College Prep through UVM’s Pre-College Courses: An interview with Kate McAllister

Are you a motivated student interested in taking college-level courses in high school? The University of Vermont Pre-College Program helps high school students prepare for college life and course rigor.

Kate McAllister, a high school senior at Champlain Valley Union High School in Vermont, completed Intro to Psychological Science, among a number of other pre-college courses, and is excited for her upcoming academic prospects at UVM.

“I absolutely loved the course…it was not hard for me to participate, and [my teacher] created a very positive learning environment.”

She felt she was given the independence to prove her skills as an incoming freshman, but was also the support to succeed in her studies. “It was a really great confidence booster for me before I go into college.”

Kate found time to incorporate her pre-college courses into her busy high school and summer work schedule, earning college credit while also staying on track in high school.

Beginning her freshman year at UVM next semester as a psychology major, Kate credits her pre-college courses with preparing her for what’s to come. “[T]his was a perfect opportunity to see if a big school was a good fit for me.” Kate also enrolled in the Dual Enrollment Voucher Program, which allows Vermont high school students to take up to two college courses with tuition fully reimbursed. Kate decided to enroll in more courses with her high school discount code to access classes at half price.

Her Pre-college courses were a worthwhile venture and valued experience.

For more information on our Pre-College Program and Summer Academy, check out our guide: 7 Benefits of Participating in a Pre-College Program. 2017 Registration for Pre-college Programs is now open!

Multi-Tasking: Helpful or Hindrance?

As technology progresses and we have more tools at our fingertips to keep ourselves organized and “efficient,” why does it feel we have less time to finish all the tasks at hand? Whether texting a friend while running errands, or doing homework while uploading a picture on Instagram and watching TV, this interconnected world almost begs for us to be multi-taskers.

We’ve all heard this expression before, and some of us even pride ourselves on our multi-tasking abilities. Christine Rosen, in her article, “The Myth of Multitasking,” views this tendency as a hindrance to time-management, efficiency, and long-term learning.

Studies have shown that “workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers,” and multi-tasking can be creating such an information overload that we are losing our ability to be productive, especially among new generations who are more likely to be “media multi-taskers.”

Another study found that “task-switching leads to time lost as the brain determines which task to perform.” This can hinder learning, make it harder to retrieve information, and lead to more stress.Multi-tasking has created a generation who holds “great technical facility and intelligence,” while also creating students who are impatient with long silences and slow, time-consuming activities.

As research on this issue evolves, we will all have to ask ourselves if multi-tasking will be helpful in processing information more quickly, or if it will hinder our ability to be good listeners, to pay attention, and be efficient learners. So the next time you are doing homework, driving, or eating lunch, be in the moment, and consider how multi-tasking personally affects your learning and ability to be productive.

Sources: –,,20707868,00.html#you-re-not-really-multitasking-0 – Rosen, C. (2008). The Myth of Multitasking. The New Atlantis, (20), 105-110. Retrieved from

How to Prepare for and Cope with “Empty Nest Syndrome”

Getting your teen ready for college can be a whirlwind of excitement and emotions. You can become so busy that you don’t have time to cope with the fact that your child is about to leave home to embark on a new adventure, one that could be thousands of miles away.

Many parents experience “empty nest syndrome,” a phenomenon where parents feel deep sadness and loss when children leave home.

Here are some tips for parents on how to prepare and cope with this sensation:

Spend as much time with your family and children as possible during their senior year of high school

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” These moments will give you the opportunity to talk to your student about next steps, preparedness, and communication while in college.

Talk to your child about expectations and the basics of caring for themselves.

Your child is used to home-cooking, being free from financial obligations, and living comfortably with family. Talk to them about the basics of caring for themselves, such as washing clothes, cooking, cleaning, making smart credit card decisions, budgeting, and dealing with roommates. Also, establish how you will keep in touch, how often, and when to visit, so that you’re all more comfortable with the”send-off.”

Treat it like an adventure.

Don’t let scary thoughts take over. Reassure your child that this experience is once in a lifetime, as they will also feel apprehensive and excited. Stay positive to not only prepare your child, but also yourself.

Think about and start new activities.

Making a list of all the activities you want to do for yourself is healing, and you’ll be busy in no time. Connect with old friends, join a community club or gym, keep a journal about your emotions, meditate, take up a new hobby, volunteer in your community, or consider going back to school. The world is your oyster!

Accept support if you need it.

If you’re have a difficult time coping, reach out to loved ones and friends that can listen and understand or consider professional help to get you through this period. This may also be a good time to Listen to your body. Meditation, exercise, calming projects, and keeping a journal are all helpful remedies.

Focus on the positive side of your kids moving out.

You may feel lost for the first weeks or months, but keeping a positive mind is always healthy. Think about all the activities that you haven’t been able to do for yourself over the past years. Also, give yourself a huge pat on the back for raising a person who is now taking on new, exciting roles in their life!

Whatever you do to cope with empty nest syndrome, there are productive ways to keep yourself busy, stay positive, and continue to connect with your student as they—and you—undertake this momentous next step in your lives. Happy new adventures!


Mindfulness: An Approach to High School Stress & Performance

High school can be a stressful time, and finding ways to mitigate that stress is vitally important to obtaining good grades and keeping peace of mind. One approach is through meditation and mindfulness, a fast growing trend throughout the U.S.

In a recent CNN article on mindfulness in education, the author mentions that the practice of mindfulness in schools has rapidly grown over the past five years, and more educators are exploring ways to offer it to their students.

While many students may not take meditation seriously at first, the developing evidence and trends are showing that these exercises are helping teens all over the country with their social, emotional, and attention skills and in coping with academic pressures.

According to Dr. Vo, author of “The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time,” mindfulness can help improve teens’ relationships, behaviors, and schoolwork.

What do you have to lose by trying these techniques and calming your mind for a better performing you? Talk to your teachers, principal, and school counselors to explore the options offered in your school or community–or find out how to implement them.

In the meantime, here are a few apps to get you started:

  • Take a Chill—An application filled with tools to help teens manage stress and bring mindfulness into their everyday lives.
  • Stop, Breathe, and Think— Short meditations to help you stop, breathe, and expand your mind.
  • Mindshift—An app to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety.
  • Kelty Mental Health Mindfulness—Resources for parents, educators, and young adults on practicing mindfulness.



Senioritis: How to Nip it in the Bud

The fall semester has come to a close, and spring is quickly approaching. For most high school seniors, the final months of school can be a blessing or a curse: graduation is just around the corner; summer is in the air; college applications are complete. Eking through those last months of homework, exams, and college decisions can be grueling.

“Senioritis,” a terrible affliction that affects millions of high school students, hits around January and February when seniors lose motivation to finish homework and attend classes, and have a dismissive attitude towards school in general. Sound familiar, seniors?

Don’t let the end-of-school funk let your grades drop or spoil those last precious months. Giving in to senioritis can be a big mistake, and colleges notice as they keep track of your performance even after receiving your application. “Admission officers can ask a student to explain a drop in grades and can revoke an offer of admission if not satisfied with the response,” according to the College Board.

How can you combat this so-called malady? Here are four steps to nip senioritis in the bud and continue to impress not only your parents and teachers, but also your top college choices:

1. Enroll in engaging electives. By the last semester of senior year, you will have fulfilled the majority of the necessary classes to graduate. Why not take an elective or two that sparks your interest and could even help you choose a major? Electives can challenge you academically and impress college admissions on your transcript. Talk to your school counselor about your options.

2. Find an interesting internship or independent study opportunity. Boost your transcript while learning something new and exploring an area of study. You can learn valuable skills, such as time management, organization, and self-discipline before being released into the independent world of college. Do your research and talk to your school counselor before choosing an option.

3. Set achievable short- and long-term goals. Stay on track during your final months of high school. Short-term goals, such as earning a high grade on an essay, and long-term goals, like raising your GPA, will help you keep your head in the academic game. Keep a daily checklist of these goals.

4. Have fun and find time to relax. The end of high school, waiting to hear back from colleges, and saying goodbye to your friends and family can be a stressful time. Remember to take care of your body and mind by spending time with friends and family, attending sporting events and extracurricular activities, and looking for “me” time through self-reflection and goal planning.


4 Ways Parents Can Help Students Prepare for College Financially

prepare-for-collegeIt’s without question that college is the starting line for fresh experiences and a new academic journey. It’s also a time to discover new interests, set and achieve new goals, and form lasting friendships. For some students, college is the official start of adulthood, which means taking on financial responsibilities and experiencing independence for the first time.

Aside from the upfront investment that moving away to college brings, your son or daughter may be responsible for taking out student loans, applying for scholarships, or putting money aside from part-time job or paid internship earnings. While managing finances can be burdensome for a young adult, there are ways to alleviate the sticker shock of new responsibilities and help your child prepare for success.

4 Ways to prepare for college expenses

1. Plan for financial success.

Financial independence is a critical point in your son’s or daughter’s life, especially if there’s been little or no financial responsibility in the past. The best thing your son or daughter can do is to apply for a part-time job in high school and save as much as possible before college.

To encourage financial freedom when the first semester of college arrives, encourage your son or daughter to apply for a work-study program or a part-time job. While you want your children to focus on their studies, it’s paramount that they begin to take some responsibility, especially since college is such a huge investment.

Work-study programs are a form of financial aid and are available all around campus, from the fitness center to the library, making them accessible and easy to apply for, if your child qualifies. The benefits of a work-study program include working on campus and tuition assistance, and some colleges even cover the cost of room and board in exchange for labor. But be sure to do your research before dismissing a part-time job.

Unlike a work-study job, a part-time job has no limitations on how much your son or daughter can earn. Plus, your child can gain real-life experience, such as working with others in the community. It’s also a chance to prepare a resume and learn the importance of managing a weekly paycheck.

2. Educate your child on the importance of a budget.

If you’re planning to finance your child’s college experience—tuition, room and board, books, food, and fun—be strategic. Instead of depositing a semester’s worth of money at once, consider making weekly or bi-weekly deposits. This can help teach the importance of sticking to a budget. Your child may also be less tempted to spend money on unnecessary outings with friends or on impulse shopping at the mall.

Aside from strategic budgeting on your end, consider assisting your son or daughter with managing day-to-day finances. While this sounds relatively basic, setting a personal budget is especially important because your children are still learning about the concept and importance of managing his or her finances.

The first step to creating a personal budget is to take a look at the financial instruments involved. Does your child have a savings or checking account? How often will you contribute to the account? Using the source of income, you can determine where your child will be spending money and how much is needed each month to finance those expenses. And, if your son or daughter has a part-time job, factor those earnings into this budget, too. While you want your children to have fun, it’s important to convey that education will benefit them now and in the future, and that saving for and during college will serve them well over time.

3. Let your child face natural consequences.

Mistakes are natural and an essential passage to adulthood. Say, for example, that your child makes a decision to open a credit card. While you can discuss the seriousness of credit-card debt, if your child spends too much on concert tickets or an outfit for the spring formal, consequences will follow.

Fortunately, young adults “have to show sufficient income before they can be approved unless they have a cosigner,” reports Reyna Gobel in a Forbes article, “What Parents of Soon-to-Be College Students Need to Know About Credit Cards.” She interviewed Beverly Harzog, author of “Confessions of a Credit Junkie,” who noted that “The CARD Act also banned gift giving to entice college students to sign up for credit cards. No more free T-shirts to sign up for a credit card. And the CARD Act also prevents card issuers from sending pre-approved offers to anyone under 21 without the individual’s consent.”

Finally, don’t take a risk by co-signing a credit card for your child. A credit card is a financial decision young adults should make independently, when they’re ready to handle financial responsibility on their own.

4. Have a talk about finances.

The cost of tuition is often the most critical element in the college-planning process. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can ultimately alleviate the cost of tuition, it’s important to discuss any financial limitations you may have. If your family is undergoing circumstances that affect your financial situation, be sure to document that on the financial-aid application.

In addition to financial aid, your son or daughter could benefit from applying for a grant or scholarship, which your child won’t have to pay back after college graduation. According to Big Future by The College Board, “Students received a total of $122.7 billion in scholarships and grants in 2013-14. About 40% of this free money comes from the federal government and, to qualify, you need to fill out the FAFSA.” Your child can locate and apply to a variety of grants and scholarships from the government, colleges or universities, and private organizations.

If there are still some costs remaining after your child has completed the FAFSA and applied for outside scholarships and grants, you can help your child look into financing college through loans. Unlike scholarships and grants, loans must be paid back after graduation. The most common type is the Federal Perkins Loan, typically sourced from the college or university your child is attending. However, if the Perkins loan doesn’t cover the entire cost of college, you and your child can look into loans from an outside source, such as a bank or credit union.

Are you interested in learning more about helping your son or daughter manage personal finances and prepare for college? Check out our blog for a list of resources and related topics.

An Interview With Grace Miller on Her Pre-College Experience

pre-college-experienceHave you always wondered what The University of Vermont Summer Academy experience is really like? Students who participate in a pre-college program, such as Summer Academy, often finish the program feeling confident in the challenging level of academics they’ve completed and ready to succeed in a college environment.

Grace Miller, who’s finishing her junior year at Lake Region Union High School, completed one of UVM’s pre-college programs and is now accomplishing great things.

Continue Reading…

5 High School Community Service Opportunities

high-school-community-service-opportunities“Giving back is a great way to fulfill your community service requirement for school or a club, build your resume, and make a difference in your community,” writes the staff at TeenLife. “But sometimes it’s difficult to find an exciting volunteer opportunity.” Whether it’s a passion for sustainability or nurturing the growth of the community, start by thinking of your interests and hobbies. From there you can see how you can turn them into a rewarding opportunity, such as a community service project.

5 rewarding high school community service opportunities

1. Donate your time to those who serve or are in need.

Why not donate your time to those who serve us every day? Whether it’s sending a care package or a thank-you letter to our troops, or raising awareness for military-focused charities by organizing a bake sale, volunteering your time to help others is an extremely rewarding extracurricular activity. Some other ideas include donating children’s books, clothes, perishables, and other materials to shelters or to Goodwill.

2. Share your knowledge.

For teens who thrive in a particular subject, consider becoming a tutor. As a tutor, you’ll have an opportunity to help others develop new skills, overcome obstacles, and really make a difference. According to USA Today, tutoring is one of the best part-time jobs for students. “When tutoring someone, you’re not just showing up and getting a series of tasks done — you’re making a difference in a student’s life,” writes Cathryn Sloane of USA Today. “Rather than catering to the needs of a bunch of customers who don’t necessarily appreciate the work you are doing, you are helping someone who actually wants to be helped.”

3. Become a camp counselor.

Not only do you get to spend the majority of the day outside engaging in activities like camping, sports, arts and crafts, and social events, but you’ll also gain a number of different life-long skills, such as leadership and independence. Did we mention it’s a great way to have fun and enjoy your summer, too?

4. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Local animal shelters are always eager to welcome new volunteers on board. While volunteers typically need to meet a few requirements, including age and commitment level, there are plenty of options available to get started as soon as possible. Volunteer opportunities range from walking dogs to helping with training. Contact your local animal shelter for more information.

5. Offer your time to kids in need.

Between the Special Olympics, local children’s hospitals, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, there’s no shortage of non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Build lasting relationships in the community and benefit from the reward of helping those in need through one of these programs.

To give you a little inspiration to get involved in the community, we’d like to introduce you to TeenLife, an organization that provides students with a comprehensive directory of community-service programs that help you not only improve academically and socially, but also use those skills to shape a hopeful and promising future. With 15,000 opportunities—and growing—for teens in grades 7 through 12, TeenLife offers you a unique opportunity to “develop a meaningful personal-experience portfolio, no matter the makeup of their individual interests, talents, and resources.”



David Fischer: On Getting Ahead With College-Level Courses

college-level-courses-899224-editedWhile most eighth-grade students are in the midst of developing their writing skills, gaining a solid understanding of algebraic principles, and spending their free time with their friends, David Fischer’s junior-high experience was quite the contrary.

Now a first-year computer science major at The University of Vermont, David’s UVM journey began in the eighth grade, where he supplemented the Common Core curriculum with college-level classes. A junior-high student learning on a college campus: impressive, right? Continue Reading…

What Does It Take to Be a High School Entrepreneur?

high-school-entrepreneurIt’s no secret that most students experience a wake-up call when they go from the predetermined high-school schedule to the more free-form college schedule. While there’s certainly more flexibility on the college side, one’s time is filled with more responsibilities that require organizing. But what if there were another way to get ahead, feel more prepared, and ultimately become successful—all before you step foot onto campus? Continue Reading…