*Who would be more capable to give “How To” advice to parents of college-age children than someone who has been there, done that, and got more than a T-shirt to show for it? Veteran science teacher Norma Richards and her husband were faced with the daunting task of putting three of their six children through college — in close succession, so Richards knew she had to get proactive. And today she is awfully glad she did.
Those three siblings, two daughters and a son, have each earned engineering degrees at well-known universities on full academic scholarships. I’d say that qualifies her to write a guidebook telling others how to do it.
“Free Ride to College” shows parents and high school seniors how to position themselves for the same outcome.
“I have saved close to half a million dollars in college expenses,” Richards writes. “Now that I have an empty nest, I am on a mission to help other families achieve free rides to college too.”
The crux of Richards’ pointers comes in the chapter titled, “A Competitive Student Profile – the Fuel for a Full Academic Ride.” In it, she details what accomplishments a student should have made by the end of junior year if they are trying to attract scholarship offers. This includes community service, high test scores, strong admissions essays, etc.
But Richards’ also explains how the importance of making learning fun was essential in the process.
“As a parent, I took responsibility for my child’s education, and saw school as a supplement. I didn’t home-school them, but I made sure they were constantly learning…and I made learning fun from the beginning,” Richards says.
With reading being a big part of the learning process, Richards put labels on objects around the house to improve vocabulary, and offered small rewards as they progressed. For comprehension, she and the children talked about the stories they read together; and during the summer, they signed up for reading programs at the library, which offered prizes as kids read a certain number of books.
The importance of reading is universal, but is especially crucial for black children. Research shows that literacy by fourth grade is an indicator for high school completion, among other things; black children have significantly lagged behind their white counterparts on national reading measures for years.
Raising a black child comes with unique considerations. In Richards’ case, schools told her one of her children had ADHD; another was labeled special education; and the third was legally blind by middle school. Black children are as higher risk for all of these challenges than are White children.
Richards did not just sit back and accept these labels. To learn how she responded instead, read more at Black Press USA.