private school was affordable, even with my good test scores and grades).
Select a school not too far from home (within 2 hours was ideal).
Do not choose the school where my dad had attended (this was my criteria, not sure that I shared it with my dad) Also, this school was the one that many students from my high school chose to attend each year.
Mr. K, my guidance counselor, must have been on commission from one college that fit these criteria, but it was within commuting distance, and I wasn’t interested. He kept trying to convince me, though!
I found another state school that had an innovation in their elementary education program—field experience for 4 quarters before student teaching!! That sold me. The idea of being in the classroom early in my college career really appealed to me. The school was about 2 hours from home so I applied and was admitted.
I made my selection: The University of Toledo.
At the time it was mainly a commuter campus with a small residential population. The best of both worlds—large campus amenities with the feel of a small campus, especially on weekends! Known at that time more for pharmacy and engineering than education, most of my friends were not education majors. I was from a small town in northwest Ohio, many of the other residential students were from the Cleveland, Ohio, area or the Middle East.
For four years, I lived in the residence halls meeting all kinds of people. I got involved as a desk clerk, housing judicial counsel, and finally as a resident advisor. This is where I made friends that I still have to this day. We experienced the good times and hard times of college life. Many of our fun times were had at free sporting or social events on campus.
These friends have gone on to become nurses, marketing managers, pharmacy directors, guidance counselors, dentists, homeowners, parents and grandparents. All successful in their chosen paths.
My college wasn’t ranked in the top ten. Our football team never won a national championship. But no matter. I’m still loving my college for the foundation it provided for my career and the people I met during my on campus. Trust your choice and enjoy every minute of your journey!
The applications for Early College are about to open. Scheduling high school classes for next year will start in just a few short weeks. Some students and families might be getting anxious about these choices. Crosby Scholars staff members often get asked, “What program should my student be in?” or “Should we go with AP or IB?” As much as we’d like to be able to answer these questions for you, we can’t! These decisions should be based upon what you know about your child.
Here are some things to consider when trying to decide about a high school (or middle school) program:
Is your student more mature or less mature than most of his/her peers?
How much time after school is your student willing to commit to schoolwork?
In how many extracurricular activities will your student participate?
How much time/ability do you have to support your student with transportation, homework help, community service requirements, etc?
How much flexibility is there to change programs if our choice doesn’t work out?
Colleges look at the courses taken as well as the grades earned.
It is true that sometimes a “B” in a more rigorous course might be more impressive to colleges than an “A” in an easier class. However, a “C” in any class won’t impress the most selective college admissions officers. So, it’s important to have a balance between challenge and support to ensure success.
My best piece of advice is to do your homework. Talk to counselors and principals to learn about what it takes to be successful at their school. Ask questions and read the registration guide for your district. (You will be amazed at how many choices there are!) Involve the student in the process of deciding. If your child ends up somewhere they really don’t want to be, it probably won’t go well.
To help you understand just a little bit about some of the programs you can choose from in Iredell County, I created a chart. This is just a starting point to begin exploring and doesn’t include every choice available! I hope it helps.
It’s easy to get caught up in the college rankings hoopla! Who doesn’t’ love a “Top Ten” or “Best of”? Lists are fun and we like to see if our favorites are included. College rankings can be confusing because there are so many lists! (And they don’t agree often!) Here are some of the most well-known sources for annual college rankings:
Social Mobility Index Rankings
Top Research Universities
US News & World Report
TheWall Street Journal
Department of Education College Scorecard
One of the reasons there are so many lists, is that each source has its own method(s) to determine the rankings. Here are a few of the factors considered in some or most of the lists:
Graduation and Retention Rates
Academic Reputation (as rated by guidance counselors and academic peers)
Financial Resources (endowments, etc.)
You might be surprised to learn that these rankings can be traced all the way back to 1900. Some employers at that time published a list of “Where We Get Our Best Men”. They publicized the schools that their best new hires had attended. Over time this morphed into some of the “Who’s Who” publications that you might know. The modern version of college rankings really took hold in 1983 when US News and World Report first published “America’s Best Colleges”.
If you want to dig deeper into this topic, there are plenty of great sources online—just search! To keep this blog short, I want to highlight just a couple of points regarding college rankings.
Know what information is used to determine the ranking.
Be aware that some colleges have specific strategies aimed at moving up in the rankings.
Remember to look at the college major/program you are interested in. The program reputation is often more important that the college’s rank as an institution. You can have a great program at a lesser-known (possibly lower ranked) college. There are also highly ranked colleges where some departments might be just average.
Remember that “fit” is more important than a ranking. Find the college where you feel a sense of belonging—“your people” are there. Students excel when there is the right combination of challenge and support.
Many high school seniors have a difficult time trying to figure out what to do after high school. One of the reasons is the fear of making the “wrong” choice. Which college is the perfect choice? What major is the perfect choice?
I’m writing this blog post to say I don’t think there is a “perfect” choice. For every student, there are probably two or three choices that would be great. Several colleges could be a good fit and provide a solid education.
So there might not need a “perfect” choice, but everyone needs at least one good choice. Preparing early is one of the best ways to make sure you will have a good option after graduation. Crosby Scholars works with students in middle school. It’s not too early for them to start thinking about their future selves. Do they want to go to college for 4 years, or would they prefer a shorter 2-year path? What kind of lifestyle do they want to achieve?
High school students can prepare to have several good choices after graduation. Building leadership skills and volunteering will improve the chances of getting a scholarship. By studying hard and making the effort, they can learn time management and other good habits. Students who do this earn good grades.
The trouble is, many students don’t worry about these things until their senior year. By then, time is too short. High school success starts the first day of freshman year. (Some students get a head start by developing good academic habits in middle school!
There’s a song called, Freewill, by Rush. Some of the lyrics are “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Think about it. If you choose to do no planning or preparation for your future, you are making a choice. You’re choosing to limit your options.
I spoke to middle school students several years ago about rowing the boat or floating in the current. If you choose to float, you are at the mercy of the tides or currents. You may run into rocks or overturn because of a branch in your path. If you choose to row, you have to use energy to work, but you also have control. You can steer clear of danger and speed up or slow down. Most of us enjoy having some control!
Crosby Scholars is here to encourage students to plan for a future they want. We help provide resources and support to help students row their boat in the direction they wish to go.
During this early part of summer, I am meeting individually with some students from the class of 2021. I am their Senior Advisor. The purpose of our meetings is to see how ready each student is for the college application season.
I have to tell you that we have some excellent students in our Iredell school systems. Most of the students I’ve met with have an extremely high GPA. In fact, several were almost perfect 4.0 unweighted, or 4.5 and above on a weighted scale. These students also had outstanding ACT scores. I’d like to think that this level of talent only exists here in our county, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
So what’s the point in telling you all this? The point is that these students all look very similar when looking at their “numbers”. When only .01 separates one GPA from another, it’s hard to say that one is a better college prospect than the other. It’s not uncommon for many students to have the exact same GPA upon high school graduation.
Test scores–did you know that scores 30-36 on the ACT represent the top 1%? So, all the students in that score range are in the 99th percentile. In other words, they scored better than 99% of the students who took the test in a given year. Can you say that a score of 32 is so much worse than a 35 when they are all so good? It’s hard to make that distinction.
How can a student get noticed in a group with thousands of great college applicants? The answer is extracurricular activities. What students do when they aren’t in school can make them stand out to an admissions officer. Here are a few tips to make your extracurricular activities work. (These same tips apply to scholarship applications.)
1. Find 2 or 3 activities that you enjoy and stick with them. Admissions officers don’t expect students to take part in 20 or 30 clubs, sports, or hobbies. In fact, they would rather see depth in participation instead of breadth.
2. How to get “depth”? Show growth in the activities you choose. Did you become a captain, officer, or committee chair? For these activities to be meaningful, you have to actually participate—not just join. And, being an officer doesn’t mean much if you can’t give examples of how you helped lead the organization.
3. Seek and accept leadership positions and then shine! Grow the group, plan new events, rally fellow students around a cause.
4. Make sure at least one of your activities involves community service. You’ll feel great about what you do to help. And you’ll learn more than you can imagine by volunteering.
5. If you need to work a part-time job, don’t sweat it. This is also an extracurricular activity. Admissions officers value strong students who work.
6. On your college application, be sure to rank your activities. List the best or most impressive ones at the top. If you don’t know which those are, ask your Crosby Scholars Senior Advisor, a parent, teacher, or friend. They will know!
Finally, summer is the perfect time to enjoy some extracurricular activities. If you are starting high school, find out what clubs your school has and make a plan to join at least one. If you’re an athlete, use your summertime to build your skills and abilities. If you like fine arts, learn a new dance, painting technique, monologue, or new instrument. Keep a growth mindset and enjoy your summer.
(As I sit down to write this blog, I have a headache! The more I study, read, attend webinars, and watch videos about college admissions, the more complicated it seems! If you search, I’m convinced you can find a resource to support any position you want to take when it comes to getting into college.)
That’s why Crosby Scholars is here to help!! You might have heard that taking “rigorous” courses in high school is important for college admissions. This is true. But why?
A high school transcript shows more than GPA and Class Rank. Although helpful, those 2 factors don’t tell the whole story. Admissions officials want to know if students will be able to handle the rigor of college coursework. To make an educated guess, these officials look to see if the transcript shows “rigorous” courses with A or B grades.
So what exactly does “rigorous” mean? It’s widely accepted that AP and IB courses are rigorous. In some circles, honors courses hold the same designation, but not always. Since AP and IB curriculums and standards are universal, there is consistency. Regardless of the school you attend, the expected outcomes are the same. Honors courses, though, lack uniformity from one high school or district to another. So Honors English at one school might be very different at another.
Does rigor impact GPA’s? Yes! Some students and parents have become experts in how to milk every single possible point to build a high GPA. Course scheduling to boost GPA’s has become an art form. Decisions made about what classes to take in high school are often made by how choices might improve class rank. This is nothing new. Years ago a friend of my brother dropped out of typing class because he wasn’t earning an A.
How do colleges evaluate GPA’s?
Did you know that many colleges completely recalculate the GPA’s of applicants?
Here’s how the University of California system does it:
The UC system recalculates applicants’ GPAs. They include only college prep classes. Each A is worth 4 points. An extra point is given for each semester of honors-level 10th & 11th-grade classes. (For out-of-state students only AP and IB classes count.) A maximum of 8 points may be awarded.
The University of Michigan has another approach:
The University of Michigan recalculates GPAs using a 4 point scale for all classes in 9th through 11th grade. Plusses and minuses are ignored (that is, they treat a B+, B, and B- as a B). The university’s website also says, “Additionally, we review the number of demanding courses separately. During the holistic review process the rigor of the applicant’s curriculum is considered.”
Will my college recalculate my GPA? Sometimes it’s hard to find this information unless you contact the school and ask specifically about this. However, most colleges and universities will have similar systems to the examples above. Grades in core courses will be important. Bonus points will be given for more difficult work. Schools will look at your transcript for more than the GPA and rank. This is also why many schools only ask for your unweighted GPA—they will apply their own weighting system.
How much rigor do you need? So does this mean a student should take every possible course with “rigor”? In my opinion, the answer is no. Students should plan a schedule that allows them to take part in other activities they enjoy. Colleges look for good grades, but they also seek student leaders, marching band members, athletes, debaters, researchers, and others. If a student uses every waking moment doing classwork, they can’t build other valuable skills.
Maintaining a balance is key. Too many students today are stressed and anxious a majority of the time. It is good to have a course schedule that is challenging, but not overwhelming. Getting C’s and D’s in rigorous classes won’t help. As parents, we want our kids to be happy. We should help our students find balance while juggling coursework, sports teams, musicals, part-time jobs, and free time. Few students will be ranked number one or have a perfect GPA–and that’s okay. Instead of overly worrying about the numbers, help your child develop their strengths and find success. Remind them of things they do well and encourage them.
Finally, don’t forget that no matter what the GPA, there is a next-step for everyone. Our goal at Crosby Scholars is to help every student find the next-step that is best for them.