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Category: Education

The Ultimate University Guide for Parents

Parents Guide to Preparing Students for University

Now that university is back in full swing, you will have noticed students in every corner of the city. This may instill some fear into you, especially if your child is in their last year of school and planning to head to university. You may have some worries about them leaving or home, or whether they will get a place in the university of their dreams.

Whatever the case, you need to start preparing for your child’s future in university, as this move will affect them as well as you. Take a look at these tips which will help you assist your child with the next step of their education.

One of the hardest decisions your child will have to make is which university course is right for them, as this will define their future career. Parents tend to have a big say on this, as some would prefer their child to stay closer to home, while others are adamant that their offspring will attend a prestigious university. Both can offer your child clouded judgement, as they may end up at university they don’t enjoy or take on a course that provides them with little to no job opportunities.

Choosing a Course

Instead, you and your child should conduct thorough research on UCAS where you can look into subjects that he or she finds enjoyable or will excel at, while also taking note of the employment prospects. You should avoid just focusing on the course overview, as this will only provide you with a generalized description.

Most universities lay out each module for individual courses to help the potential students decide if its right for them, and whether the entry requirements suit them. If they can relate to any of the skills or experience mentioned on the course, they can use this to their advantage in their personal statement. Before making a final decision, you should try to choose three universities where you can attend open days with your child to help them choose up to five universities to apply for.

The Application Process

After researching courses and selecting the top five universities, you can then commence with the UCAS application. This consists of everything from your child’s education to work experience, along with a personal statement of 4,000 characters which is used to promote your child’s key skills, knowledge and work experience in support of their application. Once it has been sent off, your child will receive a notification whether they have an offer. If they receive a conditional offer, they will have to wait until they receive their results to find out, whereas if they are granted an unconditional offer, they will have secured a place immediately.

If your child is lucky enough to be approved of all five, they must decide which university is right for them and decline the remaining four. This is a hard decision to make, so make sure you and your child sit down and discuss their options before confirming where they want to attend. Don’t worry if your child does not get any of their choices, as there is always the opportunity to get place through Clearing, which enables students to find a last-minute course that aligns with their grades.

Funding Options

Once your child’s place at university is secure you can then start looking into finances. The majority of students tend to receive funding from student finance, where they can apply for living expenses and tuition fees, which are now charged a standard rate of £9,250. Your child may receive a maintenance loan or grant, but this will all depend on your income, as student finance takes into account the parents or guardians financial situation and their ability to support their child.

So basically, the less you earn the more financial support your child will get. You must input all the right information when applying for student finance, as the application may be rejected if the information is incorrect. Make sure you do not take too long with this, as the deadline is around May or June time, and if you do not submit in time, your child’s financial aid will be severely delayed.

Finding the Right Accommodation

Some parents wait to see how much their child is awarded before they can find somewhere for them live, while this is financial responsibility it can actually result in slim pickings. The majority of first-year students living in student halls, however, others do opt for private student accommodation. Some of the best purpose-built student accommodation is located in central areas, such as the RW Invest developments which are located next to some of the UK’s top universities. These provide students with comfortable and sociable living spaces, which include high-quality bedrooms, common area and even gym facilities.

Now that university is back in full swing, you will have noticed students in every corner of the city. This may instill some fear into you, especially if your child is in their last year of school and planning to head to university. You may have some worries about them leaving or home, or whether they will get a place in the university of their dreams.

Whatever the case, you need to start preparing for your child’s future in university, as this move will affect them as well as you. Take a look at these tips which will help you assist your child with the next step of their education.

One of the hardest decisions your child will have to make is which university course is right for them, as this will define their future career. Parents tend to have a big say on this, as some would prefer their child to stay closer to home, while others are adamant that their offspring will attend a prestigious university. Both can offer your child clouded judgement, as they may end up at university they don’t enjoy or take on a course that provides them with little to no job opportunities.

Choosing a Course

Instead, you and your child should conduct thorough research on UCAS where you can look into subjects that he or she finds enjoyable or will excel at, while also taking note of the employment prospects. You should avoid just focusing on the course overview, as this will only provide you with a generalized description.

Most universities lay out each module for individual courses to help the potential students decide if its right for them, and whether the entry requirements suit them. If they can relate to any of the skills or experience mentioned on the course, they can use this to their advantage in their personal statement. Before making a final decision, you should try to choose three universities where you can attend open days with your child to help them choose up to five universities to apply for.

The Application Process

After researching courses and selecting the top five universities, you can then commence with the UCAS application. This consists of everything from your child’s education to work experience, along with a personal statement of 4,000 characters which is used to promote your child’s key skills, knowledge and work experience in support of their application. Once it has been sent off, your child will receive a notification whether they have an offer. If they receive a conditional offer, they will have to wait until they receive their results to find out, whereas if they are granted an unconditional offer, they will have secured a place immediately.

If your child is lucky enough to be approved of all five, they must decide which university is right for them and decline the remaining four. This is a hard decision to make, so make sure you and your child sit down and discuss their options before confirming where they want to attend. Don’t worry if your child does not get any of their choices, as there is always the opportunity to get place through Clearing, which enables students to find a last-minute course that aligns with their grades.

Funding Options

Once your child’s place at university is secure you can then start looking into finances. The majority of students tend to receive funding from student finance, where they can apply for living expenses and tuition fees, which are now charged a standard rate of £9,250. Your child may receive a maintenance loan or grant, but this will all depend on your income, as student finance takes into account the parents or guardians financial situation and their ability to support their child.

So basically, the less you earn the more financial support your child will get. You must input all the right information when applying for student finance, as the application may be rejected if the information is incorrect. Make sure you do not take too long with this, as the deadline is around May or June time, and if you do not submit in time, your child’s financial aid will be severely delayed.

Finding the Right Accommodation

Some parents wait to see how much their child is awarded before they can find somewhere for them live, while this is financial responsibility it can actually result in slim pickings. The majority of first-year students living in student halls, however, others do opt for private student accommodation. Some of the best purpose-built student accommodation is located in central areas, such as the RW Invest developments which are located next to some of the UK’s top universities. These provide students with comfortable and sociable living spaces, which include high-quality bedrooms, common area and even gym facilities.

The Benefits of a STEM Education

Benefits of Stem Education

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.

Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.

Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity at the University of Wisconsin Madison,“By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.

Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.

Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity at the University of Wisconsin Madison,“By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

What a Black Hole Discovery Can Teach Us

First Ever Black Hole Pic

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

How UK Schools Deal with Cell Phones

Cell Phones in UK Schools

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.