Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Life is About Choices and the Decisions We Make

Life is like a road. There are long and short roads; smooth and rocky roads; crooked and straight paths. In our life many roads would come our way as we journey through life. There are roads that lead to a life of single blessedness, marriage, and religious vocation. There are also roads that lead to fame and fortune on one hand, or isolation and poverty on the other. There are roads to happiness as there are roads to sadness, roads towards victory and jubilation, and roads leading to defeat and disappointment.

Just like any road, there are corners, detours, and crossroads in life. Perhaps the most perplexing road that you would encounter is a crossroad. With four roads to choose from and with limited knowledge on where they would go, which road will you take? What is the guarantee that we would choose the right one along the way? Would you take any road, or just stay where you are: in front of a crossroad?

There are no guarantees.

You do not really know where a road will lead you until you take it. There are no guarantees. This is one of the most important things you need to realize about life. Nobody said that choosing to do the right thing all the time would always lead you to happiness. Loving someone with all your heart does not guarantee that it would be returned. Gaining fame and fortune does not guarantee happiness. Accepting a good word from an influential superior to cut your trip short up the career ladder is not always bad, especially if you are highly qualified and competent. There are too many possible outcomes, which your really cannot control. The only thing you have power over is the decisions that you will make, and how you would act and react to different situations.

Wrong decisions are always at hindsight.

Had you known that you were making a wrong decision, would you have gone along with it? Perhaps not, why would you choose a certain path when you know it would get you lost? Why make a certain decision if you knew from the very beginning that it is not the right one. It is only after you have made a decision and reflected on it that you realize its soundness. If the consequences or outcomes are good for you, then you have decided correctly. Otherwise, your decision was wrong.

Take the risk: decide.

Since life offers no guarantee and you would never know that your decision would be wrong until you have made it, then you might as well take the risk and decide. It is definitely better than keeping yourself in limbo. Although it is true that one wrong turn could get you lost, it could also be that such a turn could be an opportunity for an adventure, moreover open more roads. It is all a matter of perspective. You have the choice between being a lost traveller or an accidental tourist of life. But take caution that you do not make decisions haphazardly. Taking risks is not about being careless and stupid. Here are some pointers that could help you choose the best option in the face of life’s crossroads:
· Get as many information as you can about your situation.

You cannot find the confidence to decide when you know so little about what you are faced with. Just like any news reporter, ask the 5 W’s: what, who, when, where, and why. What is the situation? Who are the people involved? When did this happen? Where is this leading? Why are you in this situation? These are just some of the possible questions to ask to know more about your situation. This is important. Oftentimes, the reason for indecision is the lack of information about a situation.

· Identify and create options.

What options do the situation give you? Sometimes the options are few, but sometimes they are numerous. But what do you do when you think that the situation offers no options? This is the time that you create your own. Make your creative mind work. From the most simplistic to the most complicated, entertain all ideas. Do not shoot anything down when an idea comes to your head. Sometimes the most outrageous idea could prove to be the right one in the end. You can ask a friend to help you identify options and even make more options if you encounter some difficulty, but make sure that you make the decision yourself in the end.

· Weigh the pros and cons of every option.

Assess each option by looking at the advantages and disadvantages it offers you. In this way, you get more insights about the consequences of such an option.

· Trust yourself and make that decision.

Now that you have assessed your options, it is now time to trust yourself. Remember that there are no guarantees and wrong decisions are always at hindsight. So choose… decide… believe that you are choosing the best option at this point in time.

Now that you have made a decision, be ready to face its consequences: good and bad. It may take you to a place of promise or to a land of problems. But the important thing is that you have chosen to live your life instead of remaining a bystander or a passive audience to your own life. Whether it is the right decision or not, only time can tell. But do not regret it whatever the outcome. Instead, learn from it and remember that you always have the chance to make better decisions in the future.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Free Holiday E-Book

I have a nice ebook about holiday traditions that I would like to give to you absolutely FREE of charge. Please email me dottye789@earthlink.net to get your copy.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Pay Day Loans

Many people take out a Pay Day Loan to raise cash for unexpected expenses, to start a home-based business, or even to buy holiday gifts. The interest rates of these loans can border on Usury!

Have you taken out a pay day loan? What was your experience- good, bad, or ugly? Did it help, or did it just get you deeper into debt? Post your thoughts here!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Great Resource for Students-www.essayspace.com

A new web site has come up to help students with reserach for term papers. It is http://www.essayspace.com. Here, students can buy and SELL their term papers online. There is even a way to set up a "term paper circle" for FREE in which you can share your papers with a designated group of friends.

This is more than just your run of the mill term paper vendor site. CHECK IT OUT NOW!!

Saturday, December 2, 2006

CLEP exams

I took several CLEP exams when I had already graduated from college, and was seeking teacher certification and did not want to get stuck taking a bunch of undergraduate courses. This really worked out for me. I thought the exams were easy, and actually enjoyed them.

One warning: just because a college is administering the exams, does not mean that they will accept the exams for credit. Don't assume that because your college's guidance office is setting you up with the exam materials, proctoring, etc. that they will actually grant you credit- find out first, and GET IT IN WRITING. I had to fight with the college involved- the guidance person I dealt with was very tricky; she implied that I could take the exams and then get credit, and then when the test scores were back, informed me that "F M College (no names given here) does not give credit for these exams". I went all the way up to the office of the president, and things got a bit nasty with the head of the English Department, but I won in the end. So, GET IN WRITING what the policy is, and avoid the "he said, she said" BS.

FOr more information about CLEP exams, Click Here!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Censorship in Public Schools

-A principal in a California high school bans five books written by Richard Brautigan
because he thinks they might contain "obscenities or offensive sexual references"
-A Vermont high school librarian is forced to resign because she fought the school
board's decision to remove Richard Price's The Wanderers, and to "restrict" the use of Stephen King's Carrie and Patrick Mann's Dog Day Afternoon.
-An Indiana school board takes action that leads to the burning of many copies of a
textbook (shades of the Nazis!) that deals with drugs and the sexual behavior of teenagers.

These cases of censorship in public schools are not unusual and there is evidence that such challenges are increasing. These challenges are actually typical of the ones being leveled against school libraries today. These challenges can come from one person or a group concerned with the suitability of the material in question. In almost every case, the effort to ban books is said to be "justified by fear of the harmful effects that the books may have on young children". The result of these censorship attempts has been two opposing sides: one side believes that "more suitable materials can usually be found from among the wealth of materials available on most subjects, and the other side believes that students' "intellectual freedom" can be upheld only if students are allowed to examine "any available relevant materials in order to gain the insights needed to reach their own conclusions". In the simplest terms, the debate is between censorship and the freedom to read.

The most important question when discussing censorship deals with its
constitutionality; does censorship violate the First Amendment's guarantee of free
speech? Censorship advocates actually use the words of the First Amendment to make
their point; "the amendment reads, 'Congress shall make no law...", it does not say,
"There shall be no law...'". They believe that, although the federal
government is forbidden to censor, it is not unconstitutional for states and local
communities to pass censorship laws. Also, since the US Supreme Court
does not believe the First Amendment protects all forms of expression (child
pornography, etc.), then proponents of censorship believe that censorship laws are
constitutional. Anti-censorship has the upper-hand, constitutionally, at least,
since "judges, from local courts to the Supreme Court, seem firmly on the anti-censorship side". The courts have time and again ruled that the Constitution prohibits Congress from censorship of any form.

These two opposing sides have butted heads again and again leaving behind
landmark cases for future legal actions. One of the most famous of those cases was Pico vs. Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26, which was the first school library censorship case to reach the Supreme Court. In March 1976, the Island Trees School Board in New York removed eleven books that they deemed "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy"
from the high school library shelves. Among these books were Slaughterhouse Five by
Kurt Vonnegut, A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich by Alice Childress, and Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver. The board felt that it had "a moral obligation to protect
the children in our schools from this moral danger". Five students then sued
the school board on grounds that their decision violated their First Amendment rights.

The suit was passed around the courts until June 1982 when the Supreme Court took up the cause and ruled that the school board would have to defend its removal of the books. The Supreme Court decided that since the library is used voluntarily, they can choose books there freely and that, as Justice Brennan stated, "the First Amendment rights of students may be directly and sharply implicated by the removal of books from the shelves of a school library. The Supreme Court's decision was that "courts may act our of concern for the First Amendment rights of those affected by school officials' action". On August 12, 1982, the school board voted to put the books back on the shelves; (special note: the librarian was told to inform the parents of students who checked out those books).

The advocates of school library book censorship believe that adults must have
control over what children read. They feel that unless responsible adults oversee what students are reading, students will be exposed to the worst in literature. This literature can go from simply causing offense, to "resulting in emotional damage and even leading to anti-social behavior". Their beliefs lead them to pull the offending books from the shelves so that young readers are protected, as was the case in Pico and as was the case when "Robin Hood was considered communistic, Tarzan was living with Jane without benefit of clergy, and Huckleberry Finn was a racist". Each time they use words like controversial, filthy, immoral, lascivious, lewd, obscene, sacrilegious, and violent, they are actually using only one word, censorship.

The anti-censorship group believes that students have the same constitutional
freedoms as everyone else, including the right to read whatever they want. They feel that it is only in this way "that children can develop the taste and understanding to distinguish between trash and serious literature".
And it is with this group that I make my stand against censorship. The purpose of education remains what it has always been in a free society:
to develop a free and reasoning human being who can think for himself, who
understands his own and other cultures, who lives compassionately and
cooperatively with his fellow man, who respects both himself and others, who
has developed self-discipline and self-motivation, who can laugh at the world, and who can successfully develop survival strategies for existence in the world.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Working Teens

My daughter has had a job since she was sixteen years old. This was in addition to taking AP classes in High School and playing Varsity Volleyball and Club Volleyball.

Fifteen years old and working seems to be becoming a norm and in fact there are many teenagers younger than fifteen who are already working at paying jobs. Some of these students are as young as 12 years old.

More than half of the secondary school students have paying jobs. This number grows with each grade level. The number of hours also rises along with the grade level. The kind of job varies depending on the sex of the child. Boys tend to deliver newspapers and girls tend to babysit. As the teens grow older, the job interests change with teenage girls turning to restaurants and retail outlets, while the boys will work in the family business , restaurants and other food related businesses. The hours that the kids have to choose from are usually from 6a.m. to 8a.m delivering newspapers and 8p.m to 6a.m. for babysitting. Most other jobs are scheduled 3pm till 10pm during the week while weekend jobs tend to have schedules of 7 to 8 hours per day.

Working more than 15 hours a week is bad for the academic career . As the work hours increase the study time decreases. Current research finds that a work schedule of 10 hours or less seems to be the best and for most teenagers a schedule of 10 hours does not effect their academic performance, in negative ways but in fact seems to help them do better in school shown by improved grades. Those teens working 10 to 15 hours per week are in a toss up situation with some doing well while others struggle. It is at the 15 hour level that things change and the work starts to effect the teens performance. Although there seems to be no direct relationship between the hour spent working and the hours spent studying and how this effects the grades, there does seem to be a relationship between the number of hours worked and the absentee rate. Those students working weekend jobs and spending most of the weekend time at say a fast food restaurant tend to miss more school.

It would be much better for these kids to run a home-based business of their own!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Parental Pressure within High School Students

I became interested in this topic because my entire academic life has been filled with pressure from my parents. This pressure was mainly in school and grades, and in high school, the amount of pressure increased dramatically. This is because my parents now realized that everything in high school counts towards college. When I first came to high school, my grades were not as good as they were in middle school. I needed a little time to adapt to high school before I could improve my grades. During this time, my parents became upset because I brought home a report card that was not as good as they were expecting. Then I really noticed the pressure getting higher and higher. I did not only notice this with me, but I noticed this with many of my friends.

How does parental pressure influence students in high school? If there is an influence, is it positive or negative? I would like to do research on this because it raised my curiosity. For me personally, I do better in school if I am calm and have little pressure, but there might be students out there at Ramapo High School that think differently. These are some of the things that I will try to find out through this I-Search.

Do parents of high school students put too much pressure on their children? The students would probably say yes, and the parents would probably say no. Parents would probably say that they just want the best for their children. Sometimes, though, this "good cause" leads into disaster when the parents take it too far. This could be by the fault of the parent or the child. This means that either the child provokes the parent by doing badly in school, or the parents do not become satisfied with the child's achievement and takes over their lives.

When the parents concentrate on grades alone, they become like a dictator and not a friend. They do not care about anything else such as social problems and sports . This causes the child to overachieve. This means that the child thinks that the only way he/she can get the affection and respect of his/her parents is to bring home good grades. At this point, anything that does not deal with grades or academics is worthless to the child, and furthermore the child does not care . When this happens, the child focuses so much on grades, he/she misses out on being a normal teenager. This includes going out with friends, dances, hobbies, and sports. Also, the child feels lonely and ends up having to practice growing up and being an adult by herself because his/her parents do not care. Sometimes parents get so caught up with their child's grades that they always "check over" their homework when all they are doing is doing it for them. The teachers notice this and punish the student and not the parent. Klagsbrun states, "Suicidal students are seldom satisfied with their grades, no matter how high they are."

Parents can also put pressure on their child even when praising their good grades and efforts. For example, when a child does extremely well in one subject, the parents become happy and praise the child. At the same time, the child is doing poorly in another subject but is just afraid to tell his/her parents because it might make them upset. This pressures the child and he/she does not know what to do .

Pressure can also be deadly. Here are two cases. First, a fifteen year old honors student (and an Eagle Scout) stood up in the middle of his English class and shot himself. He did this because he was given a notice, that was to be signed by his parents, saying that he was doing badly in class. The second case is another teenage suicide. A ten year old boy received bad grades on his report card for the third time. He left his report card at school knowing that if he brought it home he would be punished. When he went home, without his report card, his father got suspicious. He went to the school to pick it up, and in the half hour that he was gone, the little boy shot himself. His brother remembered him saying that he could not stand the idea of a whipping. There have been many more suicide incidents and Seiden suggested that "increasing pressure for academic achievement would lead to an increase in suicide rate among the student population".

In a recent survey of sophomores in Ramapo High School, more than half stated that they had a lot of pressure relating to school. Some came from parents and some came from themselves. A person answering this survey stated, "Most of my pressure about grades and school and college comes from myself. Last year, the pressure was so bad that I made myself sick." 3 of 10 leading causes of stress in adolescents are school related and 1 of 10 suicide attempts is related to a crises at school. Also, 15 of 43 students have siblings that do better in school than they do, and 10 of those students have parents expecting them to do as well as his/her sibling.

Kelly Leaman and Tyler Mills were both interviewed and both students stated that they have families that do extremely well in school. Kelly states, "My whole family is smart, and they all go (or went) to good colleges." In the issue of pressure affecting their school performance, Tyler said that he has a good amount of pressure and that without it, he would probably do worse. Kelly on the other hand, said that she would do a lot better if she had less pressure from her parents.

Being a good parent means being there and having confidence in a child. A parent should provide outstretched arms for a safe place when the child might need it. The child should be relaxed and should be enjoying school. Maybe the child will get good grades because he/she wants to!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

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Personal responsibility is a big issue!

Americans take their education for granted. Education has become one of the most important aspects of a person's. With seventeen years of formal education, a person can do almost anything he or she wants to do. Yet many in America take this for granted. Some American students today would rather not be in school. They would be much happier at home or going someplace with their friends. Once in school, many students forget why they are there-to get an education. Instead of going to classes, students might cut class or not even show up to school at all. I think our decreasing status as an economic super power can be attributed in part to the effects of this attitude. I believe there are two reasons behind this attitude--the lack of family values and the lack of responsibility taken by some of America's youth.

Children often do not understand the value of the education they are receiving. Parents need to drill the importance of an education into their child's head. If children are not made aware of how meaningful school is, chances are they will fail when they are adults. Parents have to instill in their child the discipline and motivation it takes to do well in school. Parents have to teach their children that school always come first. Students need to put school on top of their priority list too. Parents also need to assure that their children understand their own responsibility to get their work done well and handed in on time. But parents can only do so much-ultimately it is the students who have to do the work.

Welcome to my blog for students

Anything you want to discuss about student life- students loans, student loan consolidation, going back to school later in life, gripe about professors, exchange study tips and resources, ways to make some extra money- this is the place!!