December 14, 2010
Brady Norvall, M.A.
December 1, 2010
November 6, 2010
Brady Norvall, M.A.
September 26, 2010
This is an email that I just received tonight from a student of mine who is in his freshman year at a really wonderful university. It made me extremely proud and I just thought that I would share it. Note: he even sends regards to Lucy. What a gentleman! I taught him that.
Dude, I felt like this article was you speaking: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/opinion/26gradstudents.html?pagewanted=1&ref=homepage&src=me… It made me think a lot!
Brady, I can't thank you enough for pushing me to leave home when I was making my college decision. I would've missed out on so much if I had stayed back home. I don't know what it is about not being home, but it really has this sort of "vibe", I guess, to strive harder and to survive, since its my only option. Considering the fact that mom and dad aren't here for me to solve my problems anymore. It'll sound crazy, maybe, but this "vibe" motivates me, and has forced me to meet people totally different from me, which is a great thing. Unfortunately for those who stay home, you can't feel the "vibe" until you leave and enter college. So many people will never feel it. That's why it's good to have people like you, pushing people like me, to leave home.
So thanks again dude!
Tell Lucy I say hi!
Brady Norvall, M.A.
June 11, 2010
More... If this article doesn't open up our reality to the fact that much graver injustices happen on a daily basis that we are unaware of, I don't know what will. America is a country known for our nearly manic generosity in the face of a well publicized natural disaster (usually in our own, Western Hemisphere). Yet, we are still extremely insulated. Perhaps this is no fault of our own, on an individual level. It could just be a lack of sufficient media attention, an overwhelming amount of power and money that private industry possesses, or, most likely, a combination of the two (and some other factors, I would imagine).
That being said, I know that there have been lots of people from all over who have rushed-- or wanted to rush toward-- the Gulf coast in order to volunteer in some form. Having gone on for so many weeks now, the concept of volunteering has become a bit tainted as not only are the cities, states, government and BP turning away most untrained volunteers, but the plume that is floating invisibly over the Gulf (think of a chemical cloud) is already accounting for respiratory damage in many who have been involving themselves in Gulf coast areas. So, while I don't have an answer to respiratory problems or to the actual spill itself, I do have some information that might be helpful for those who are unyielding in their desire to help in some way: http://www.oshacampusonline.com/keysspill-24-hour-hazmat.html
This website offers hazardous materials training courses for people who want to assist with this disaster and others that will, inevitably arise in the future. As we know, from reading the first article, the world is never short on oil-related tragedies. The whole idea of the Gulf coast debacle has brought to light some very intriguing dilemmas that our society must now realize and confront. Most importantly, in my opinion, is this concept of how far we are willing to go to destroy natural resources which, in almost every conceivable instance, at one time or another, we will end up paying a much greater amount in both dollars and our way of life, in order to then restore what we misused? The oceans and Everglades are just the beginning. To sustain the way that we currently live, significant risk is involved. We are using humans and nature as collateral. But perhaps we should not want to sustain this lifestyle. Maybe altering our lifestyle by becoming more knowledgeable about our own actions is precisely what is necessary in order to prevent such tragedies in the future.
I think that the moral of this lesson is that we need smarter people. We need engineers who can stop this leak and, more importantly, leaders and executives who have a desire to prevent the leak from occurring in the first place. I'm not saying education necessarily makes one more ethical. But this IS a goal of a liberal arts curriculum; Is it not? Go on to college and help us plug holes that are leaked from everyday, all around the globe.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the beginning of your summer. Be in touch.
April 13, 2010
How each individual goes about this final college choice varies. But there are certainly some common questions (or answers, for that matter) that everyone needs to take into consideration. To go over the thought process, I think it is important to take finances out of this for now. Ultimately, finances play a significant (if not the most significant) part in the majority of people's college choice scenarios. And because everyone has a very personal situation and some people want to take loans while others do not, or will live at home while others will not, covering the gamut of potential financial questions would be enough to fill many books, let alone just this one article. So, for the sake of simplification, let's break the college choice process down into the major factors for those who are still vacillating with two weeks to go. Remember, the best thing to do in every situation in life is to eliminate the choices which are not suitable. Sometimes, after we do this, it is revealed to us that only one or, perhaps, two choices are even appropriate. Eliminating these superfluous college choices is critical at this juncture.
1. Site unseen: I warn students to not take this with a grain of salt. If you have not seen or been near the college campus that you are contemplating attending, be very careful. Every campus and surrounding community has a personality and feel which can be unique. If you have not been motivated enough to visit a school by now, I have a feeling that it does not belong on your final list.
2. Program breadth: Unless you are sure of your major and set on a career path, choosing a school based on its extremely specific curriculum or specialization in one program is not always the best option. Make sure that your college choice gives you the flexibility and wiggle-room to explore and challenge yourself with new ideas and fields that you might not have been familiar with otherwise.
3. Extracurricular potential: on any campus in the country one can find a place to play ultimate frisbee or beer pong. However, if you're into activities which are location specific or require certain facilities, please make sure that these exist on or near the campus, before you make the final college choice.
4. The difference between attending university near home or away from home exists, but it's not necessarily as significant as one may think. If home is close enough to tempt a return visit every weekend, I recommend not allowing yourself that visit for the first two months of college. A student, if he/she is not living at home while commuting to college, is paying for a college experience through on- or off-campus housing. This means that part of your education comes when you're outside of the classroom. You should definitely limit your visits home. Consider this when making the college choice. If it's a difference of a four hour versus five hour drive from your house or a drive versus a plane flight, sometimes the more distant option can help a young person achieve that self-sufficiency that all parents work hard to instill.
5. Friends: don't always go where your friends are going. The college choice is filled with- and all about- change. You will stay friends with those you are close with, no matter where you go. So make some new ones.
6. Parents: The last thing that any parent wants is to choose the university for their kid. This can create some major resentment when school gets unpleasant, which is bound to happen at certain times. But regardless of that, the college choice is really up to the student. It is my personal opinion that this is the one time when parents really need to stay out of it. Set the guidelines and the budget and if the student can make "A" university work when you were pushing "B" university, but "A" university fulfills the terms that were agreed upon from the onset ... back off!
7. Remember: you will be happy if you're committed to learning and change. This is ultimately what college is about and, more importantly, the traditional ages from 18-24. So while a good college choice has a great impact on your future and who you become, the change in who you are is coming, whether you choose college "A" or college "B". Just make sure that your college choice is done with lots of thought and as full of an understanding of the options as you are able to gather.
If you have any questions or are a bit stuck, you can always reach me through the website, www.findabetteru.com. Enjoy the process and thanks for reading!
March 17, 2010
When you're a senior-- especially a reasonably intelligent one-- and you know that this process is coming and that when it's all settled and college seems just around the corner and high school seems like something of the past, more for the plebeians of the world, don't forget that you signed a small contract with each university that you were admitted to, stating that you would continue to do satisfactorily (this is the university's concept of "satisfactory", not yours) in all of your current year courses, maintaining standards which you had achieved in your previous years. In other words, you better have your act together enough so that your transcript does not look like you were completely absent for Spring semester of senior year.
First of all, let me say that four years of high school is a long time. I think that three years, in many cases, would be plenty of time to be locked in this adolescent incubator. However, the concept of senioritis is confused by so many. People think it's an excuse when really it's NOT a real psychological (or physical) ailment. All senioritis means is that you're tired of school, you want to be finished, BUT you know that you have to keep working toward the goal that you had for yourself LONG BEFORE senioritis set in. Senioritis is NOT an EXCUSE. It is a revelation that you have to work harder than your mind might want. Deal with it. To an adult or an educator, just uttering the word: "s-e-n-i-o-r-i-t-i-s" makes one seem just a fraction less intelligent than they were prior to speaking it. Second, granted, if you're usually an "A" or an "A/B" student and you get one or even two "C"'s during Spring of your final year, it may not have a negative impact on your admission. But there is never a way to know. Earning an "F" or a "D" in an academic class is totally unacceptable and may even prevent your high school graduation.
But the bigger question here is Why?
Is learning really about the goal of college admission? If that's the case, you're missing the point of it all and I'm afraid college is going to be a big waste of time and resources for you. Why would you want to stop achieving and learning in the final few months of high school. An approach like this can actually create MORE anxiety in a student than the actual school work, itself. There is a complete curriculum in high school that, whether I agree with it or not, is what you should be focused on. For many high school seniors, if you were accepted to an institution of repute, then you're probably taking AP or IB courses that have significant, knowledge-based exams at the end of the year. If you're in Honor's classes, you must have a final or a final paper that will be expected of you. In most academic courses (i.e. English IV, Government and Economics, etc...), whether or not they're AP or Honor's or Regular-level, they matter and the information you should be learning is a part of that foundation of knowledge that ALL colleges and universities will expect their freshmen to have.
I don't like seeming as if I am a man who blindly preaches the benefits of education. I realize that right now, in our country, there is a significant movement to debilitate the education elitists- which I would probably be considered as I do enjoy being around people who read often, write clearly, think critically and can reference interesting ideas in order to give unique perspective to their arguments. However, no matter what anyone says, and I have probably written this before on this very blog, education is the one thing that NO ONE can EVER take away from us. It is what makes people interesting (education in ALL forms, experience and the classroom) and it is what our world demands of each of us as we become more complicated in our governing, technology, industry and individual lives. Bottom line: finish your senior year with energy and motivation. Not only will you not have to worry about what your college of choice is going to think when they see your grades (because your grades will be great) but you will feel better for being the person who actually takes responsibility and assignment seriously. There are plenty of opportunities during senior year to have fun with your classmates. Take advantage of all of them. But never forget that the reason you are even able to have so much fun is because you have worked hard every day leading up to the fun.
Thanks for reading and enjoy these last few months!
March 8, 2010
enough said . . .
Brady Norvall, M.A.