Parenting Doesn’t Stop When They Go to College

Curt & Gabby SchillingBy now, you may have heard about Curt Schilling and the vulgar tweets that blew up his Twitter after he simply congratulated his daughter for earning a softball scholarship to college. Kudos to Mr. Schilling for bringing a much needed spotlight on how our youth seem to be under the illusion that there are no consequences for the horrible things they post on social media.

From Poor Judgment to Bad Behavior to Criminal Actions

“Youth” in this instance is referring to college-age boys ¬¬- boys that Mr. Schilling refers to as “white, affluent, college attending children.” With one kid in college and another about to be, I’m sensitive to the despicable things I inadvertently hear about college boys and their behavior on social media, at frat parties, or wherever they hang out with their peers. Many of these kids are good kids from normal homes who you assume have been brought up by loving, well-intentioned parents.

When the bad behavior goes unchecked, they feel enabled, entitled, and above reproach. These are the type of boys who might take the jokes, language and threats to the next level and end up raping coeds then making excuses or justifying why it was no big deal. That’s been in the news a lot, too, and always sparks debate. “The girl was drunk.” “She was all over him.” “Did you see how she was dressed? She asked for it.” Rape is rape and no means no yet many will say the girls bear some responsibility for putting themselves in risky positions.

Don’t Cut the Strings Entirely

What about the parents? What role do we play? Just because our kid is away at college doesn’t mean we should completely cut the strings and turn our head so they can do whatever they want. College kids still need parenting — arguably even more than middle and high school kids! Of course, ideally, morals are instilled in these kids as children and teens and they know better than to post vulgar threats, or slip a date rape drug in a girls drink, or get so smashed that they end up in a situation they’ll later regret, but kids who have been raised right are making bad choices regardless of their upbringing. Drink

Why? Because so many parents conclude that when they reach 18 or go to college we are suppose to let them sew their wild oats and come of age. We can’t be with them 24/7 and they have to learn from their mistakes. Yeah, I get it. But, geez, we don’t have to stop talking to them, teaching them, and setting a good example.

Communicate Honestly

Maybe what needs to change is our tone. Instead of preaching and threatening like when they were 15, try having adult, honest conversations about the dangers of social media, about avoiding risky situations, about using good judgment, and most importantly, about consequences and accountability. Our kids will make mistakes. They will make stupid, impulsive decisions. They will say and post inappropriate things. They will get wasted and end up in compromising positions. When parents stay involved and have that honest rapport with their kids, we can guide them before they get carried away and really cross the line. The important thing is that they accept responsibility when they’ve screwed up and don’t make excuses or blame someone else. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good kids or that they have bad parents. What will define their character, and ours, is how they respond and learn from those mistakes.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — William Morrow

Should You Be Worried About Background Checks?

Should I even care about Background Check

In almost all cases, if you are asked to give permission to have your personal background checked, this is a very good sign that you are the candidate that the business is looking for. A business is certainly not going to put someone they are not interested in through a background check…these checks cost money. So, if asked to sign a release, you are definitely in the final stages of the hiring process.

What Will Employers Find Out About Me?

Once you have signed the release, you will probably be wondering what employers can find out from a background check. Generally they will be able to see your former places of employment, your former addresses, past education, criminal history and possibly credit history, depending on where you live. Some things that they will not be able to see, unless you specifically give them permission, are your past salaries, reason for termination, your past employee reviews, your grades and a criminal history over 10 years old.

What are Employers Looking For?

Many candidates will also wonder what employers are actually looking for when they run background checks. Essentially they are looking to make sure that candidates are being truthful with them about their background and experience. Did you really attend that college? Was your job title really what you said it was? Do you really not have a criminal background? All of these things can be determined through a background check. Though it is true that you may be an upstanding citizen, and you may feel offended that they don’t believe what you say, employers weren’t born yesterday. Way too many people lie on resumes, and as you can see, it affects us all, one way or another.

Red Flags and Concerns

You may have something in your background that is concerning to you or that may be a red flag to an employer. In this situation, it is imperative that you are upfront and honest with your potential employer. This includes a criminal history, the fact that you may have taken classes but not earned a degree and of course always be honest about past job titles. You can be certain that an employer is going to appreciate the honesty that you give them much more than a lie.

Background checks are a practice that is here to stay, so if you are going to be in the work force, you will need to get used to them…as they can be a very valuable tool for employers to find their ideal candidates.

Michael Klazema

About the author:

Michael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.

Public or Private? What Really Matters When Choosing a Great School

Whether to enroll your student in public or private school is a tough decision and one that’s debated often in households all across the county. Some parents start saving and budgeting for the best private education money can buy while their child is in the womb. Others take advantage of free public education through elementary school then go private once their kids become teenagers and many will support public education all the way through graduation.

Public v Private

Public or Private?

The prevailing perception is that your child will receive a superior education in private school. The logic is if you pay for it, it must be better. Yet, evidence from multiple studies show that public school students have comparable or better mathematic scores than independent schools. Many argue private schools prepare students better for college, whereas advocates of public education assert their graduates are better prepared for the realities of everyday life.

Kids are different

As a parent who chose to send one child to public high school and the other to private, I’ve given much thought to “which was better”? First, my kids are opposites. What was best for one wasn’t necessarily what was best for the other. Our oldest is outgoing, a hard worker, and very goal-oriented. She thrived in public schools never having to be pushed to reach her potential. She got into a very good university, albeit she’s struggled to maintain her grades, but she continues to work hard.

On the contrary, our second child is naturally extremely bright, yet tends to be lazy. We felt he would get bored and feared he may disappear in public school where the classes are larger and the troublemakers often get most of the teacher’s attention. He’s a rising senior, and we’ve spent a fortune on his education and although he had a high ACT score, I honestly can’t say emphatically that he’s that much better off than our daughter. This bothers me. At this point I assumed it would be obvious, but I think I’ve finally realized that I’ve been dwelling on the wrong thing all along.

The key to success

What makes a school successful isn’t the designation “private”. What I believe makes a school great is how the school influences the student’s character, and similarly, how the school regards its students who show good character.

It’s starts at the very top. Principals set the tone for the school and that tone trickles down to everyone in the school. Sometimes principals do the job to feed their egos and are oblivious to what is really going on with their students. Teachers favor the kids in the popular crowd even if those kids are partiers or bullies. Coaches obsessed with “winning” spend all their time working with the superstars while deeming the less talented players completely irrelevant. These aren’t the ingredients for a great school no matter how much you pay for it.

Putting a girl on homecoming court just because she’s pretty, or electing the star quarterback to class president just because he wins games isn’t the right criteria. Good grades combined with good character should be the standard in awarding and recognizing students.

character

Pay attention and listen

When researching schools for your child, be open-minded. Don’t limit your search to just private or public based on preconceived notions. Spend time with the principal and try to get a feel for his or her values. Don’t just focus on scores or scholarships awarded. Seek to learn what the people in the school hold in high regard. When everyone from the principal to the teachers, staff, coaches and students embrace a balance of academic success and good character, then, and only then does the school become great.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

About to Graduate High School? Get Ready for Your Life to Change!

Reflecting on my first year of college, it’s been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. It’s such a life-changing transition that I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with upcoming high school graduates.

#1 ENJOY THESE LAST FEW MONTHS OF HIGH SCHOOL

Soak it all in. College is completely different. You may be thinking you cannot wait to be free of high school drama, cliques, and peer pressures, but you’ll get hit hard in the face with other difficulties and aggravations the minute you walk on campus. Challenges like how to manage time and all the freedom; trying to get to know professors who really don’t care that much about knowing you; learning all the ropes like where to go to study, where to park, how to print papers; controlling your diet (i.e. avoiding the freshman 15); doing your own laundry; missing friends; sleeping all afternoon and staying up all night; and yes, even longing to eat a home-cooked meal with your family will most likely be in your future. You can taste the freedom as you finish your last few months of high school ready to cannon-ball into the “real world”, but remember to cherish the feeling you have and prepare yourself for a whole new chapter of life.

#2 IS GREEK LIFE FOR YOU?

Decide now if you’ll be rushing a fraternity or sorority. Do some research over the summer to see what it’s really like to be a part of your school’s Greek community? If you decide it’s for you, be prepared. Don’t enter it half-heartedly or just because it’s what you think everyone else is doing. It’s a huge commitment filled with challenges and excitement you’ve never experienced before. Go ahead and fill out all the necessary forms, get recommendation letters, and learn the schedule for rush week. And here’s something very important, learn how to accept rejection. Rushing is like applying and interviewing for multiple jobs all at the same time. Some will love you and some will deem you “irrelevant”. Don’t take it personally, you will find where you’re meant to be.

#3 REVIEW YOUR TWITTER, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM & OTHER SOCIAL NETWORK PAGES

Become more aware of what you put on your social media because as you meet more people, they’ll likely be viewing your pages. This is especially true if you rush for a fraternity or sorority. It’s how they’ll try to learn about you, and judge you. Regardless of whether you rush, however, keep in mind you’re entering a new world where most people won’t know you at all so it’s time to present yourself as a mature young adult.

#4 GET A SUMMER JOB

Having a part-time job not only allows you to earn spending money, it also helps you master several of the things you’ll have to do at college, like managing a schedule, meeting new people, developing a strong work ethic, taking ownership, and getting a head start on building your resume. Maintaining a part-time job while in college can be difficult at times, but it significantly helps better your time management skills and helps keep you humble and well-rounded.

#5 SUBSCRIBE TO NETFLIX

You’ll forget what a TV & remote control are. Netflix will help save your sanity and give you a break from reality!

#6 PRACTICE WASHING YOUR OWN CLOTHES

Learn how to wash clothes and how NOT to wash clothes. You don’t want to ruin that pretty new bra by putting it in the dryer with ten towels and four pairs of jeans nor do you want to turn that nice white new Polo pink by washing it with colors.

#7 THINGS YOU MAY NOT THINK TO TAKE TO DORM

It’s easy to find checklist of things to take for your dorm, but here are a few items that may not be on them or you may not think of.
– Medicines. Especially sleep aids whether natural or something like ZzzQuil.
– Fan.
– Lingerie bag for girls (and maybe some guys.)
– A good set of headphones and an extra pair for when you lose them and another extra pair for when you lose those.
– Extra phone charger.
– Extra set of car keys.
– Command hooks and tape.
– Suitcase with wheels.
– Comfortable pair of walking shoes like Chacos.

#8 TALK TO YOUR PARENTS ABOUT YOUR PRIVACY PREFERENCES

Do you know what FERPA is? Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. The Act provides confidentiality of student records. In other words, you will be in control of what information your parents have access to. They’ll likely want access to it all if they’re footing the bill but ultimately it’s your decision – your first real adult decision! Have the discussion now.

#9 DISCUSS FINANCES/SET A BUDGET

Discuss with your parents how you’ll be paying for meals, necessities, entertainment, clothes, etc., and then agree upon a budget. No use having a budget if you don’t keep up with it. There are plenty of apps for managing expenses and income. Apps like MINT. Also, if you don’t know already, learn to balance a checkbook. Lastly, learn about the pitfalls of credit cards.

#10 HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

Most kids are so excited about going to college they aren’t at all prepared for what happens if they hate it and are miserable. Being so homesick you want to come home after a week, partying way too much, bombing your GPA are all common things that might change your plans. Talk to your parents over the summer about possible scenarios and what your plan is if they become reality. Don’t put pressure on yourself to stick it out if it doesn’t feel right. College isn’t for everyone, or the particular college you chose may not be for you. You may just need to take a semester off or switch to a smaller school or pursue a different career path like the military, a technical college, earning certifications, or starting a business.

ABOUT HALEY BURTON

Haley Part-time writer, full-time student and all-around force-of-nature, Haley Burton is a Tennessee native whose style and perspective belie her age. Haley’s writing, rooted in her experiences as a young woman entering the world of higher education, has been published on a variety of platforms. She is a routine contributor to The Odyssey, as well as a regular columnist on the popular career blog ApplicationBling.com, where her columns on the issues facing young people in today’s job market are among the site’s most widely read features.

Currently a freshman at the University of Tennessee, Haley serves as corresponding secretary to the Phi Mu fraternity and an ambassador to the Student Government Association.

www.linkedin.com/in/burtonhaley
/@haayybay

Teens Seeking a Fit Look or a Competitive Edge Turn to Steroids

A recent study by the University of Missouri and Columbia University about teenager’s use of steroids brings much needed public awareness to the health issue and reveals some interesting role reversals among boys and girls.

Out of 2,793 middle and high school students questioned, the study showed more and more girls are using steroids, protein shakes and over the counter products trying to bulk up. About 4% of the girls in the study said they use steroids, compared to almost 6% of the boys. Contrast that to the traditional aspirations of teenage girls to be ultra-thin and there seems to be a shift in what adolescent girls perceive as attractive. Although attaining a “fit” look rather than an emaciated one seems healthier as fewer girls are starving themselves or binge eating, it’s really no better because now they are turning to other unhealthy methods of achieving their desired look.

Likewise, an alarming percentage of boys revealed they wrestle with body-image insecurities, which has typically been associated with girls. Seeing muscle bound males in movies, TV shows, and commercials are fueling the dissatisfaction with boys, many who are not athletes participating in weight training and rigorous exercise but who are seeking the same athletic look.

As the study suggests, there is a substantial population of teenagers who from early adolescence are at risk of using unhealthy muscle-enhancing behaviors to achieve the appearance of being “fit”.  And, it’s not only about appearing fit for many. It’s about enhancing “performance” in sports by using anabolic steroids to gain a competitive edge to teammates and help their teams win at any cost.

Anabolic steriods are artificially produced hormones that are similar to androgens, the male-type sex hormones in the body. The risks associated with the use of anabolic steroids include anger, aggression, depression, paranoia, delusion, sleep problems, nausea, skin problems, high blood pressure, greater risk of muscle and tendon injury, liver damage, urinary problems, shortening of final adult height, and increased risk of heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.  Also, specifically for boys, they risk testicular shrinkage, breast development, impotence and sterility.  And, for girls, increase facial hair, menstrual cycle changes, and development of masculine traits like a deeper voice and smaller breasts, are common.  Some might argue steroids are more dangerous to teens than alcohol or marijuana.

With two kids in high school, I suspect certain kids of using steroids, although I haven’t considered any that were girls.   Most of my son’s friends, including my own son, are downing protein shakes daily but the muscle they gain going the “healthy” route can’t compete with the ones building muscle at an accelerated rate using anabolic steroids.  While becoming stronger and faster, these boys are experiencing acne breakouts and mood changes, and unknowingly could be stunting their own growth among other things.   If it’s this obvious to me that steroids are being used, why aren’t coaches noticing, or are they turning a blind eye?

It’s one of the serious health issues facing adolescents.  With the release of this study, many mainstream media outlets have picked up the story, bringing much needed awareness to the dangers and number of teens using.  Under-reported, much like sexual-harassment in the workplace, this threat begs parents, coaches, and the media’s attention, as well as the kids who may not know the risks.

If you’ve gotten this far in my post, maybe you’d be willing to take part in bringing awareness.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Add comments below with your viewpoints and insights. Then, talk openly with your kids about the importance of being healthy and of not going to extremes or using unhealthy fads to look a certain way or to gain a competitive edge.

 

Now That You’ve Graduated: Best States For Young Adult Employment

With fewer jobs available and tuition rates rising, the pressure to quickly find employment and pay off student loans appears worse than ever in U.S. history. Seven in 10 students graduate with loan debt, with an average value of nearly $30,000, according to ProjectonStudentDebt.org. The key to getting a job may not be your degree, however. It may be where you live. What states maximize the chances of getting a job upon graduation?

North Dakota

The oil boom of the Bakken shale formation in North Dakota (as well as Montana and parts of Canada) has created a huge upswing in the state’s economy. It’s not the first oil boom in America’s history and likely won’t be the last, but it’s similar to many others in the nation’s history as having higher average wages make employers drive up their salaries in order to attract qualified workers. The rise in wages has gotten so high that Wal-Mart is offering associates $14 per hour (twice the federal minimum wage that their employees get in nearly every other state) and still having trouble stocking shelves. An educational background in petroleum engineering or organic chemistry can lead to six-figure wages upon graduation, but other fields like middle management, accounting and marketing all have positions that need to be filled as soon as possible.

Photo by Vaughan Weather via Wikimedia Commons

Colorado

The Centennial State has made the headlines in the last year for their legalization of marijuana, but it’s not just recreational cannabis that’s causing the good financial times in Colorado. Moody’s reports that the Colorado economy ranks fifth in overall growth in the nation, well beating out the national average with housing prices only slightly higher than the national average. Hospitality management is a great career choice for those wanting to move to Colorado, since hotels and resorts need skilled managers and operators in order to accommodate the millions of visitors who come to the state each year for skiing, hiking, white-water rafting, rock climbing and mountain biking. When you’re looking at your first place to live after four years in the dorms, there are many affordable living options for apartments in Denver and other major cities. Since the Denver metro area is the largest in the state and centrally located, you can conveniently live in the city even if you work elsewhere in the state.

Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr

Florida

A huge number of industries come together in the Sunshine State, ranging from orange farming to commercial shipping. Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay all fall within the top-25 busiest port cities in the nation. Florida’s a growing destination for younger adults after being known as the “retirement home” for elder Americans for decades. More recent graduates and young professionals search out warmer climates and rewarding, alternative careers. Moving to the largest peninsula in the lower 48 is fairly easy, since the Florida housing market has been heating up and more people are looking for new units and new vacancies. In fact, pursuing a career as a realtor in Florida can be quite rewarding. Those with degrees in property management, real estate or property law can find themselves not only living for less, but profiting from the state’s housing market.

Photo by Ellen Levy Finch via Wikimedia Commons

What Your Teen Won’t Tell You About Spring Break in Panama City Beach…

Most families look forward to Spring Break, but if you have teenagers, and they happen to be among the hundreds of thousands that make their way to Panama City Beach this Spring, then your break might be filled with worry and anxiety.

Middle and high school kids, along with college kids,  from all over the country converge on Panama City Beach for what promises to be a huge party. Some go with friends, some chaperoned, some not; others go with their families and beg to get away to the strip as much as they can.

Social media is traditionally filled with posts and pictures about partying in PCB for Spring Break. As my daughter, Haley, stated, “Everyone goes, Mom!”  When three of us moms caved in and took our daughters and a couple of their 16-17 year old friends to PCB, it felt like she hadn’t embellished much. It was the first year I was letting her go during Spring Break, and only because I was going, too.  Here’s what I learned…

Be Prepared for Debauchery

Not to instill panic on parent’s or teenagers planning their PCB Spring Break 2014 vacation, I just want to make sure you’re prepared for the impending insanity, debauchery, and nastiness of it all. Seventeen magazine dubbed PCB the “sketchiest Spring Break in America”. Yes, I know that’s what the teenagers want, and I get it.  Maybe it’s a “right of passage”.  Arguably kids should experience it once in their lives, but I personally believe they should wait until they are of legal drinking age, or at the very least, in college.

party The strip is a melting pot of drugs, drinking, sex, and nudity. On our trip, watching preteen girls play beer bong with college aged boys was common. Clearly underage kids were partaking in drinking games all over the beach. Kids were smoking weed out in the open and girls were flashing body parts. All this was happening during the day, as early as 11am. You can only imagine what the evenings were like once these kids had over-indulged and become completely belligerent and promiscuous.party 2

The Danger of Letting Your Teen Go Unchaperoned

After we came across a group of senior cheerleaders from Haley’s high school who had come unchaperoned, our girls started planning their trip for their senior year.  After what I saw, I knew for sure my daughter wouldn’t be returning unchaperoned while still in high school.  Now she’s a freshman in college and her sorority is headed to where else but PCB in March. I’m still nervous!

It’s not that I don’t trust her, or her friends but there are so many risks and dangers. Teens falling off balconies, picking up STDs from foam parties at Club La Vela,  hanging out of cars driven by intoxicated drivers, and drunk, hormonal college boys who don’t take no for an answer are all things she might easily encounter.  Now, at 19, and having lived on her own for a few months she, at least, has acclimated to the college lifestyle and is better prepared to make good decisions.

High school, and certainly middle-school age teens don’t have the maturity to handle themselves in these circumstances. Too many really bad things can happen in a split second. Maybe some of my readers will re-think their Spring Break plans or at the very least,  try staying a little further out where it’s not as crazy.  I’ll certainly have some kids mad at me, but parents need to know that just because every other kid at their school is going, doesn’t make it safe.

haley and baileys

Learning From Mistakes of Starting Up a Business

Every year in the United States, the number of new businesses that open is about the same as the number of businesses that fail. There are many reasons why some shut down while others thrive, of course. A solid business and marketing plan, insurance that protects the businesses assets, and a mind for flexibility, among other things, all work to keep a business afloat. On the other hand, businesses fail due to things like poor tax planning, and undercharging for products and services. Here’s a closer look at five common business startup mistakes.

Weak Marketing Plan and Strategy

There is no excuse, especially in the day and age of free/cheap social media marketing, why an emerging business shouldn’t plan a rock solid marketing plan and strategy right along with their business plan. Consumers are loyal to their brands, so any new business is going to have to work hard to make their products and services known, and then they’ll have to work even harder to woo the consumer into buying what’s being offered.

Forgoing Liability Insurance

New business owners are especially cautious with overhead, so they may forgo things they feel they don’t need in the short term, such as liability insurance. After all, that’s what workers comp insurance is for, right? Unfortunately, workers comp does not cover liability related to intentional or reckless behavior, toxic substance exposure, or injury from a defective product. In other words, employees can sue their employer for pain and suffering because of an injury at work, even if the employer pays workers comp insurance premiums. For a new startup employer in Charleston, for example, who chooses not to carry liability insurance, one on the job injury and one phone call from a South Carolina personal injury attorney could be a death sentence for his business.

Inflexibility – No Contingency Plan

There’s a difference between following a business plan and being inflexible. Every business needs a contingency plan. When drafting a business plan, there has to be some measure of flexibility written into it because, at some point, the company may need to change course due to unforeseen circumstances. If a business has no contingency plan on how to navigate through change, or if the business owner hasn’t accounted for the need to be flexible, then that business faces certain doom.

Poor Tax Planning

Tax planning must be part of any entrepreneur’s business plan. Advice from a tax professional should be sought when drafting the plan, and taxes must be a consideration in every applicable decision, before and after the business opens. Otherwise, a business owner will end up making poor tax-related purchase decisions, resulting in less of a tax incentive than he may have gotten otherwise. Part of the tax strategy will also involve payroll (pay taxes on time to avoid fines), how to set up the business (LLC, Inc., LLP, etc), and how that decision can also impact personal assets.

Undercharging for Products and Services

New businesses undercharge for products and services for a couple of reasons. First, they have the idea that, because they’re new, they have to undercut on their competitors pricing in order to gain a customer base. The second reason is that the owners simply don’t know what they’re product or service is worth, so they have no idea how to price it. Both of those reasons lead to two things – poor cash flow and low profits. A business cannot survive for very long without consistent cash flow. If a new business owner uses low pricing as an initial marketing plan, he must include in that same plan, incremental, strategic price increases to ensure that the businesses cash flow and profit margins build to a healthy level, and stay there.

Many businesses fail early on because of the five reasons listed here. There are, of course, many other reasons why some companies thrive and others falter, but the key is in the strength and execution of the business plan. Planning ahead for things like on-the-job injuries, taxes, and strategic price increases can help a business stay afloat its first year. Continuing to implement and be flexible with the business plan can help a business thrive for many years after.

Why US Kids are Mediocre Academically

The Programme for International Student Assessment, PISA, has released 2012 scores and US teens remain middle of the pack among their peers worldwide with reading, math, and science scores remaining stagnant for the last 10 years. stressed-student

Middle of the pack. Hmmm. Not something us American’s are used to. We rank 1st as the country with the highest net worth, 6th in economic freedom, and 12th in prosperity. We rank 9th in retirement security and 6th in living the good life.

We dominate in the Olympics.

We’re a global power. We win wars. We rescue other countries. We are known as the most charitable country on earth.

We are exceptional in many things, except academics. Why is that?

Inadequate public schools?

Is it the fault of our schools, specifically the public school system as many assert? I have the unique perspective of having 1 teen who recently graduated with a public school education, and 1 who will graduate next year with a private school education. Now in his junior year, we’ve spent in excess of $10,000 a year educating our youngest child and recently, my husband and I questioned whether we think it’s been worth it. You’d hope having invested that much money that there would be a resounding “Yes”, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. The jury is still out.

We’ve always been strong advocates for public education and it served our daughter well. Outgoing, self-motivated with an above average work ethic, she thrived in public schools. Our son, on the other hand, is more shy, and not self-driven. He is naturally very bright, but lazy. For that reason, we felt like he might too easily disappear in overcrowded public school classes where teachers wouldn’t see that he wasn’t reaching his potential and help him along. That was the reasoning that drove our decision to put him in private school.

Although private school seems to be preparing him better for college, ie, knowing how to test and how to find the right major and right college, we’re not convinced he’s that much further ahead academically than our daughter was.

Distractions.

Doesn’t matter if it’s public school or super conservative private school, kids are distracted with so many outside influences that take precedence over studying. From snap chatting, tweeting & obsessing over reality TV, to wild parties with drinking and drugs to doing things sexually parents never heard of, grades rank very low over other unhealthy distractions.

Priorities.

Speaking of distractions, the amount of time extra-curricular activities consume competes with study time. From little kids playing little league 3-4 nights a week, to high school students having two-a-day practices before and after school, how can kids maintain enough energy to hold their heads up, let alone focus on school work? It’s as if the activity or sport becomes the priority and studying the extra-curricular activity. The more successful the student is, the more teachers, administrators, and especially parents enable them to put their studies on the back burner.

Enabling parents.

Here lies what I believe is the main contributor to the mediocre scores: enabling, helicopter parents. We push our kids to be on the best team, to be the star performer, to win the most ribbons, or to hang out with the coolest kids yet we make fun of the ones whose heads are stuck in a book. Those kids are “nerds”.

About the only time we put emphasis on academics is if there’s competition involved. We love telling everyone how smart our kid is and take pride in our kids winning end of the year awards but, honestly, how often did they actually earn to recognition? Or was mom or dad the one doing their homework when they came home exhausted? I know I’ve made A’s on many complex projects my kids never touched.

phsp-1All of these things are part of our way of life as American’s and the problems that result from all these other priorities reveal themselves once kids are out of the house and trying to become independent adults. Many don’t have work ethics. They aren’t accountable for their mistakes. They blame everyone else and look for their parent’s to rescue them if they get in trouble instead of accepting responsibility and changing the behavior. How can we expect our kids to compete and thrive in a global world where most other counties are improving when all we do is make excuses, point fingers, take shortcuts, and remain stagnant. As parent’s, we must first accept responsibility for our role. Then, we encourage our children to embrace education and take pride in working hard.

Have a Criminal Record? Here’s How to Deal with it with Employers

white collar 2It is always good for the potential employee to perform their own background check prior to applying for a job. Having a criminal record can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life. More and more people are running background checks as a precautionary measure before they proceed with any dealings with a person. This is especially true in an employment situation. Employers will run a routine background check on a person to make sure that there are not any red flags raised. Worker turnover is one of the most expensive aspects of a business and running background checks prior to hiring an employee helps to mitigate this risk to a large degree.

There are Options

Having a criminal record is not the end of the world though. There are steps that employers as well as volunteer and sports organizations can take to help increase the chances or hiring the right person. The first step that should always be taken is to be forthcoming with information regarding the criminal record. The employers, volunteer and sports organizations are going to run a background check anyway so do not wait for them to find out before addressing the issue. Waiting for them to find the criminal record can reflect even more negatively on the person because they may feel that the potential employee is trying to hide this information. If they are trying to hide this information, then what else might they try to hide?

Be Upfront

The best thing to do is to address the issue head on. During the interview process, be up front and clear about what is on the criminal record. Give a detailed list of all of the information that is on the criminal record and then offer explanations as to how this happened. The employer can take this additional information given and then make a clearer evaluation on whether or not to make the hire. If they feel that the crime was accidental or just something that is out of normal character for the potential employee, they may be willing to look past that.

One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of getting parts of the criminal record expunged before applying for a job. Always review your own criminal background check report to see if records are eligible for expungement. If they are eligible then take the steps to get them expunged before applying for the job.

Benefits of Expungement

There are more benefits beyond getting a job that make expungement appealing. One of those is loans. There are some lenders that will look poorly on a criminal record as they believe it to be evidence of a failure to pay back a loan. Expunging a record will make that process easier on the individual.

Living arrangements are another area where people can benefit from expungement. It is not uncommon for apartments or landlords to have a background checks on their tenants. By having a record expunged, it can make it much easier to omit a past criminal record.

There is often a stigma that can come with a criminal record. By choosing to eliminate a criminal record, it can provide a peace of mind for the individual.

About the Author

Michael KlazemaMichael Klazema has been developing products for pre-employment screening and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009. He is the lead author and editor for a background checks blog and community. He lives in Dallas, TX with his family and enjoys the rich culinary histories of various old and new world countries.