The More You Pay, the Less They Go.

$60K per year

There’s Fall Break.

There’s Thanksgiving Break.

There’s Christmas Break.

There’s February Break.

There’s Spring Break.

They’re home by May.

The more you pay, the less they go.

 

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Thanks, but No “Thanks.”

You’ve given your precious time to a Millennial. Waiting for a “Thank You”? Good luck.

Thanks

 

 

It’s time to take matters into your own hands.

 

 

 

I learned the hard way. “Go to school” on me! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

True story: a few years ago my mom casually mentioned to me a year after the fact that one of my children (plus a few friends) never really thanked her for some substantial time she had invested in them. She wasn’t being rude – but clearly my mom was bothered.

On SO many levels I had missed the “teachable moment” that we all desire as parents, bosses, mentors, etc. Furthermore, the millennial offenders are just fantastic kids! (After all, 3/5 of my kids are millennials). They are our future.

So, here’s how I have solved the problem:

I ask.

That’s it.

“I’ve given my time to you. This is what I expect in exchange.”

From now on, each time I help someone (particularly a millennial!) whether it is in a job search, a resume review, college recruiting support, etc. I use it as an opportunity to explain my expectations. Crystal clear. I am no longer waiting. I do not want to be disappointed. I do not ever want to have the feeling my mom did. Rather, I have chosen to take the matter into my own hands and use it as a chance to “shape” someone in a positive way.

Here’s what I asked of a very capable young woman recently for whom I offered to write a college letter of support:

1) Please alert me as to when I need to complete my letter. (Note: timelines need to be her responsibility, not mine.)

2) Please follow-up with the school to be certain they have received my letter and it is appropriately in your file. (Note: I am asking her to “own” the process.)

3) Please write me a handwritten thank you note. (Note: while it seems so obvious, it’s not. These kids have SO many means of communication. They need to understand that the world is noisy. Stand out with a handwritten note. Period.)

4) Please let me know as soon as you hear of an acceptance, denial or deferral (Note: I am asking her to keep me in the loop; I have invested my time and merit inclusion of information.)

5) Please keep me posted over the next few years. I have taken my time. I care about you, your school career and probably even your post-college career. (Note: while she probably does not even realize it, I am “coaching” her for how to interact when she begins job prospecting. Further, to the extent that she really does keep me posted – it is likely that I will somehow help her!)

6) Lastly, please remember that “in life” there will be people who help you get where you are going. Please treat those people as “people in your life” and stay in touch. Drop them a line every so often. Send a Christmas card. Whatever. (Note: The important thing is that the gift of time comes with a responsibility. I gave her my time. If she plays her cards right, we can have an amazing relationship.)

Postscript: The young lady was denied admission (early admission) to the college she so desperately sought to attend. Not even a deferral. She and I have communicated a few times since her deeply disappointing news. It is my hope that she takes my “advice” and stays in touch. Trust me: if she does just that I would be thrilled to help point her in a direction, introduce her to possible internships, and even help her land a job after college, etc. [After all, she already successfully completed steps 1-4 with terrific success!]

Invest in yourself. Invest in others. Say thanks.

WHAT is KNAAC?! It is NOT Greek to Me.

My daughter took four years of Ancient Greek in high school. We often had a phrase around our house if we had no idea of the answer to a question, we would chuckle and say “I don’t know, it’s Greek to me!” Today, one can no longer pull the “it’s Greek-to-me” card.

If you are not aware of a MOOC you need to be. Same with SEO, SEM, “Big Data”, Social media tools Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and lastly but most importantly: coding. A recent WSJ article by Kirk McDonald entitled “Sorry College Grad, I Probably Won’t Hire You” encourages college grads to take ownership  of their continued knowledge base. I couldn’t agree with him more! “Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the computer logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture.”

I am obsessed with “staying current”. Always have been. And now, with the speed of technology the race is getting faster and faster. So what to do?

Do. That’s the answer. Do.

Learnbydoing

Make a pact with yourself. Do NOT let technology be something to watch from the sidelines. TRY. Engage. Learn. Make a pact with yourself. I am. This summer I hope to learn some coding from Codecademy. Or maybe I’ll take another Coursera class. Free online. If I am a really good mom (or bad?) I will require the same of my five children, regardless of age. WHY? Because today it’s no longer college; it’s knowledge. It’s what you know, not where you go. Knowledge is your currency.

Knowledge As A Currency = KNAAC.

Don’t let it be Greek to you.

Defining Moment: ACT Score versus the Tag Ladies

Last weekend I took my son on a college visit in Western Massachusetts.

As I sat at the Circle K Dunkin Donuts sipping Saturday morning coffee, I began chatting with the ladies seated at the table next to me. It was a gorgeous New England morning; yet we were indoors. Surprisingly, the Dunkin Donuts was packed. Kids were coming in and out between soccer games, truck drivers were seated with their refills, college kids were stopping in, etc. It was clearly the place to be.

The ladies, who ranged in age from probably 50-80 began to tell me that this was their “ritual.” Every Saturday morning (for the last 20 years as I came to find out) they meet at Dunkin Donuts and begin their “tagging” trip. What is the definition of tagging ? Tagging is what Chicagoans call “attending a garage sale” or the History Channel might call American Pickers. Whatever one calls it, these ladies have turned it into their ritual.  They giggled and shared the sheer pleasure of tagging. It is their “reason” to get together every Saturday morning each Fall, to visit, and have a “purpose.” They love it. They told me all about their favorite treasures as well as secrets used to hide purchases from their husbands! They told me how they leave their cars in the lot next to Dunkin Donuts and all pile into one person’s car so that they can converse while going from sale to sale. By the end of our visit I felt honored when they invited me to join them tagging !

Juxtapose my chance Tag Ladies encounter  with the entire purpose of my visit to New England: college visits. (Because our son’s September ACT test results showed a 5 point increase over his prior score, he is qualified for a different tier of colleges than he had been prior.) Ask any junior or senior high-schooler his or her sense of “purpose” these days. What is it?  The ACT score.  Yes, the ACT score! What on earth are we doing wrong? How did we get to the point where the ever important critical score by which high school kids seem to measure and maybe even define one another is a SCORE!  A score. Look at our son: he is still the exact same person he was three weeks ago when his score was 5 points lower than it is now. No better, no worse. (Our words of advice are still relevant: “in life” no one will ever care about your ACT score nor will you ever be asked about your score again!)

How are we defined in life? What is the measuring stick? Is it the ACT score? Or is it the Tag Ladies who were kind, welcoming and even thought to invite me along on their 20 year Saturday morning ritual?

 

Which brings me back to defining the measuring stick of life. If only we could get every junior and senior high-schooler in America to visit the Tag Ladies, grab a cup of coffee, sit down, visit, and chit-chat. Surely any high schooler would figure out the absolute irrelevance of the ACT score; wouldn’t that be a defining moment?

EDUCATION: DISRUPT

Several years ago my now-college aged daughter was very interested in attending the Naval Academy in Annapolis. We read everything we could about the Academy, met with various graduates, attended events at the Great Lakes Naval Station, etc. Why? Because she was smart, disciplined and was searching for the right type of college education. She also loved the idea of serving our country, and the fact that the 5 year military and management experience would be absolutely amazing. During that time, a Time magazine issue was released where the cover story featured a service academy graduate and highlighted the amazing managers produced. West Point was ranked first in the nation that year. It didn’t hurt that our new neighbor and now dear friend was/is a West Point grad – and she is a remarkable woman.

To make a long story short, while my daughter did not end up pursuing a service academy, I have really never gotten over the $200,000  question…the “savings” we had been looking at while exploring the military. Who has $200k sitting around? I’ve always been a little uneasy around the discussion of the college price tag as it is just plain inaccessible to the masses. That is not right. It just isn’t.

Maybe the price tag is why I am absolutely obsessed with how rapidly education is changing – and quite frankly, it’s all happening right before our very eyes. It’s HERE. It’s HAPPENING. And it’s SO exciting!

Several years ago I read about the Khan Academy. After researching Sal Kahn, I called my mom to talk about it, “MOM you have GOT to read about Khan Academy! Oh my gosh – he’s going to change to world!” To which my mom (who’s always one step ahead)  replied, “oh YES – I’ve read about him! I agree- he’s going to change to world.” So here we are. When Khan sat down to assist a nephew on math homework via Skype he discovered and hit upon the beginning ingredient in the search for the Holy Grail in education: delivering meaningful content in a cost-effective way.

If you still don’t get it: how about the two Stanford professors who decided to offer an artificial intelligence course online for free, and open it up to the masses (MOOC: massively open online courses)?? Within two days over 160,000 people from around the world had enrolled. EVERY country in the world was represented except for North Korea. Let me say it again: EVERY country in the world. Talk about PENT-UP demand?! The world is yearning to learn! Finally, technology can provide a platform!

So here we are. Whether through Udacity, Audacity, UniversityNow, etc the world of education as we know it is gone. Of course, I keep reading about the new programs but know there is one thing holding me back from fully embracing: the social and learning environment of attending college in person cannot be replaced by online courses. And then?

The Minerva Project.

The end. Please take the time to read about it: The Minerva Project. It just might be getting close to solving the learning environment problem AND finally provide a viable option that will not cost $200k.

College Kids: Looking to Land a Summer Job? Take Off Your Earbuds and Listen.

Spring Break is approaching.

Kids are boarding trains, planes and automobiles to visit family or friends. College kids are scrambling to figure out what they plan to do over the summer and how they plan to pay for school and/or expenses. What to do? I read somewhere recently that 20% of college-aged students in America do not have a summer job. Hmmm.

Let me share a story: Last year my college-aged daughter was on a place returning home for break (lucky her.) She was working on her physics homework when the woman seated next to her struck up a conversation. They  ended up chatting the entire flight about science, physics, women in the sciences, mutual interests, etc. (My daughter loves science – especially physics!) At the time, my daughter was somewhat concerned that her love of physics was not strong enough relative to the ability of her peers at school. The woman with whom she spoke convinced her to stick with it if she loves it; that there will always be others brighter than she but women in science who are articulate and understand the subject are needed. For the first time, my daughter was relieved that she could follow what she loved and be able to find a career – even if she was not the best in her class at it. Further, the woman offered my daughter her business card, and suggested my daughter follow up with her.

Follow up she did. My daughter  contacted the woman several times over the next several months. As it turned out – the woman was one of the top females in America at a Fortune 500 company in the energy services arena – nuclear, in particular. After arranging for interviews, my daughter landed a summer internship last summer and will work there again this summer. Dumb luck? Maybe. But I’d like to think that taking off earbuds, talking to those around you when there’s an opportunity is an amazing opportunity – one which we should all recommend to our children.

So this Spring Break  – or any vacation for that matter – remind your children to take out their earbuds. Talk to strangers. Engage. You just never know where the conversation may lead.