Posts filed under ‘education’

Staying Home An Extra Year?

In the state of Maryland you can no longer start kindergarten if you do not turn 5 years old before September 1st. That means any child born in September, October, November or December will not start kindergarten until they are nearly six years old.

I understand the need to ensure that children are capable of attending and succeeding in school, but the September 1st date seems as arbitrary as any other. By that rule a child born September 1st is ready for kindergarten but a child born September 2nd has to wait a whole extra year before attending.

There are procedures for early admittance to kindergarten, but a child must be born between September 1st and October 15th to take advantage of that option. Our son falls just shy of that date range, so early admittance wouldn’t even be an option for us. The state makes it very clear that any child falling outside of that date range will not be permitted to take the test.

I had no idea that the school system had changed the rules. (I guess I was living under a rock.) I am blessed to have my son and it is not the end of the world that he has to wait another year to start school, but it does mean I will have to stay home for an extra year with him or place him into daycare. Who knows what will happen five years from now, so I’m not going to project that far into the future, but a whole extra year of daycare costs or time out of the workforce amounts to quite a lot. (Of course, if we have another child I may well stay out of the workforce for an extra year anyway.)

I was surprised to learn that a lot of other states have created similar rules. The belief is that all day kindergarten is much harder on children. The rigors of learning to sit at a desk all day require an older, more mature student. When I started school kindergarten was only half day and we had students in our class who were born anywhere from January to December.

I wonder why the new rule was created. Did they really find that children born after September 1st were falling that much father behind their peers? Did that four month difference for a child born in December make him or her incapable of keeping up? If all day kindergarten is so rigorous does it not make you think that we should return to a half-day schedule?

I’m interested to hear from anyone who has a child born in the last quarter of the year. Does your state have similar rules and if so what was the impact on your child?

My son is only nine months old right now so school is quite a ways off for him. Who knows what the rules will be in five or six years. The good news is that he won’t be the only one held back from starting school. There will be lots of other children born in September, October, November and December waiting out an extra year alongside him.

July 26, 2012 at 10:31 PM 22 comments

Inexpensive Instructional Courses

I just got back from my first paid meditation class of the summer. I participated in a free class a few weeks ago, with the same instructor, and enjoyed the course so much that I paid $65 tonight for a four course series. Meditation courses can be a strange experience. You enter a room full of strangers and then close your eyes and act as though none of them are in the room with you. In fact I spent the majority of the last hour and a half in a dimly lit room with my eyes closed. The instructor guided us through a series of qi-gong movements, followed by a simple mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, and finally a mindful dialogue.

I enjoyed the class so much that I’ve decided to participate in a few others this summer. I’m signing up for water aerobics, which is $60 for 10 sessions and tai-chi, which is $80 for 10 sessions. Instructional courses are one of the best benefits of living near the university. The commute is short, less than a few minutes away, and the courses are usually inexpensive. Where else can you find an exercise class for only $6 to $8?

** Gift Twelve of the 29-Day Giving Challenge: Allotting time and money for meditation.

June 4, 2008 at 3:14 AM Leave a comment

Lesson #3 — Intern, Intern, Intern

Welcome to Lesson #3, in accumulating wealth before age 30. Of all of the decisions I have made in my life interning has definitely been one of the most rewarding and valuable. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I have worked for the same employer since I graduated from college, but as a college student I worked four different jobs and interned in four different positions.

This lesson is closing related to Lesson #2…, which discusses the importance of choosing a college. I have a lot of friends who went to campuses located in the middle of nowhere. Obviously campuses located inside or next to a city will provide you with better options for internships than a campus out in the country. In my case, I was a short bus ride away from a metro stop that would take me into the heart of DC. The city provided a mecca of internships for my fellow students, but only a handful ever took hold of the opportunity. Instead the majority of my friends worked in restaurants and coffee houses or took on-campus jobs in food services.

But internships are a dream job for college students everywhere. First, and most importantly, they enable you to earn college credits without every having to sit in a classroom. I received a total of 9 elective credits through three of the four internships I participated in. To receive college credit you usually have to provide detailed documentation of your work assignments, but you will never have to take a final exam. Second, if the internship pays you will earn a lot more than minimum wage. The last internship I applied for as a senior offered me $6 an hour. I demonstrated my previous internship experience and negotiated $14. (Not only did I receive a higher salary, I also learned a valuable lesson in negotiating for higher pay.) Third, if you and your company have a good relationship with one another, you are almost guaranteed a job after college. Fourth, by the time graduation rolls around you will have a resume brimming with experience. So if you decide you don’t want to work for that particular company anymore you will have a much easier time applying for jobs with ‘real world’ work experience under your belt.

Lastly, internships provide you with the opportunity to explore career options with absolutely no risk. I interned as a museum tour guide, an aide for a state senator, and in marketing for two very different organizations (one large, one small). But I interviewed with at least eight other organizations before choosing these particular jobs. Interviewing gave me an opportunity to see what my degree in English Literature could buy me in the real world. I asked questions not only about the internship but about the job growth and potential of each position and organization. Before working as a senator’s aide I considered getting a second degree in government and politics. After being dismayed by what I witnessed and experienced during my internship, I decided I never wanted to work in a position related to the government. My internship was the deciding factor in not pursuing an additional degree. Thankfully I was able to make a decision before spending money on a degree I never would have utilized.

If you have already graduated from college then obviously this is one of life’s lessons you will not be able to change, but if you have children or niece’s and nephew’s attending college I urge you to talk to them about internships. My internship experiences were far more valuable than my experiences inside the college classroom.

July 5, 2007 at 4:59 PM 4 comments

Lesson #2 — Attend a State College

One of the largest factors in determining your future wealth begins well before you set out on your career. It occurs when you choose which university to attend. In an ideal world, you should aim to pay the least amount of money for the best possible education. If a private institution will provide you with scholarships and financial aid packages that cost less than a public university, then by all means attend one. For the rest of us, a state college or university is probably the best bet.

One may argue that private schools provide a higher level of education than state universities. Having attended a state university only, I cannot debate this point. I can tell you that in my experience most employers care about the degree, not the institution that issued it.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some occupations certainly do place a higher level of significance on the prestige of one’s alma mater, so those pursuing a career in law or medicine may need to attend a private institution for further career advancement. But for those looking to start their careers without the burden of enormous debt I urge you to consider a public university over a private one. In essence, a degree from a state college will give you a head start on life. While graduates of private universities are paying off their debts you can start saving for your first down payment or contributing to your Roth IRA.

When I discuss this topic with graduates of private universities they often say, “it doesn’t matter where I went to school. My parent’s paid my tuition.” Unfortunately, those individuals fail to realize that most of us will inherit the wealth our parent’s leave behind. And hundreds of thousands of dollars left in the bank would do you a lot better than a degree that could have been earned for half the price.

July 4, 2007 at 4:10 AM Leave a comment


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