Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Midwest Homeschool Convention

Midwest Homeschool Convention

My wife and I just got back from an amazing three days at the Midwest Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. We went for two reasons; well actually we went for a lot more than two reasons, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll say two.

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Walking by the river between sessions.

The first was to learn about home school curriculums for our 5 year old son who is starting kindergarten this fall. Mission accomplished. We talked with countless curriculum representatives and sat in on some great workshops on homeschool curriculum. Now we’ve got a really good idea of what’s out there and what we will be using this fall.

The second reason we went was to learn as much as humanly possible (in three days) about the current education trends in America, the college admission process , and what home school students, and high school students in general, need to be doing right now to succeed after high school.

Besides learning a ton from some fantastic authors, college admissions directors, and college counselors, I also got to listen to some great speakers such as Matt Walsh, Congressman Jim Jordan, and Ben Carson.

I won’t bore you with all the information about which curriculum we chose for our son, unless for some odd reason you’re just dying to know. But, what I do want to share with you is what I learned about the college admission process and how you can seriously improve your chances of getting into the college you’re after and getting in with less debt.

As I mentioned earlier, over the last few days I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on some great workshops led by numerous college admission directors. I’ve had the chance to learn directly from the source what colleges are looking for and what students can do to significantly increase their chances of getting into college in today’s world.  Things are changing in the college admissions world and you need to know how.

I’ve also learned some really interesting things about the SAT and PAST that I can’t wait to share with you.


Skipping out on the gourmet hotel restaurant for a little Skyline Chili.

Juniors and seniors, I spent quite a bit of time this weekend learning about how to make your high school transcript very attractive to college admission officers.

There are a bunch of other things I learned about that I’d like to share with you but it will have to wait.  For now I’m just letting you know that the blog will focus in on some of these topics over the next few weeks.  There is going to be a lot of really valuable information being shared here so keep coming back and checking it out. If you aren’t following Live Declared yet, maybe now would be a good time to start.

Thanks for reading.

And as a side note, for any of my readers who live in Cincinnati, is your entire city always under construction? Seriously, almost every road and every other building looked like it was under construction.  Other than that it was a beautiful city and we enjoyed it immensely.



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Tattoos and Careers

Sam’s Dilemma

Game night. I love game night. Once or twice a month I get together with a small group of friends to play strategy board games.  A few weeks ago one of the guys who came to our game night brought his 16 year old son, Sam.  Sam was really excited, way more excited than any 16 year old boy should be when hanging out with his dad’s friends. Why was he so excited you may ask. Well, it was a few days away from his birthday and he was eager to get his present; a great big tattoo of his family crest on his right arm.

His dad wasn’t nearly as excited. Tattoos

Though his dad was not altogether happy, he did do something fairly clever. He told his son that before he would allow him to get the tattoo he had to ask 20 adults, no more and no less, what they thought about him getting a tattoo. The adult then had to sign a piece of paper divided into two sections signing that they are either for or against him getting the tattoo.  His dad would only allow him to get the tattoo if the majority of those signatures were of people signing on the pro-tattoo side.

The signatures could not be family or friends so of course he was eager to come to our game night to get what he thought would be some easy signatures. I like the thinking behind his dad’s plan. He wanted his son to talk to a lot of people before making the decision.

He didn’t want him to get the tattoo, but he knew that if he just told him now there would be resentment, bitterness, and all that jazz.  The whole conversation we had made me think about a somewhat sensitive issue; tattoos and careers. By the way, I’ll tell you which side I signed on latter.

Do Tattoos Ruin Careers?

So this brings me to the whole point of this post; will getting tatted-up hurt your chances of being successful in the future?

Let me just throw this out there. I don’t have any tattoos. Not because I don’t like them, I’ve just never given them much thought. I see them on people at the store and think, “huh, that’s kind of cool; now which aisle is the almond milk in again?”  I just don’t really care much one way of the other about them. I look at them like hair color or clever sayings on t-shirts. But that’s just me, I get that they are an important form of self-expression for a lot of people.

Did You Know?

About 40% of U.S. adults have a tattoo.  
76% of people feel that visible tattoos hurt your chance of getting a job.
39% say that visible tattoos on employees are a poor reflection on the employer.

Employers know these stats.  They’ve had to ad

dress these concerns and the fact is that a lot of companies have created policies against visible tattoos. At this point all my tattooed friends shout: “Discrimination!

Well, not quite.

Employers cannot discriminate against a lot of things, such as:

National origin

That being said, there are currently no laws against discriminating against tattoos. It may seem unfair to you, but employers have every legal right to choose not to hire you based on visible tattoos.  That being said, if you don’t have a clue what you want to do with your life, maybe you should reconsider getting that Mike Tyson face tattoo.

Now back to the question at hand. Will getting inked hurt your chances of being successful?

First of all, success comes from all areas of your life: health family, spirituality, work, etc. Most people would agree that tattoos are not going to negatively affect most areas of your life. In fact, they won’t have much of an effect either way. But for some reason careers are different.  Your career is the one area that is affected by your decision to get tattooed.


At this point I think it’s important to define success. A successful career is made of your talents, your passions, and your plan to monetize from them. The specifics of successful career are going to look different for everyone but those three main ingredients are necessary.

Maybe you want to become a teacher, maybe a baker, maybe you’d rather work in the corporate world. Maybe you want to become an entrepreneur? Maybe you’d rather be a freelance artist. Maybe you’d like to be pediatrician. If you are doing what you love in an environment that you love (and you’re making money doing it) then I’d say you’ve got a successful career.

So will getting inked help or hurt you?

Here’s the common sense part. Will getting a tattoo help, hurt, or have no effect on your intended career path. The fact is that a lot of professions frown about tattoos. If you plan on getting into one of them maybe you should rethink your choice about getting a visible tattoo. On the other hand there are some industries in which visible tattoos are acceptable and even encouraged.

When you work for someone else you have to consider these things, but who says you have to work for someone else? If you work for yourself or own your own company you don’t have to abide by any polices.

Points to Consider

Getting Inked


Another factor to consider; tattoos are becoming increasingly acceptable. A recent survey showed that as age increases disapproval ratings of tattoos at work increase as well. Younger generations are much more open and accepting of tattoos at work. Among people 18-25 years old only 22% disapproved of tattoos in the workplace. By the age of 60, 63% disapprove. What this tells me is that perhaps in a few years tattoos may be perfectly acceptable in the workplace, but as of right now there are a lot of CEOs, managers, and supervisors who do not approve of them.


It seems that the higher your level of education the less likely you are to have a tattoo. Only 3% of PhD level adults have tattoos. 8% of those with a master’s degree have ink and 10% of those with a bachelor’s degree. 19% of those with an associate’s degree have a tattoo and 20% of those with only a high school diploma. Maybe this means something to you, maybe not. I’ll let you interpret this data for yourself and draw any conclusions you like.


Where you live can matter as well. Certain parts of the country seem to be more tolerant of body art than others. The east and west coast are more tolerant of tattoos in the workplace than the Midwest.

Your Call… My Call

Whatever you decide do it on purpose. Get your tattoo with confidence that it will not stop you from achieving your dreams and pursuing your passions. Or don’t get a tattoo at all. Don’t do something you’ll regret.

By the way, in case you were curious about Sam and which side of the paper I signed on, I didn’t. I told him that I could not sign for or against him getting a tattoo until he could tell me his plans for his future. He couldn’t, so I didn’t. I’m way more concerned about people knowing their purpose and calling in life than I am about how they decorate their bodies

Let me know your thoughts about this subject. If you have tattoos have you ever been passed over in a job because of them? If you don’t have tattoos, why don’t you? Are you considering getting inked? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with this community.



Are Standardized Tests Necessary for College Acceptance?

Hammond Quote

Standardized Tests; nobody likes them but we (and by “we” I of course mean they, them, the powers that be) can’t seem to get enough of them.  We’re addicted to them.  From elementary school on we’re teaching kids how to become expert test takers, a skill that becomes nearly useless the minute they leave the school. 

I’m an optimist though, so I’m going to assume most people are smart enough to realize that tests like the SAT and ACT only measure a tiny fraction of what is gained through an education. These tests show a very narrow view of the student. They fall tragically short of how the real world measures success. Real life solutions are not presented with options A, B, C, or D.  Outside of the classroom, critical thinking is king, multiple choice answers simply don’t exist.

Are the SAT and ACT Really Necessary?

Despite all the gloom surrounding standardized tests I’m holding out hope. I recently read this article about the SAT and ACT. Personally, I like the idea of not judging a student based on their 4 hour performance on a Saturday morning. Hard work, creativity, problem solving, commitment, ingenuity, these are the things that can make great students, but get lost on standardized tests.

As of now, you still need to take them, but maybe someday we’ll move past all that. There are currently around 800 colleges that leave the SAT and ACT test submission as optional. Those colleges want more than a standardized test scores to determine what kind of student you are. Results of a recent study showed that students who did not submit SAT and ACT test results to colleges performed just as well as those who did.


Imagine a world where you actually had to be creative and find new ways to demonstrate your abilities to gain acceptance into college. Maybe instead of SAT scores you could show the admission team a successful business you started. Maybe instead of ACT scores you could show them a portfolio of web based projects you’ve worked on. Or perhaps an engineering student could show a construction project he or she designed and completed. Maybe instead of a score on one test you show them a pattern of hard work and commitment to your intended major.

Just a thought.

What do you think? What experiences have you had with these types of tests? How do you think a person should be judged for acceptance into a college program?

Share your thoughts.

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Don’t Know What to Do?

What do you do if you don’t know what you want to do for a living? Some people have easily identifiable passions and interests. Some people don’t. Some of you will have to spend a lot of time thinking and reflecting to figure out what it is that you are passionate about.


It’s Okay to Ask for Help

According to a recent survey 62% of high school seniors indicated that they need assistance with their educational/occupational plans.  For those of you who hate math as much as I do, that’s over half.  The majority of high school seniors today are admitting that they need help figuring out their plans for the future.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think that number decreases after high school; at least that’s what my experiences have led me to believe.  Actually, I think it probably increases.

As adults get older they get better at hiding the fact that they still don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives.  They can put on a good show and act like they’ve got it all together. Some genuinely do.   Most, say 62% probably don’t.

My dad always told me that whenever an adult asks a kid, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” that they are really just looking for ideas.

I think he’s right.

In my experience I’ve seen two basic reactions people have to not knowing what they want to do with their life.

Reaction 1:

They dig in their heels. They do whatever they’ve been doing. They dream of change and hope for change, but never take any action. They begin to believe that they are unable to change their situation. They mistake complacency for contentment. This breeds bitterness and hopelessness.

Reaction 2:

They get help. Help can come in many forms. Help may be a good book, a motivating podcast, or an encouraging friend or coach.  Help may be talking with your parents or loved ones and letting them know how you feel. Seek help and take action. Doing this tends to build energy and focus. This breeds hope.

Don’t Fake It

Pretending that you know what you want to do when you really don’t can be disastrous. Don’t fake it. When you start pretending, you become passive and start losing control of your life. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, your situation becomes unwieldy and uncontrollable.  62% of high school seniors are saying they need help. If you need help admit it, get it, and move forward.


Education: Return On Investment


A New Age

There was a time in history when a college degree would guarantee you a successful and profitable career. If you had a degree you enjoyed a nice big paycheck to go along with it. It was easy; a degree meant more money plain and simple.

That time has passed.


This is a new era. It is the age of college graduates who work at Arby’s. This is the age of graduate students who live in their parent’s basement. This is age of realization. It is a rude awakening. People are starting to realize that a degree isn’t the magic ingredient it used to be. A lot of the time it is necessary, but it is not enough. You can no longer flash a degree at an employer and expect money to be thrown at your feet.

A degree is a tool to help you shape your future. It’s a very expensive tool, but a tool nonetheless. Now, more than ever, it’s important to look at a degree as an investment in your future. When you look at an investment the one thing that simply cannot be ignored is the return on that investment.

What is ROI?

ROI (Return on Investment) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. Or more simply put, it’s what you’ll gain or lose from an investment.

An Example

If you look at a degree as an investment (which it is) then obviously some will yield a higher ROI then others. Let’s use the teaching profession as an example.

Two students from rural Indiana decided to follow their passions and become teachers. They both planned on returning to their home town to teach kindergarten in one of the local schools. They both got exceptional grades in high school and got great ACT and SAT scores. They had nearly every college and university available to them.

The first student applied to as many prestigious schools as she could.  She decided to go to a very competitive out of state college. She did not receive nearly as much financial aid or scholarship money attending this university. The degree was exceptionally expensive, but because she was accepted by such a prestigious school she thought she would be cheating herself if she didn’t go there.

The second student decided to go to a local community college. The college was small and fairly inexpensive. Because of her grades she was able to get some decent scholarships from the school. The school was not very well known, but she didn’t mind. The campus was close enough that she could live at home and because of that and her scholarships she didn’t need to take on any student loan debt to get her degree.

Upon graduation both student graduated with honors and were able to return to their home town and easily get a job teaching kindergarten in one of the local elementary schools.

Which student had the best return on investment from their degree?

Obviously the second student had the best return on investment. She was able to graduate without debt and start at the same salary as the first student who took on massive student loan debt to do the same thing. Both are going to be making about the same amount of money. Both are going to be kindergarten teachers. Both ended up in the same place, one just spent a lot more to get there. A quality education is important, but you shouldn’t be bankrupting your future to get it.

Earning Potential

You have to think about the earning potential of a degree. Why would a local elementary school in rural Indiana pay significantly more to hire an Ivy League grad than someone else with the same degree from a local college? Answer: they won’t.

There are a lot of noble and humanitarian careers that pay horribly. I would (almost) never discourage you from pursuing a career in one of those fields. They’re good jobs, but spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a job making $30,000 a year just doesn’t make sense. If you want to be a teacher, social worker, or some other equally underpaid profession, then you need to be realistic about how much you should invest in your degree (hint: less is better).

On the other hand, if you really want to impress people with you’re really expensive and prestigious degree then by all means ignore everything I’ve just written. I’m sure your co-workers won’t be able to get enough of your stories about how you went to an expensive Ivy League school.

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