Twitter
LinkedIn
YouTube
RSS
Facebook

10 Unique Graduation Gifts

Who doesn’t agonize over what to get a graduate? No high school graduate wants a bear with a diploma or a copy of “Oh The Places You Will Go”. We can certainly be more creative than that. Here’s a list of my fav graduation gifts. Share it with your friends and pin them on a graduation gift board.

Picture Keeper

Graduation gifts

Give your graduate a peace-of-mind with back up security from Picture Keeper. With so many memories stored on computers, don’t risk your graduate’s photos getting lost or deleted without a backup plan.This little gadget plugs into your smartphone with an accompanying app that automatically backs up photos to the built in storage. The photos can be copied to other mobile devices that have the app. There is also a USB plug on the other end to it’s easy to send photos to your computer.

Shower Squids

This is so much easier than using a shower caddy. Not to mention, they are fun! They are available in tons of colors too!

Baggu Bags

These will be great for trips to the campus bookstore or carrying groceries. Your graduate will love these. Since they are affordable, they make the perfect gift for your high school grad—they come in dozens of colors and patterns.

Laundry Bag

By far the best laundry bag for college students. You can stuff the pouches outside of the bag with laundry tabs, dryer sheets and crystal beads to make clothes smell fresh and clean. Add a jar of quarters for laundry money. With the double compartments for separating/storing clothes this makes laundry a breeze for students.

Bedphones

Dorm rooms can be noisy places. These bedphones are thin and soft and can block out the noise. The perfect gift for the soon-to-be college student.

101 More Things to do with Ramen Noodles

This is more than a book, it’s a survival guide. College students live on ramen. Why not add some spice to the average package?

Smartphone Charger

Your student’s phone is his lifeline. A portable charger is a must. But why not make it fun? One of these 30 chargers should put a smile on your graduate’s face.

PocketMonkey Multi-Tool

Finally…a pocket tool that is actually convenient! Twelve functions packed into one millimeter of stainless steel. It’s the size of a credit card, so it easily slips into your wallet.

Magnet Photo Cable

The college student can display their favorite photos of friends with this fun hanging photo display! Amazingly strong magnets are adorned in crystal clear gems.  Hang the cable on a wall and use the magnets to put up photos, notes and memories—cool for college dorms.

Bedside Pocket

Keep your bedside essentials handy with this convenient felt pouch. Slide the sturdy flap between your mattress and foundation and the soft, open pocket holds everything from books to remote controls.

A Recipe for College Success

 

college success

As a parent, knowing that you child has got into college is such a thrill. You are so happy for them that their hard work has paid off, and that they get to move on to the next stage of their life and better their career chances. But of course, there is a little worry and concern in that mix too. Worry about whether they will be OK, and concern for whether they will achieve their full potential in the college system. By why worry, when there are the thing that you can actually do to ensure they do their best when studying for their degrees? Just read on to find out what they are.

Help them get practically prepared

One important thing that you can do as a parent is to help your child to get partially prepared for college. This can be a thing like getting them the right supplies to survive a year in a dorm like thong sandals for the shower, and a decent frypan.

Or it can be by setting them up with a budget tracker and planner. So they can stay organized however hectic their schedule is.

It can even be helping them to have all the basics that they will need like clothes, toilets and washing powder, or a school bag and laptop.

Also if they aren’t heading to catered halls, then it’s a great idea to get some practical cooking lessons in with them in the run-up to going way from college. It doesn’t have to be anything 5 star. Just basic means like spaghetti bolognese, boiled eggs, and omelets. They will certainly be glad of these skills when they get there.

Help them improve weaker areas

Of course, college isn’t just all about being independent and exploring the world on their own, and there is a fair bit of studying to do as well. That means it can help your child prepare for college by getting their educational skills up to scratch.

This includes helping them improve with a thing like their spoken English skills by doing courses like the ones provided by the Effortless English Club. Or improving on their study skill by showing them different ways of making notes like mind mapping.  

Help them emotionally prepare

Of course, another ingredient of the recipe for college success is to help your child be mentally prepared for the experience. To do this, you may take advantage of the college open days. So they can get used to the layout and being on campus?

It’s also a great idea to speak to them about an emotional issue that might arise while they are away from home. This could be things like stress, mental health issues like depression or anxiety, sexual health issues, or being homesick.

More than anything it’s crucial to let you shall know that while their education is important, it is not vital to your parent-child relationship. This means that if they are having problems and are considering dropping out, they know that you will be there for them unconditionally and support them no matter what.

Recognizing the Signs of Depression In Your Teenager

 

signs of depression

We all have low days. People let us down, and life doesn’t seem to go our way. Depressing, isn’t it. These days are common to all of us, but usually, we can snap out of it, find a positive and move on. However, it is important for you to know, being depressed because of a bad day is not the same as having depression. For your teenager, issues around self-image and bullying can compound the problem.

It is possible that you have an understanding of what depression means. You may suffer from it yourself, or know somebody else who does. If this is your child, it is a misconception to assume they can just get a grip and snap out of it. Thankfully, most people now recognize the illness as something real, but there are still those who cannot get their heads around it. Unless you have experienced depression, it can be hard to empathize with those who do.

Why do young people get depressed?

There are many reasons. Bullying is rife among social media, and vile messages posted online are not easy to get rid of. The pressure of tests and exams can play a part too, as is the pressure of transitioning to adult life.

Medical professionals suggest chemical imbalance plays a part and this is why anti-depressant tablets are often subscribed, balancing the chemicals in the brain to regulate a person’s moods. Exercise, healthy eating and rest also play a part in alleviating some of the symptoms of depression, but there is still no hard and fast answer to the cause.

What can you do to help?

As always, be there to support your child. Don’t pretend to know they feel or put pressure on them. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a little sympathetic, however, and offer yourself as somebody to talk too when they need to.

Don’t give advice you are not qualified to offer. Instead, seek help from your doctor or school professional if you are worried. If your child needs space, give it to them, but considering many people with depression suffer from suicidal thoughts you still need to be vigilant.

Depression is real and often has dire consequences

Teenagers are especially susceptible to depression. Stress over college. Conflict with other teenagers, boyfriends and girlfriends. Bullying and harassment from fellow students. As evidenced by the popularity of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, it’s time for parents to start paying attention. Don’t bury your head in the sand and say it can’t happen to your child. Don’t turn away and hope the problem resolves itself. If you don’t want your teenager to be a victim, be an involved parent.

If you want to spend more time studying the illness, you can take a masters in clinical mental health counseling online. The more educated you are, the better equipped you will be to help your teenager and others.

Key Questions to Ask Your Student Before College

 

key questions

As a loving parent, aiding your child’s educational development is a priority at all times. Helping them gain the strongest foothold in college is undoubtedly the greatest support you could ever provide. Rather than forcing them, though, it’s imperative that your child gains the motivation and traits needed to do it for themselves. Here are some key questions that will enable you to achieve that goal of pointing them in the right direction. Get this right, and they should gain a far better chance of reaching their potential.

Q: What careers interest you?

A lack of direction is perfectly normal throughout those school years. In truth, it’s probably a good thing that your son or daughter spent this time embracing various aspects of life. However, college is a time to focus on a profession. After all, following a career in the medical industry is far different to becoming a lawyer for example. In today’s climate, many graduates do change their mind upon completion of their degrees. As such, making this choice probably isn’t as crucial as it once was. Nevertheless, studying in the right field will give your child a far better chance of reaching the top. Careful consideration is key.

Q: How will you stand out on your college application?

The competition for college places is higher than ever. Naturally, a better institution results in a better education for your child. So if you want them to receive the best, it’s imperative that they go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd. Whether applying to an ivy league school or another college doesn’t matter. Grades alone won’t be enough, which is why hiring an education consultant could be one of the best steps you ever make. By taking applications to the next level, your son or daughter will be in a far stronger position. In the meantime, it should enable them to place greater focus on their exams and school work too.

Q: How will you supplement your academics?

Education is a great platform for any successful career. However, the volume of graduates means that even a first class degree won’t guarantee a grad role. Therefore, your son or daughter should think about part-time or voluntary roles that can be used to supplement their studies. Let’s face it; the skills gained from those roles will aid their development for the course too. The key is to find the right balance so that it doesn’t stop them from achieving their academic goals. Apart from anything else, this is a great chance for them to create useful connections. With a little bit of luck, this could open up a number of doors later on.

Q: Are you ready to live independently in college?

 The college life isn’t exclusively about education. Gaining the best degree possible should be your child’s priority at all times. But there’s no doubt that their standard of living throughout those college years will have a huge influence on their ability to succeed. So, teaching your child the fundamental skills of cooking, cleaning, and financial management will serve them very well. Without that life knowledge, those struggles will cause negative impacts on their studies. Besides, it’ll allow them to focus on the development of other key skills that are born from spending time at college.

Need Help With Your Scholarship Search? Jump on Twitter!

 

scholarship search

Need help with your scholarship search?

I’m a Twitter fanatic. I hopped on the bandwagon early and I’ve been using it ever since. If you aren’t on there, you should be. If you want your student to find and apply for scholarships, you most definitely should be. Scholarship sites tweet daily about current and upcoming scholarships. If you (and your student) follow them, you can easily find scholarships daily to apply to.

@Scholarships360

@Scholarshipscom

@PayingforCollege

@AidScholarship

@ScholarshipOwl

@Chegg

@CheapScholar

@SallieMae

@Unigo

@PrepforCollege

and don’t forget to follow me @SuzanneShaffer because I follow these and RT any additional scholarships I become aware of.

In addition to following these accounts, use the Twitter search engine by typing in “scholarship” and “scholarships”. Then check under each category: Top, Latest, People and Broadcasts to add an additional level to your search.

Create a list in your Twitter account and add these accounts and others you find to it. Then, each morning you can check their feeds for the latest scholarships posted. Dig a little deeper and visit their websites to find additional postings.

There’s no lack of scholarship information on Twitter. All you have to do is know where to look.

Once you find the scholarships you want to win them.  For the best chance to win, check out Monica’s ebook: How to WIN College Scholarships. She will help you package the scholarship to stand out among all the other applicants. It’s a small investment with a “HUGE” payoff!

Preparing Your Student for a Medical Career

 

medical careers

Parents want to help their kids do everything they can to achieve their goals in life. And there is no goal more important than getting the career of their dreams. There are a few career paths that children show an interest in from a very early age, including writing, teaching, and veterinary sciences. But there is one job that seems to trump all of these options: becoming a doctor or a nurse. If you have kids, I bet that they will have played doctors and nurses at least once in their childhood! Want to keep that spark of interest alive, and help them on their way to a medical career in the health industry? Here are some ways you can help.

Hard Work Through School And College Pays Off

No matter whether your child is still in junior school or about to head off to college, they need to work hard if they are ever going to achieve their dream job in the healthcare industry. If they don’t make the grade, there is just no way they will get a job with such important responsibilities, such as a doctor or a surgeon. Even nurses need to be highly qualified these days. So, from the day your child starts school right through till they finish college, it is highly important for you to motivate and encourage them to perform to their best abilities.

Choose Medical-Focused Colleges

There are various colleges out there, all of which offer something different. Some of them will be best-suited to those who want to study for a career in health. In fact, there are now many that offer specialist courses online, such as Ultimate Medical Academy – Health and Human Services Degree Online. These are especially useful for students who want to study from the comfort of their own home and don’t have to waste money on expensive accommodation. As well as looking for a college that offers the right kind of courses, you also need to find one that has a good reputation. Looking for work in the health industry is highly competitive, and those with good qualifications from a reputable college will usually do well in their job hunt.

Look For A Work Experience Program

Lots of schools now offer formal work experience programs for their students. It’s a good idea to find out if your child’s school offers one so that you can encourage your child to join. This will give him or her a great chance to get some valuable experience of being in a professional work environment. Once you child is all signed up, they should opt for a position in a hospital or doctor’s surgery so that they can experience the day-to-day life of a health care professional. Your child will find that having some medical or health-related work experience on their resume will be a big benefit later in life!

Ensuring your child sets down good, solid foundations for their future is key indeed, especially when it comes to the competitive healthcare industry. Hopefully, the tips in this blog post will help you do just that!

Avoiding Traditional College Doesn’t Have to Halt Your Teen’s Education

 

traditional college

If your teen thinks that going straight to college from high school is not for them then they’ve probably been questioned ‘now what?’ countless times. They’ve probably been inundated with people voicing their opinions and telling them where they should and should not go from here. They’ve probably had everyone, from you to their teachers, asking them what the plan is. If that plan is to neither go to college or jump into the world of work then fear not. There are many viable and fruitful educational options out there that involve neither traditional college or work routes but do lead to success. A few examples of such can be found below.

Community college

Just because your child doesn’t want to take the traditional college approach, it might not mean that they don’t want to carry on studying. Just because they don’t want to live in a dorm and move away from home, it might not mean that they don’t wish to get a degree. One way for your teen to get a degree without going down the traditional college route is for them to attend community college. If your teen doesn’t want to do the full four-year stretch at college then they need only do two at community college. In doing so they would earn themselves an associate’s degree.

If your teen is afraid of moving out then they can easily stay at home when attending community college. In doing so they can take this next step in their life at their own pace. If they don’t want to have to waste time continuing in general ed classes then they don’t have to if they attend community college. In doing so they can spend more time exploring their interests and refining the skills they want to refine. Community college is an incredibly viable option if college is not the route for your teen. Because of this you should do all you can to help them see past the misconceptions and stigmas attached to this route.

College online courses

Another educational option that doesn’t follow the traditional college route is the online course. The rise of online technologies in the digital age has improved education by offering learning beyond the traditional brick and mortar. Colleges use platforms such as Moodle to teach their classes online. And those who don’t go to college can use their own education platforms to get a degree. Maryville University offers online courses in all sorts of subjects, as evidenced here: http://online.maryville.edu/. These courses offer the same opportunities for students to ascend in their education and following careers as traditional classroom courses do. The only difference is, a student who takes an online course need not sit in a classroom all day. They can do the work assigned to them and meet their deadlines from the comfort of their home.

Free online courses

Another way to continue education is with other online offerings that cost a student nothing. Khan Academy has a full array of courses for students to whet their educational appetite without the pressure of grades. Colleges like Harvard also offer free university level courses to students who are interested in learning but haven’t yet decided what to study or if they want to attend a traditional four-year university. Both of these options will help students explore interests that will help them decide which career to pursue.

 

If your teen doesn’t want to go to college or take a step on the career ladder, yet they cannot afford a gap year, then there are other ways. There are many ways to carry on with education even when college is forgone, and these options should not be forgone themselves. Long gone are the days when it was either college or work. The world is not as black and white as it was in the past. It is no longer as cut throat. There are many options out there to facilitate education, just not in the traditional sense. So, if your child wants to avoid a ‘traditional’ college setting then you need not fear. There are still ways for them to learn and grow in other places.

 

Exploring Alternate Career Paths

 

alternate career paths

Going to college then following it up with a university degree is perhaps the most common way of pursuing a career. However, there are times when your child just doesn’t want to go to college, or perhaps they dislike the lessons they are receiving and want to have something more hands-on. For instance, perhaps they love art and drawing but the school they attend has horrible teachers that don’t give your child the respect and knowledge they deserve.

If your child wants to avoid college, then it’s not the end of the world and there are alternate career paths that could either convince your child to return to study, or to simply take an alternate path in life for them to reach their desired career target.

Going the freelance route

Freelancing doesn’t have a specific age. A freelancer could be as young as 14 or as old as 80. As long as you have the skills to fill your client’s needs, you can make a living and forge a career path. Of course, if they’re fairly young then you may need to supervise them and handle their finances, but it’s a career path that children take if they want to avoid college or take a more direct approach to reaching their goals. Just don’t tunnel your child town a specific path and don’t force them to do something they don’t want to. Freelancers typically don’t need qualifications to get started. Instead, what they need is a shining portfolio with plenty of examples, and this can easily be done through lots of practice. The first few clients that your child works for might request lower prices due to their inexperience, but this is fine because it all leads to a better portfolio.

Learning on the internet

Internet learning has exploded in popularity due to how accessible and cheap internet connections now are. Many teachers all over the world have turned to internet teaching because it’s far more convenient for them to work in the comfort of their own home, and the same applies to students. Most colleges offer a limited selection of courses, and if your child has a specific interest that can’t be met at your local schools, then the only option is to either move home or use an internet service like Find Your Context to look for their desired online course. Studying online is much cheaper than studying at a physical location, it’s more convenient and your child can study in their own time.

Starting a business (or following in your footsteps)

If you have a family business, then perhaps it’s time to introduce your child to it so they can take over the reins when they are old enough. If you don’t, then turning to entrepreneurship is never a bad idea. If your child is showing signs of a creative mind, an undying passion towards something and an analytical mind, then they might just have what it takes to become a success business owner in the future. Start off young, teach them what you know, and help them forge a path to greatness.

Finding the Right Financial Strategy for your College-Bound Student

financial strategy

Parents have tough choices to make deciding on their financial standing when sending their kids to college. How much help should they offer? How do they make sure that their children learn financial responsibility? What is the best financial strategy?

Here are a few possible answers.

Paying for your child’s college is a good idea if you can afford it

Various positions exist on how fair it is to expect parents to pay their children’s tuition. Some experts point to the fact that college isn’t an essential because success is possible without college. Some believe parents should only be expected to pay for essentials. Those in favor of having parents pay point to the unfairness of the high cost of education today, and the terrible financial burden that loans place on a student.

Whichever side of this debate you may stand on, there are a few things to understand. College is a wise choice if the career that your child has in mind does require college. If it does, it is an essential, not a luxury. Ultimately, it is the parents’ choice on whether to provide support or not.

It is also important to understand that supporting a child through college doesn’t amount to coddling or spoiling them. The idea should be to pay as much for your child’s college as you can afford, without putting your own retirement into jeopardy. If you can only pay for tuition but not for board and lodging, that’s what you should pay. Encourage your student to contribute to the cost by working during school, breaks and during the summer.

Give your child a monitored credit card

Letting your kids have a credit card in college can be a risky choice because many have no idea how to use their newfound independence in a responsible way. They may go out and blow everything they have on the card.

A credit card with a low spending limit, however, can be a good idea. It’s when your kids blow their money and scramble to understand what they did wrong, that they begin to learn about how money works.

There are upsides to owning a credit card, too. As long as the card is in your child’s name, they will begin building credit, an important thing for when real life begins four years down the line.

Teach financial responsibility

Heart-to-heart talks about how money works are a part of gaining an understanding of money. You should talk to your child about savings, investing, payday loans, how banks and credit cards can help you with consolidation, how compound interest works and so on.

Talks are important because far too many young people go out into the world with an inadequate understanding of money.

Restraint is important, too

It’s a good idea to encourage financial responsibility by making your kids earn their rewards. While you should pay for your child’s college if you can, everything else like nice clothes and cars should be things they earn.

Finally, once you do have a policy in place, you should stick to it. It doesn’t work to start out with solemn declarations but to always bail your children out when there is trouble. Lessons will never be learned then.

13 Reasons Why Parents Should Pay Attention

13 Reasons Why

My teenagers are now adults. Thankfully, they both survived being a teenager and came through it unscathed. I was never more thankful than after I watched “13 Reasons Why”.

This is not an entertainment review blog. That’s not the reason I’m discussing the Netflix series here today. Although it was an excellent series with some bone-chilling twists and turns, it was more than entertainment. It was a shock to my system. It was a wake-up call for parents. It was a commentary on the dangers of today’s teenagers and how being connected either online or with smartphones can multiply and exaggerate what used to be typical teenage experiences.

The premise of this series is one teenager’s path from hope to hopelessness. That path was driven by 13 different people. Twelve teenagers and one adult who either weren’t listening, didn’t care, or felt pressured by peers to participate in hateful acts toward her. With each instance of cruelty, her hopelessness increases leading her to take her own life. But, she leaves 13 tapes behind explaining what led her to do it. Each person had no idea. Each came face to face with their own cruelty and neglect.

Every parent of a teenager should watch this series. But be warned—it will scare the bejeebies out of you. And it should. Because the world our children and our grandchildren live in today is cruel—crueler than it has ever been. Bullies exist everywhere and the bullying is magnified by social media and smartphones. Your teenager is most likely either being bullied or is bullying someone. Yes, I did say that.

It’s time for parents to start paying attention. Don’t bury your head in the sand and say it can’t happen to my child. Don’t turn away and make comments like, “everyone is bullied.” Most of us were bullied as children in one form or another, but trust me, it was nothing compared to the extent of what is happening today.

I am not a psychologist. I’m just a parent. I raised two teenagers. Based on my own experiences, here are 13 reasons why “13 Reasons Why” parents should pay attention to this series:

  1. Your teenager will experience back-breaking peer pressure. Their peers will pressure them to do things they might not normally do on their own. Peer groups have a great influence on your teenager’s actions. Give your teenager the tools he or she needs to stand up to bad behavior and bullying.
  2. The stress and competition around the college process is overwhelming. There is no greater time for students to feel pressured and stress from their peers and adults than during college prep season. Some is self-inflicted stress, but they will also succumb to comparisons over GPAs, test scores, college choices, and college acceptances. Encourage your teen to pursue his or her own path and be proud of their own accomplishments.
  3. Kids are cruel; especially teenagers. It’s a fact of life. It starts in grade school—the teasing, the bullying, the “I’m not your friend” comments. It only intensifies during the high school years. A strong self-esteem and supportive family can help your teenager overcome the feelings of inadequacies that come with this type of cruelty.
  4. If you don’t know the signs of suicide, you can’t help. Educate yourself. Get information online. Go to parent seminars. Talk to the school and ask what resources they have in place to help students. Finally, don’t ignore the signs. If you see your teenager needs help, don’t be afraid to get it.
  5. You should make it clear in no uncertain terms that bullying will not be tolerated. If you don’t want your teen to be bullied, you should make it clear that you will not allow bullying from your teen. If you see it happening, confront it. If you see it happening to another teenager, inform their parents. Get involved and encourage discussion.
  6. If you don’t talk about this now, it will only get worse in college. Now, while you have them at home, is the time to confront these issues of bullying, teen suicide, social media behavior and mental illness. Once they are away at college, it’s harder to see the signs and even harder to help.
  7. Social media is a game changer. Years ago, bullying was done face to face. Now, it happens online and with the use of smartphones. Social media allows bullies to remain anonymous and harm their victims without having to be face to face. It also makes it harder to fight and diffuse the bullying.
  8. Texts, group texts, Snapchat and other means of communication make bullying much worse. When you watch this series, you will see how group texts and social media contributed to extending the bullying from one student to an entire school. Talk with your teenager about the danger of this behavior and monitor their smartphone and social media activity.
  9. The suicide rate among teenagers is alarming. According to the Center for Disease Control:

    Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24; suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18; more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from any disease COMBINED; each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12; four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs

  1. Most teenagers have a side their parents see and a side their peers see. You may think everything is fine because your teenager tells you it is. But appearances can be deceiving. Take the time to listen, communicate and spend time with your teenager. Make your home a safe space where they feel free to talk about any subject without judgment or condemnation.
  2. Do not let your teenagers watch this without you. There are explicit rape scenes, nudity, and an actual depiction of suicide in the series. If you feel they must watch or are already watching, watch with them and have discussions after each episode.
  3. Kindness won’t stop a person contemplating suicide, but cruelty certainly contributes. It’s clear that a person contemplating suicide will require more than kindness to change their mind. However, the amount of cruelty and hatred a person endures can be a contributing factor. Your teenagers should be aware of this and you should make it clear that you won’t tolerate any hate speak or cruel words directed towards others.
  4. Your teenager’s peers shape their lives. Our friends dictate our actions. That’s why it’s important to choose our friends wisely. It’s important for your teenager to have a few close friends they can confide in and trust. These friends will help counteract any negative input they receive from others. My teenagers’ friends were literally their lifeline in high school and college. Help them choose friends who will raise them up and not tear them down.

If this isn’t enough, read this post from a parent whose son attempted suicide and watched the series: “13 Reasons Why” Scared the Shit Out of Me—And It Should Scare You Too!

Now go watch “13 Reasons Why”. But fair warning—it’s going to scare the bejeebies out of you. At the very least it will make you pay attention. At the very most, it could help you save your teenager’s life.