Prep Talk Blog > June 2010

Have you seen Eclipse yet? This latest installment in the Twilight series to hit the big screen won’t just give you a chance to pledge your allegiance to Team Edward or Team Jacob -- it could also give you a leg up when it comes to the SAT

Based on three of the books in Stephanie Mayer’s series, Brian Leaf has created three workbooks to help you learn the vocabulary from the books and apply those learnings to the SAT and other standardized tests. Leaf, who is an alumni interviewer for the Georgetown University office of undergraduate admissions, first read Twilight after a number of his students suggested the book to him. “I was immediately shocked by how many really great SAT, ACT, GED, SSAT standardized vocabulary test words there were in the book. It’s kind of amazing,” says Leaf in an interview on “Here’s a bunch of words, pretty good SAT words, some of them may be higher level than others, all from the first, I think it was five pages of Twilight. I was pretty amazed.”

Leaf’s workbooks help you learn the words from the context of the Twilight books and then offer additional information and drills so you can apply what you learned to the tests. And who said studying for the SAT couldn’t be fun? 

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Emily Brown contributed this guest blog post about the outlook for this in-demand major on behalf of Westwood College

In today’s technologically minded, rapidly advancing world, the need for qualified computer professionals is growing dramatically. Computers are assuming an ever more prevalent role in our lives, and skilled computer personnel will be required to help these machines work together. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “overall employment of computer network, systems, and database administrators is projected to increase by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.” For people with an interest in IT training, a computer networking degree may be a perfect fit to lead to a career in this job field. 

Computer networking focuses on communication and data exchange between computers or other devices. This occupation is related to several other professions, including telecommunications specialists, computer security specialists, database administrators, and network and computer systems administrators.  

Computer Networking Courses and Skills 

While some technological fields of study are rather specific, such as working on a particular computer application, students studying computer networking take a variety of courses. Their studies will likely include systems engineering, operating systems, programming and logic, CISCO networking, database programming, web publishing and local area networks. While these job-specific courses are essential, a well-rounded education is helpful, too. Students may also be required to study English and communications, or even finance, marketing, management or accounting. 

In addition to learning the technology, computer networking students must develop their analytical skills, problem-solving abilities and troubleshooting skills, as well as be able to concentrate well and have a keen eye for detail. Computer networkers might work on their own at times, but they also must be able to speak with people who aren’t as familiar with computers, so good communication skills are important as well. 

Computer Networking Degrees and Certifications 

Often, students working toward a computer networking degree first obtain a beginning certificate to understand the basics. Others may choose to advance toward a bachelor’s or master’s degree later.  

Expect to always be learning if you pursue a computer networking degree. Swift changes in technology mean you’ll need to stay on top of your game to be successful in your field. 

Are you interested in this major? Search for computer sciences colleges

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Are you part of the class of 2011? Then this is your last summer as a high school student!  

You have an exciting year ahead of you as a high school senior, and taking some time during the summer to get organized in between barbecues and road trips will help you enjoy it even more. Here are seven must-dos that should be on your list: 

Study Up for College Entrance Tests:

You know these as the SAT and ACT. Even if you took these tests during your junior year, you’ll likely want to take them again in the fall to see if you can improve your scores. Don’t let the tests creep up on you! Set some time to study now so you’ll be well-prepared come test day. 

Visit College Campuses:

You’ve likely come up with a number of potential colleges and universities in your college search -- now it’s time to visit them. And if you’ve visited already, take the time to do so again. Nothing gives you a feel for the college more than being on the college campus. Walk around, talk to any students who are there for the summer and see if you could picture yourself attending this institution. 

Narrow Down Your Options:

Now that you’ve gone on a campus visit (hopefully) and gathered all your information, it’s time to get your list down to the schools you will actually be applying to. Remember: You want a mix of schools that you could definitely get into, schools you could probably get into, and schools you would like to get into. 

Get Started on Your College Applications:

The last thing you want is to miss out on going to your dream school because you missed the application deadline. So take the list of schools you plan to apply to and find out what the application deadlines are and whether or not the schools accept the common application. Even if the schools do accept the common application, it is good for you to know now if there is a required supplement and/or additional material you need to turn in. If the schools do not accept the common application, then you should get a copy of the school’s application. 

Create a Resume:

Documenting your objectives in the college application process along with your achievements in school, extracurricular activities and work will give you a strong tool for marketing yourself. You can use this document as a basis for your applications, as well as give it to admissions officers at college interviews or include it when applying for college scholarships. If you’re having trouble identifying accomplishments, sit down with a family member or friend who can help remind you of what you’ve done over the past few years. 

Secure College Recommendations:

You will likely need a few recommendations from teachers and other adults who can vouch for you and your accomplishments. If you haven’t already, think about people who know you well and who can represent you favorably. You’re going to want to give them at least three to four weeks to write their recommendations and fill out any required paperwork. You should also be sure to do all the legwork and provide them with all the information and documentation they need to give you a recommendation by the deadline. 

Start Your College Essays:

This summer, you want to at least write a draft for your college essays. Check your schools’ applications to see what topics you have to cover. The purpose of the college essay is to show the school how well you can communicate in writing, how you think and to reveal a bit about your personality that the rest of your application does not. 

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You did it! You finished high school, and now after a few months of summer you are off to starting the rest of your life. So here’s one of your first big decisions: Do you let the summer months just melt away, or do you make this time count? 

If you’re opting to make the last summer before you go away to college count, here are eight things you want to be sure to do: 

Get a Job: You don’t hear too many tales of college students complaining about having too much money. This is some unadulterated time you could use to pad your wallet. As you go out on your own, you’re going to need to learn about budgeting, and every bit you can save up now will help. 

Reach Out to Your Future Roommate: In just a few months, you will practically be family and likely living in pretty close quarters. Talk during the summer to get to know each other as well as to divvy up the list of who is bringing what when it comes to items you might share, like a microwave or TV. 

Spend Time with Family and Friends: Your annoying little sister or neighbor you walked to school with every day for the last 12 years won’t be going off to college with you. Be sure to make quality time for your good friends and family, who you’ll be missing while you’re away at college. 

Learn Life Skills: Does Mom always make dinner and Dad takes care of changing your car’s oil? Think about these things and others – laundry, washing dishes, etc. – and make sure you know how to do them. And don’t forget to get some practice time in while you’re still at home, just in case you need any help.  

Check Your Health Coverage: Talk to your parents and your insurance company to be sure your health coverage covers you as you think. Depending on your plan, there could be obstacles with out-of-state coverage or referrals. Find out what you’ll need to do now. 

Visit Your College: Visit the school you will be calling home this fall. And be sure to go to any orientation activities made available to you. This will help you get the lay of the land as well as meet some familiar faces for once school begins. 

Read Up: You will be busy with the transition to college, classes and more. So this summer will be one of the last times you have for a bit to read for fun. And, don’t forget any assigned summer reading for college – you don’t want to start out behind. 

Do What You Will Miss Most: Are there certain events or activities that are quintessentially home? Be sure to partake and enjoy them this summer. They have contributed to the person you are, and like those with your friends and families, these are the memories you want to take with you. 

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“For most of the 20th century, high school was enough for a shot at middle-class status and wages. Today, no one goes anywhere in the American job market without some postsecondary education or training.” So begins a new report, “Help Wanted: Postsecondary Education and Training Required,” which the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University released on June 15, 2010.

News of the report spread around the Web Tuesday morning, and here is what some of the newspapers and blogs had to say:
  • According to the New York Times, “The number of jobs requiring at least a two-year associate’s degree will outpace the number of people qualified to fill those positions by at least 3 million in 2018.” And the article quotes the report’s authors, Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith and Jeff Strohl, as writing: “High school graduates and dropouts will find themselves largely left behind in the coming decade as employer demand for workers with postsecondary degrees continues to surge.”
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog reported that by 2018, “Companies will seek 22 million new postsecondary degree-holders, but just 19 million or so will have earned an associate’s degree or higher by then, according to the report. The difference averages to a 300,000 annual deficit of college graduates between 2008 and 2018.” This blog blames our growing reliance on technology that has replaced blue-collar jobs for this shift in workforce needs.
  • The Huffington Post takes a closer look at what colleges are doing to prepare future workers. “Although more future jobs will require advanced education, colleges are not doing enough to prepare their students for the projected workforce.”

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Don Munce