Reading = Success

In early elementary school we learn to read.  Through middle and late elementary we refine the skills and begin to read to learn.  From that point forward, our acquisition of knowledge changes radically.  And today, when the trend of business and global infrastructure revolves around Information, how can we be successful without the ability to read and read well?

In the January 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Best Colleges, there is an article, “A To-Do List for Your College Search. “  The article is great as it addresses activities that need to be done each year of high school, but one that caught my eye was in the Freshman Year.  The recommendation was, “Read voraciously.”  It’s true.  The more you read, your reading will improve as will your vocabulary.  Thus, your success on tests improves and your class performance.

The Highlands Ability Battery is a wonderful assessment of natural abilities and provides lots of great information for career path.  The funny thing is, even the Highlands Company recognized in the early 1920’s that vocabulary is so important to future success that while it is not a natural ability, vocabulary can be increased through reading and can serve as a significant indicator and enhancement to your success.   While math and English, science and history are not part of the assessment, the developers of the Highlands Ability Battery included vocabulary because of its power and influence on our work lives.

In a world where many believe “Knowledge is Power” or that the global world of 24/7 breaking news and technological advancements are going to shape an entirely new work force, they are paying attention to the trend.  The question is, “Will you?”

If reading increases knowledge, and “Knowledge is Power”, then opportunities for success increase with reading.  So, read voraciously.  Read books, read magazines, trade journals, newspapers, the web or anything you find interesting.  Build your vocabulary; increase your performance and your career opportunities.  Reading = Success.

Want to know more about The Highlands Ability Battery, your college major or career direction?      Contact me.

“Deep Dish” Decision Making – College Acceptances

It’s time.  For those of you who are high school seniors or parents of those students, or juniors in the preparation mode, this blog is for you.  It’s decision time.  Now for seniors or soon for juniors, the same information will apply, so take note.

The previous blog posting was about the 6 Considerations for College Majors.  Those are great guides for thinking about where you want to go to school and what you want to study.  They help to narrow the field.  But now, you’ve sent out those applications and the letters of acceptance are being delivered.  How will you choose?  Will you fall into the trap of going where your best friend goes, lots of peers or school name recognition?  Will you choose because Mom or Dad are promoting because it is their Alma Mater?

Making that “Deep Dish” Decision needs to be well grounded in your best interests.  After all, you’ve spent years deciding whether you prefer deep dish or thin and crispy pizza and whether you like meat lovers toppings or vegetarian.  Buying a $200,000 education is a bit more involved that a $20 pizza.  So devote the time necessary to get it right.  Where do you believe you culturally fit in, socially have opportunities, geographically have independence and manageability, athletically have an opportunity to live out your sports dream or participate in university events, financially can be educated without incurring unreasonable student debt, and academically above all else – where can you get the program that will serve you best?  When it comes down to the final decision, dig deep into the universities offerings of majors to ensure there is a good fit.  When you make a college visit, look at the buildings, the technology and even the methods of course delivery to ensure it is right for you.  Just because an institution offers a major in business doesn’t mean it offers the area of specialty that is right for you.

So for each college you receive an “Acceptance” look deeper and compare them carefully.  Your homework done now will pay off big in securing a four-year, on-time degree in a major you will enjoy and a career path grounded in “Deep Dish” Decision Making.

Six Considerations in Choosing a College Major

The following post has been one of my most frequently referenced and visited blog posts in the past 2 years.  I hope it provides good information for those new to my work, but for those returning, I hope you always get a new little something out of the information or perhaps even a gentle reminder.  Happy 2013!

1 – Family Influence – Throughout our lives, parents and family members influence our considerations for college, advanced degrees and career outcomes.  Their involvement and discussions may or may not support specific areas of study the student finds of interest.  The work done by parents or extended family members may set an expectation for the college student and therefore the selection of a college major is predetermined by family dynamics.   Knowing where family influence comes from can support an open range of major areas of study or it can create an expectation that may or may not fit.

2 – Media Impact – Television programs like CSI, Law and Order, or The Closer have created increased demand for degrees in Criminal Justice.  However, enjoying a television program doesn’t make it a good career fit.  Understanding the requirements of the courses and the potential career opportunities that are related to these courses can help in determining a good fit and major area of study.

3 – Values – Knowing yourself and what you value is an important factor in choosing a major area of study.  Whether it is time management, making a difference for others, religion, recognition, physical challenges or spending time with family or friends, these and many others are key factors in considering career directions and major areas of study.

4 – Interests – Interest surveys are great tools for beginning a process of determining career direction and major areas of study.  Because interests can change due to our experiences, it is good to take them periodically.  While interests may shift, you may also find a trend develops with one or two.

5 – Natural Abilities – Natural Abilities are the way in which we are hardwired.  Like our fingerprints, they are part of who we are and they do not change.  They appear as the things we do naturally and easily.  They impact the way we learn, interact with others, the environment we feel most comfortable at work.  Natural abilities are driving forces within each of us and can be capitalized on for maximum performance and satisfaction or we can work against them and question why we are not as happy in our chosen careers.

6 – Goals – Having clearly defined goals can help in choosing college majors.  Do your goals require 4 years or 8 years of school?  Do you have a financial plan to support those goals?  Will the outcome of your major area of study provide career opportunities based on labor trends, where you choose to live and your social or cultural expectations?  Clearly defined goals along with a financial plan will assist in meeting the challenges of completing an “on time” degree as well as reduce potential costs associated with changing majors and prolonged graduation dates.

When to Consider College Majors and Careers

I frequently get asked when it is time to start thinking about colleges, careers and majors.  Certainly the earlier the better and there are plenty of things you can do well in advance to prepare yourself for making these critical decisions.  Middle school and certainly high school freshman can begin a low impact process.  It is also important to understand that when you do the work up front, it allows you to have greater peace of mind, focus on other important details, and to understand that even with the work you have done, you can still change your mind but within a more defined framework for success.  It’s about creating opportunities!

In June of 2008, The Wall Street Journal published an article referencing The Highlands Ability Battery and the importance of students being able to identify their natural abilities for the benefit of lifelong career management.  But it is also important to understand that the abilities that are measured at age 17 for a high school student, remain constant throughout your life.  Therefore, the results are applicable for a lifetime and serve as a great resource in career decisions whether that decision includes deciding on a major area of study, promotion opportunity, going back to school, or transitioning into retirement.

Selecting the right major can mean the difference between graduating college on time or becoming one of the national statistics.  Nationally, less than 40% of college students complete a four-year degree on time and more than 51% require up to 6 years to complete a four-year degree.  That frightening statistic impacts your ability to create a productive income after 4 years, but it also comes with a price tag that equates to a national average of $30,000 per student in loan debt due to changed majors.  Imagine being ahead of the game just by graduating on time!  Imagine saving $30,000 for an advanced degree or to open your own business just because you had a plan and graduated on time!

Halloween and Other Scary Times

How perfect to end the month with Halloween and a topic of Scary Times.  If you are a junior or senior in high school or a senior in college you are facing scary times.  There is enough uncertainty in the world to create plenty of anxiety in those who are in pivotal transition points in their lives.

Actually, anyone who is trying to make decisions about college and career direction is facing scary times.  But you can reduce the stress by arming yourself with tools that enhance your decision-making and place yourself in better positions for opportunities.

In a time when information is a key to success, resources can be your most important tools.  Here are some key resources for you to pay attention to regularly:

1.  Athletes in any sport – – a terrific resource for understanding the college sports recruiting experience and communicating with coaches to secure your opportunity.  Hans writes a great blog with specific information.  Bookmark it!

2.  College bound students and parents – – a must for registering for the SAT, pacing yourself with a prep program, practicing with their Question of the Day, and they are usually the first indicator of college cost increases.   An underused resource.  Bookmark it!

3.  Anyone thinking about career opportunities – – a wonderful resource for looking at trends of jobs, sectors of employment and demographic availability of employment.  Another underused resource.  Bookmark it!

Scary times can be made less frightening when armed with effective tools.  Knowing your options, how to manage them and knowing more about yourself enables you to make more effective decisions and capitalize on opportunities.  Need a great resource to learn more about yourself, choosing a college, college major or your career direction?  Contact me.

3 Considerations When Choosing an SAT or ACT Prep Program

Paying for college really starts in high school.  All those extra coaches, fees for lessons and expenses for tests are just the beginning of what is yet to come.  So how can you manage those expenses so you get the “biggest bang” for your buck?  One way is to choose a test prep program that meets your specific needs and allows your dollars to target that purpose.  After all, depending on where you live, prep programs can range from $30 an hour for standard tutoring all the way to $8400 for an annual package with some big name companies.  Each has their own benefits and drawbacks.

There are basically three different ways to engage in a test prep program.  The first is one-on-one tutoring specific to SAT or ACT, the second is a group delivery model and the third is an on-line tutorial which may be individual or group but involves a live video feed.  In order to choose one, you need to consider these factors:

1 – Timeline for Preparing – In an earlier blog I wrote about creating a timeline for working from the endpoint backwards.  That way you don’t miss deadlines for test registrations or college applications.  But as you select a test prep program, be sure you get the specifics about when classes occur, what happens if you miss a session due to illness or other school related obligations, and how does the instructor address your specific needs.  Will their schedule fit with yours?

2 – Cost vs. Benefit – What is the overall cost for a program and does it include a practice test?  How are practice test results used to structure the prep program or is it a generalized plan?  While there are no guarantees on any plan, you want to invest your time and energy in better understanding your own performance and getting the best possible score as an outcome.

3 – Consider Your Learning Style – Do you learn better through visual, auditory or kinesthetic modes?  How can you capitalize on other learning modes if your number memory is low?  The Highlands Ability Battery helps answer these questions and can assist in making an effective decision for selecting a test prep program, but how do the three delivery models address these modes of learning?

Choosing a test prep program may include conversations with student peers or parent booster groups when attending school functions, but when it comes time to select the one for you, be sure to consider these three factors.  If you need more information on the Highlands Ability Battery, contact me.  If you need more information about the programs in your home area, contact me.  Choose wisely, get the best result possible, and the “biggest bang” for your buck.

If you’ve had a good SAT or ACT prep experience, please comment here to share that with other parents and students.

The Importance of Identifying a Major for College – Early

In June of 2008, The Wall Street Jour­nal pub­lished an arti­cle ref­er­enc­ing The High­lands Abil­ity Bat­tery and the impor­tance of stu­dents being able to iden­tify their nat­ural abil­i­ties for the ben­e­fit of life­long career man­age­ment.  But it is also impor­tant to under­stand that the abil­i­ties that are mea­sured at age 17 for a high school stu­dent, remain con­stant through­out your life.  There­fore, the results are applic­a­ble for a life­time and serve as a great resource in career deci­sions whether that deci­sion includes decid­ing on a major area of study, pro­mo­tion oppor­tu­nity, going back to school, or tran­si­tion­ing into retirement.  The results are also a great source of data verification on resume’s and in interviews.

Select­ing the right major can mean the dif­fer­ence between grad­u­at­ing col­lege on time or becom­ing one of the national sta­tis­tics.  Nation­ally, less than 40% of col­lege stu­dents com­plete a four-year degree on time and more than 51% require up to 6 years to com­plete a four-year degree.  That fright­en­ing sta­tis­tic impacts your abil­ity to cre­ate a pro­duc­tive income after 4 years, but it also comes with a price tag that equates to a national aver­age of $30,000 per stu­dent in loan debt due to changed majors.  Imag­ine being ahead of the game just by grad­u­at­ing on time!  Imag­ine sav­ing $30,000 for an advanced degree or to open your own business!

Your Elevator Speech

If you walked into an elevator, the door closed and you found yourself next to a college recruiter, coach or potential employer and had 30 seconds to promote yourself, what would you say?  When the door opens and they walk away, what would you have said that makes you memorable enough that they want to know more?

The old “Elevator Speech” is a business technique that has been used for decades, but it is still effective.  In fact, for young people who have less experience promoting themselves to future employers or college admissions offices, it is a great way to collect your thoughts ahead of time so that when opportunity strikes, you’re prepared.  I find that when young people are asked to, “Tell me a little about your self,” they get caught like deer in headlights or ramble with no impressive points.

So prepare ahead.  I can help you do that so that the initial meeting or unexpected opportunity can be managed with a prepared and relaxed “30 second Elevator Speech.”  Promote yourself by being prepared.  What will you say in 30 seconds that will leave them wanting more?  Contact me.

Making Yourself Marketable

  • Are you marketable? 
  • How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else? 
  • How will you demonstrate key characteristics for maximum opportunities?

So why ask these three questions?  Whether you are in high school or college and looking for summer or full time employment, you face a tough job market.  Being able to answer these three questions in a targeted and positive manner can help put you in a winning situation.

Are you marketable? When an employer does a social media check on you, what will they find?  When they call you, what will your voicemail tell them about you?  Your social media is your first line of contact and will either provide support for you as a professional and serious candidate for a job, or it can be a yellow or red flag that diminishes your opportunity.

How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else?  What have you done that furthers your capabilities to perform on the job?  Is it a degree or have you participated in a learning experience that measures abilities?  CareerBuilders and many of the top job search engines and headhunting experts have written about the need to have supportive data to back up your claims to job capability.  We can help you provide that data through expert tools and guidance.

How will you demonstrate key characteristics for maximum opportunities?  As employers conduct interviews, more and more they are looking for evidence of your past performance as a predictor of your future performance capability.   What examples will you use from your past experiences as a demonstration of your future performance?

Making yourself marketable is a matter of looking at you from another perspective and taking action.  We can help you do that!  Contact us for more information.

Getting the Biggest Return on an Education

When you evaluate the cost or investment in something, sometimes we humans can be a bit short sighted.  So when it comes to evaluating the cost of a college education and your investment of time, you want to make sure you invest well and provide good marketability for yourself.  You also want to reduce the potential of debt after graduation.

There is an excellent article, The Best Values in Public Colleges that ranks 20 of the best universities and reasons for the rankings.  I point this out because there is an additional factor to pay attention to in these numbers and it isn’t printed.  The last column on the chart identifies “Average debt at graduation.”  This is important…many states, like Florida, offer academic scholarship dollars to in-state students based on GPA.  But even with those dollars, the “Average debt at graduation” for students at University of Florida is $16,013.  Maybe your most economical and major specific institution isn’t in-state.  Look at all of your options.

By doing some work up front, you can explore careers, majors and schools that are interesting, make sense and are a natural fit for you.  That’s where I can provide you excellent guidance and steps to creating an effective plan for college and career direction.  Those steps help to lead you to a great college experience, on-time graduation with a meaningful degree that is marketable in a career path geared to your satisfaction and reward.

Getting the biggest return on an educational investment means:

  • Graduating on Time
  • Reduced or No Student Loan Debt
  • Marketable Degree
  • High Degree of Satisfaction in Career Path

Click here for more information on creating a successful high school and college to workplace plan.

Click here for the full article and table – The Best Values in Public Colleges.