The January 2002 Director's Letter mentioned the importance of active parent and student involvement in education in order to ensure that all students are prepared to be part of our new world economy. Research has shown that students whose parents take an active role in their education achieve higher grades and test scores, have better attendance at school, complete more homework, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior, graduate at higher rates, and have greater enrollment in higher education (Henderson & Berla 1994). Parents benefit from an increased involvement in their child's education by developing a greater appreciation of their role in their child's education, an improved sense of self-worth, stronger social networks, better understanding about their schools and teaching and learning activities, and the desire to continue their own education (Davies 1998, Henderson & Berla 1994, Liontos 1994). Participation by both students and parents in the Upward Bound Program is a wonderful way to open up communication lines and make learning a group effort. The following are additional actions that parents can take at home to improve their child's academic achievement.
There are three major factors in the home over which parents can exercise authority: student absenteeism, variety and quantity of reading materials in the home, and excessive television watching. Being in contact with the school about your child's attendance record, making sure that your child is reading material that will encourage critical thinking (available either in the home or through the local library), and limiting the amount of television viewing in your home are crucial for stressing the importance of education to your child. These controllable home factors account for almost all of the difference in average student achievement across the United States (Barton & Coley 1992). Other actions that parents can take include:
Set up a consistent time every day for your child to complete their homework and enforce it. Studies have shown that successful students have parents who create and maintain family routines (Clark 1988, U.S. Department of Education 1987). Be available at some point for questions and discussing what was learned; you do not have to know all the answers, just demonstrating an interest is more important.
Encouraging Participation in Wholesome Extracurricular Activities
Help your child spend his/her time constructively by guiding the use of their leisure time. Supporting and monitoring participation in the positive activities that your child is involved in (such as Upward Bound) may be important in curbing sexual activity, drinking, and drug use by adolescents, especially when drugs and violence are serious concerns in the community or peer group.
Talking with your Child about His/Her Daily Life
Studies show that frequent, open family discussions are associated with higher student achievement (Barton & Coley 1992, Epstein 1991a, Leler 1983, Singer et al. 1988). Perhaps contrary to appearances at times, 48% of fourteen to seventeen year olds said that would like to talk to their parents more about schoolwork (National Commission on Children 1991). Remember that an important part of these discussions should be listening; parents need to listen to their child's concerns in order to help him/her resolve them in the best possible way.
Communicating Positive Behaviors, Values, and Character Traits
Values such as honesty, a positive work ethic, accountability, and religious principles are twice as important for school achievement as family economic or educational background (Hanson & Ginsburg 1985). Both talking about the importance of these values and acting on such values is important. Parents who demonstrate warmth and also set limits have children who are more socially and academically skilled than do parents who emphasize mainly the warmth or the limits (Baumrind 1989).
Expecting Achievement and Offering Praise
Set high, yet realistic standards for your child's achievement and encourage him/her to achieve those standards. Families who praise their child's skills and efforts, show interest and concern, and reward success tend to have children who are successful in school (Clark 1990).
Helping your Child Develop Plans for a Career and Further Education
Talking with your child about the future and making sure that your child is involved in activities like Upward Bound are essential in getting your child to think about his/her education as a long-term investment.
In a perfect world, all parents would implement the above behaviors in a heartbeat because they have been shown to help students achieve. However, I recognize that in the real world there are complications that may make it difficult to implement all of these strategies into your family's daily routine. Time limitations of the working parent and unfamiliarity or discomfort with the educational system are two major hurdles that parents encounter.
However, it is important to remember the importance of these actions for the future of your child. The difference in lifetime earning between a student who did not graduate from high school and one who did is over $200,000. The difference for a student who received a bachelor's degree or more is almost $1 million (The U.S. Census Bureau 1994). Although higher potential for earnings is certainly not the only value of education, it illustrates the difference education can make in the life of your child. Studies have consistently shown that what the family does is more important to student success than family income or education. Incorporating these suggestions into your family's life to the best of your ability will make an enormous impact on your child's education and future.
Ballen, Jennifer and Oliver Moles. Strong Families, Strong Schools. U.S. Department of Education, 1994.
Congratulations 2002 Upward Bound Graduates
Schaviantae Beard Diana Matlock
Marion Boggs Jaime McConeghey
Amber Boyd Melissa McCray
Jasmine Brooks Keyaira Phillips
Danielle Corner Monique Walker
Kory Digmann Senoria Wallican-Nesbit
Ciji Fox David Woodman
Congratulations 2002 Upward Bound Alumni Graduates
Kimberly Nicholson B.A. Sociology University of Northern Iowa
Laurie Plum M.A. Spanish University of Northern Iowa
Niekedra Tucker J.D. Law Drake Law School
Keianna Lee M.A. Social Work University of Northern Iowa
Yeshinebet Abebe J.D. Law University of Miami
Tsehaynesh Abebe Post Graduate Institute of Social Science
Matthew Thompson Military United States Army
Fatima Bangura B.S. Biology University of Northern Iowa
Tenille Carey B.A. Spanish University of Iowa
Dara Hickman B.A. Business University of Iowa
Ashley Hopkins B.A. Psychology Wartburg College
Michael Johnson B.A. Communication Arts Wartburg College
LaCresha Morgan B.A. Family Services University of Northern Iowa
Tangela Roby B.A. Family Services University of Northern Iowa
Leah Sanders B.A. Radiology & MRI DeCabe Medical Center
Nacale Roberts B.A. Political Science Spelman College
Nicole Roberts B.A. Political Science Spelman College
Lonnis Jordan B.A. Community/Sociology Wartburg College
Jermine Johnson B.A. Communication Arts Wartburg College
Words of Wisdom
Story of a Confused Mind
Arbitrary are the things that happen in my life,
Becoming problems and everyday strife,
Cantankerous are the people I see,
Drowning in narcissism as their last plea,
Earmarks are there when I enter into rooms,
Forgetting who I am they sweep me out with brooms,
Galvanizing the fact that I am not who they want me to be,
Horoscopes cannot tell what is supposed to happen to me,
Insomnia affects me every night,
Just thinking about what may be my next plight,
Keeping all things true to my heart,
Letting those things loose would tear me apart,
Media claims there vernacular may be spectacular,
No one understands the concept of vernacular,
Open ideas are quickly shot down and not condoned,
People try to do this over the telephone,
Quitting is not an option, this is the theme,
Recession is not real we all gleam,
Supposedly all the things are not true,
Tortuous is the truth told to me and you,
Unanimously we all decide to show pride,
Vie for the best in the world and we all cannot hide,
We are all one when the problem is the same,
Xenophobic is what we become when someone else is the blame,
Young and old this may not make any sense,
Zest fully clean is something we all cannot miss.
- Sir Nature Johnson
What Should I Bring? A List of Things That You Will Need for College Life
Social Security Number
Legal Copy of your Birth Certificate
Pencils and Pens
Floppy Discs/Zip Discs
Notebooks, Loose Leaf, Binders, Folders
Stapler and Staples
Dorm or Apartment Supplies
Sheets (Extra Long for the Dorm)
Underbed Storage Container
Shower Shoes (Dorm)
Trash Can (Apartment)
Quarters for Laundry
Drying Rack for Clothes
First Aid Kit
Shower Caddy (Dorm)
Message Board for the Door (Dorm)
Tool Kit: Hammer, Flat Head Screwdriver, Phillips Head Screwdriver, Nails of Various Sizes, Screws, Tacks, Poster Putty
Computer and Printer
Twenty-One Ways to Succeed in College
Researchers have identified certain things students can do to improve their chances for success in college. However, students are often unaware of what these keys to success are and how much they really matter. Here are twenty-one basic things you can do to thrive in college.
1) Find and get to know at least one person in the staff or faculty on campus who knows you are there and who cares about your survival. One person is really all it takes. It might be the leader of your orientation seminar, a professor, an academic advisor, or someone at the career or counseling center. This person can give you valuable advice based on their experiences.
2) Learn what resources your campus offers and where they are located. Most campuses have career planning offices, personal counseling centers, and academic skill centers. Find out what resources exist that can make your life easier.
3) Understand why you are in college. Your college experience will be much more productive if you can identify specific goals you wish to accomplish. Are you there to get a high paying job? To gain knowledge? To meet people? To explore? To get a 4.0? Evaluating what you want to get out of college will help you make better choices while you are in college.
4) Set up a daily schedule and stick to it. If you find that you cannot do it alone, find someone on campus that can help, perhaps someone in your academic skills of personal counseling center. Make sure to assign sufficient time for study, work, sleep, and recreation. Find ways to balance your family or work obligations with your school obligations.
5) If you are attending classes full time, try not to work more than twenty hours a week. Some people have obligations that require they work more than this, but avoid it if possible. Most people begin a downhill slide in the quality of their learning and performance when they work more than twenty hours. If you need more money that twenty hours a week will provide, talk to a financial aid officer about your options. Students who work on campus tend to do better in their classes and are more likely to stay enrolled than those working off campus.
6) Assess and improve your study habits. An integral part of your success in college involves assessing your own learning style, taking effective notes in class, reading more efficiently, and doing well on tests. Visit your campus' academic skills center for help improving these vital areas.
7) Choose professors who involve you in the learning process. Attend classes in which you can actively participate. You will probably learn more, and you will do it more easily and more enjoyably. Talk to older classmates to find out what instructors most engage their students.
8) Know how to use your campus library. The library is not as scary as it looks and it offers a wealth of information and resources. Most campuses provide tours for freshman and new students. If not, ask a reference librarian for an overview of the library's services.
9) Improve your writing. Your writing skills will serve you well throughout life if you take some pains now to improve and secure them. Write something everyday, the more you write the better your writing will become. Remember, writing is for life, not just for Freshman English. Some campuses have a writing center that can help you improve your writing technique and style. Otherwise, make use of your English professors.
10) Develop critical thinking skills. Challenge. Ask why. Look for unusual solutions to ordinary problems and ordinary solutions to unusual problems. There are few absolutely right and wrong answers in life, but some answers come closer to being truthful than others; seek those.
11) Find a great academic advisor or counselor. The right advisor can be an invaluable source of support, guidance, and insight throughout your college years. If the advisor assigned to you doesn't do it for you, find someone who does.
12) Visit the career center. Even if you have chosen a major, the career center may offer valuable information about careers in your field and about yourself. It never hurts to explore what is out there. If you have not chosen a major, exploring your options at the career center may help you to make a decision.
13) Make one or two close friends among your peers. College represents a chance to form new and lasting ties. It also offers great diversity in terms of the people on your campus. Choose your friends for their own self-worth, not for what they can do for you. Remember that in college, as in life, you become like those with whom you associate.
14) If you are not assertive enough, take assertiveness training. It is never too late to learn how to stand up for your right in a way that respects the rights of others. This is a skill you will certainly need during your college career.
15) Get involved in campus activities. Work for the campus newspaper or radio station. Join a club or group. Play intramural sports.
16) Take your health seriously. How much sleep you get, what you eat, whether you exercise, and the kinds of decisions you make about drugs, alcohol, and sex all contribute to how well or unwell you feel. Get into the habit of being good to yourself and you will be both a happier person and a more successful student.
17) If you can't avoid stress, learn how to live with it. Although stress is an inevitable part of modern life, there are ways of dealing with it. Your counseling center can introduce you to techniques that will help you worry less and study more.
18) Show up at class. Better yet, participate. Instructors tend to test on what they discuss in class, as well as grade in part on the basis of class attendance and participation. Don't abuse your new freedom. Being there is your responsibility. Simply being in class every day (unless you are sick) will go a long way toward helping you graduate.
19) Remember that you are not alone. Thousands of other new students are facing the same uncertainties you now face. Find strength in numbers.
20) Learn to appreciate yourself more. Hey, you got this far right?!
21) Try to have realistic expectations. At first you may not make the grades you should be making or made in high school. Even if you were a star athlete in high school, you might not be anything special in college.
If you follow these suggestions, they can make a difference in your life, as they already have for thousands of college graduates.
Jewler, A. Jerome, John N. Gardner, Mary Jane McCarthy, Eds. Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1993. 6-9.
Written and Edited by Amanda Graeber