January 2002 Newsletter

Director's Letter

As we venture into 2002, the world's boundaries are becoming less defined. Technology, the global economy, and recent world events such as the tragedy on September 11 have vaulted us all, ready or not, into a world that is becoming smaller by the day. Education is one of our most important resources if Americans are to continue to excel in this new world economy. Now, more than ever, American students need to have the skills and knowledge that will allow them to be competitive with other nations. If recent test scores are any indication of U.S. students' progress, more work needs to be done by schools, parents, and students in order to keep America's students at the top of the class.

American-fifteen-year olds rank average in reading, math, and science skills among their peers in highly industrialized nations according to testing completed in Spring 2001. The exam is the first in a series by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a Paris-based organization for economic cooperation and development. PISA is an international group that includes the United States and thirty-one other industrialized nations. The nations developed the test in order to have a dependable measurement to help steer education policy.
Fifteen-year-olds from the thirty-two participating countries were tested on how well they could apply knowledge gained in and out of school in literacy (defined as the ability to interpret and reflect on texts and to retrieve information), math, and science. The United States tested nearly 4,000 fifteen-year-olds from public and private schools in what Education Department Spokesman Dan Langan called a statistically solid sample. The exam was managed by the U.S. Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. The students were tested by age rather than by grade in order to create a more equitable sample across international lines. However, a variable exists in the background of students in all of these countries. In the United States, all citizens are required to attend school until age sixteen. However, in other countries participating in the testing, only the most gifted and affluent students are able to attend school.

The recently released results of the exam show fourteen countries ranked higher than the United States in overall literacy, with Finland, Canada, and New Zealand at the top. The United States had among the highest percentages of students scoring in the top ten percent in overall literacy (behind only Canada, Finland, and New Zealand), but also had more students at the lowest level than several countries. U.S. fifteen-year-olds ranked eighteenth in math; students in Japan, Korea, and New Zealand ranked the highest. The U.S. was fourteenth in science, with Korea, Japan, and Finland at the top."Unfortunately, we are average across the board compared to other industrialized nations," said Education Secretary Rod Paige in a written statement. "In the global economy, these countries are our competitors, average is not good enough for American kids."

Such results are disappointing, because we all know that American students are capable of much more than average. Students and parents cannot rely on teachers and administrators to take complete responsibility for individual students' academic progress. With growing classrooms and shrinking budgets, students and parents will have to be more committed to pursuing knowledge outside of the school day. Completing homework, reading, and keeping up with world events should be part of each student's day. Upward Bound is an excellent way for students to learn the skills required to be a competitive student, the first step in being an active and productive member of this new world economy.

CNN.com, Associated Press Column, December 4, 2001.

Questions to Ask on a College Visit

It is easy to be intimidated on a college visit by the new surroundings and all of the information that is being given to you at one time. You will get more specific, personalized information if you bring along a list of questions to ask the university staff you encounter on your visit. Ask the following questions on your next college visit and you will gain valuable insight into the school you are visiting; insight that will help you decide whether that school is the right place for you.

Admissions

Why should I apply to this institution?
Have I done everything I need to do to complete my application for admission?
When will you be likely to make a decision about my application?
When will I need to give you my decision if I am offered admission?

Financial Aid

How can I apply for financial aid?
When should I apply for financial aid in order to be considered before financial aid funds are exhausted?
What are my chances of getting financial aid?
What percentage of the student body receives financial aid? What type of aid is most common?

Academics

How many courses do you offer in (major field/program of study)?
How many full-time faculty members do you have in (major field/program of study)?
How many of your faculty have a PhD in (major field/program of study)?
What is the ratio between students and faculty in general education courses? In (major field/program of study)?
What are some of the best features of your (major field/program of study)?
What are some of the weaknesses of your (major field/program of study)?
What is your dropout rate?
What success do your graduates in (major field/program of study) have in entering the job market?
What would an alumni say about your institution?
Do you have any TRIO programs on this campus? If so, which ones?

Housing

What kinds of housing are available to me on-campus, if any?
What kinds of housing are available to me off-campus, if any?
When should I get my housing application in?
How will a roommate be selected for me?
If I am not satisfied with my room or my roommate, what options do I have?

Activities

Ask about the availability of sports, music, clubs, and other activities that you are interested in.
Realizing the Dream: Career Planning for the 21st Century. Iowa City, IA: ACT Publications, 1994. 58.

Words of Wisdom

Certain quotations endure because they say something profound about the human experience in a beautiful and memorable way. They are inspiring, thought-provoking, challenging, and applicable in our everyday lives. These types of quotations will become a regular feature in forthcoming issues of the Classic Upward Bound Program Newsletter.

If there is a quotation that has been important to you and you would like to share it with our community through this newsletter, please submit it to:

Amanda Graeber
c/o Classic Upward Bound Program
800 Sycamore Street
Waterloo, IA
50703

The submitted quotations will be part of future Classic Upward Bound Program Newsletters.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."
-Henry David Thoreau

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway."

-Mother Teresa

Valuing Yourself: Ways to Develop Self-Esteem

Everyone struggles with feeling good about themselves sometimes. Tough events in life such as failing a test, breaking up with a girl/boyfriend, or fighting with parents or friends could make you begin to question your own self-worth. When things like this happen, instead of dwelling on the negative, try to put some of the following techniques into practice:

Be positive about yourself and what you are capable of.
List ten good and bad points about yourself. Embrace your good points, work on changing your bad points, and accept what you cannot change.
Be patient with yourself and others.
Appreciate others. Do not envy them.
Let go of grudges.
Do not take everything personally.
Take action. Do not feel sorry for yourself.
Be independent. Do not rely on drugs or alcohol.
Follow your conscience, not the crowd.
Stand up for yourself. Do not take the blame for other people's problems.
Avoid people and situations that do not allow you to grow.
Reach out for help. Do not accept abuse.
Expect to have a good day.
Make a plan for the day and stick to it.
Take on a reasonable amount of responsibility.
Step out of your comfort zone.
Reward yourself for a job well done.
J. Weston Walch Publishers

Written and Edited by: Amanda Graeber