Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Best 2009 Ever

Are you ready to have the best 2009 ever? If you are ready for a brilliant new year now is the time to define your goals. Get ready to start on a fantastic journey where each day you are able to deposit your entire energy into improving by 1 percent. If you actually practice this habit you can improve by 365 percent in one year. There is truly no limit to what you can accomplish if you let 2009 become a year when you expect new experiences to transform your life.

Are you ready to put up a new fight to resist negative thoughts that plagued your mind last year? As Barack Obama says “your destiny will not be written for you but by you.” The New Year will present many opportunities for you to change old habits. The best way to make these changes is to believe that the past does not control your present goals. The year 2009 is time to take the beginning steps in the right direction by writing down the top five goals that you want to accomplish. Take your eyes off of the things that you did not do last year and focus on the new changes that you will make today.

What is the best way to invest your time during 2009? Why not make a greater commitment to be an example of excellence to your family and friends. Find ways to encourage others to chart a new course for their lives. Frequently reach out to young people who need your advice and support. You never know when a special niece of nephew can be steered in a better direction because you invested your time to talk to them. It is rewarding to see how thankful they are to receive a contribution of some of your wisdom. Sometimes you will only plant a seed into their life that will blossom at a later date.

Plan to make 2009 a year of new solutions. Face challenges that act like a pressure cooker in you life head on. Release all of the pressure by letting go of past thoughts that haunted you about failures in school or in a business venture. These life experiences are stepping stones on your way to becoming an inspired person. Put your talents on display by knowing that there is an answer to every problem. The answer will be a new way of thinking that is consistent with your vision for the New Year.

If you want to do more during the New Year it’s going to take a greater effort. You will need to plant more seeds by networking and meeting with new people. Join a new organization where you can give and receive new advice and develop some trustworthy relationships. Go for a goal of meeting five new people each month. Be sure to provide some benefit to them and you’ll be amazed at the new ways that you will also benefit.

The year 2009 will be a wonderful year if you make it one. Be bold in the initiatives that you start and finish. Have a vision that great things will happen each time that you start a new goal. Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best, “Never! Never! Never! Give Up.” Make the New Year a time to fight for the things that you fervently want to happen. Expect the accomplishment of your goals to be a shining example of what can be accomplished with diligent work. Have a prosperous New Year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Obama’s Education Opinion the Right Stuff

Obama says testing alone is not the solution for improving student performance. The countries financial investments should support better K12 teaching not testing. In his opinion we are attacking the education system which we should be trying to bolster. Obama says too much time is spent preparing students for No Child Left Behind testing. The results of these failed policies are putting a strangle hold on education. Student's minds are no longer nourished by the knowledge that teachers impart. How can a teacher focus on course content when their schools very existence hinges on testing scores? Obama says we need to make a greater investment in changing education.
He also states that teachers should be paid higher salaries. The teaching profession has lost its glimmer because our country is not investing in K12 education. Obama's opinion in this area shows that he is looking at the future. Within the next ten years a massive number of teachers will retire. It will be difficult to replace them if teachers cannot make a living wage. These potential teachers will go into other professions. Teachers want to work in a country where they do not have to struggle due to financial obligations after college.
Our country needs new leadership to effectively craft teacher and student friendly education policy. Obama is striking the right cord with many educators who are in higher education. He has taken his campaign to college campuses around the country. He is demonstrating how much he values the opportunity to be educated. Obama's family could not afford to send him to the most expensive K12 schools but he still learned the value of education. He wants to open the doors for many students who feel that the doors of higher education will never open for them.
Obama is demonstrating the true qualities of a leader. His history of serving as a volunteer in his community has put him in touch with the education gap that is like the Grand Canyon in many of our nation's inner cities. His thirst for change in the way that we educate our nation's youth is a breath of fresh air. Obama has an opinion that United States citizens should unit around the value of improving access to good education.
The country needs to remain competitive in the global markets of the world. Obama says that if our current lack of investment in education continues we will not compete with the rest of the world. Based on a recent assessment the United States ranks twenty-ninth in math and science knowledge. The country is losing its place as a world leader. All of the other countries around the world are increasing their investment in education. The United States continues to flounder at implementing strategic education policy. The country needs a plan that positions our workers to be the most educated workforce in the world.
Based on the response of voters around the country they are looking for a leader who will stand up and speak out on education. Obama has the right stuff because he knows the boundaries that a limited education can cast on a child's entire life. When a young person desires to learn is extinguished in the forth grade they will never recover. Obama has the attitude and motivation of a Presidential candidate that wants education to take its rightful place in our society. He proves that he is the right person to change the direction of education in this country.

High School Students Need a Bridge to College

Annually, over 10 million high school students begin the process of applying to college. Their expectation is that college will be the same as high school. They remember getting 15 minutes of homework and studying on the bus on their way to the first class of the day. Everything seemed so easy and studying sufficiently was not a big deal. Unfortunately many students arrive to college unaware that they may not have adequate preparation for the rigors of college. Something needs to be done to bridge the gap in college preparation.

It seems that school superintendents and college presidents rarely talk about college preparation best practices. Therefore the high school curriculum seems far apart from the college curriculum. The local high school is mostly concerned about meeting state standards that are established concerning each course. They are also entrapped by No Child Left Behind policies that threaten schools with Adequate Yearly Progress requirements. Teachers are spending more time preparing students for state tests rather than preparing them for college. High school administrators understand that a significant amount of funding could be affected by an inability to meet state and federal testing standards.

In spite of these challenges college presidents need to do a better job of meeting with high school principals to discuss the type of courses that prepare students for college. They can do this by also identifying high schools that frequently send them students who have graduated from their college. They can identify a high school college admission grade point average that stands out. It may also be a good idea for high school administrators to talk to their former students about their college experiences. They can provide their perspective on which classes actually prepared them for college life.

There is a benefit when entire colleges and school districts work together. The teachers who are completing degrees become more sensitive to the challenge of preparing high school students for college. The teachers who express an interest in teaching high school students can incorporate new knowledge into their courses. These teachers can also talk to high school students about their college experiences. They can give them some ideas regarding books that they can study while they are completing their high school requirements.

High school students don’t have to feel that preparing for college is only a dream. They don’t have to go to college and stumble through classes that are too difficult. They can receive insights in their classes about college life that make the college transition much easier. Some students might decide to take a college course while they are in high school so that they can get a first hand experience regarding the amount of studying that’s required.

Moving past the road blocks that prevent college presidents and superintendents from coming together will require a commitment. Both groups must spend time coming together and having discussions in the region where they can easily collaborate. Now is the time for college administrators and school superintendents to collaborate and to prepare students for postsecondary education of the future.

Back to School Cell Phone Craze is Booming

When students and parents start their shopping list for the new school year one item on the top of their list is a cell phone. How times have changed. The idea of searching for paper and pencils is taking a back seat to modern technology. The cell phone companies have caught on and they are releasing so many new cell phones each month that it is hard for anyone to catch up. Cell phones have reached epidemic proportions throughout American society. You cannot go to a city or countryside road without finding someone who is using a cell phone.
A growing phenomenon among parents and students is text messaging. The ringing of the phone has been silenced by the tapping of alphabetic keys. Messages between cell phones can be transferred instantaneously. Students are using text messaging to respond to each other and to communicate with their parents. Abbreviations are often used when text messages are sent. It represents a form of communication that has broad implications for society. Text messaging can take up time that a student would normally spend studying. At the same time students can send a reminder that a homework assignment is due. It has become a two edged sword that allows parents to pick up a child from football practice or to plan a trip to a movie.
Communicating fast has become an even faster way of keeping parents in touch with their student. Parents realize that when their son/daughter goes back to school putting down the cell phone to focus will require real discipline. Students are too easily disrupted by the buzz of their cell phones. The speed at which a student communicates can cause a chain reaction of positive or negative results for a student who has a test on the next day. Peer pressure can even occur when one student yields to the temptation to respond to a cell phone call rather than study.
Communication by way of the cell phone is here to stay. School districts are forced to come up with strong statements about when the cell phone may be used during the school day. Students try to find creative ways to ignore the rules. Parents are frustrated when they must go to school to retrieve their son/daughters cell phone. Learning by way of the cell phone has been a challenge for most schools. Cell phone use is not easily incorporated into class instruction like an actual computer. Some professionals have found ways to download papers to the cell phone and read them while they are traveling but this is not a priority for students.
Some students are using their cell phones to discuss assignments and presentations they are giving. Students can save some of the major points of their presentation on their cell phone. Students can send a reminder that a quiz is occurring tomorrow to a friend. Messages like it’s time to get prepared. Some students put reminders in their cell phone and the phone makes a funny noise to remind them to start preparation for a major test. The calendar can also be used as a way to manage time.
During the twenty first century technology will continue to influence the back to school journey. Schools that use laptop computers to educate students are already springing up all over the country. Cell phones do offer news, television and the internet but most students do not have access to these services. Moving forward bringing the cost down and increasing the services will make the versatility of the cell phone a total learning experience. It is apparent that going back to school will never be the same. Dr. Stephen Jones is author of a new book the Ultimate scholarship, Seven Secrets of How to Study and the Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide” and the “Ultimate Scholarship Guide.” Dr. Jones can be contacted at 610-842-3843.

Athletes Drop Out Rate a Crisis in the Making

According to Dr. Stephen Jones each year more than 50 percent of African American students drop out of high school and college. This has a significant impact on athletes who play sports. The drop out rate is greatly affected by poor college preparation and study skills. The lack of academic preparation is evident in middle school and high school. Too often athletes are accepted to college without the preparation they need to graduate. The student athletes’ athletic prowess is valued more than their intellectual abilities. Some athletes are also blindsided when they uncover the huge academic deficits when they start college classes. This crisis will continue because of the abundance of athletes who can replace the athlete who is in academic difficulty.

This problem must be attacked head on. Athletes deserve to be prepared to succeed at all levels. The NCAA requires colleges to have an academic support center. Unfortunately often the academic gap is too large even for the tutors that are assigned to students. Although these students have graduated from high school these students arrive to college academically three and four years behind their peers. Middle schools and high school students must get academically caught up prior to enrolling in the college. Many of these students are coming from schools that are not making Adequate Yearly Progress according to the standards set by No Child Left Behind. There are some very basic elements of the education process that are critical for students to succeed in college and they include the ability to read and compute.

This crisis is not one that we can ignore. Too many extremely bright African Americans are ending up in prison. This includes former college athletes who do not have a degree. Every so many weeks it seems that there is an article about some athlete who is escorted into a court room and sent to jail. This is especially detrimental when they leave a stable wife and children to make it by themselves. This foretells a disastrous educational outcome for their children who cannot afford to attend the better schools.

Some organizations and colleges are tracking the exceptional student athlete as early as ten and twelve year old. Yet attention and devotion to ensuring that they maintain high levels of academic performance is given little attention. It seems that there is a viscous cycle of poor study skills and academic preparation that’s repeated in inner city communities throughout the country. A fundamental academic requirement must be established for athletes early in their K 12 experience. Colleges and school districts must make a greater commitment to these students. There must be a break in the pattern of the deepening despair that has become a viscous cycle for so many athletes who do not graduate. Too many families can point to athletes in their family who have never competed a high school diploma or college degree.

Dr. Stephen Jones is a nationally recognized author who has written the “Seven Secrets of How to Study and the “Parent’s Ultimate Education Guide.” You can contact him at 610-842-3843 and at or visit

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time to Manage Your Money

We are living in a time of financial crisis. Corporations are laying off thousands of employees. According to the United States Department of Labor and Statistics, the number of unemployed persons rose by 592,000 to 9.4 million in August 2008. While banks and insurance companies like AIG are on the verge of bankruptcy. It seemed that no one knew exactly what to do. So the government is bailing them out. There are too many people talking about the crisis and too few that offer solutions for the common person. Panicking will only add to the confusion that is pervasive in the country. The financial crisis should force each family to review all personal bills, financial investments and family insurance plans. It’s time to manage your money.

A smart financial plan begins with your own research and study of your financial circumstances. If you have not heard from your retirement company give them a call. You want to maximize the amount of information that you use to make good financial decisions. Don’t feel pressured to move money around or to take your money out of the bank and hide it. Remember your money is insured up to $100,000 for each bank where your money is deposited. It is still a good idea to have a conversation with the bank manager about your money. Get everything in writing so that you know what your bank will and will not do if it fails.

This is one time when procrastinating does not work in your favor. Everyday you could be losing money. It’s time to have a plan of action that you will follow. Your job may offer a financial planning workshop. Make time to attend a session. Prepare a few questions prior to the meeting. Ask if there is some type of financial planning website that you can review.

Most adults have never attended any type of money management class. They do what their parents did with their money. Their bills were continuously behind and the house was loaded up with the things that they wanted. When a person who freely spends marries a thrifty person their can be conflicts over money. This type of conflict can strain any relationship. In fact financial management issues are one of the primary reasons that married couples break up. Agreeing to manage your money with some flexibility must be a priority. Each single person and married couple should have a financial plan.

One of the effective things that you can do at this time is cut back on unnecessary expenses. Eliminating fast food from your diet may be one way to save money. If you decide to make this change you will improve your health and financial situation at the same time. If you go to Dunkin Donuts in the morning, McDonald’s during the afternoon and to a restaurant at night you can easily spend $50.00 a day and by doing this several times each week you will spend hundreds of dollars. Taking control of your budget means looking at every aspect of your life and considering the changes you must make.

Your goal should be to pay off bills and cut up all credit cards. Did you know that if you are late paying one bill your interest rate on other credit cards can go up? Paying your bills on time is an important habit. When possible pay a little more money on each bill. Get a copy of your credit report and eliminate any statements that are not true. Remember that banks and credit unions will look at your credit report score when you want to make a loan or ask for a line of credit. Manage your money by putting yourself in a position to pay off your financial obligations.

We each have a free will to choose how to manage our individual financial obligations. Learn to be content with what you have rather than letting your friend influence your buying decisions. Purchasing a $4,000 flat screen television may not be in your budget. Remember you can enjoy freedom when you manage your money and plan to live a stress free life. While the country is in this financial crisis you can still have peace by following your financial plan. Dr. Stephen Jones is author of the "Ultimate Scholarship Guide "available at