What one wishes they had known as a freshman

September 3, 2015 Leave a comment

I caught myself reading an article found in CNN called, What I wish I’d known before going to college (http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/01/living/advice-for-college-freshmen-feat/index.html). What I discovered was a one-sided version of a junior year student at University of Maryland thinking she understands the college experience. As a former college student myself, I think Taylor Swaak needs to complete school first, but she does cover some important points.

Her first point is, You’re not going to miss home as much as you think you will. She is partly correct but possibly damaging to first year college students. I can recall a number of students that dropped out of school which is comparable to Maryland. They did miss home… A LOT. Most of these students couldn’t cope being away from home and needed support.  For Taylor, she was likely better adjusted psychologically and support-wise than many students. Homesickness is a big deal for those without friends nearby. The fear she mentions is homesickness and the beginning of being alone. This doesn’t go away immediately for most students. For some, it takes weeks before they are comfortable. That doubt of being able to do the work needs to go away, and it takes time.

No one else has friends, either. For the large part, this is mostly true. I had many friends attending the same university as me. My own son also has friends at the university he is at. Still, there are students without friends. Making friends is one of the big anxieties. This stresses the first point about missing home especially when you are making friends. The more outgoing you are, I think Taylor fits this, the easier it is to meet new friends. I can tell you that I had only one friend within my major while maintaining five close friends my entire college career. We are different and even a roommate may not be the friend. This is where new students need to get involved in activities they like. They’ll meet like-minded people. Believe it or not, playing computer games and working was where I met my long lasting friends other than my roommate. I didn’t do these things to meet friends.

DON’T bring your entire wardrobe. For years I thought this applied to females only. I recall all of my male friends as having very little in wardrobe except for underwear.  This was until moving my son in his dorm, I saw a family with a pickup truck filled with their son’s items. I am certain the bulk of it went home and another trip will be needed as the semester progresses. The truth is, students need a few of everything. My son didn’t take a winter coat. He can get by without one. I did tell him to take one set of “good clothes” for any event he may need to dress up. Now Taylor is at UofMD, and it doesn’t get cold. For others, a winter coat may be a must if you don’t expect to go home until Thanksgiving. I have had winter weather in October and November while in college. If you walk long distances, you do appreciate the coat. As for shoes, bring little. You need sneakers, dress shoes, and flip flops. You can get by with these. While we are on it, sweatshirts with hoods are better than coats. You want the front pockets, too, if you don’t have gloves.

Don’t drink? That’s OK. This is true for the most part. The problem comes from freshmen thinking you just drink and have sex all of the time. College students typically do not judge. Well, they do based on the propaganda they are fed. Alcohol and sex are not judged but your personal beliefs can be and are often judged. I would comment on drugs but times have changed, though we many of us thought ill of drug users, we really didn’t say anything. The biggest issue is the feelings of peer pressure the first year student brings with them. They have yet to mature and develop the ability to think on their own. I believe we don’t hit that until our late twenties.

Think it’s OK to borrow? Think again. This one is a little strange to me. We never thought of borrowing without asking, and my son does the same with his roommate. I wonder if this is a female issue with borrowing. I don’t think so. Like any friendship, you learn the limits. I borrowed my roommates contact solution many times when I needed it and vice versa. This issue really comes from your upbringing. I can assure you the biggest issue I had with my roommate was eating the other’s food, and this was done to annoy the other.

That sandwich you really like? Stop eating it. My first thought is, “huh?” I wonder if Taylor is grasping for content. I love mint chocolate chip ice cream and never stopped eating it, so I wonder if it has to be a main meal. I was stuck with variety in my dining hall, and looking at my son’s menu for his dining hall, there is quite a bit of variety (Yes, I am able to find it online). I think this is a stretch, but there is a point to be made about expanding what you try. It is just that dining halls wouldn’t be where I would consider expanding. Some items would cause me to never try that food again. Pizza when I went was horrible! The chicken sandwiches were to die for, but they didn’t always appear on the menu. I ate a salad every day and had the same items in my salad. Even to this day I eat salad a particular way. I hate croutons and don’t fancy fruit in my salad. A student eats what they want and like. Yes, we get sick of certain items, but that is normal. In the end, I would agree that students should expand their cuisine but be selective of where you do it.

Befriend early and often. I am not sure I agree with Taylor on this one. My first year at the university, I gained three friends that I have had for life. The rest fell away as I went into my major. I developed a few more and kept one until we graduated. I worked with a few other friends that I met over the years. Is it difficult to make friends by sophomore year? That depends on the student. If you are shy then early and often may be the best. You develop several types of relationships. There are those where your interests in non-academic areas and the other is for the academic areas. The more active you are the more you open opportunities for friends.

I wouldn’t consider most of this to be very important. Friendship is the most important of all of these. I would think organization and developing friends within classes to study with more important. If you are in engineering and science, friendships within the classes is very important. Is journalism different, I don’t know? Learning how to study is another big issue. Time and time again, former students state that it was in their junior year when they finally got it. The faster you learn study skills and time management, the better. Missing home is another big issue. This is why the RA, Residence Assistants, have activities to engage students. The wardrobe is a one-time mistake corrected the first trip home. Eating is not that big of a deal other than the freshman 15. The drinking is really a maturity issue that gets freshmen into trouble.

Categories: Education, Homeschool Tags:

Why I Hate Sports

August 28, 2015 Leave a comment

I grew with a love of sports, though my parents never were fanatical about it. I played basketball, and they never once went to a game. I think they went to one basketball game. My parents supported me, but it was in the educational area where I saw them the most. Sports, while they supported my activity, was not one where they concentrated. They did enjoy sports for my parents watched our favorite NFL team every Sunday, and my dad loved boxing. My mother was a great second baseman in softball. So, it isn’t like there was a void in sports at the house.

There are few sporting events I don’t follow – Olympics and basketball come to mind. I have my favorite teams I watch, and of course my sons sports teams. This is where I have begun to hate sports as a whole. There is a big part of me committing the sin of wishing harm. Yes, I often wish for the player to fracture an ankle thus ruining their sports career. It is not because I hate the youth. This is more of my feeling of wanting the kid to wake up to what is important, his or her education. I want the kid to strive for what is important. This is my flaw.

I have been involved in high school sports as a spectator and stats keeper for a few years. What I have seen disgusts me, embarasses me, and saddens me. I can tell you about the police officer father watching a game and screaming for a violent action towards an opposing team. Needless to say, he was asked to leave. Don’t worry, he is back this year for his son is now in high school. There are the parents that bad mouth the other players. If you don’t think their kids do not adopt their belief then think again. There are players that find out they are varsity and now ignore the “lesser” players. Too bad, these kids don’t realize they are truly horrible at the sport. It is their size and year status that places them on varsity.

The parents are the worst of the bunch. They demand their ungrateful child to be placed in the star status. How dare you pull them out of a game or bench them. They see no problem with their children speaking ill of other players or talking back to coaches. They expect the world to cater to their children. These people will scream from the stands and say nasty words about a athletically challenged player in the open and in front of the player and parents. They treat this meaningless game or sport as if it is what only matters. It is sad to see a student athlete hear the comments made about them. I see the player’s expression. It hurts them (I only wonder how the parents would react if I did the same to them. I could bring up their education, weight, looks, house, car or some other negative). The sad fact is the vast majority of the parents have no clue what they are talking about. They should be ashamed, but their poor actions are re-affirmed by the other parents. Coaches cannot correct team problems concerning players because parents get involved. That cop, well he inserts himself for his son’s sake all too often. He is basically an ass. My son, on a club team, had a parent insert himself to help a coach and manhandle my son. Unfortunately, I was not present or there would have been serious issues. In my eyes, that is an assault.

I enjoyed watching my sons play sports and listen to them as they studied what they did right and wrong on the field. It was enjoyable all around until high school sports. Now, if you’re not popular, you are ignored. The talk about sex, cursing, and, bullying is too much. My youngest had considered not playing this year. I really didn’t mind. I hoped he would not. He is doing it again. I will watch the games as far away from parents as I can.

Maybe next year my son will say forget it. There is one parent that wants to coach that will do the trick. My son hasn’t forgotten the treatment my son received from this man when the man last coached him.  Then I can hope the team loses all of their games without guilt.

Categories: Sports Tags:

Dropping the SAT. What does this do to homeschoolers?

A recent CNN article, http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/28/pf/college/george-washington-university-sat/index.html?iid=ob_homepage_deskrecommended_pool&iid=obnetwork, discusses the the demise of the requirement for SAT score for some universities and colleges. These schools believe the SAT is not required, and they can predict the success of a student by “their high school record and GPA.” For a typical homeschooling family, this is potentially horrible news, for it will hinder the ability for some homeschool students to enter college.

First, I hate the SAT and ACT. They are not the best at capturing a student’s ability. My oldest had a decent SAT score but would not have wowed anyone. Looking at his first official school year, he made Dean’s List each semester and holds a GPA over 3.6. I don’t know the exact number. My son had an advantage, and this is what homeschooling parents need to do. They need to give their children an advantage.

Second, there are some schools that do not want homeschooled children. They place barriers disguised as reasons to determine your child’s ability. As much as these schools see themselves as progressive, they are really backwards and closed-minded in thought. It really isn’t difficult to see this. Look at the professors teaching at our universities who manipulate students into swallowing the rhetoric and one-sided agendas. They aren’t teaching. They are indoctrinating. Makes me wonder if the homeschooled student is more of a free thinker than some of these professors want. Hard to brainwash if a person can think for themselves.

The SAT is a validation for homeschool parents. I believe we are back to the 1600 score for the SAT. I won’t care about this until next fall. If your child can score 1400 or better, they stand a chance of not only being recognized by a college but also there’s a chance of a scholarship. Again, this is not the greatest method of determining, but it is a tool for a homeschooling student to take advantage of.

How does a student get noticed since there is not high school experience or a GPA for some? Think resume.

The first is sports. Team oriented athletics is a valuable asset, and I’m not referring to a homeschool recreation version where kids get together to form a “team” and play for fun. Sports helps during the application process to tell the school what the homeschool student is like. You may have thought scholarship? That is an option, but there is a lot of work to it.

The second opportunity a homeschool student needs to take advantage of is music. I should say music and athletics go together in many respects. There are events where a student can compete or earn awards through music. Playing in a local community band. Unfortunately a church choir doesn’t really cut it. I’m not saying church music is bad, but it is too narrow. If it expands to concerts or events other than the local church community, it become quite helpful.

Passion. If you are interested in medicine then volunteer at the Red Cross, fire department or some group associated with medicine. You need to find an activity that may bring you closer to your future job. I’m going to throw leadership inside of this paragraph. If you are involved in the local historical society, running for office helps display your maturity and abilities of leadership. You need to be passionate about it, too. You don’t need multiple activities. Pick those you are passionate about. You excel in what you love. If you have a part-time job then try to expand your role there. A reliable, hardworking teenager is impressive and valued.

Now to the meat of the resume. Find sponsored educational activities and participate. This may be a STEM program or a science fair that may even be through a high school. I have driven to another state for my sons to participate in order to build their resume. You need to do this more than once. It may even be a musically inclined event if your child wants to be involved in music.

Finally, the homeschooled student wants to emphasize quality education. Search for online AP courses, often sponsored by homeschool groups, and take the class and pay for the test. Find community colleges or university that will allow a high school student take courses. My advice to parents is not to helicopter over the student. Keep an eye on the student in case they struggle. The homeschool student needs to EARN the grade. That will help in college. Yes, I have seen parents baby the child to the point of practically lying about the grade earned or the students have cheated. The AP Test tells all in the end.

It may be the case I’ve missed a few items, but I believe I have covered the main areas to concentrate on. These five should be covered by homeschooling families even without considering the SAT. If you find difficulty covering all five, then understand you want to cover as many as you can.

Categories: Homeschool Tags: , , ,


This fall my youngest will have higher expectations on the papers he will write. This does not include the AP class we are overpaying for. No, this is within our household. Because of my continuing education, I’ve been tasked with teaching my son how to write or more correctly how to do citations.

The program I am in requires Chicago format citation. I guess historians like this style better than APA or MLA. Chicago or Turabian is generally used for history. APA is generally used for psychology, and MLA is used for literary studies. Is there a difference? Yes, it is basically an arrangement of information issue as can be seen below:


Vanderbilt University. “New model of cosmic stickiness favors ‘Big Rip’ demise of universe.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150630155221.htm (accessed July 1, 2015).


Vanderbilt University. (2015, June 30). New model of cosmic stickiness favors ‘Big Rip’ demise of universe. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 1, 2015 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150630155221.htm


Vanderbilt University. “New model of cosmic stickiness favors ‘Big Rip’ demise of universe.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150630155221.htm>.

These three citation were taken from Science Daily, an online science news website.

If we take a look at journal articles, we can see a huge difference the three.


Frame, Murray. “DUNDEE AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, 1917-1918.” Slavonica 6, no. 1 (April 2000): 75. Academic Search Alumni Edition, EBSCOhost (accessed July 1, 2015).


Frame, M. (2000). DUNDEE AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, 1917-1918. Slavonica, 6(1), 75.


Frame, Murray. “Dundee And The Russian Revolution, 1917-1918.” Slavonica 6.1 (2000): 75. Academic Search Alumni Edition. Web. 1 July 2015.

We can see, the three citations are very similar. Only the Chicago and MLA list the access date. The volume and number (6 and 1) slightly differ in presentation between the three. The publication date (April 2000) is found in different locations between the three. There isn’t too much of a difference.

My preference is the Chicago / Turabian. Why? This is what I am told to use when writing my papers. There are reasons why we have a variation in citations, but this post is not about that. What you should take away is the awareness of citations and the fact there are varieties. These are not the only three citations out there. There is a Harvard and even Brazilian version to name two.

As for my son, he is going to learn how to apply the Chicago / Turabian citation method. This should prepare him for the future in college even if he is asked to use a different method. Being aware of citations and knowing how to apply them will help in the future. My son will be familiar with citations.

Here are three links to help with the understanding and implementation of citations. These are not the only three out there but only the three that came to mind:  Princeton Univ. Citation SamplesBloomsburg Univ. Citation Styles, and Purdue Online Writing


Birth Order Baloney

May 30, 2015 1 comment

There are many beliefs people have and most turn out to be nonsense. Even homeschooling parents can get things wrong. I am quite certain there are mistakes in my beliefs about issues. Often times we are met with a coincidence and believe there is some special meaning or reason to the event. It is important that we sometimes detach ourselves from issues or subjects we are not familiar with and assess what we know, in order to get the proper perspective.

I was reading a homeschool parent’s blog about birth order recently. She was talking about the needs of children particularly the firstborn. There was a list of firstborn characteristics: reliable, conscientious, structured, cautious, controlling, achievers and perfectionists. As I read these while thinking of firstborns, I was chuckling at the silliness of this myth. Allow me to counter this.

My oldest child has none of these characteristics. If we are simply looking at this black and white. He’s not controlling or a perfectionist whatsoever. Reliable? Sometimes yes and no. He isn’t even structured. If you describe my son with these seven words, I wouldn’t recognize him. If I look at my oldest sibling, these do not apply either. My spouse’s oldest sibling is none of these, too. As I went around looking at firstborns I know, not one matches these descriptions. Does my youngest have any of these? Again, not really. These words are simple too simplified not unlike going to a fortune teller who provides you with generalizations. It sounds great but not really.

She continues on with education. The reality is my oldest sibling has only a bachelors degree. No different than anyone else in my family except my middle sibling and I have take graduate courses. Again, my spouse’s oldest sibling never went to college and has the least amount of education. As I search families I know, the idea of the firstborn having more education if basically false.

Are firstborns natural leaders? Yes and no. The simple truth is anyone can be a leader. This kind homeschooling parent is forcing her children into spots while ignoring the reality. She is ignoring some characteristics while applying those she wants to fit into her idea of firstborn needs.

Are there differences between siblings? Yes. Each child experiences a different reality or childhood if you will. Does position in a family matter? We know firstborn children are treated differently by parents for this is their first child and the parents are learning, Having a second child affects the firstborn depending the age of the firstborn. There is a change in family dynamics and the age of the first child makes a difference on how the child reacts and experiences. The same applies to the second child and so forth.

Here are more of her examples. “To be noticed and appreciated.” Everyone needs this. “To be trusted to self-correct.” What does this even mean? “Some alone time with Mom and Dad.” Doesn’t every child need this? I could go on, but this is poor advice from this well-intentioned homeschooler in my opinion.

We can’t pigeonhole a child to a particular characteristic. When we reads books about child raising, we need to scrutinize the author. Even authors that appear to be qualified can be most unqualified to talk about the subject. Observe your child and go with what you believe your child needs. Birth order has some type of influence but it is the environmental sources and genetic design of your child that dictates the most. If your child has a need, meet it.

Enjoy your children and do not try to categorize them.

School year 2015- 2016

There has always been one part of homeschooling we as a family do and that is involved our children in the decisions whether it is curriculum or to continue with homeschooling. We not only value their opinion but also they see themselves as having something to offer. This isn’t a complete democracy. My sons are young and wisdom is earned with experience and years.

We were leaning towards sending our last child to a private school. There were many well thought out reasons for us to do so. It was understood what we would sacrifice in order to gain in other areas of need. Approaching our child, he balked at this decision. He was allowed to state his case. The discussion lasted for a short while, and his argument did not hold up. His brother even decided against him. Yes, we have appeals. It is to come back with a stronger case and win the main educator over. The next day I was presented with the new argument. The Educator and I discussed this idea of my son’s. It is not perfect but workable. There are doubts to my son’s logic, but it is good enough to continue one more year.

What is the reward for my son? He must take another AP course, and we are trying to get him to concede to a second. As I stated in an earlier post, this class is more for college acceptance than gaining a credit. These AP courses are a validation to potential schools that our son has been educated. He must participate in sports. Sports is an outlet to interact with actual humans rather than virtual humans (friends through electronics). There is a group of homeschoolers that meet on Tuesdays to play sports. He must now attend these functions. Also, he has me looming in the distance with mathematics. I’ve already told him that I will be more strict with him than his brother. I learned a valuable lesson with my oldest.

Okay, the lesson is never be soft. I allowed my oldest to occasionally use math formulas when taking an exam. This doesn’t help reinforce the education and causes struggles later on in math. The oldest won’t admit it, but he knows I was correct. He admitted, he thought we were punishing him at the time. I don’t get that one. Never punished a child with more or harder school work. School should be as fun as you can get.

The youngest son has so much educational potential. He is also requires a heavy dose of social interaction. He is unable to entertain himself. It continues to be my belief that mental health needs to be taken care of with homeschooling or any type of schooling or even non-schooling situations. My youngest needs to feel liked and wanted where my oldest does not care what you think. Funny how children from the same family can have different strengths and weaknesses.

We will begin a new school year in August. Actually, my youngest has required reading throughout the summer. It actually begins now whether he is ready or not. We feel better at reinforcing positive morals for one more year. It is a shame to see so many children whose morals suffer because of public and even private school. I am not referring to religious morals but morals on how we treat one another, integrity, empathy, compassion and kindness.

Do not believe everything you are told.

Years ago I was researching global warming. Most of it was through online sources which led me blogs. These were the most prevalent and may be so today. There was one site I connected with because the blogger had similar interests with me and lived nearby. He always noted that he was a publicized expert, though I took it with a grain of salt.

Reading a few of his anger filled global warming posts, I decided to do more in depth research using his sources so I may understand his side. I asked for his resources, after all he was making extraordinary claims which required extraordinary evidence. A request for his sources is a valid request. Any researcher or reader would like to have the opportunity to vet the research or whatever else it may be. I saw this as an opportunity to learn, understand and maybe even agreeing with his point of view, though not as angrily. It was a moment for me to educate myself. Kindly, I asked for his sources in order for me to learn and understand.

A day later he responded to my comments. It was typical of his blog posts. There was much anger and insults thrown at me for not already knowing the “truth”. If I didn’t know where the sources were, he wasn’t going to waste the time to provide them. He basically denigrated me and made every attempt in his return post to invalidate me. A vitriolic attack for a simple and valid request. There was no hint of doubt or accusation to his posts. I just wanted to see the information myself.

He hasn’t been the only global warming person to act this way. I have seen it everywhere from the internet to the television to people in my community. These people treat anyone not blindly believing in the most acrimonious and belittling manner. Local people are not as angry in many instances, but they have their denigrating movement and quip to insult you especially in front of people.

What is the most disappointing are the academic people advocating change on behalf of global warming with biasness. There is one young mathematician that believes in global warming that she’ll sacrifice his knowledge in order to push for a cause that she doesn’t clearly understand or know. She sticks her nose in areas she is not familiar with or prepared for. She is blinded by a propaganda belief and willingly follows this belief to the edge. Shame on her for her actions, but she is unapologetic for the mythical cause is most important.

These people understand little of what is going on because they choose not to understand. Their religious belief in global warming overwhelms everything else. Earth is an interesting lab where changes 100 years ago are displaying the effects today. If we rehabilitate our land, that is putting wetlands back in or allowing for streams and rivers to overflow onto the flood plains for example, we can solve many issues we see today. If we listen to people more familiar with the environment, the Inuit or similar groups, we may avoid making tragic mistakes.

I can’t confirm CO2 doesn’t affect the climate, but I can say the way we have altered our landscape around us has. Deforestation has done more to increase temperatures than CO2. Changing whether by accident or intentionally a waterways natural flow or path can affect the microclimate. A single railroad bed through a wet land can change the hydraulics, so can a major city, wind mills or even major solar power centers. Instead of chasing a red herring, we should focus our money and efforts on the problems we can fix and improve our Earth.

Categories: Outdoors Tags:

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