Sunday, December 10, 2017

Avoiding Academic Distractions

Academic success isn't just about exams, but a lot of time and attention has been on exam preparation and that is certainly valuable.  The reality is that you have been preparing for your exams every day since the start of the semester back in August.  Studying to review the content and make sure that you are confident and prepared is important though.

One of the keys for achieving academic success is trying to pace yourself while eliminating distractions so that you can maintain your focus. There are lots of strategies that can be effective to help eliminate distractions to help you sustain focus on studying. Turning off the tv or your cell phone can be good ideas. For many students the stronger attraction and distraction is on the computer with Facebook or Twitter. 

Here are some additional articles with topics related to achieving academic success that might interest you:

5 ways to eliminate distractions when trying to study

Ready, Set, Concentrate!

Training the Brain: How to focus better and avoid distractions

14 tools to help you avoid distractions and stay focused at work

10 apps that block mobile distractions

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Test Score Submission

The college admissions tests (ACT and SAT) are one of the basic components that most colleges consider when evaluating an application. While any scores that we have appear on your transcript, the vast majority of the colleges want to receive the score results directly from the testing agency. You receive the option to send your scores to 4 colleges for free and there is an additional charge for any extra schools you want to send your results to after those initial four.

You can log in to the ACT and SAT websites to review the locations where you selected to send your scores to make sure that every college you are considering has received a copy of your scores. This is an important step as you are completing the application process. So, in addition to making sure that you have completed your application form, written your essay, secured your recommendation letters, and submitted your transcripts, please make sure that you have sent your test scores to each of the colleges where you are applying.

Don't forget, not every college will require these tests so it is not the end of the world if you are not a strong test taker. Visit for a list of the over 800 colleges that do not require admissions tests as a component to evaluate the applicant.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Suicide Prevention Lines

There are times when we can feel overwhelmed, lonely, stressed, sad and hopeless.  All of these emotions are normal to experience, but when they happen to come all at the same time it can be very challenging and leave people feeling lost and desperate.

Perhaps you or someone you know have had times with that type of darkness and possibly even experienced suicidal thoughts.  It is important to know that there is ALWAYS help available!  Reaching out for support is a critical step in helping to give yourself the hope that you will not always feel the way you might be feeling right now.

If you are having suicidal thoughts while at school, I hope you will come to tell me or share that information with another adult that you trust.  If you are away from school, I hope that you will reach out to your parents or some other adult who your trust.  But I know that sometimes the people closest to us can miss the level of pain we are experiencing and so I'd like to remind you that you can always call a suicide hotline and there will be someone on the other end ready and willing to talk to you who can help brainstorm next steps.  As you can see in the graphic, the national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.

Additionally, over the last few years, in recognition of how much our society has grown to depend on text messaging as a means of communication, there is also a crisis text line where you can reach out for help and support.  To contact the crisis text line you would send a message to 741741.  You can send them any message to get the conversation started.  And I know that it can be hard to even know where to start so remember, you can always reach out even with just one word such as "4hope" (which helps connect you to someone in Ohio) or even "help or hello" and before you know it you will be communicating via text with someone else who understands what you are experiencing and is ready and able to help you.

The most important reminder I would like to leave you with is that YOU MATTER!  You are not alone - there is always someone who would like to have the opportunity to talk with you and to help you.  If you are having thoughts of suicide, PLEASE, reach out for help today!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tomorrow's Bell Schedule

The holiday spirit was definitely alive and well at Kilbourne today.  Watching all of you out in the commons wrapping presents and seeing the impact of your unbelievable generosity was incredible!  To build on that enthusiasm, tomorrow will be the annual holiday assembly.  Because of exams, you will still have another week of school left, but it will be a great way to celebrate the end of the first semester.  

Below is the bell schedule for your reference as it is definitely different than normal.

Here is the breakdown for the day:

Period 1 - 7:45 - 8:29

Period 2 - 8:34 - 9:18

Period 3 - 9:23 - 10:58  (Students will be divided to spend 1/2 of the time in class and 1/2 in the assembly)

Period 4 - 11:03 - 11:47

Period 5 - 11:52 - 12:36

Period 6 - 12:41 - 1:25

Period 7 - 1:30 - 2:15

Period 8 - 2:20 - 3:05

I am looking forward to seeing all of my students who are participating as a part of the assembly tomorrow and I hear they have some funny challenges planned for the assembly as well.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pre-ACT scores and PSAT scores

PSAT and Pre-ACT Scores

Your Pre-ACT scores have arrived and the PSAT Scores will be available from College Board online on Monday! Any students who took the PSAT in October and the Pre-ACT tests in November will be able to see your scores in the next few days

The PSAT scores are only being offered electronically.  This means that you will log into your CollegeBoard account to view and download your scores.  (Which is what you will do in the future when you take your SAT as well.)

You should receive an e-mail from CollegeBoard notifying you that your scores are accessible online next Monday (December 11th).  Even if you didn't receive an e-mail from CollegeBoard you can still access your scores.

Go to the CollegeBoard website and select the PSAT test you took - 9th graders should select "PSAT 8/9" and 10th and 11th graders should select "PSAT/ NMSQT and PSAT 10" from the choices across the top. 

Once you are on the website in the middle of the page it will have an area for getting your scores.  If you already have an account, you can sign in using your username and password.  For many of you, you may not have an account yet so you will need to create one.  Next to the "Sign In" button there is a "Sign Up" spot - select that and then create your account.

After doing that you will be able to access your scores.

One of the best parts about the PSAT is that CollegeBoard has partnered with Khan Academy to use your scores to make a personalized practice plan.  This is a fantastic option and I strongly encourage you to use it.  If you have questions about this FREE option you can visit the Khan Academy website at:

For what it is worth, I remember that in the past it took some students and parents multiple attempts of accessing the website to be able to see the scores - for example some said that it said no scores were available, but after refreshing a few times the scores eventually showed up.  CollegeBoard was having some technical issues due to the high demand of people trying to view their scores.  Hopefully that won't be an issue this year, but I figured I would mention it in case you run into any problems.

The Pre-ACT scores have written score reports that can be picked in the Counseling Center now.  You can pick up your score sheets during your lunch periods  or before or after school from any of the secretaries at the front of the counseling center. 

Now that you have your scores, you may be wondering what they mean.  The score sheets from both PSAT and Pre-ACT provide a wealth of information so it can take some time to digest it all, but if interested, please know that the counselor website can help give you additional information, tips and links to better understand your scores.

Don't forget, these are just practice tests so they are giving you an indication of where you might expect to score on the ACT or SAT and you can use your results to help guide you in preparing to achieve college readiness.

I hope your scores were what you were expecting (or perhaps even better).  If you have any questions don't hesitate to stop by and see me.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Application Deadline Reminders

I know there are a lot of you who are still working on your college applications.  I wanted to remind you to please, watch your deadlines!  This past Friday was the December 1st deadline and I was sad by how many students I had contacting me or teachers (and your teachers then contacted me in a panic) on the day of the deadline asking for things at the last possible second.  If you are applying by Common App, I will answer the number one question I got last week - you can submit up until 11:59pm on the day of your deadline.  But really, you shouldn't push it until the last second.

If you are looking at a January 1st deadline you need to make sure that you have made arrangements with your teachers who will be writing your recommendation letters and provided them with all of the forms so that they can write your letter well before we leave for break. Remember, your teachers will be off enjoying their holiday break too so they won't be around to write a last-minute recommendation letter for you if you just "forgot."  And, in all sincerity, there is no such thing as a last-minute recommendation letter!  Your teachers put in a lot of time, energy and effort to write a strong letter on your behalf.  It is important to give them an adequate amount of time to successfully advocate for you as a student.  (Your goal should be to give them at least 30 days which has already passed for January deadlines...)  

Also, don't forget that you need to complete your transcript release card and invite me through Common App to submit your transcript and this should be done no later than this Friday in order to make sure I can get it taken care of before break.  Like you and your teachers, I will not be here during winter break to get a transcript for you so you must plan ahead.  

Probably the biggest challenge I have seen students struggling with over this application season is not inviting me through Common App to complete your school forms which is how I submit your transcript.  We talked about this in depth at the senior college night presentation, but in the recommendation section, you will need to select me as your counselor and submit my email address.  Please be sure that you spell my name right.  I am 100% current on all of the transcript requests I have received so far so if you log into Common App and you see that I haven't uploaded your transcript yet then you need to invite me to submit your transcript or if you think you have already done that then you need to come see me because there is a problem with your request.

If you have any questions about your upcoming deadlines or where you stand in your application process, please stop by to see me!  And can I say it again - please, do not procrastinate on your applications!  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Career Dreams

What do you want to be when you grow up? When you were little perhaps it was a professional athlete, a superhero, or a famous entertainer. Now that you are in high school, my guess is you have started re-thinking some of your potential career choices. While there is still a lot of uncertainty and will, in all likelihood, be plenty of other times when you will change career paths in the future, it is time to start figuring out what you would like to be when you grow up.

I *know* you hate it when I say this, but the reality is that you need to know yourself and follow your passions. If you love what you do and you are willing to work hard then you will be able to find success. Everyone has their own unique gifts and talents and it is imperative that you determine what career will meet your needs. This means you have to figure out what is important to you and how you can incorporate that into your life. For example, for those who love sports it can be hard to imagine life without athletics and, many times, these individuals will pick (at least initially) careers that involve sports - athletic training, sports management, sports marketing, etc. This might be the perfect combination - or maybe not. Knowing yourself and knowing what you have a passion for is important in determining what characteristics of a job will be best suited for you. In this example, the sports minded person might pick a career that involves teamwork where groups of people work closely together to reach a common goal. Or, if you decide that you are not going to meet a passion in your life through your career, then it is important that you still honor that influence in some other way - perhaps playing on an adult recreational team or coaching a youth sport team. While this example deals with sports the same concept applies to any of your interests and passions - art, music, learning.

So, while I am not asking you to abandon your dreams of fame and fortune as the professional athlete, superhero, or entertainer, I am asking you to start thinking seriously about what will make you happy, what is important to you, and how a career can help meet your needs and goals in life.