Back to School Bucket List: Volunteering & More

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 03:24 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The end of summer is approaching.  For me, this also means that soon my senior year of high school will begin, and I am troubled by the question, how did we get here? When the topic enters conversation, I find myself reminiscing with friends about the past three years. We are all wondering, how did we get here? and where did all of that time go? However, the most important question is not about how we arrived, but, where do we go from here? and it is this issue that make senior year such a pinnacle part of high school.  So, in beginning to answer the question where do I go from here? I have put together a list of personal, academic, and lifestyle goals for this year.

  1. Be Myself: Personally, high school has been a time where I have explored what it means to be High school students must prioritize their goals.myself. Adolescence is a time when a person begins to become self-conscious, which can at times be difficult if this entails a decrease in confidence or the pressure to conform to social norms. However, when I began high school and started at a new school with new people, I started to shed my shyness and to act more like myself around others rather than follow what I believed was expected of me.  This year, as I finish the last year of high school and begin to make concrete decisions about where do I go from here? I plan to continue to work on being comfortable being myself and deciding how my actions can better reflect the type of person I want to be.

  2. Start a Volunteer-Based Club: Throughout high school, I have been involved in volunteerism, through both school clubs and community organizations.  This year, I am working on starting a club in my own school which will incorporate service work in which students will help each other students in our school community with completing writing assignments and learning proofreading skills. 

  3. Meet Someone New: I am always looking tomeet and interact with new people.  I have been going to school with the same group of people and have many good friends, but there are still people in our school community I do not recognize. Regardless of who your friends are now, new friends can still be made in unexpected ways, and I hope that this year I will continue old friendships and start some new ones too.

  4. Track Volunteer Hours: I began tracking my service-learning hours in high-school because of the service-learning diploma program in our district.  Since then, volunteering as become more than checking off a box. It has become a vital and meaningful part of my life, and hour-tracking is my way of looking at my impact on the community.  I plan to document all my hours before graduation to earn recognition for my service work and to view my progress over four years. 

  5. College Applications: This is pretty daunting process, but now there is no avoiding it.  My goal is to manage my time, submit the best representation of myself possible, and to avoid leaving everything to the last minute.

  6. Read More: Each year, school becomes more difficult and challenging.  I think I spend less and less time reading for leisure because of a demanding schedule.  Sometimes the large amount of reading I do for school takes away from reading I would like to do for myself.  However, I think there are many benefits to reading, and I am usually adding more books to the list of books I want to read than I am reading.  I want to make time for the leisure reading I once had time for daily.  (Check out some of these interesting reads on volunteerism and social good). 

  7. Say Thank You: The person I am today and the path my life will take after senior year is the culmination of the time and attention of many important mentors and teachers.  I intend to express or reiterate my appreciation to these people for helping me have a successful and fulfilling high school experience.

  8. Volunteering can make the school year more meaningful.Give Back: Since freshman year, volunteerismhas become an increasingly important part of my life.This goal goes along with the previous in that volunteering is a way of saying thank you by giving back to the community.  This year will be no different, and I will continue to volunteer and search for new organizations to engage my time with. 

  9. Cope with Stress: School is like a never-ending to-do list, and sometimes there are moments when it does not seem possible to complete everything in the time I have.  I am usually pretty good at managing stress. For me, the best way to manage stress is to realize that being overly anxious does not ameliorate a situation. Time management is also a way I effectively manage stress.  This year I want to expand my management of stress from a mental approach to a physical approach by exercising more and trying to be more balanced health-wise.

  10. Keep in Touch: After graduation, we will all begin to go our separate ways. With today’s technology and social media, keeping in contact with old friends is easier than ever. However, when I say “keep in touch,” I mean more than just the occasional “selfie” in my newsfeed. What I mean by “keep in touch” is having meaningful conversations and making sure not to lose contact with the people close to me. 

  11. Appreciate Each Moment: There are many events, traditions, and milestones that take place in high school; at our school this includes event such as spirit week, prom, senior tea, convocation, graduation, etc.  It will be the last or only chance to savour these memories, and I intend on making the best of each moment. 

What are your goals for this school year?  How do you plan achieve them? to calculate your progress? 
Share in the comments below. 

 

"Schoolgirl with books on head" by CollegeDegrees360 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

College Move-In Day - A Major Milestone for Students and Parents

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 02:52 PM

In a matter of days, you’ll hear the collective sighs of mothers around the country saying goodbye to their college bound students. You may also hear a few whoops and hollers from the students as their parents drive away!Mom_+_Daughter_Move-In_Day

This is a major milestone for parents and students. As parents, we are excited for our children and the road ahead, but it also signals the end of an era for us. For students, it means newfound freedom and the beginning of an amazing journey. While most won’t admit it, they probably are a bit anxious about leaving the security of home, as well as free laundry services and clean bathrooms.

So imagine combining all of your emotional baggage with plastic bins, luggage, and small appliances. Now Female_Resident_Move-In_Dayadd in traffic, minimal parking, August weather, and if you’re lucky two elevators – that is college move-in day! Don’t worry. In the right frame of mind and a little preparation, you’ll get through it just fine. Here are few tips from Residence Hall experts and parents that have survived the freshmen day move in!

Before You Go

If your child is like mine and hasn’t looked at any of the literature about move-in day, then enjoy taking charge one last time! Go to the university’s residence life website where you can find all the details about move-in day.

“We encourage students first to take a look at the “Move-In Checklist” and our “Policies and Procedures” on our website,” said Dr. Ann Bailey, Director of Housing for Mississippi State University. “This list not only includes a list of items students may need, but also includes items that are not allowed in our residence halls.”

University of Pittsburgh’sArrival Survival” details everything from before you leave home to after you’ve moved in. They even have a twitter handle just for the big event.

Residence Housing websites provide information about each residence hall, including what basic items come with the room. Some schools provide or rent the mini-fridge and microwave. Note that many rooms use extra long mattresses – meaning your sheets from home may not fit! You can also get measurements to determine if there’s space for additional items like beanbag chairs, extra storage units, etc. You don’t want to waste time and money buying and packing items that may never be used.

Leave things like heaters, toasters, hotplates, Panini presses, rope lights, wireless routers, and halogen lights at home. “Anything with open heat sources aren’t allowed due to fire hazards,” said Samantha Noblit, residence director for the University of Pittsburgh. “Halogen light bulbs are typically not allowed as they can get very hot and start fires.”

Once you’ve figured what your student needs, make a list of items they use at home – toiletries, kitchen supplies, laundry, etc. This will give them an idea of what they will need to bring and determine how to store it.

It’s the Little Things

Don’t forget miscellaneous things like a garbage can, hangers, and a first aid kit. Shower curtains and tension rods come in handy for additional privacy in suite-style bathrooms. Anne Garraway, a mom with two students at Mississippi State, said to consider purchasing a good mattress pad/foam pad to make the bed more comfortable, as well as a little fan in case roommates don't agree on temperature.

According to Noblit, shower caddies and flip-flops are some of the most used items. “Communal showers are an adjustment for students, but shower caddies allow them to be able to put all of their toiletry items in one easy transportable basket.”

Noblit also suggests students bring pictures, decorations, or anything else that can make their room feel more like home. She advises bringing an alarm clock even though many students use cellular devices for this purpose. “Sometimes batteries die in the middle of the night and parents aren’t knocking on their door!”

Consider waiting a few weeks on items like an iron. “Many times, one student on the floor will have them and they can share with others,” said Noblit. She also said televisions and printers are on the decline, especially with the rise of streaming television sites and more professors accepting assignments via email or other online systems. Most residence halls have student lounges with TVs for public use.

Talk Before You BuyDr._Keenum_Move-In_Day

Michele White, a mother of two college graduates and a senior at the University of Louisville, advises students to talk to their roommate(s) before they purchase anything. Decide beforehand what common items they will each contribute. “You don't want two refrigerators and two TVs,” said White.

 Should you buy here or there?

Some parents suggest buying supplies in your hometown before you go. “It can be difficult to shop in college towns,” said Garraway. “They run out of everything on move-in weekend.”

However, if you want the full experience, a trip to the university’s local Wal-Mart or Target with everyone else on move-in day can be a fun and memorable event!

Another option to is to purchase items at big box stores online or in your home state and then have them delivered to the local store near the university.

Get Packing

It’s important to have everything in manageable bins, suitcases, etc. Misc. grocery bags of items are sure to rip, or fall over emptying your nice clean linens on the ground. 

“Label all of your personal belongings with your first and last name, room number (include wing/floor, if applicable), and only bring essentials on that first day,” said Bailey. “Then, be aware for the next few days of items you want/have room for and either take a trip home or go to a local store to purchase them.”

“There is no use to pack a bunch of oversized winter coats if you are coming home in a month,” said Noblit. “There isn’t a lot of storage in your residence hall room, so being mindful of the seasons will be important in fitting everything.”

Checking In

Move-in day is usually staggered by dorms, floors, etc., to ease traffic and parking. When you get there,your student will check in to receive his dorm keys. Once we pulled up to my son’s residence hall, there were at least four volunteers ready to take his belongings straight to his room. The van was unloaded within minutes. His residence hall did not have elevators, so we were extremely appreciative of the help to the third floor! Even if your student’s residence hall does have elevators, expect a wait or use the time to get your cardio by taking the stairs!

Saying Goodbye

Once you’re all moved in, schools may have complimentary refreshments. LSU offered banana splits – encouraging parents to “split!” MS State had a “Blues Breakfast” the morning after move-in.

Gwen House Hymel, a mother of one college graduate, a junior at Baton Rouge Community College and a sophomore at University of Louisiana at Lafayette advises to make the goodbyes short and quick. seeyoulater“I did it and had a good cry on the way home.  My kids said I took it well and they weren’t worried about me! It made them feel better about moving on.”

For Hymel each goodbye was different. With one, they agreed to just say “see ya soon!” With another, the best farewell was a long hug and a few words of encouragement. Her youngest just gave her a kiss on the cheek and told her he would be fine.

“We encourage families to say ‘see you later,’” said Bailey.

Noblit said the best way to say goodbye is to hug your child, tell them you love them, make a plan for communication, and a plan for their next visit home. “Making a plan for their next visit home puts a slight moratorium on “empty nest syndrome” and gives each of you something to look forward to.”

We want to hear about your move-in day experience. Make sure to send pictures!

 

photo credits: MSU Public Affairs & Dolly Duplantier

 

 

Topics: back to school, parents, higher education, college, College advice, residence halls, College move-in day

Must-read books for volunteering & social good

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 10:28 AM

Looking to learn about volunteering, activism and creating social change? Add these books to your reading list to learn more about the different ways you can use your time to help others and create social good.


1. 
Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists by Courtney E. Martin




martin_bookThis book explores the inspiring ways that young people are making a career out of making a difference.  Martin portrays eight young activists both as flawed, relatable people and extraordinary, inspiring, change makers.  She discards the traditional “save the world” and “feel-good” motivations for volunteerism.  Instead she approaches service with one question in mind: “How do you create a meaningful life?”

 

2. Building Powerful Community Organizations: A Personal Guide to Creating Groups that Can Solve Problems and Change the Worldby Michael Jacoby Brown
This guide provides a step-by-step process to starting your own community organization or non-profit, followed by case studies that better illustrate these steps.  In addition to starting a group, the book also explores how to address community issues. Most importantly, this book gives advice on how to be a leader.  From engaging volunteers to organizing meetings and raising funds, this book gives you all the tools and advice needed to empower a group of people to change their community. 

 

3. The (Help!) I-Don't-Have-Enough-Time Guide to Volunteer Management by Susan J. Ellis and Katherine Noyes

This easy-to-follow guide on volunteer management provides information about communicating roles and responsibilities to volunteers, utilizing volunteers’ talents, and building an organization’s success.  This book appeals to the busy lives of many people in the non-profit sector and emphasises time management and efficiency, particularly for volunteer managers whose work with volunteers in their spare time.

 

4. Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul: Stories to Celebrate the Spirit of Courage, Caring and Communityby Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Arline McGraw Oberst, John T. Boal, Tom Lagana, and Laura Lagana

In this instalment of the well-known Chicken Soup for the Soul series, volunteers share their heartfelt stories and experiences. These stories come from everyday people who use their time and talents to impact their community. The volunteers who contributed to this collection work for a variety of organizations and dozens of causes, but a common thread among their stories is the capacity within each of us to care for one another.

 

5. Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, Orlanda Ruthven

This study looks at worldwide poverty and suggests solutions to this problem. Portfolios of the Poor dives into the everyday lives of some of the forty percent of the world’s population living on less than $2 a day.  The study emphasizes the use of microfinance and the solutions to poverty at a grassroots level. The authors attempt to analyze poverty from the point of view of the poor rather than generalized statistics and trends. This book also suggests solutions that non-profits can follow to help the poor help themselves.   

 

6. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein

This book examines the rise of social entrepreneurship.  It offers case studies, personal stories, and analysis to explain how social entrepreneurship enables an individual to make an impact. In addition to explaining how social entrepreneurship works, Bornstein also explains how it is becoming more popular and why it is so important in our changing world. 

 

7. The Kid's Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis
This book is a great resource for educators.  It helps encourage young people to serve and helps those who aren’t sure where to start changing their community.  The book gives hundreds of project ideas and includes references and contacts to help students get started.  This service guide also has a “Ten Steps to Successful Service Projects” to help young people learn the basics of meaningful service and volunteerism. 

 

8. Getting to Maybe: How the World is Changedby Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Patton
This book explores how meaningful change can actually become feasible. The idea of one person affecting large, complex world issues can often seem impossible.  It’s not possible for every person to become a heroic leader in a movement.  However, that doesn’t mean one person cannot make a difference. The authors of this book explore the stories of people working toward visible progress and synthesize these stories and community relationships into guidelines for creating actual social change. 




9. The Insider’s Guide to the Peace Corps: What to Know Before You Go by Dillon Banerjee
Ever wonder what joining the Peace Corps is like?  This book answers nearly every question imaginable, including the application process, packing for your trip, how to adjust to living abroad, and the effectiveness of the Peace Corps as an organization.  The book is written in an easy-to-follow question-answer format and provides all the knowledge you might ever want to know about the Peace Corps from experienced volunteers themselves.



 

10. The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets that Change the Worldby John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan

Elkington and Hartigan argue that social entrepreneurs are helping the world progress by analyzing the stories of unconventional but successful social entrepreneurs. This book provides a look into the sector of the economy teetering between non-profits and businesses.  These companies apply the skills of entrepreneurship to find solutions to social issues. The book explains how these companies are changing the landscape of today’s economy.


 

11. Don't Just Count Your Hours, Make Your Hours Count by Dr. Kristin E. Joos Ph.D., Alana Rush 

The book includes best practices, tips, lists, "How to's", "Don't do's", popular wisdom, academic research, real-life experiences, student volunteer etiquette guides, and more. It is THE essential guide to volunteering & community service for students.

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10 TED Talks that demonstrate the power of experiential learning

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 03:55 PM


Service-learning and experiential learning can transform the way students absorb information by integrating real-world experiences with classroom lessons. Check out these TEDx talks that explore how service-learning is helping students understand social issues and empowering them to take action. 

 

  1. How to Learn? From Mistakes— Diana Laufenberg
    November 2011 at TEDxMidAtlantic
     
    Screen_Shot_2014-07-15_at_1.14.17_AM
    “If we continue to look at education as if it's about coming to school to get the information and not about experiential learning, empowering student voice and embracing failure, we're missing the mark.”

    Diana Laufenberg describes how projects that challenged her students to use what they learned in class to create and interact with the world were the most fruitful parts of their learning.  She describes assignments that she gives students, forcing them to interact with the world as a way of absorbing classroom topics.   In all of these assignments, Laufenberg emphasized the importance of allowing students to make and learn from mistakes as a powerful method of learning.


  1. Secrets of engagement based learning— Gever Tulley
    September 2012 at TEDxBratislava

    “Create a meaningful experience, and the learning will follow”

    Gever Tulley focuses on how education should be redesigned to create experiences rather than curriculum. In Tulley’s school, Brightworks in San Francisco, children learn by creating.  He outlines an experiential learning process: exploring ideas in the real world, creatively expressing their new knowledge, and sharing their learning with others.

 

  1. 3 rules to spark learning— Ramsey Musallam
    April 2013

    Ramsey Musallam is a high school science teacher who believes the role of educators is to spark creativity and inquiry in their students. He advocates for integrating technology into education to facilitate question-driven rather than content-driven learning. In his talk, he outlines three rules for educators: curiosity comes first, embrace the mess, and practice reflection. The learning process is nonlinear, and constant adaptation to students’ needs is necessary.  By following these three rules, educators fulfill the purpose of teaching: cultivating curiosity, inquiry, and imagination. 


  1. Service and schools -- partnership on purpose— Jim Kielsmeier
    August 2013 at TEDxFargo

    Screen_Shot_2014-07-21_at_1.44.12_PM

    "Meaning and purpose in one's life is not something that's given.  It's earned.  It's something that comes through significant service and contribution."

    Jim Kielsmeier is the Founder and President/CEO of the National Youth Leadership Council, and founder of the Center for Experiential Education and Service-Learning.  He talks about the history of service in American culture, and his work today bringing service to education.  He has dedicated his life to trying to figure out how to make service a ubiquitous part of growing up.  Kielsmeier describes service-learning as “a new way of thinking about young people.” Encouraging young people to enact positive change in their community in service-learning class settings is the “new way” of thinking about education.


  1. Kids, Take Charge— Kiran Sethi
    November 2009 at TEDIndia

    “If learning is embedded in real world context…then children go through a journey of: aware, where they can see the change; enable, be changed; and then empower, lead the change.”

    Kiran Sethi is an educator who inspires her students to live by two simple words: “I can.”  She does this through a teaching process that incorporates service with learning to show children the empowering quality of knowledge.  This style of learning correlates with better performance in school.  In her classes, she saw that “when children are empowered, not only do they do good [in the community], they do well [academically].”  She believes that teachers should challenge students to be positive change makers. In school, children should go from “the teacher told me to I am doing it.”



  2. The life-long learner— Ben Dunlap
    March 2007
    That irrepressible desire to know”

    Ben Dunlap shares how several mentors in his life have influenced him as a learner.  He emphasizes the importance of being a lifelong learner, of always seizing the moment as one that can be learned from.  Learning comes from education, but once a person is finished studying and begins working in the real world, learning continues as an amalgamation of experiences and interactions with the experiences of others.



  3. A camera for experiential learning— Shree Nayar
    November 2014 at TEDxColumbiaEngineeringSchool

    Screen_Shot_2014-07-21_at_1.57.26_PM
    Shree Nayar talks about a build-it-yourself kit called “Big Shot” to build your own camera.  The learner is exposed to all the scientific processes occurring in the camera from how batteries work to LED lights and from pixels to how the LDC screens displays the picture. It also looks into the steps that lead to capturing a picture with a camera.  Building this camera often leads to a new interest in science, but also leaves the learner with a fully functional camera to capture moments in his or her life.  As Nayar puts it, the product’s greatest asset as a tool for experiential learning is that “it allows you to juxtapose the sciences and the arts in a single learning experience.



  4. Experiential Learning Helps Both Students & Local Businesses— Fernando Padilla
    March 2012 at TEDxAshokaU

    Fernando Padilla describes how his experiences show that local businesses and schools can partner up to better local economies and students’ education. Students are paired with struggling local businesses and volunteer to help the business become more successful.  The local economy is strengthened.  The students bring knowledge and in turn get the satisfaction of helping someone. In addition, students gain valuable professional experience and start building networks—both of which will be useful when they begin searching for jobs after finishing school.



  5. The Future of Education without Coercion— Shawn Cornally
    June 2011 at TEDxEastPrep

    “Lets do something for real. Have them [students] come up with it. Let me help guide them.”

    Shawn Cornally proposes a new way of educating students and assessing their performance.  He believes the role of the teacher should change from one that give information and tests to one who gives a lesson and then challenges students to create something based on the knowledge they have gained.  The teacher acts as a guide for this creative process. Students learn by struggling with the information rather than memorizing it. 



  6. Bring on the learning revolution!— Sir Ken Robinson
    February 2010

    Screen_Shot_2014-07-21_at_2.09.04_PM

    “And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” 

    Sir Ken Robinson argues that education reform is not what we need. What we need is an education revolution.  The current education system is based on a standardized, industrial system.  However, what education should be is one that is personalized to local situations.  Education should follow a grassroots, “agricultural system” where each student can flourish in his or her school.


 

If you're looking to get the most out of experiential learning and service-learning, don't forget to integrate service reflections



 

Students Should Take Advantage of All College Has to Offer

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 @ 02:59 PM

There are many words I would prefer my children not use (even though they’ve heard a few of them at home!). However, there are three words I hope I never hear them say - "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda!" (Okay, technically those aren’t words, but I’m sure you get my meaning.)

As my children begin their college years, I want them to take advantage of everything this time in their life has to offer. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth – although that’s an important lesson – whether you are paying tuition or your kids are taking out loans. This is the time to take risks. Try new things. Meet new people. Step out of your comfort zone.

There are many things I wish I had done during my college years (and maybe a few I wish I had not done!). I wish I had developed more of a relationship with teachers and sought their advice. I also wish I had taken more advantage of clubs, school organizations, and service work, but I let self-doubt and fear prevent me from taking those risks. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life. I had a wonderful college experience. Hindsight is 20/20. Things happen for a reason, but I don’t want my kids to have regrets about not taking chances. Four years (or maybe five or six!) go by very quickly. It’s a great time of life to discover who you are, find friends with different opinions and passions, and transition from child to adult. So, as my second son begins this new phase, I’ve consulted the highest authorities – nostalgic parents, friends, and recent college graduates to offer their words of wisdom. Will he listen? I honestly don’t know. Maybe, though, these pearls of wisdom will remain in the back of his mind when an opportunity presents itself. And, instead of looking the other way because it might require effort and risk, he might just hear that little voice of mine and decide to go for it.

So, here’s a quick list for college students to consider as they get ready for school. If those of us that have graduated could go back, these are the things we would do differently! 

Wish Lists from the "Woulda Coulda Shoulda’s"lsutiger_stadium

1. I wish I had gone to more events...ballgames, rallies, etc.

2. I wish I had served on a student government board.

3. I wish I had spent more time meeting individually with professors to pick their brains. I view it as a missed opportunity.

4. I wish I had done more volunteering.

5. I wish I had joined an Engineering club.

6. Sometimes, I wish I had gone to school out of town.

7. I wish I had taken my undergraduate studies more seriously.

8. I wish I had understood that it wasn't about the points to get a certain grade, but that it should have been about really learning. Graduate school was a rude awakening.

9. I wish I had gone to college with a more open mind and not a specific major.

10. I wish I had switched majors.

11. I wish I had traveled abroad.

12. I wish I had gone to the Bruce Springsteen concert rather than study for an anatomy test. (Okay, I’m not advocating choosing a concert over studying. However, every student needs to take a break once in a while. It’s good to recharge! And, no, this wasn’t me.)

10 Suggestions from current students, teachers and alums:

1. Go to Class!

2. Get out there and enjoy it all. Take it seriously and always do your best.

3. Sign up for a club.

4. Utilize resources available on campus, including services like writing centers and tutoring.10264317_10152504222274744_8343547831175655741_n

5. Volunteer on campus or at local organizations. Take time to help others.

6. Develop a good relationship with your professors. They can be great mentors. Take advantage of their office hours. You want the people who determine your grades to know your name and that you're working hard. They can also clarify course material, provide guidance on papers, and offer tips on how to prepare for tests.

7. Study abroad for a full year. (If a year is too long for you, consider studying abroad for one semester, the summer, or holiday breaks.)

8. Take computer classes even if they are not required for your major.

9. Get to know the history and traditions of your school.

10. Reach out and meet new people.

What are your suggestions and tips for incoming freshmen and current college students? Did we miss anything? Share your words of wisdom here!

 

 Photo credit: Dolly Duplantier & Delta Upsilon, Global Service Initiative Trip 

Topics: back to school, education, volunteering, higher ed, service, graduates, opportunities, college major, higher education, college, involvement, College advice

Orientation Helps Students and Parents Transition to College Life

Posted by Dolly Duplantier on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

All around the country, high school graduates are packing their overnight bags for college orientation. When I was a freshman, back in the dark ages, orientation took place just a few days before you began school. Universities now have new students choose from two or three day sessions beginning as early as March and continuing until the start of the Fall semester.

Orientation is not just for students! Parents are now encouraged to attend to learn about the university, as well as obtain a comfort level about sending their children away to school. Sessions address concerns about managing time, dining plans, housing and residence issues, academic advising, financial aid and money matters, safety, and being away from home.

orientation

“Orientation is important for students and parents, especially for freshmen,” said Lindsey Storey, director of orientation and events at Mississippi State University (MSU)  in Starkville. “They’re coming out of high school and it’s hard for parents to let go. We want the students excited to come back in August and we want the parents to feel good and confident about sending their students to MSU. Our goal is to help parents and students transition to a new chapter in their lives.”

“I felt that orientation got me even more excited about college and I loved hearing about the experiences of the older college students,” said Kate Rosamond, an incoming freshman at Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge

“Every kid has something that they may be nervous about,” said Storey. “We want to alleviate that stress, fear, or doubt. For the student that is really excited, we want to reassure them they made the right decision.”

Orientation provides students a chance to get adjusted to the campus and learn their way around before it’s packed with undergraduate and graduate students. At some schools, students have the option of staying on campus to get a true higher education experience.

Orientation Leadersgroup_pic

Parents and students attend some general sessions together and then students are separated into smaller groups for more intimate Q&A sessions. Group leaders are college students and usually go through a rigorous interview process and training. At MSU, they are competitively selected from among a student body of 20,000. A concentrated course prepares them to lead tours, sessions, and answer questions.

During breakout sessions, students are taken around campus and may complete tasks like getting student ID’s, a campus mailbox, or signing up for the school’s recreation center. Orientation leaders also discuss college living, student involvement, the surrounding community, and student life in general.

“I learned a lot from the group leaders,” said Jeremy Siegel, an incoming freshman at MSU. “They stressed that in addition to academics and going to class, it was also really important to get involved and be a part of something at school.”

Orientation is also a great opportunity to meet future classmates. So when they return for move-in day in August, students can reconnect or at least recognize a few friendly faces.

Most orientations will offer sessions geared for specific majors. Academic officials will address expectations and requirements for particular areas of study. If the school has a band or other performing arts, your student may be able to try-out during orientation.

Class Schedule

One of the greatest benefits for students to attend orientation is the opportunity to schedule classes in advance. Rosamond agreed. “The most important thing I learned at orientation was how to schedule my classes.”

Counselors are on site to help students go through the registration process and answer any questions. Parents are usually not allowed into these sessions, so, if you’re like me and can’t help yourself, have a brief discussion about the following topics before they sign up for classes.

Think Before You Schedule!

1. Not an early bird? Don’t schedule classes at 8 a.m.

2. Don’t schedule classes 10 minutes apart if they are on opposite ends of the campus!

3. If your student wants to work part time, try to leave some blocks of time on the schedule for work and study time.

4. Look at required courses for their major. Are the classes offered during Fall and Spring semesters or only once a year? Take that into consideration.

5. Some courses require pre-requisite classes. Again, see if these are offered during both semesters.

 Dining, Entertainment & Getting Involved

Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, at least one of your meals will be at a campus dining facility. This is a fun occasion for parents to see what their kids will be eating during the semester!

Evenings usually include informal dining and activities. This is a great way for parents and students to end the day and talk about what they each experienced. MSU holds their dinner in the stadium club of the Davis Wade Stadium. The evening festivities concluded with a movie shown on the scoreboard. Some schools have late night activities like carnival games and inflatable obstacle courses to get the kids to interact. Others may host informational fairs where students and parents can speak with representatives from a variety of university departments or student-led organizations and clubs to learn more about campus services, how to get involved in school, or how to volunteer within the community.  

Q&A – Expert Advice

The last day usually includes a Q&A session with representatives from specific departments like housing, dining, financial aid, and health services. Some schools include panels of current university parents who can address the concerns new parents may have about sending their kids to school for the first time.

Dorm Life

Many schools offer dorm tours, so you can get a sneak peek at what you might need to bring on move-in day. If tours are not available, check the school’s housing website or their Facebook page for virtual tours of dorm rooms. Some schools and students post videos on YouTube as well.

Get the Picture?

For parents, especially those out-of-state, orientation is a comforting way to form a mental picture of where your student will be. As much as you may want to text or call throughout the day, it's time to cut the cord – or at least loosen it a little! Orientation makes it easier to do so.

“I am so glad that I went to orientation,” said Kate’s mom, Mary Frances Rosamond. “It answered a lot of questions for me and made me a lot more comfortable about sending Kate there. I also had a lot of fun.”  

Kate felt the same way. “The sessions definitely made me feel more comfortable about entering college this year. I learned so much useful information about how to get ready for school.”

“Parents want their student to be happy,” said Storey. “When they see their kids excited, that gives them a good feeling. Parents should walk away feeling they are making a good investment, and that their children are going to be safe and happy.”

 

Photos: Mississippi State University, Matt Siegel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: college admissions, higher education, college, college visits, highered, Orientation

Finding Fulfillment through Service-Learning Courses

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 01:39 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

Around this time of year, high school graduates throw their graduation caps in the air, parents sob and wonder where the time has gone, and another generation begins their transition into adult life.  For those students whose post high school plans involve higher education, the time to register for classes is quickly approaching.  As students begin this new phase in their life and start thinking about their options for the first semester of college or university, service-learning should be a topic on their mind.  Including service-learning courses in your college experience enhances your knowledge in a subject, benefits the community, and bridges the gap between a university lecture hall and the world waiting outside.  

Students engage in service-learning.

Service-learning differs from plain volunteerism and community service. Unlike volunteerism, service-learning incorporates topics and concepts discussed in the classroom and applies them to real world problems.  Service-learning teaches through experiential learning.  Students are engaged by their teachers both in the course subject area and in the ways they are challenged to use this knowledge in the greater community.  Nazareth College, a place of higher education renowned for its commitment to including service in the education process, defines experiential learning as:

“Experiential learning is the process of making meaning from direct experience in a real world context. Experiential learning is a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values.  Facilitated and guided practice, reflection and evaluation are all essential components of this transformative method of learning.”

Service-learning is a unique educational tool and experience because it stimulates critical thinking and problem solving while also asking students to consider the consequences of their knowledge and their involvement in the community.  

Students who opt to take service-learning courses as part of their university experience are more fulfilled and engaged in class.  Students involved in service-learning are happier and more excited about their classes because they are involved in their learning and in critical thinking. Rather than just listening to lectures, students are engaged with the course material, their professors, classmates, and community.  Students are also allowed to explore and act upon their values and beliefs by making an impact in the community.  They develop critical thinking, problem solving, and research skills by using the knowledge they gain in the classroom to tackle real life issues.  By working with others and solving complex social issues, students develop leadership and interpersonal skills, which cannot be taught through lectures and tests.  By engaging students in a variety of settings, service-learning can build knowledge, character, and civic responsibility, which are useful both to the students enrolled in the course and the community they engage with.  

Communities and organizations that partner with higher education institutions to develop service-learning curriculum benefit from the budding minds and dedication of young people.  Service-learning has a positive place in the community by dealing with unmet needs.  According to Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education, the top issues addressed through university service programs are K-12 education, hunger, housing and homelessness. Through service-learning, students interact with diverse groups of people and other cultures in their community.  By confronting these issues and developing service projects in their classes, students become more aware of social issues and causes.  They consider the causes and symptoms of these issues and how their actions can alleviate different facets of a concern in the community.  In service-learning courses, students are not just asked to consider new ideas in textbooks and notes but also the different viewpoints and positions of people in their community.  This allows them to be more empathetic towards others and to consider the impact that their actions in their personal, scholarly, and professional lives have on different groups in the community. Both in their course work and their free time, students learn to ensure a better future for themselves and take initiative in satisfying unmet needs in their community.  

Service-learning courses can have a positive impact on a student’s future and career.  Service-learning is a way of gaining professional experience, fulfilling university credit requirements, and strengthening one’s resume with service work.  In many service-learning courses, students will be able to get out of the classroom and network with professionals in their field as an integral part of the coursework. Starting to build these networks while still in school can help students find internships and jobs in the future.  The experience gained from service-learning classes provides a head start in the professional field and a valuable set of stories through which can help to demonstrate innovative thinking and dedication in applications or interviews.  Apart from its impact on a person’s professional life, hopefully a service driven education will be a meaningful experience that compels students to continue giving back to the community in the future.  

Congratulations to this year’s high school graduates. If you’re a student interested in service-learning, be sure to consider talking to your university adviser about service-learning courses and opportunities at your school. There are many colleges and universities that are engaged in service learning, and more courses are added every day. Expand the impact of your service-learning by connecting with local organizations and other students interested in creating social change.



Image used under Creative Commons License via Tulane Public Relations

 

Topics: service learning

A Case for Volunteering with Family

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

As summer arrives and the school year comes to an end, there is time for families to spend more time together.  Many families look forward to going on vacation, going to the park, relaxing at the pool, or spending more time at home together. But what about spending more time volunteering in the community? This summer, as you put together plans for a fun and relaxing summer, be sure to set aside some time to volunteer as a family.  When families volunteer together, they increase the number of helping hands working to help others while also spending quality time together and strengthening their bond as a family.

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Volunteering as a family provides more help to the community, but it is also full of learning experiences and benefits for your family. When families volunteer together, they are able to gain greater insight into social issues.  Volunteering as a family often leads to more meaningful reflection after and during your volunteer project.  Around the dinner table or in the car ride home, families are more likely to engage in discussions that give perspective on the community issues they hope to tackle and how they can play a role in improving a situation.

Both children and adults can learn new skills from volunteering, or they can use the knowledge they already have and apply it to situations where they can make a positive impact.  By volunteering together, families also work on problem solving skills and communication.  This enables them to accomplish more as volunteers, but also helps families become more supportive as they transfer these conflict-resolution skills to their relationship as a family.  The benefits of volunteering as a family are important for all age groups, but the impact service can have on children also makes it a valuable parenting tool.

Children learn by doing, and volunteering helps reinforce positive behaviours and habits. Children who volunteer and observe their parents volunteering will be more likely to volunteer in the future.  In addition, volunteering has the capacity to enrich children’s learning and development. Volunteering helps improve self-esteem and social skills.  It shows children that they have the ability to make a positive impact. By learning to be comfortable working with others, children become more confident and start establishing leadership while still being humbled by the work they are doing.  They also learn responsibility, as they often will be assigned to work on a particular task during the course of a volunteer project. 

Children can also learn compassion through volunteering; in becoming more confident leaders and responsible individuals, they are compelled to treat others with kindness.  In addition to helping develop emotional health, volunteering can also increase physical health.  Furthermore, children who volunteer are also less likely to engage in at-risk behaviour as they grow up.  Volunteering as a family ensures that the next generation in a community will be both accountable and caring to others. 

When deciding how your family can help out in your community, it is important to find opportunities that interest everyone in the family. Volunteering should not feel like a chore; it should be something everyone enjoys.  To find volunteer opportunities in your community, consider the types of activities your family already enjoys and discuss as a family what important community issues you would like to tackle.  Different volunteer opportunities also serve to teach different lessons.  For example, if your family likes being active outdoors, outdoor clean-ups in parks, rivers, or beaches would be the best fit.  These types of service opportunities reinforce your family’s responsibility to the environment.  If your family is more interested in giving their time to people, working at food banks or homeless shelters and visiting nursing homes helps those in need in your community. 

Alternatively, if your family cannot agree on an opportunity, you can take turns supporting each other.  For example, if one family member wants to participate in a fundraiser, marathon, or sporting event, the other members of the family could find opportunities to help facilitate these events.  If some family members are more active and like to be the organizers and planers of a community project, the other family members can still be supportive by doing little things like stuffing envelopes, folding brochures, passing out flyers, or participating as volunteers on the day of the event.  However, what your family decides to do is not as important as the fact that you are doing it together.

When volunteering as a family, it is also important to have an open mind about your definition of family.  Family does not have to be confined to your immediate family nor to what others may consider to be the definition of family.  There’s no reason grandparents cannot volunteer with grandchildren or cousins cannot volunteer together.  In today’s world the meaning of family is becoming more open and complex than before.  In simple terms, family is the people you love and care about.  Volunteering serves to strengthen these relationships, and when we strengthen the relationships in our families, we reinforce the bonds at the root of our communities.

 

Image used through a Creative Commons License via vastateparksstaff

 

Topics: volunteering, community, opportunities

3 Social Issues Facing Millennials and Future Generations

Posted by Natasha Derezinski-Choo on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 11:58 AM

This post was written by NobleHour Special Contributor Natasha Derezinski-Choo, a student at Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC.

The lives and futures of Millennials are shaped by technological and environmental factors that no other generation has faced before. The technological advances that brought computers, cell phones, and the Internet into the homes of everyday people have changed the way we live our lives and interact with others. Changes in population and production have increased the standard of living in some countries, while also increasing the gap between the haves and the have-nots. These economic developments, along with advances in technology, have created a more globalized and interconnected world. 

Some of these changes have been positive and others negative, but our ability to meditate on our actions in the context of the future will shape how we expand positive changes and resolve the negative ones.   Though the future is uncertain, we can try to use our knowledge of the present to forecast the changes, advances, and difficulties of tomorrow. When we look into the future, we must consider how these changes and movements will shape the social issues that Millennials and future generations will have to confront.

Inequality: Inequality is a difficult problem that has existed throughout history and can manifest itself in a variety of settings. An article published in the Journal of Future Studies by Lorne Tepperman and James Curtis entitled “Social Problems of the Future” explains that “inequality is firmly entrenched in our society” because ideological, religious, cultural, and regional differences are a constant boundary resulting from generations of social rift. globe-peopleEconomic inequality is the most concerning form of inequality because, and as Tepperman and Curtis explain, in a globalized and industrialized world economy, the gap between the developed and developing world presents the greatest boundary to achievig social equality. Tepperman and Curtis predict that inequality is a virtually insoluble problem.

While it may be true that inequality is one of the most challenging and diverse issues of the future, the Millennial generation does possess some of the tools to tackle the problem of inequality. The Pew Research Center’s report “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” found that on the topic of inequality, “[t]he Millennial generation is somewhat more supportive of efforts to ensure equal rights than are members of older age groups.” It is predicted that Generation Z and future generations will be stronger advocates for equality. Given their technological prowess and purpose-driven work ethic, Millennials certainly have the tools, potential, and attitude to reduce inequality in our society.   

Environment: Threats to the safety of our environment are a growing problem. The rising global population and limits of earth’s ability to sustain such a large population is a growing concern for the future. While some regions are able to produce surpluses of food and necessities, others face scarcity and famine. The consequences of pollution and green house gas emissions from industrial activity and transpiration are a threat to the environment. nature-1364893805KIBAs Tepperman and Curtis explain, “Many scientists and theorists believe that unless changes are made today, environmental problems will become more severe and their consequences more intense in the future. Already, the world’s temperature has increased . . . [leading to] more frequent droughts and famines . . . higher rates of skin cancer, and more extreme weather.” Millennials are responsible for making immediate lifestyle changes that are friendly to the environment. Making these changes today will ensure that future generations will still have a planet they can appreciate and care for.

 

Technology: In recent history, technological advances have occurred at one of the fastest rates. From the development of the computer and the Internet to mapping of the human genome, these changes are weighted with both potential and responsibility. In response to recent advancements, Millennials will be faced with redefining ethical boundaries to consider issues such as genetic engineering in humans to internet privacy. Students_work_on_projectTechnology is also widening the amount of information available to people. In the future, it will be important for the next generation to harness technology to make knowledge more accessible, as knowledge is a source of empowerment and a way of reversing inequality. It will also be important to ensure the integrity of information and to make sure that the spread of ideas is not abused and saturated with unreliable or harmful information. In a world of social media, the realms of reality and identity are being challenged, as people are able to redefine themselves in the digital world. It will be important to use these social platforms as a way to increase communication and build healthier relationships rather than become a way of distorting reality and damaging human connection. Future generations will be handed a technology driven world, with the responsibility to use this technology to empower others and solve social issues.

Thinking about the future and trying to foresee its challenges is difficult and inexact task. However, the more we consider how our actions today will affect tomorrow, the more we are able to see that our willingness to implement change and social good will have a direct impact of solving foreseeable problems. Luckily, Millennials value volunteering and purpose-driven work. As one of the most civically engaged and technologically connected generations, Millennials have both the ability and responsibility to create a better world for the future. As Tepperman and Curtis write in their essay predicting issues of the future, “the goal of future studies is only partly to paint a picture of what life may be like for subsequent generations. Its more important task is to imagine a desirable alternative future for people to work towards, a future that is actively shaped by the decisions of people living today.”

Related:
Millennials Look for Meaningful Work

How Service & Service-Learning Spark Social Justice

 

 

Topics: youth impact, millennials, social justice

How Community Engagement and Public Service Work Together

Posted by Dr. Kristin Joos and Liz Harlan on Wed, May 28, 2014 @ 07:58 AM

“Empowering NobleLeaders”- How Community Engagement and Public Service Work Together

We believe when high school and college curriculum incorporate service, community involvement, and social issues, students become more engaged in their learning as well as develop a strong foundation to be active, informed, and changemaking citizens in their communities both now and in the future. Learning about civic engagement and serving with community organizations helps expose students to the diversity in their community, the diverse problems that affect certain groups, and the interrelated barriers to solutions. This new knowledge becomes power for many students who find their passion, niche/personal cause, or career choice through service activities, and also through learning about (hopefully while simultaneously being motivated by) related social, cultural, and economic factors during class lectures and discussion.

A service-learning model is perfect for solidifying classroom material through community service and engagement. Though there are several ways to promote civic engagement among high school and college students, service-learning includes key components of reflection and demonstration so that students can process their community engagement experience and then effectively share with classmates what they learned. When students become informed, active, and passionate about their community at a young age, they are more likely to continue to be active citizens throughout their lives. Research shows that students involved in service-learning are more likely to be involved in local, state, and federal elections, in addition to working for and supporting the issues or government candidates they care about as young professionals, later as parents, and much later as retirees. Not only are students with a community service or service learning background more inclined to be continued active community members, they are also better equipped to serve and be a leader in their community through public or government office. 

Community Engagement and Public Service are sometimes used as synonyms, but they are not identical. Community or civic engagement can take several forms, but generally includes individual and collective actions designed to recognize and take on issues of public concern through political and non-political processes. Civic engagement is also at the root of democratic governance, for which citizens have the right and protection to define the public good, to establish the methods for promoting public good, and the opportunity to change institutions that do not align. Public service typically refers to being a leader in one’s community and running for public office or a government position. Public service candidates with experience in civic engagement or a history of community service will not only be more successful during an election, but also more effective at leading their jurisdiction and initiating policies that improve their quality of life.

Students engaged in service-learning.

Citizens who volunteer in the community, are involved with nonprofit organizations, or participate in local, state, or national elections know the value and necessity of community engagement— awareness of community issues and needs, using their skills and knowledge to make a difference, and voting for candidates and policies that address public concerns. The most effective way to engage more citizens in society is to engage people of all ages in their community through service, educate them on the social, cultural, economic, and political barriers to the public good, as well as provide them the tools and encouragement to be informed and active during elections. Paul Loeb, a social and political activist and author dedicated to student civic engagement, urges it is educators “responsibility to use our classrooms to explore the difficult issues of our time.” Our country and world needs students who are knowledgeable and passionate about community problems in addition to being committed to making a difference and finding solutions to complex challenges.


Campus Compact is a nonprofit higher education association that compiles resources for and supports all forms of civic engagement on college and university campuses. Campus Compact constantly gathers tools for educators, celebrates volunteers, and develops programs for higher education all for the ultimate goal of increasing civic engagement and community service across every institution. Their vision for the future includes the belief “that our country cannot afford to educate a generation that acquires knowledge without understanding how it can benefit society or influence democratic decision-making… We recognize that higher education must respond to community needs and democratic responsibilities with the intellectual and professional capacities demanded by today’s challenges.” NobleHour.com is also a great place for people to find opportunities for involvement and resources for empowerment. 

Community engagement is very important for all involved-- the community group or underserved persons, the student, partnering organizations, and the school or institution must be encouraged by college presidents, professors, school administrators, and teachers. Society needs an educated, motivated, socially conscious, and engaged public with a strong background in civic engagement ready to continually serve and work for the public good. Civic engagement as a student at a young age leads to a life of active citizenship and service.

 

Topics: service learning, community engagement, community service, higher education

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