Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

With National Decision Day looming on May 1st, letters have been very much on prospective college students’ minds this month.

College Admission Letters

Is the letter long or short, envelope thin or fat?  Did the dream school say “yes”?  Did the scholarship come through? So much riding on those letters ….

While the decision is important, there are many good colleges out there; there are just as many routes to a successful and satisfying future.

The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything. ~ Vince Lombardi

College comes before both success and work … only in the dictionary.  Don’t let those letters limit you. To all those prospective college freshman out there who are feeling that the letters they received this month define their future, for better or for worse, keep in mind the words of the late Bryce Courtenay:

Let me conclude by saying in my experience the glittering prizes in life come more to those who persevere despite setback and disappointment than they do to the exceptionally gifted who, with the confidence of the talents bestowed upon them, often pursue the tasks leading to success with less determination. ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. ”Letters” was this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Getting Out of the Way

“It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it.” ~ Robert Brault


And so it begins . . . Or depending on your perspective, and so it ends. The first of the college acceptance letters arrived in the mail this week and we were reminded again how quickly this year will go as our oldest bird stretches his wings and gets ready to fly.

How exhilarating to have the world at your feet and a blank canvas to fill with your life story ahead of you. Watching your child consider the possibilities, you cannot help but reflect on your own life and choices. Would you take a different path if you could do it again?

More importantly, what will you do with the time that remains?

Ciao! ~ Kathy

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV

The penny is an underappreciated piece of currency.  Undervalued, taken for granted, often discarded!  But, for college-bound high school seniors, every penny begins to count as they look toward college costs.  Shifting from the idea of fun pocket change to funding education — one’s point of view, and stage in life, makes all the difference.

My son entertained you with his earlier pear bread poem, and now has shared another — a plea for your vote, a minute of your time, to help him become a finalist for a $500 college scholarship. Vote for Charles Bray’s photo by noon EST on September 16, here: http://www.universitylanguage.com/finalists/, but do enjoy the poem regardless!  And thank you to those who already have voted, thanks to my last post.

A pretty penny?
A pretty penny? (photo by Kat B.)

Poetic Plea for a Pretty Penny 

I’ve never written poems for a reason, you see,
But only to please the masses (ha, I joke).
I’m going to college now, however, you know,
And I’m short on funds for classes (help, I’m broke!)

So I search far and wide for student capital,
Entering many a contest.
Each and every last resource, I’ll tap it all,
Until the whole of my tuition is addressed.

Now it appears that I’m really in the running;
My photo has made it quite far.
It needs to make finals now, for which I’m gunning,
But the door to a good education remains…just slightly ajar.

 I ask of you a small but important favor:
To throw open this door for me.
Just simply click a bubble by a name, my name—
And Thank You, in all sincerity.

 P.S.H. (Post Scriptum Haiku) 

The contest is tight
And time, limited, so please:
Vote, for each one counts!

 Thank You Again!

Click and vote: http://www.universitylanguage.com/finalists/

Charlie Bray

(Ciao and grazie from Mom Kat, too!)

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”An Unusual POV” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

A Minute of Your Time Could Help A Student Win a $500 Scholarship

Friends, readers, and anyone else who happens to stop by . . . yes, this is a shameless plea to help out my son Charlie with one of his scholarship pursuits!

My how the years fly . . .

As you know from some of my other posts, I have a senior in high school this year, and he is starting on college applications and searching out those all-important scholarships.  He has plans to major in International Relations, with an interest in multiple languages (entering his 5th year of Spanish, and has shown a talent for picking up other languages through language software and online resources — Russian, Mandarin, German, French, and a little Arabic now!).  He has several schools of interest, both public and private; but frankly, given the price tag of a college education, the final decision will likely turn on the best net cost after scholarship and grant aid.  

So. . . . here’s the ask:  Charlie entered a scholarship photo contest, where finalists from each round are largely determined by a popularity contest.  On behalf of my son, I am asking that you vote for Charles Bray’s photo and encourage friends, family and fellow bloggers to do the same by September 16 — help him win a $500 college scholarship for school next fall! 

The link to voting can be found here:  http://www.universitylanguage.com/finalists/ 
Senior year is off and running . . .
Senior year is off and running . . .
Thank you for your support!
Ciao! ~ Kat

Life Lessons: Success Is Letting Go of Perfection

I was disappointed when the sunset did not contain the brilliant colors it had displayed earlier in the week, as I stood on the icy shoreline of Lake Superior with camera in hand.  I thought, “Is this all?”  Seemingly flat colors, uninteresting cloud formations, no breathtaking moment as the sun dipped below the horizon.

lEarly Spring on the shores of Lake Superior

But, the longer I stood on the shoreline, the more I appreciated the “imperfect” scene.  I knelt on the hard-packed ice and snow to examine the delicate mounds formed by the water and wind, battling to keep hold as Spring fought to take over, and enjoyed the solitude for a time.

Early Spring on the shores of Lake Superior

As I sat and watched the changing light across the ice, I thought about conversations my oldest son and I have had in recent weeks, as the scores from his standardized college tests are revealed and he continues evaluating where he might be interested in applying to college in the Fall.  We are blessed in many ways — so blessed we are unlikely to receive any financial aid from colleges to help with expenses, and not so blessed that we can write  the check for private college tuition, room and board.  Closing that gap between the reputable public universities in Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin, and the private college price tag if that is where he decides he wants to go, comes down to our son successfully competing for merit scholarships.

Early Spring on the shores of Lake Superior

We are proud of our son (OK, son #2, if you happen to actually ever come across this blog, we love you and are proud of you, too, but a post can only be so long) — he has done his job as a student, challenged himself with his coursework, is a competitive athlete and knows how to draw a bow across a string to produce a beautiful melody.  He also realizes that there are many others who will be applying to college with resumes just as impressive . . . which brings us back to standardized test scores.

When I learned of his ACT score, I was pretty darn impressed.  However, being the over-achieving first-born, his immediate reaction upon reviewing the score sheet was, “I can do better, I am going to take it again.”  Frankly, he does not have a lot of room for improvement, but while my husband and I are trying to support and help provide guidance through this process, we do not want to dictate.  So . .  . registration for another round of the ACT was completed, with SAT scores pending in the meantime.

Early Spring on the shores of Lake Superior

This week, the SAT scores were published, and he again did very well.  I gently suggested he just “leave it be.”  He was well within or above the upper half or top quartile of the statistics for schools he is considering at this point, and he meets the thresholds for most competitive scholarships.  We talked about what the numbers meant, we revisited our discussions regarding what he is seeking in a college environment, and what were his impressions of the schools he has visited thus far.  Is another point or two on the tests, when you already have crested the threshold most folks consider more than sufficient, going to truly be a game-changer?  Are you wanting to do it to seek another feather in your cap without really needing that feather?  Could your time be better spent elsewhere?

We had a similar discussion earlier in the year concerning an opportunity for a select talent-based group that would involve a significant amount of additional time investment his senior year.  I finally asked him — “Do you want to try to qualify for this opportunity for the sake of being able to tell people you are talented enough to do so, or because you actually want to spend the time doing that activity?”  It would mean taking time away from other activities, perhaps detracting from the level of performance he desired in those other areas.  I reminded him that leaving room for some fun and downtime as the year goes on is important, as well.

Early Spring on the shores of Lake Superior

So it goes with life, as we feel the pressure to climb ever higher on the career ladder, add another degree to our resume, lend our name to another non-profit or corporate Board of Directors . . . the list goes on.  Is that pursuing success, though, or pursuing society’s (or friend’s, family’s) concept of what success should be?  Life is about trade-offs.  We can perhaps have it all, just not at the same time.  Having it “all” or being a success is not always the corner office, not always the top box on the organizational chart.  In my office hangs a wooden sign on the wall with a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “Whatever you are, be a good one.”  To me, that is success.

Saying something is “good enough” is not always failing to realize your potential, sometimes it is recognizing that “good enough” is being the best you are, whatever you are, and being content with that.  Continually finding reasons for discontent, for imperfection, living life by a string of “if only” thoughts, is a great way to let life pass you by before you realize it is gone.  Even in high school, while we want our children to fully realize their talents and opportunities, setting goals and aspirations for the years beyond high school, we hopefully also want them to spend some time enjoying life now.  Life can quickly become a treadmill of expectations, with that perfect concept of “success” always just out of reach.  Step off the treadmill once in a while, maybe even explore the road less traveled, and help your children learn to do the same.

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Ciao! ~ Kat