Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Need a required course to graduate? Don’t worry: there are many alternatives.

It can be challenging to enroll in all of the classes you need each semester, especially with the recent budget cuts. With fewer courses available and rising enrollment rates, completing the classes you need for your major can be a challenge. Not only do you run the risk of having to take classes you don’t want or even need, but more importantly, you may not graduate in time. For you, this means an extra year at school (and surely you’d rather be traveling or beginning your career instead). For your parents, that extra year could cost them an extra $10,000 to $50,000 depending on where you attend school. After sitting on wait lists and standing behind long lines of students trying to get into the same class, you realize you just aren’t getting in-- so now what? You have a couple of options.

First, make an appointment with your college advisor. In some cases, they may find a class you have already completed, and use it to fulfill two requirements. They can also help you select courses for the future that will fulfill multiple requirements. I once worked with a student that took an upper-division class as a freshman—not only did she pass it, but she got an A. The advisor worked with her to make that class count for two graduation requirements rather than one. Your advisor wants you to succeed just as much as you do.

Second, layout your course plan for the entire four years. By understanding what general-ed classes you need to take and selecting your major and elective courses ahead of time, you'll be able to take full advantage of your college's opportunities. When it comes time to enroll in classes, you won't be frantically combing through the Schedule of Classes to decide what classes you need and what your schedule will look like.

Third, if you know that one of the classes on your list is going to be difficult to get into, meet with the professor ahead of time to discuss why you need and want to take their class. By making a connection with the professors, they will be more inclined to select you off the wait list when the time comes for registration. If a professor wants to add you to their course, they can and will.

Another option, if all else fails, is to take the class at a different college. Oftentimes a nearby community college will offer a course that satisfies your requirements. Most universities allow up to sixty community college units towards your degree. You can also take an online course, if your college accepts them. More colleges are accepting the fact that their students may need to take additional courses off campus in order to graduate on time. And don’t worry, there is no mention of it on your diploma.

Getting into the classes you need can be extremely stressful. Waiting an extra day, or even an extra hour past your enrollment time could mean the difference between a timely graduation and another year. Courses fill up in a matter of minutes, so be sure you know your enrollment time and set your alarm so you don't miss it!. If you are on top of it all, and you still can’t get in, don’t fear--there are usually other options out there. Last, and most importantly: don’t forget to carefully layout your entire four-year plan so selecting courses at your enrollment time slot is easy and not burdened with choosing classes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let them have their cake and eat it too!

Your children don't need to sacrifice their joyful youth in order to have an exceptional academic career. . . this is the story of how my girls pursued their passions and interests, and still graduated from Stanford and Claremont McKenna College.

I am an American Tiger Mom. What kind of parent are you? Have you wondered if your friends parent the same way in the privacy of their own homes as they do in front of others? Perhaps you appear calm, collect and in control while others are watching, but behind closed doors, your kids rule the roost. Speaking for myself, an American Tiger Mom’s parenting style is unwavering whether there is an audience or not. So again I ask: what kind of parent are you… and why? Is your method of parenting going to result in your children’s success or demise?

New parents don’t receive a how-to book on the proper way to raise our children; so we utilize every resource we can to help us raise our children into happy, healthy, and independent adults. We reference our own childhoods, examining what our parents did that worked and what didn’t. We look to other parents to admire and emulate their successes, while scrutinizing other’s blatant failures. Much of parenting is trial and error, but it all comes down to one thing: we don’t want to lose our kids. As parents leave the hospital with their precious newborns in tow, and without that ever-desired parenting manual, they can find solace in knowing that there are some tried and true ways of successful childrearing. Having raised two daughters who are well-rounded, happy and extraordinarily successful, I want to share with others what has worked for me as an American Tiger Mom.

I know that my children are intelligent, skillful leaders. I made it a priority to provide them with a strong academic foundation so that they would be able to choose the best-fit college and career, enabling them to lead happy and fulfilled lives. An American Tiger Mom exposes her children to music, dance and the arts so they may lead enriched lives, complete with a strong academic foundation. While some may scrutinize my way of parenting as overly-strict, I am quick to remind them that I never deprived my children of their social lives or striped them of their personal identities. They are confident young ladies with their own interests; I am only here to support and reassure them that they are fully capable of accomplishing anything.

In the parenting world, we are labeled and categorized based on our parenting styles. The most widely used titles include the Tiger Mom, the Helicopter Mom, and more recently, the American Tiger Mom. Each subcategory of mother is quite different, although we do have something in common: we all think we are doing what is in our child’s best interest. I can assure you however, that each of these parenting styles is very different.

The Tiger Mom has been called the dictator of all mothers. You may recall Amy Chua’s book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” where she boasted that her children were never allowed to attend a sleepover, have a play date, watch television, play video games, or choose their own extracurricular activities. They were forced to master the piano and violin, and were strictly forbidden to explore other musical interests. She proudly admits to calling one of her daughters “garbage.” Convinced that her kids are successful because of her authoritarian parenting style, she is eager to claim that all Tiger Mom’s are superior. Where then do we see the individuality and leadership in these children? The Tiger Mom is afraid that her children are incapable of finding the correct passion, so she makes executive decisions and drills them relentlessly until they have become the people she wants them to be. While this may work in some societies, it denies the children the opportunity to explore their interests and to experience their youth like their peers in our American culture.

Another infamous type of parent is the Helicopter Mom. Simply put, she hovers. She is always one step ahead of her children so that she can fight their battles. She prevents any possible failures, and will even boast that her child got an A on their last science project…. Because she did it herself! The Helicopter Mom often does her child’s homework so that they are not inconvenienced by doing “busy work.” By doing their schoolwork for them, Helicopter Moms are sending a message to their children that they don’t believe they can succeed on their own. There was an incisive article published by CNN recently titled “What teachers really want to tell parents.” The article aptly discussed the many ways that helicopter parents are helping their children fail in school (and in life for that matter) because of their parenting style. In addition to doing everything for their child short of eating their meals for them, the Helicopter Mom is adamant that her kids are signed up for as many activities as possible. Keeping up with the Jones’ is extremely important to her, and she gets an immense amount of satisfaction from being able to say that she spent her entire day driving her kids to every paid activity that her community offers. Even if their actions are genuinely well-intended, Helicopter parents are setting their kids up for a lifetime of failure.

Surely if you are reading this article, parenting is an important aspect of your life. As an American Tiger Mom, an educator, and the founder of one of the nation’s most elite private schools, I can honestly say that as I reflect on the way my daughters were raised, I am proud! My girls have made inspiring contributions to society, have graduated from Stanford University and Claremont McKenna College; and they did not have to sacrifice their childhoods to do so.

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