Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Kids Shouldn't Get a Free Ride to College"

From Fox News Market Watch
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Jonathan Burton

SAN FRANCISCO — Parents have plenty of high expectations for their children and the cost of college is certainly on the list. The tab for tuition now averages more than $22,000 a year for private schools and almost $6,000 for state schools — plus another $7,000 to $9,000 for room and board.

But even if you're wealthy enough to cover this commitment, making kids pay at least part of their way has benefits beyond the decreased drag on your nest egg.

Click here to visit's College Planning page.

"Education is not a right," said Phyllis Silverman, a senior vice president at PNC Financial Services Group Inc., who counsels affluent clients. "Kids are going to appreciate their education more if they have to contribute."

"There's nothing wrong with a kid working a small part-time job while they're going to school," added Gary Buffone, a psychologist in Jacksonville, Fla., who specializes in family matters. "Kids that work part-time [in college] do better than kids who don't work at all or work full time."

Most parents evidently would agree that when it comes to college, a family that pays together, stays together. In a poll on the Web site, almost 60 percent say their child should carry at least some of the educational freight even if money isn't an issue.

"Responses are dependent to some degree on family history," said Joseph Hurley, founder of "If their own parents paid for their education, these parents are probably going to follow suit. If they paid their own, they're inclined to have kids pay."

Communication is key

Teenagers aren't especially savvy about finances. Understanding what it means to pay for college or take out a student loan is a new experience for them. Yet parents who have no trouble critiquing their kids' college plans often spend little time talking about the money that will be needed to pay for everything.

Be your child's first college teacher, financial advisers and education experts say. Don't wait until an acceptance letter comes to talk about what you want from your children — and what they want from you — over those four developing years.

"This ideally has to be part of the family culture," said Kevin Ellman, a financial adviser at Wealth Preservation Solutions in Ridgewood, N.J. "If you've been paying for every expense and change your tune when it comes to college, I don't know how effective it's going to be."

Valerie and Alberto de la Torre learned the importance of family communication when their son Adam came home to Jacksonville, Fla., in December after his freshman semester at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

The de la Torres hadn't asked Adam, a top student in high school, to contribute to his college expenses. "Education was a luxury we were willing to indulge," Valerie de la Torre said.

But Adam's first-term grade-point average was below his parents' expectations, so they told him that with a total college bill approaching $50,000, he'd have to maintain at least a 3.0 average this year with no grade lower than a C. Any grade lower, and he pays for the class.

"You want not to be too punitive," de la Torre said, "but you want to make the message very clear: If you just want to go to parties and basketball games, we don't have to pay for that."

The earlier families spell out these rules, the better, she added. "We were sort of vague and assuming, based on his past record. This year is the adjustment year. Next year, he's going to have a part-time job."

Funding options

Sharing college expenses doesn't have to break a kid's piggy bank. As with car buying, the published "sticker price" for college isn't always what you pay. Many schools offer money to applicants without financial need and colleges also sponsor work-study programs that can offset costs.

In fact, undergraduates at private colleges and universities pay about $13,000 a year on average for tuition, while students at state schools pay about $2,700, after grants and tax benefits are factored, according to the College Board, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. Only about 5 percent of students attend colleges with yearly tuition topping $33,000.

In addition, families with a level of income or assets that disqualifies them for financial aid can tap several loan options.

For students, an unsubsidized, federally guaranteed Stafford loans carry a fixed 6.8 percent interest rate and flexible repayment terms upon graduation. Total borrowing is capped at $23,000, and interest accrues during the student's time in college.

Parents, meanwhile, can borrow the full cost of tuition, minus any financial aid, through the federal Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students, or PLUS program. Most of these fixed-rate loans charge 8.5 percent interest, but both public and private schools participating in the Federal Direct Student Loan program offer PLUS loans at a 7.9 percent rate.

Private loans are based on creditworthiness and can be arranged through banks and other financial institutions such as Sallie Mae, but government loans generally offer better terms. Ask schools about special arrangements with preferred lenders for lower payments or fee waivers.

"Fees and interest rates can be modified," said Sandy Baum, a College Board senior policy analyst. "It's not as simple as it should be, so it makes sense to get all the details and compare."

Requiring a child to repay tuition debt after graduation is another way to share costs and allows a student to focus on classes and campus life. Or you can raise a teenager like Amanda Kimlinger, a 17-year-old Jefferson City, Mo., high-school senior who this fall will join Brigham Young University's Class of 2011.

Tuition at BYU in Provo, Utah, next year will be $3,800 for Mormon Church members, and Kimlinger can figure on another $10,000 or so for room and board, books and personal expenses.

Kimlinger and her parents will split the bill 50-50, which she intends to handle with summer jobs and working part-time while in school.

"I don't want to rely on my parents for the rest of my life," she said. "I can at least pay for a part of my education."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Family Workshop #4 Approaching Soon!

The AVID Family Workshop #4 will be held in the new MPR on Tuesday, March 13, from 17:00-18:00.

Bring your portfolios to update them with new information regarding FINANCING COLLEGE! This will be the first part of a two-part workshop on this topic. The second half (and final workshop for the year) will be on May 8.

Students will be recognized for their honor roll achievement for second quarter, and departing AVID tutor Sid Spain will speak to the group.

Light refreshments will be served and a door prize awared. Looking forward to seeing all of you!

Ms. Pienta and Ms. Sibayan

Great High School Binders!

Congratulations to these students for excellent binders this week!

A+ (100-105%): Carlo A., Brittany B., Aica D., Patrick F., Joelle N., Niko R., Stella St., Alex T., Caitlin G., Marco M., Mia S., and Elisa V.

A (90-99%): Asher B., Chynnah T., and Miguel D.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Their Eight Secrets of Success

This article from TIME by Claudia Wallis is well worth your time to read. It supports many of the things we do as AVID parents, teachers, tutors, and students! The excerpts below touch on a few, although the whole article has the really interesting stories about individual kids.

"What does it take to make an excellent student? The student who not only sits at the head of the class (and the horn section, the swim team, the debate society and yearbook) but also enjoys the respect and friendship of teachers and peers? The encouragement of a parent or two certainly provides a foundation. But to find out more, TIME interviewed dozens of superb students from across the country, along with their parents, teachers, mentors and friends. What emerged is some clear patterns and some lessons well worth studying."

1. "The Sweat Factor . . . A willingness to work flat-out is a trait found almost universally in the best students, says Karen Arnold, a Boston College associate professor of higher education. Arnold has spent 17 years following the lives of 81 Illinois students who graduated at the top of their class. These valedictorians, she found, relied less on native intelligence than on effort. 'They were hardworking. They were persistent. School was at the center of their lives.'"

2. "The Joy of Learning . . . Good students tend to have what teachers call a broad 'fund of knowledge.' They've been taken places; they've seen a bit of the world. If the family resources are slim, it might only be to the city park, a train yard or the kitchen of a restaurant. But the experience has been brought to life for them. 'I find the students I love will often say to me, 'My mom took me here' or 'My dad and I did this.' You know these parents are in their lives,' says Carol Klavins, who's been teaching middle-school science in central Florida for 31 years. 'So many kids never mention their parents!'"

3. "The Best SAT Prep . . . As director of admissions at highly selective Williams College in Massachusetts, Tom Parker is often asked by parents, 'What should I do to increase my child's scores on the Scholastic Assessment Tests or make him a better college candidate?' Start early, Parker tells them. 'The best SAT-preparation course in the world is to read to your children in bed when they're little. Eventually, if that's a wonderful experience for them, they'll start to read for themselves.' Parker says he has never met a kid with high scores on the verbal section of the sat who wasn't a passionate reader. 'At the breakfast table, these kids read the cereal boxes. That's what readers do!'

"The benefits of reading to kids may seem obvious, but parents tend to stop just when the child's own ability to get through a book is taking flight. Don't quit then! says Regie Routman, a nationally recognized expert on literacy and author of several books for teachers. 'Some of the best readers and writers--even in middle school and high school--have parents who are still reading to them. They'll be reading Beowulf and Macbeth and just enjoying the love of language with them.'"

4. "Grades Aren't Everything . . . Alfie Kohn, an educator in Cambridge, Mass., who writes and speaks on behavioral issues, is perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades, test scores and class rankings. All this, argues the author of the influential 1993 book Punished by Rewards and a new book, What to Look for in a Classroom, kills off the love of learning and replaces it with superficial, grade-grubbing behavior. Kohn is appalled by parents who try to motivate their kids by paying for good grades: 'You can almost watch the interest in learning evaporate before your eyes!'

"Kohn's advice to parents: Stop asking your kids how they did in school today, and ask instead about what they did. 'If you have five minutes, talk with your kids for five minutes about what unexpected ideas she came across, or how he feels when he figures something out. Help the child forget about grades, so learning has a chance.'"

5. "Feed Their Passions . . . The word passion comes up a lot when college admissions directors are asked what they look for in a student. 'There are lots of students out there who can do the work and get the A's," says Robert Kinnally, dean of admissions at Stanford University. "But who are the students who care deeply about the subject matter and will stay after to ask their teacher for another book?' . . . One place competitive colleges search for signs of genuine commitment is in extracurricular activities. For many students and their parents, extracurricular activities are a kind of flavor enhancer to sprinkle on a resume: a dash of music, a pinch of poetry club, a soupcon of athletics. But what folks like Kinnally know is that a meaty involvement with any of these activities builds valuable traits like persistence, leadership and the ability to work in teams. "

6. "That Special Teacher . . . Most outstanding students have an outstanding teacher lurking somewhere in their past, a teacher who somehow connected with them. Karen Arnold found this was true of the valedictorians she studied. Principals and parents confirm it. 'If you talk with kids, they will tell you about someone who has captured their imagination--gotten hold of them emotionally and intellectually,' says Fred Ginocchio, principal of Madison Middle School in Appleton, Wis."

7. "The Rules on Homework . . . If there is a rule on homework, it's this: let them do it in the way that works for them. Not every child needs silence and a desk facing the wall. Not every child can settle down to the task right after school.

"Another rule on homework: be involved, but not too much. Math-homework sessions at Mike Terry's house used to end in tears. 'I would lose patience with him,' admits Tom Terry, who excelled in math as a youth. 'Comparing him to the ways I might have done things at his age didn't work.' He had to learn to be less overbearing and to see things from his son's point of view. 'We care passionately about how he's doing, but we're just calmer on the outside.' "

8. "Stand Up and Cheer . . . Not every parent has the flexibility to leave work at 4 and finish up late at night. Still, making the effort to be present for a child's victories and milestones is vitally important, says Robert Weintraub, headmaster at Brookline High, where Sarah is a student: 'Parents must attend every event their child participates in--back-to-school night, plays, shows, games. The kids will say you don't need to come, but you do. It reinforces the importance of school.' Just as important, he says, is keeping the day-to-day dialogue going, no matter how reluctant a child might seem. Teenagers, in particular, will seem to push the parent away. 'Don't stop when your kid rejects you. Ask to see their papers and exams. The initial response to questions like 'What happened at school today?' may be 'Nothing.' You have to be persistent. School is a very important part of their lives.'"

"Can any child be a good student? Assuming good health and normal intelligence, the answer is probably yes. A great student? Maybe not. Some kids seem to be born organized and focused. Like Mike Terry, they have tidy rooms with a designated place for everything. Like Sarah Seidman, they have long attention spans at a young age. 'There's a strong correlation between a good student and things like time management and organization,' notes Dan Walls, dean of admissions of Emory University in Atlanta. Kids blessed with these qualities may have a natural advantage over kids who have to struggle to keep order--although those who keep up the struggle will ultimately develop persistence, the most valuable trait a student can have.

"For parents who despair of ever seeing an honor-roll mention, there is this bit of consolation from Arnold's valedictorian study. Conventionally good students tend to wind up as conventional successes. 'I hate to use the word conformists,' says Arnold of her high achievers, 'but they were aware of and willing to deal with the rules of the system.' Bill Gates was not a conventionally good student. Neither was Thomas Edison nor Ernest Hemingway nor most of the world's truly creative brains. But don't kid yourself either. It just isn't true that Einstein flunked out of math."

Once again, to read the whole article, go to the link at the top of the post.

Monday, March 05, 2007

AVID Middle Schoolers Achieve Honor Roll

Congratulations to the following 2nd Quarter Middle School Honor Roll students:

Harriet, Tiera, Justine, Gabby, Danelly, Eboni, Kninique, Mikayla, Sean, Nathan, Mediea, and Lakara!

Keep up the great work!


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