Wednesday, July 25, 2018

How to Develop Good Habits

Doing well in school, being accepted to college, earning scholarships, becoming fit, eating healthy and getting enough sleep all have something in common. They will happen automatically for those who develop the right habits. I’ve read it takes 21 days to acquire or change a habit. Breaking this down into small steps makes doing so fairly easy.

I’ll use healthy eating as an example. The way I tackled this is the way I tackle anything I want to improve in my life. Biting off too much at once never works. So I take it slow. Several years ago I read an article about a study on the health benefit of eating nuts. I decided I wanted those benefits, so I made a plan to increase how many nuts I ate.

That is step one in creating a new habit, begin with the end in mind (like Stephen Covey recommends). The article ranked a large number of varieties of nuts by how many nutrients they contained. I started from the top, and wrote down five I enjoy eating. I didn’t bother writing down the ones I don’t like, since I know I won’t eat them anyway.

The article mentioned nuts stay fresh longer if refrigerated. I bought several glass Mason jars, and the five varieties of nuts I selected. I washed and dried the jars and filled each with one variety of nuts. I’ve refilled the jars many times since I made the decision to eat more nuts. I eat them on salads, cereal, and oatmeal and as a snack. Eating nuts is a habit now.

Let’s look at eliminating a bad habit. Many people are on their phones instead of chatting with family face to face, reading books, studying for a test, completing homework, applying for a college scholarship, etc. This is an easy habit to acquire, and some think it’s difficult to break. I disagree. Once you’ve made the decision, the rest is just details. Decide when you want to be on your phone, instead of everything else there is to do in the world.

Write those times down, take a look and reassess. Is this the best use of your time? If not, make changes to the schedule. If it is, then go on the next step. Let’s say you only want to be on your phone for two hours after coming home after work or school. When you enter the house, take out your phone and turn it off, not to mute or vibrate, but off. Put the phone on a table or in a drawer near the front door.

Now do whatever else you want to do. When the time you’ve allotted for phone use arrives, go to the table, take out your phone and turn it on. Then set an alarm for two hours. When the alarm sounds, turn the alarm and your phone off, and replace it where you’re keeping it. After a few days, this will become a habit. I keep my phone in a bowl on the table in my foyer. It’s there now, while I’m here, in my office, writing this blog post. It’s just what I do. It’s a habit.

Getting fit is simple too. This week someone I follow on Twitter posted a graphic of several ab exercises that won’t hurt your back. I printed it and will add one of these exercises to my already established workout routine. After about three weeks it will be a habit, so I’ll add another from the list. I’ll repeat this process until all the ones I want to do are part of my routine. Doing them will be habitual.

I look at goals like the old joke about eating an elephant. How do you eat one, or tackle acquiring good habits? Take one bite or one step at a time. You can do better in school, be accepted to college, earn scholarships, become fit, eat healthy and get enough sleep by making the decision and taking the first step. Repeat until what you need to do to reach your goal has become a habit.

You are reading from the blog,, where we empower families with knowledge to navigate the path to higher education without the burden of excessive loans.


For more information, you’ll want my book, Free College, CLICK HERE. It teaches families how to help their kids become more successful in school, college, and life.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Reading for Parents and Grandparents

This blog shares information which will help students earn more money from scholarships and grants in order to pay for college and graduate debt free. I think college should be tuition free, but I’m not in charge. I can only share information I've gathered that can help reduce or eliminate the cost or college for families. If they do what others do to earn full-ride scholarships, perhaps they too will pay nothing out of pocket for college.

This post title, however, doesn’t look like it applies. That’s an illusion. Anything parents or grandparents do can end up helping students graduate from college debt free. The three books I'm recommending can make a dramatic difference for parents and grandparents, and for the success of students in their lives.

The first book is Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Blue Zones. They're five areas in the world where people routinely live happy, healthy, fit lives well beyond 100. The National Geographic is behind this research into longevity. As the researchers isolated areas in the world where people live the longest lives, they circled them on a map with a blue marker, hence the name the Blue Zones.

I’ve read all of the books published by Dan Buettner in conjunction with the National Geographic. I give them as gifts to loved ones. I’ve signed up for their monthly newsletter and follow them on Twitter. I’m a fan. But the reason I’m suggesting you read Blue Zones Solution over summer is your children will benefit from your doing so. Too many children are eating junk. Too many are sedentary and unhappy. Following the suggestions in this book could reverse these negative trends. You, your children and grandchildren would benefit.

The second book you should check out from the library or buy is Factfulness by Hans Rosling. I don’t know how I ended up on Bill Gates’ email list, but I did. He recommended I read this book. I’m glad I did. It has helped me see the world as it is, and not as the network news tells me it is. I realized years ago that the news can only show a sliver of what happens in the world. It doesn’t show us a balanced view, but only what’s sensational. Good news is boring. Bad news gets our attention. Attention equals ratings. Ratings equal money. But it also makes us carry around a negative view of the world. This book gives us facts, real facts, about the world in which we live.

I think parents should read this book because their fears and negative feelings about the future rub off on their kids. It’s hard to motivate students to do well in school, if they think the world is going to hell in a handbasket. I knew some of the information in this book, but not very much. Read Factfulness and you’ll feel better about the world, and so will your children.

The third book I suggest you read this summer is mine, Free College. It contains researched information as do the previous two. But the subject of my book is what parents of successful scholarship winners do while raising their children that results in them winning full-ride scholarships for college. It horrifies me that the cost of college tuition is so high, and that thousands of students end up with huge college loan debt. I know senior citizens who are still paying off college loans. My book provides a step-by-step guide, so your kids and grandkids can develop the habits of the ideal scholarship and grant applicants.

What better way to spend your summer than helping your children get ahead and live happier, healthier lives?

You are reading from the blog,, where we empower families with knowledge to navigate the path to higher education without the burden of excessive loans.


For more information, you’ll want my book, Free College, CLICK HERE. It teaches families how to help their kids become more successful in school, college, and life.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Photo Credit: Google Images

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Lesson in Longevity from Teachers

I grew up in a family where illness was common. My mother suffered from several life threatening illnesses while I was growing up. My father had trouble breathing due to his history of smoking. I vowed to do whatever I could to avoid their fate. I subscribed to Organic Gardening from Rodale Press and planted fruit trees, grapes, berries and a huge vegetable garden. I reduced the amount of red meat I ate and eventually eliminated it entirely, as I did with soda. I’ve eaten healthy my entire adult life.

My next step was to subscribe to Prevention magazine and join a gym. I’ve worked out three to four days a week from the time I was twenty-five until now. I’m at my high school weight (which is appropriate to my height). I’m not working out as much as I did when I was younger, but have never given it up for more than a brief period of time. I walk daily, although to be frank, not as much as I did when I taught high school. Then, sitting down during the day was a rarity.

I’ve bought and read all the Blue Zones books, I even give them as gifts. The Blue Zones® was founded by Dan Buettner, explorer, researcher and fantastic best-selling author. I’ve tweaked my Mediterranean diet to be more like those eaten by the people in the Blue Zones Solution and made a few other changes to my lifestyle. A long healthy, happy life is my goal.

Recently, my copy of the “Retiree Advocate” by CTA/NEA-Retired arrived. There’s an article in the newsletter entitled, “It’s About Us”.  Here I read longevity statistics for retired teachers. Studies show we live longer than any other group of working people in the U.S. This made me curious because I had heard the opposite. I looked online and found my previous belief was a well debunked myth. Teachers who reach 60 can expect to live 30 more years. This was great news.

The longevity of teachers has been credited to our healthy living. We eat the right foods, like those I mentioned earlier. We’re physically active, go to the gym, walk, hike, etc. We sleep enough; probably making up for all those nights we stayed up correcting papers. Finally, we were and still are social creatures. Even in retirement, teachers have a lesson to teach. Live like we do, and you may extend your happy, healthy retirement years too.

In addition to working out, traveling (as you see in the photo above), eating healthy and socializing, I've spent some of my retirement from classroom teaching researching and writing my new book, Free College. It contains lots of helpful tips on how to avoid college loans. It's for families of Pre-K through High School students. If you want to learn the secrets of successful scholarship winners, you'll find them in Free College, (Click Here to Buy). 

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Photo Credit: Photo taken by me, Elizabeth Wallace

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer Reading for Teens

About now, summer vacation has become mundane. Teens are either looking for something to do, or they’re just lying around the house texting each other. These are weeks they will never get back. Instead of wasting time, they could be learning something which might help them get through the rest of high school successfully and pay for college.

I taught teens for several decades. I know them. I know what they need to do to be successful. I’ve put together a short reading list for summer which will help them succeed. The first book they need to read is 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens by Sean Covey. He’s the son of Stephen Covey who wrote the enormously successful 7 Habit of Highly Effective People. This book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. His son, Sean, wrote a version of his father’s book aimed at helping teens get what they want out of life.

Reading Sean’s book this summer will help teenagers set goals and reach them. It will make them happier at home and at school. I kept 20 copies of the book in my classroom and loaned them to students in my language classes. After doing so, they returned the book to me. Every one of them told me they had bought a copy of their own.  It’s a powerful book and a must read for any child 13 or older.

The second book I recommend for teens to read this summer is Personality Plus by Florence Littauer. I read this book quite some time ago and learned so much about how people tick that I bought copies for everyone I knew. I also taught the information in the book to my high school foreign language students. Although it had nothing to do with either French or German, it helped students learn more in class. This was because the book taught them a great deal about themselves and about the personalities of others.

The second benefit of this book is that students understood the motivation of other students in class, and those outside of school. Instead of thinking other kids were weird or annoying; they understood what made them tick.  They knew why their mothers and fathers acted the way they did. They also comprehended their teachers better and were, therefore, more successful in their classes.

The third book high school students should read this summer is mine, Free College. The book is researched based. It shows parents and students alike what it takes to win lots of scholarship and/or grant money for college. After seeing all of my students go to college with scholarships, I wondered why some received a full-ride while others only earned a few thousand dollars. I looked into their backgrounds and learned the strategies their parents followed that ended up helping their kids avoid needing college loans. I researched several hundred students who earned scholarships and discovered the tactics they employed to be successful.

I began teaching my students and others in the school what they needed to do to earn massive college scholarships. Then my sister told me I must share the information with everyone else.  She was right. It felt wrong to keep this to myself. Free College shows families what successful scholarship winners did that resulted in earning full-rides to college. It also explains how students may follow suit, so they too may earn massive college scholarships.

These are the three books I recommend for high school students to read this summer. I’m sure they will both enjoy the books and learn a great deal of important information from them. They should be happier and more successful as a result. 

You are reading from the blog,, where we empower families with knowledge to navigate the path to higher education without the burden of excessive loans.


For more information, you’ll want my book, Free College, CLICK HERE. It teaches families how to help their kids become more successful in school, college, and life.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

Photo Credit: Pixabay