With so much information available on school grants it can be a little easy to become confused about the whole process. However, there are some things you can do for yourself to help the whole thing run much more seamlessly. If you have been applying for grants and have not really had much luck, there may be something that you are doing wrong. When applying for grants, you may want to avoid:

Being unorganized
They key to successfully applying for grants is organization. How can you know what it is you want to accomplish, and then actually accomplish it if you are not organized? Devise a plan. Know what it is you want done, and exactly when you want it done by. By making yourself a schedule for your search for a grant you can be sure that you will never miss a deadline and that all of the things that you need to do to receive that grant are completed.

Being Annoying
It’s okay to call for information, or to follow up on an application, but when you start to go overboard with it you can annoy some of the people who ultimately have control over whether or not you receive your adult school grant. It is important that you show the appropriately level of interest, and try not to make it seem like you are desperate for the grant, but instead, driven.

Applying for every grant you come across
While you might eventually be accepted for a grant if you are continually applying, it is a much better strategy for you if you are very precise in the grants that you apply for. By applying for grants that you have a better chance to receive, you are able to work smarter, not harder.

Ignoring local organizations
There are probably dozens of organizations in your area that are offering scholarships and grants to people with your qualifications. Try to stay connected with the local scene so you know exactly when these opportunities are available, and how to apply.

Thinking short term
You should always be thinking long term. Apply for grants that will benefit you as much down the road as they will now. It is important that you are able to fund your entire college cost and not just the immediate expenses. Apply for grants that give several payouts over a period of time.

Underestimating the advantage of technology grants
You may always want to look into apply for a technology grant, as you may be provided with a vital piece of technology that helps you throughout your entire college career.

Ignoring Critics
If you have been applying for grants for quite some time and have had no luck, it’s always a good idea to reach out to people who know you and ask them to review what you have been doing. Maybe you have overlooked some minor detail? It is important that you consult an outside opinion when things don’t seem to be working out for you.

Teaching Those in the Venerable Years – Mental Fitness For Older Adults

I feel caught in our cultural myth that aging is a failure, that if only I did it right I could avoid old age, even avoid death. What a peculiar notion! We have some ideas that as we age we are no longer sexy, vital, juicy. Sometimes when I walk into a room I feel as if I’m invisible, or even worse, an outcast.-Lee Lipp

I’m well aware of the fact that I’m old. By the way, I used to say “old,” but now when I’m asked in interviews, “How old are you?” I reply, “Well, I grew up in China in a time when age was venerated, so I am eighty six years venerable.-Huston Smith

I’ve found that venerating the elderly grounds my teaching for older adults. It’s an attitude of respect, attention, patience and love that makes my teaching rewarding and hopefully of some service. During the late 60’s when it was not hip to trust anyone over 30, I subtly discounted their exquisite value. Luckily, I soon learned to appreciate the wisdom and richness of the older generation while at the same time being able to think for myself.

As a young boy, I found older adults to be fascinating, somewhat mysterious and, when not playing sports or in school, I was very happy in their company. When I was in grammar school, I visited older neighbors who didn’t seem to have younger people around them. One day I was walking past a fairly run-down, large home where “Mrs. Davenport” was pruning some bushes in her front yard. She lived alone, and seemed to be a recluse. She also had the reputation of being a mean shrew, and instilled fear in the kids who sometimes played pranks on her. But on this particular occasion, she asked me if I would help her lift some trimmings into a wheelbarrow, which I did, while casting a suspicious eye on her, remembering some of the children said she was a bona fide witch.

Apart from her unsmiling wizened face, I found nothing sinister about her. Her comments on plants, flowers, trees, squirrels, rabbits, muskrats, dogs and cats started to fascinate me. She never spoke about other people except saying that a group of “lousy boys” had thrown rocks at her dogs. After I finished, she invited me to enjoy freshly baked cookies. That began our friendship. I started visiting her, walking down the long driveway, knocking on her door and gaining entrance into magical conversations about topics new to me. I looked at her photo albums and inspected her “favorite contraptions.” Once I opened a painted music box, inlaid with white-spotted black and orange butterflies–I marveled as the box released a melody that brought such delight to Mrs. Davenport, her face noticeably softened.

Now I find myself revering my older students, as naturally, as happily as greeting my family when they come home from a trip. It’s a joy for me to be with older adults, learning and teaching. I am learning that our brains are elastic, that we can “stretch” our minds just as we stretch our bodies, even as we age. Neuroscientists call this ability of the brain to keep itself fit, “brain plasticity.” The course I teach, through adult school, in convalescent hospitals is called “Mental Fitness.”

In classes with our venerable seniors, we offer exercise (including simple Tai Chi), music and singing, arts-crafts, academics (history-geography; language arts; math life skills), puzzles, lively questions & answers about trivia, video documentaries & educational movies. We create an atmosphere where seniors can stay mentally active, at whatever level may be possible for as long as possible.

Different animals are brought into my class at the convalescent hospital-hospice. Of course some of the clients don’t want to be close to any animal, yet many do and find it great fun and excitement, like having an instant “buddy.” No judgments about being old. The furry ones make many clients feel relaxed, in what can be an alienating, colorless environment. A 93 year old resident is happily interacting with the fat kitty cat; so energizing for her. The animals brighten the classroom.

We discuss health and nutrition. We review studies-such as those by Dr. Andrew Weil-which recommend that seniors include plenty of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits, such as blueberries. And to include anti-inflammation vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, beans, oatmeal, enriched pastas, peas, wheat germ, rice bran) and vitamin E (in spinach, sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ); as well as omega-3 fatty acids (in salmon, flax-seed oil, walnuts, supplements that provide these fatty acids). Dr. Weil cites studies from scientists at the University of Irvine (with mice) that show DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) delays the development of protein “tangles” in brain cells and also reduces levels of beta amyloid. (Cf. The Journal of Neuroscience, April 18, 2007)

Research suggests that doing such activities as educational “trivia”, learning a language or playing a musical instrument may help build reserve brain cells to fight against failing mental ability. So we do lots of trivia and word games, both oral and written. We encourage stimulating the imagination, forming mental pictures to associate with information, using the force of our attention and memory, still learning and “connecting,” and “re-connecting.”

Some convalescent homes and senior adult programs have computers, with such programs as “Posit Brain Fitness.” Computers provide effective exercises to sharpen the minds of older adults. I did some of the sessions from a Brain Fitness Course from Posit Science where I and my fellow and sister seniors did different exercises to listen more attentively, to focus and concentrate, to improve our ability to process information and to remember progressively larger amounts of information. For example, we distinguish varying sounds; we remember details from stories. We are experiencing how our brains can change when we are paying attention, how we can improve the speed with which we process information and nudge our ability to communicate more effectively. I’ve done five different exercises: 1. “High or Low?” helps faster sound processing, so the brain can respond even to fast speech in conversation; 2. “Tell Us Apart” gives the brain practice to distinguish similar sounds so it can better interpret the spoken word while storing clear memories; 3. “Match It!” helps the brain remember better, as the brain processes sounds with more clarity; 4. “Sound Replay” stimulates the brain to remember information in the order it’s presented; 5. “Listen and Do” exercises the short-term memory, which is critical in most cognitive tasks related to thinking.

“Dakim’s [m] Power” is another computer-based program which aids in slowing down memory degeneration by “matching” and “word” games, answering questions. Multiple level activities are available: for “high functioning,” for “mild cognition impairment,” and for those with “dementia.” Seniors may review history or geography or watch clips from old movies where they are asked to remember setting, characters, and actions. Some of the hospitals and senior centers use the involving world of the Internet to look up information of interest, e-mail and chat.

Sadly, many of our students already suffer from the brain-clogging plaque (amyloid) and protein tangles of advanced Alzheimer’s and other dementia that greatly limit memory and cognition, and may manifest in behavioral abnormalities. But even Alzheimer’s doesn’t exclude meaningful educational and social interaction, even if it is on a basic level. We continue to reassure, interact, creatively stimulate, listen, be with, teach and learn from. We have some fun and laughter together, even in this drastic-terribly sorrowful-situation of a slow, progressive diminishing of mental capacity.

Our students are often confused, disoriented, incoherent, alienated, angry, withdrawn, in slowly deteriorating conditions. Their words don’t seem to express their thoughts. Some of our students appear “just out of it.” We are aware of changing needs and must adapt, be responsive and understanding. It’s messy sometimes; we accept all of it. These students are losing nerve cells that are associated with learning, judgment, memory. The chemical acetylcholine-which is used by nerve cells to transmit messages-is decreasing dramatically.

One of my students greeted me each morning saying with a perplexed look: “I can’t remember what I forgot to remember to tell you.” Her daughter would visit her in class, but had to tell her each time that she was her daughter. She enjoyed going to class, especially singing and humming old songs; playing catch with a soft ball; listening to stories. However, there were times when she would sit with a blank expression on her face. J. Madeleine Nash writes: “Imagine your brain as a house filled with lights. Now imagine someone turning off the lights one by one. That’ what Alzheimer’s disease does. It turns off the lights so that the flow of ideas, emotions and memories from one room to the next slows and eventually ceases.” (Time magazine, July 17, 2000) Though we cannot stop this process in our students, we do our best to accompany them, continuing to shine lights of caring on them.

5 Reasons To Go To An Online High School

Online high schools are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional high schools. While they are not without their own unique set of problems, online high schools, particularly those which allow for earning a high school diploma online, will only grow in number and popularity.

While there are a number of different reasons for why a student might elect to attend an online high school, below are five popular reasons:

1. If you are an adult student, it can be infinitely less embarrassing to go online. Most adult students have little desire to be in class with 16-year-olds (or even in an adult school class with 19-year-olds). Online no one knows how old you are and you can be faceless in a very real sense.

2. It gets you out of the public schools (in most cases; remember there are some free online high schools that are public charter schools). While we have many excellent schools in the United States, we also have some schools which are struggling.

3. If you have an illness that prevents you from going to high school, this can be a good alternative. While not always the best choice for students who are ill, it can be a reasonable alternative to what the public schools might be able to offer in that same situation.

4. You have been asked – ahem – to leave your high school for whatever reason. You definitely still want to earn a high school diploma and this may be one of your very few options depending on your location.

5. You just know that, if you stay in your local public high school, you will never finish. That environment is not for everyone. Some will be successful, but for others it will be a real challenge.

However and importantly, online high schools require students to be motivated. Remember that in traditional schools you have teachers pushing you forward. While many online high schools have teachers, the dynamic is different. It will be much more on you to be successful.

Community Colleges Cutting Back and Universities Raising Tuition – What About Adult Education?

Not long ago, I was talking to an adult education professorette. She specializes in teaching people ESL (English as a Second Language). ESL is completely important for full integration especially for immigrants as it keeps them from becoming economically enslaved for generations. In fact, we have many first and second generation immigrants who don’t speak English, and that’s a travesty, and it certainly limits their upward mobility in our society and civilization.

Well, she was quite concerned because it turns out that out here in California they are cutting back at the community college level and the universities when it comes to adult education. In the area where I am at, often high schools are used in the evenings for adult school. They use the same classrooms, and a new instructor comes in to teach those types of job retraining things that people need, along with ESL. Without that funding, and without sharing the costs with the high school, the high schools also have a challenge with their budgets, as they lose those economies of scale.

All this is happening at a time when the universities are raising tuition so high that fewer and fewer people are going to be able to abort colleges without taking out huge loans. Worse, many community colleges are cutting back, and the kids graduating from high school can’t get the classes they need, or the prerequisite classes so they can go onto a four year University, or even if they can, it takes them longer than two years to get through the program. Often they are a few units short even to get their AA to move on.

Further, as I sit in the local Starbucks and watch the college students from both the University and the community college come in with their homework, they often complain about the increased costs of community classes, textbooks, and wonder how they will ever pay off those student loans once they eventually graduate from the four year University considering the job market. Many of them know that once they do get their degree from the University, there may not be any jobs in that sector.

They too will be economically enslaved just as if they didn’t speak English, albeit for a different reason. We have a problem out here in California with our colleges, universities, and adult education programs. I don’t believe we are addressing it correctly, nor do I feel that the people in charge now know how to fix it. Rather they are asking for more taxpayer’s money and throwing more good money after bad on the taxpayer’s dime as they create an even larger bubble in the academic industrial complex. Please consider all this and think on it.