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Рубрика: Социология (Page 1 of 5)

Primer on Summer Learning Loss

The Problem

All young people experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer. Research shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer vacation.

On average, students lose approximately 2.6 mon

ths of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Studies reveal that the greatest areas of summer loss for all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, are in factual or procedural knowledge.

Low-income children and youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher-income peers. On average, middle-income students experience slight gains in reading performance over the summer months. Low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than 2 months.

Summer learning loss contributes to the achievement gap in reading performance between lower- and higher-income children and youth. Research demonstrates that while student achievement for both middle- and lower-income studentsimproves at similar rates during the school year, low-income students experience cumulative summer learning losses over the elementary school grades.

Large numbers of students who qualify for federally subsidized meals do not have the same level of access to nutritious meals during the summer as they do during the school year. Only 1 in 5 (21.1 per 100) of the 15.3 million children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches on a typical day during the regular school year participate in federal nutrition programs during the summer.

Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and teens. They are more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors; receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who have the opportunity to benefit from constructive activities supervised by responsible adults.

Current Interventions

Remedial Summer School Programs
A survey of the 100 largest school districts recently found that all districts operated some type of summer program. More than 90 percent of summer programs were described as «remedial,» targeting only students who were not on grade level. Remedial summer school programs are typically intermittent single-summer interventions offered only at gateway grades. Findings from a recent study of the Chicago’s Summer Bridge program include:

  • Students were extremely positive about their experiences in summer school.
  • Whether teachers knew their students before summer school was an important predictor of test-score increases and teacher practice.
  • Higher-achieving schools ran more effective summer school programs.
  • The quality of interactions between teachers and students was a distinguishing factor between the most effective and the average classrooms.
  • Students whose teachers spent more time individualizing the curriculum and working with students outside of class had greater learning gains than students in classrooms where teachers spent less time adapting the curriculum and providing individualized attention.
  • Summer school may be a useful intervention for students who are behind, but it is not a substitute for effective instruction during the school year. There was no evidence that Summer Bridge had an impact on school-year learning rates.

Modified School Year Calendars
Another possible remedy for summer loss is modifying the school calendar to distribute the long summer break into shorter cycles of attendance breaks. This intervention does not actually increase the number of days children are in school, but distributes vacation time more evenly throughout the year. Emerging research on this model is generally positive; however, effect sizes associated with modified calendars are small compared to many other educational interventions.

Extended School Year
Attempts to add instructional days to the school calendar are typically based on international comparisons that show that U.S. students spend less time in school than students from high-performing countries, such as Japan. This model faces considerable opposition due to strongly held cultural beliefs about summer and financial interests connected to the current school calendar. For example, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions supports efforts to fight «bloated school calendars and year-round school calendars.» Arguments against year-round schooling also question the extent to which additional time in school might lead to increased student fatigue.

New Directions
If policy makers are serious about improving excellence and equity in public education, social science research suggests that high-quality summer programs must become a significant and central component in school reform efforts.

All young people should have consistent access to high-quality summer enrichment programs throughout their educational careers. Programs should be proactive and offered for multiple summers. Preliminary findings from a randomized, three-year longitudinal study of the Teach Baltimore Summer Academy program suggest that a multiyear summer intervention using collegiate volunteers as instructors can counteract the cumulative effect of summer loss on low-income students’ reading outcomes.

Elementary schools and youth development organizations should form partnerships to prevent summer loss in reading among low-income students. A recent study of a summer literacy camp program in Los Angeles, Calif., found that when reading instruction and tutoring were integrated into a summer camp context, disadvantaged first-grade children from schools whose reading test scores were below the 25th percentile made significant gains compared to students who did not attend the summer intervention.

Teachers and youth development professionals should use the summers to collaborate and bridge gaps between schools and youth programs. Summer programs should incorporate research-based practices for improving cognitive development from high-quality, after-school enrichment programs.

Program models should maintain a strong academic focus, but also acknowledge the unique role that summers play within American culture. Summer programs can demonstrate the power of informal learning experiences, such as reading and discussing books for pleasure and gaining exposure to new cultures and ideas. A recent survey by the Academy for Educational Development found that nearly half of American parents (43 percent) just want their kids to have fun and relax during the summer. Second and third priorities for their children were learning new things (24 percent) and preparing for school (22 percent).

Summer programs should be used to support the recruitment, professional development, and retention of teachers and youth program staff. Summers should be used to encourage teachers to try new techniques, teach different subjects or grades, acquire new skills, and mentor new colleagues. Simultaneously, summers could be used to attract current college students or recent graduates to internship experiences in public school classrooms and with nonprofit youth development organizations.

Summer learning should be a community-wide, interagency priority. There are a wide variety of roles that public agencies, community-based organizations, cultural institutions, and colleges and universities can play in improving the quality and quantity of summer learning opportunities for all young people. Improved collaboration and leveraging of funds from multiple sources will help ensure greater levels of access to programs.

Source: The Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Summer Learning.

50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First

Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. This can be said for education as well, as furthering your education with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can also help do wonders for your success. Next time you’re feeling down about your failures in college or in a career, keep these fifty famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.

Business Gurus

These businessmen and the companies they founded are today known around the world, but as these stories show, their beginnings weren’t always smooth. Today’s business-minded students can learn what it takes to be successful in business by completing online business degrees.

  1. Henry Ford: While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.
  2. R. H. Macy: Most people are familiar with this large department store chain, but Macy didn’t always have it easy. Macy started seven failed business before finally hitting big with his store in New York City.
  3. F. W. WoolworthSome may not know this name today, but Woolworth was once one of the biggest names in department stores in the U.S. Before starting his own business, young Woolworth worked at a dry goods store and was not allowed to wait on customers because his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.
  4. Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.
  5. Akio MoritaYou may not have heard of Morita but you’ve undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.
  6. Bill GatesGates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
  7. Harland David Sanders: Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
  8. Walt Disney: Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, «he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.» After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

Scientists and Thinkers

These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century, but they often had to face great obstacles, the ridicule of their peers, and the animosity of society. Students who complete online science degrees can learn skills in scientific inquiry and advance their education in disciplines like biochemistry, biology, quantum physics, and more.

  1. Albert EinsteinMost of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
  2. Charles DarwinIn his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, «I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.» Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.
  3. Robert Goddard: Goddard today is hailed for his research and experimentation with liquid-fueled rockets, but during his lifetime his ideas were often rejected and mocked by his scientific peers who thought they were outrageous and impossible. Today rockets and space travel don’t seem far-fetched at all, due largely in part to the work of this scientist who worked against the feelings of the time.
  4. Isaac NewtonNewton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to math, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.
  5. Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called «an immoral corrupter of youth» and was sentenced to death. Socrates didn’t let this stop him and kept right on, teaching up until he was forced to poison himself.
  6. Robert Sternberg: This big name in psychology received a “C” in his first college introductory psychology class with his teacher telling him that, «there was already a famous Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be another.» Ouch! Sternberg showed him, however, graduating from Stanford with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa and eventually becoming the President of the American Psychological Association. This should inspire students at traditional and accredited online colleges to always strive to succeed, no matter what anyone says along the way.


These inventors changed the face of the modern world, but not without a few failed prototypes along the way. Students interested in designing innovative new machines and systems can sharpen their skills by completing online engineering degrees.

  1. Thomas Edison: In his early years, teachers told Edison he was «too stupid to learn anything.» Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
  2. Orville and Wilbur Wright: These brothers battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

Public Figures

From politicians to talk show hosts, these figures had a few failures before they came out on top.

  1. Winston Churchill: This Nobel Prize-winning, twice-elected Prime Minster of the United Kingdom wasn’t always as well regarded as he is today. Churchill struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.
  2. Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
  3. Oprah Winfrey: Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most successful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was «unfit for tv.»
  4. Harry S. TrumanThis WWI vet, Senator, Vice President and eventual President eventually found success in his life, but not without a few missteps along the way. Truman started a store that sold silk shirts and other clothing–seemingly a success at first–only go bankrupt a few years later.
  5. Dick Cheney: This recent Vice President and businessman made his way to the White House but managed to flunk out of Yale University, not once, but twice. Former President George W. Bush joked with Cheney about this fact, stating, «So now we know –if you graduate from Yale, you become president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president.»

Hollywood Types

These faces ought to be familiar from the big screen, but these actors, actresses and directors saw their fair share of rejection and failure before they made it big. Students interested in careers in acting could benefit from online liberal arts degrees that expose them to multiple disciplines and give them a broad knowledge base to draw from when considering how to play a role.

  1. Jerry Seinfeld: Just about everybody knows who Seinfeld is, but the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage. Seinfeld knew he could do it, so he went back the next night, completed his set to laughter and applause, and the rest is history.
  2. Fred Astaire: In his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, «Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.» Astaire went on to become an incredibly successful actor, singer and dancer and kept that note in his Beverly Hills home to remind him of where he came from.
  3. Sidney Poitier: After his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, «Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?» Poitier vowed to show him that he could make it, going on to win an Oscar and become one of the most well-regarded actors in the business.
  4. Jeanne Moreau: As a young actress just starting out, this French actress was told by a casting director that she was simply not pretty enough to make it in films. He couldn’t have been more wrong as Moreau when on to star in nearly 100 films and win numerous awards for her performances.
  5. Charlie Chaplin: It’s hard to imagine film without the iconic Charlie Chaplin, but his act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs because they felt it was a little too nonsensical to ever sell.
  6. Lucille Ball: During her career, Ball had thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was widely regarded as a failed actress and a B movie star. Even her drama instructors didn’t feel she could make it, telling her to try another profession. She, of course, proved them all wrong.
  7. Harrison FordIn his first film, Ford was told by the movie execs that he simply didn’t have what it takes to be a star. Today, with numerous hits under his belt, iconic portrayals of characters like Han Solo and Indiana Jones, and a career that stretches decades, Ford can proudly show that he does, in fact, have what it takes.
  8. Marilyn Monroe: While Monroe’s star burned out early, she did have a period of great success in her life. Despite a rough upbringing and being told by modeling agents that she should instead consider being a secretary, Monroe became a pin-up, model and actress that still strikes a chord with people today.
  9. Oliver Stone: This Oscar-winning filmmaker began his first novel while at Yale, a project that eventually caused him to fail out of school. This would turn out to be a poor decision as the the text was rejected by publishers and was not published until 1998, at which time it was not well-received. After dropping out of school, Stone moved to Vietnam to teach English, later enlisting in the army and fighting in the war, a battle that earning two Purple Hearts and helped him find the inspiration for his later work that often center around war.

Writers and Artists

We’ve all heard about starving artists and struggling writers, but these stories show that sometimes all that work really does pay off with success in the long run. Students who would like to prepare for careers as artists in various fields would benefit from online art and design degrees that teach them marketable skills.

  1. Vincent Van GoghDuring his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting, and this was to a friend and only for a very small amount of money. While Van Gogh was never a success during his life, he plugged on with painting, sometimes starving to complete his over 800 known works. Today, they bring in hundreds of millions.
  2. Emily DickinsonRecluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.
  3. Theodor Seuss GieselToday nearly every child has read The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, yet 27 different publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’s first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.
  4. Charles SchultzSchultz’s Peanuts comic strip has had enduring fame, yet this cartoonist had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff. Even after high school, Schultz didn’t have it easy, applying and being rejected for a position working with Walt Disney.
  5. Steven Spielberg: While today Spielberg’s name is synonymous with big budget, he was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times. He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing. Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA.
  6. Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time.
  7. Zane GreyIncredibly popular in the early 20th century, this adventure book writer began his career as a dentist, something he quickly began to hate. So, he began to write, only to see rejection after rejection for his works, being told eventually that he had no business being a writer and should given up. It took him years, but at 40, Zane finally got his first work published, leaving him with almost 90 books to his name and selling over 50 million copies worldwide.
  8. J. K. Rowling: Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination.
  9. MonetToday Monet’s work sells for millions of dollars and hangs in some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Yet during his own time, it was mocked and rejected by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon. Monet kept at his impressionist style, which caught on and in many ways was a starting point for some major changes to art that ushered in the modern era.
  10. Jack London: This well-known American author wasn’t always such a success. While he would go on to publish popular novels like White Fang and The Call of the Wild, his first story received six hundred rejection slips before finally being accepted.
  11. Louisa May Alcott: Most people are familiar with Alcott’s most famous work, Little Women. Yet Alcott faced a bit of a battle to get her work out there and was was encouraged to find work as a servant by her family to make ends meet. It was her letters back home during her experience as a nurse in the Civil War that gave her the first big break she needed.


While their music is some of the best selling, best loved and most popular around the world today, these musicians show that it takes a whole lot of determination to achieve success.

  1. Wolfgang Amadeus MozartMozart began composing at the age of five, writing over 600 pieces of music that today are lauded as some of the best ever created. Yet during his lifetime, Mozart didn’t have such an easy time, and was often restless, leading to his dismissal from a position as a court musician in Salzberg. He struggled to keep the support of the aristocracy and died with little to his name.
  2. Elvis Presley: As one of the best-selling artists of all time, Elvis has become a household name even years after his death. But back in 1954, Elvis was still a nobody, and Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after just one performance telling him, «You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.»
  3. Igor Stravinsky: In 1913 when Stravinsky debuted his now famous Rite of Spring, audiences rioted, running the composer out of town. Yet it was this very work that changed the way composers in the 19th century thought about music and cemented his place in musical history.
  4. The BeatlesFew people can deny the lasting power of this super group, still popular with listeners around the world today. Yet when they were just starting out, a recording company told them no. The were told «we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out,» two things the rest of the world couldn’t have disagreed with more.
  5. Ludwig van Beethoven: In his formative years, young Beethoven was incredibly awkward on the violin and was often so busy working on his own compositions that he neglected to practice. Despite his love of composing, his teachers felt he was hopeless at it and would never succeed with the violin or in composing. Beethoven kept plugging along, however, and composed some of the best-loved symphonies of all time–five of them while he was completely deaf.


While some athletes rocket to fame, others endure a path fraught with a little more adversity, like those listed here.

  1. Michael JordanMost people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, «I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.»
  2. Stan SmithThis tennis player was rejected from even being a lowly ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match because event organizers felt he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. Smith went on to prove them wrong, showcasing his not-so-clumsy skills by winning Wimbledon, U. S. Open and eight Davis Cups.
  3. Babe RuthYou probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, «Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.»
  4. Tom LandryAs the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Landry brought the team two Super Bowl victories, five NFC Championship victories and holds the records for the record for the most career wins. He also has the distinction of having one of the worst first seasons on record (winning no games) and winning five or fewer over the next four seasons.

15 Critical Facts Everyone Should Know About Summer Learning Loss

Summer vacation is a long entrenched tradition for American schoolchildren and their families, but new research is showing that this practice may not be the best when it comes to helping kids get the most out of their educational experience. In fact, for some kids, a few months off in the summer can lead to major setbacks in school, including loss of knowledge and lowered test scores. Many schools, aware of the growing body of evidence that points to the educational problems summer vacations pose, are switching to year-round schedules, but there are many more around the nation that are finding it hard to make the switch due to resistance from teachers, students, and parents alike. Here, we share some facts that can help make understanding why extended summer vacations should be a thing of the past for modern students, especially those who are in high-risk communities where every moment in the classroom counts.


    While having a few months off for rest and relaxation might seem beneficial to students, it can actually have some serious consequences. The traditional long summer vacation often results in serious learning loss, something researchers have known for more than 100 years now. A century of study has shown that students routinely score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did just a few months earlier, with low-income and at-risk students seeing the biggest drops, the exact groups so many schools are trying so hard to push to have better test scores.


    When it comes to summer learning loss, math takes one of the biggest hits. On average, students lose about 2.6 months worth of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during their summer break. With many schools struggling to meet state and federal standards in math, these kinds of losses aren’t doing anything to help matters.


    Math isn’t the only subject that takes a knock over summer vacation. Losses in reading and spelling abilities may also occur, though income may play a significant role in how severe these losses are, or whether or not they occur at all. While middle-income students usually see a rise in reading performance during the summer months, lower-income students may lose two or more months worth of reading achievement. Students at all income levels, however, were likely to lose a month or more of spelling learning skills, the second highest loss in any area.


    Sadly, the students who see the biggest drops in test scores and educational achievement are those who are in lower-income groups. Income plays a major role in determining just how much learning loss will occur over the summer, with students from middle- or upper-class families undergoing much lower levels of learning loss than their poorer counterparts.


    Summer learning loss isn’t a temporary phenomenon. Losses can accumulate over years, eventually resulting in students who perform below their grade level. Low-income students, those who lose the most from time away from school, see the biggest impact, not only reporting lower test scores but higher drop-out rates and lower numbers of students who head to college.


    Today, just under 10% of students nationwide participate in summer school or attend schools with non-traditional calendars. That means that more than 90% of students in America will be at risk for potentially damaging summer learning loss.


    When it comes to helping stanch summer learning loss, parents have a key role to play. Learning loss is much less pronounced, if there at all, in families that enrolled children in classes, took trips to local libraries, participated in reading programs, or took advantage of other, often free, learning opportunities. Numerous studies have shown that children have much better reading outcomes when parents are involved in learning about and helping their children with literacy.


    Having a nice, long summer vacation may be an American tradition, but it isn’t one that really reflects the needs and demands of the modern world. The traditional academic calendar used in most schools was developed when most families worked in agriculture and air conditioning systems had yet to be invented. Since neither of these are realities in much of America these days, many have argued that long summer breaks simply aren’t necessary anymore, especially because they take such a hefty toll on test scores and academic performance.


    Because students who are from low-income families have unequal access to summer learning opportunities, many fall behind in their studies and cannot keep up with their wealthier peers. While it might not seem that the summer months would have a big impact on students, it’s estimated that as much as two-thirds of the achievement gap is the result of summer learning loss. As a result of these early losses, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or to enter college.


    A 2010 report by the Afterschool Alliance found that, while only 25% of students were currently participating in summer learning programs, many more would like the opportunity to do so. A full 83% of parents supported spending public funds on summer learning programs and 67% of low-income parents said their children would enroll in a summer program if they could.


    Students get more than book learning from time spent at school; they also learn to eat a healthy diet. Many depend on the nutritious meals given to them by their school to be able to maintain a healthy diet. When these federally subsidized meals are no longer available to them, students often make poorer food choices, especially when left unsupervised by working parents. Currently, only one in five of the 15.3 million children who participate in the free or reduced lunch program get federally sponsored lunches over the summer. A 2007 study found that most children, especially those already at risk of obesity, gain weight more rapidly over summer break.


    Summer learning loss isn’t just bad for students, it also makes things more difficult for educators. In order to come back from losses caused by an extended time away from school, teachers must spend a month or more re-teaching or reviewing material students have already been taught. It goes without saying that this is a huge waste of valuable classroom time that could be better spent teaching students new material.


    This means that they are unsupervised, a situation that is not only dangerous but that often leads to greater summer learning losses, as children are not being guided through learning opportunities like trips to the library, museums, or educational vacations. Low-income children are much more likely to be left unsupervised (likely due to the high costs of childcare), a fact that is reflected in greater levels of learning loss.


    Students who are alone for most of the day over summer vacation aren’t just losing important educational information, they’re also being put at a higher risk for dropping out altogether. Unsupervised children and teens are more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; engage in criminal and other high-risk behaviors; receive poor grades; and drop out of school than those who are supervised and engaged by adults over the summer months and after school during the school year.


    Sadly, students today have few options for federally- and state-sponsored summer school programs. Summer school has a negative connotation which can make students reluctant to take classes and parents unwilling to enroll them. Why? More than 90% of summer school programs are remedial, targeting only students who are not performing at grade level. While these kinds of programs can be positive for students, studies have shown that year-round education programs and extended school years are far more effective methods of stemming the summer learning loss phenomenon.

The Benefits of Healthy Habits

The impact of good health

You know that healthy habits, such as eating well, exercising, and avoiding harmful substances, make sense, but did you ever stop to think about why you practice them? A healthy habit is any behavior that benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health. These habits improve your overall well-being and make you feel good.

Healthy habits are hard to develop and often require changing your mindset. But if you’re willing to make sacrifices to better your health, the impact can be far-reaching, regardless of your age, sex, or physical ability. Here are five benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Controls weight

Eating right and exercising regularly can help you avoid excess weight gain and maintain a healthy weight. According to the Mayo Clinic, being physically active is essential to reaching your weight-loss goals. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, regular exercise can improve cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and increase your energy level.

Plan for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week. If you can’t devote this amount of time to exercise, look for simple ways to increase activity throughout the day. For example, try walking instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or pace while you’re talking on the phone.

Eating a balanced, calorie-managed diet can also help control weight. When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you avoid becoming overly hungry later, which could send you running to get fast food before lunch.

Additionally, skipping breakfast can raise your blood sugar, which increases fat storage. Incorporate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet per day. These foods, which are low in calories and high in nutrients, help with weight control. Limit consumption of sugary beverages, such as sodas and fruit juices, and choose lean meats like fish and turkey.

Improves mood

Doing right by your body pays off for your mind as well. The Mayo Clinic notes that physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Eating a healthy diet as well as exercising can lead to a better physique. You’ll feel better about your appearance, which can boost your confidence and self-esteem. Short-term benefits of exercise include decreased stress and improved cognitive function.

It’s not just diet and exercise that lead to improved mood. Another healthy habit that leads to better mental health is making social connections. Whether it’s volunteering, joining a club, or attending a movie, communal activities help improve mood and mental functioning by keeping the mind active and serotonin levels balanced. Don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with family or friends on a regular basis, if not every day. If there’s physical distance between you and loved ones, use technology to stay connected. Pick up the phone or start a video chat.

Combats diseases

Healthy habits help prevent certain health conditions, such as heart diseasestroke, and high blood pressure. If you take care of yourself, you can keep your cholesterol and blood pressure within a safe range. This keeps your blood flowing smoothly, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Regular physical activity and proper diet can also prevent or help you manage a wide range of health problems, including:

Make sure you schedule a physical exam every year. Your doctor will check your weight, heartbeat, and blood pressure, as well as take a urine and blood sample. This appointment can reveal a lot about your health. It’s important to follow up with your doctor and listen to any recommendations to improve your health.

Boosts energy

We’ve all experienced a lethargic feeling after eating too much unhealthy food. When you eat a balanced diet your body receives the fuel it needs to manage your energy level. A healthy diet includes:

  • whole grains
  • lean meats
  • low-fat dairy products
  • fruit
  • vegetables

Regular physical exercise also improves muscle strength and boosts endurance, giving you more energy, says the Mayo Clinic. Exercise helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and gets your cardiovascular system working more efficiently so that you have more energy to go about your daily activities. It also helps boost energy by promoting better sleep. This helps you fall asleep faster and get deeper sleep.

Insufficient sleep can trigger a variety of problems. Aside from feeling tired and sluggish, you may also feel irritable and moody if you don’t get enough sleep. What’s more, poor sleep quality may be responsible for high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, and it can also lower your life expectancy. To improve sleep quality, stick to a schedule where you wake up and go to bed at the same time every night. Reduce your caffeine intake, limit napping, and create a comfortable sleep environment. Turn off lights and the television, and maintain a cool room temperature.

Improves longevity

When you practice healthy habits, you boost your chances of a longer life. The American Council on Exercise reported on an eight-year study of 13,000 people. The study showed that those who walked just 30 minutes each day significantly reduced their chances of dying prematurely, compared with those who exercised infrequently. Looking forward to more time with loved ones is reason enough to keep walking. Start with short five-minute walks and gradually increase the time until you’re up to 30 minutes.

The takeaway

Bad habits are hard to break, but once you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you won’t regret this decision. Healthy habits reduce the risk of certain diseases, improve your physical appearance and mental health, and give your energy level a much needed boost. You won’t change your mindset and behavior overnight, so be patient and take it one day at a time.

How to Make a Treasure Hunt for Kids: Your Ultimate Guide

Looking for the ultimate boredom-buster for your kids?

Want to wow them with an awesome adventure made just for them?

Turn your home into a wilderness with hidden treasure and your kids as hunting pirates.

In this article I’ll show you how to create the ultimate treasure hunt for your kids.

Treasure hunt basics: create the ultimate treasure hunt for your kids, based on their ages and interests, even as their ages and interests change.

Why Plan a Treasure Hunt?

Ever hear “I’m bored”?

It’s what all parents dread hearing and one of the most daunting problems to solve.

It’s far too easy to let your kids plop down in front of an electronic device and zone out, but we all know it’s better for their health and creativity to fill that down time with fun, stimulating activities.

Surprise them with a treasure hunt.

It will give them something fun to do, and treasure hunts are a great way for you to get more involved with your kids and learn about their interests. We have as much fun planning our treasure hunts together as we do actually completing them.

Treasure hunts are fun, interactive and creative and you can tailor them for kids of various ages.

You can have a treasure hunt right at home, in your yard or just about anywhere. And the different themes and styles to choose from are endless. We have held one at least once a month over the years and we always create different themes to keep them fresh.

For this tutorial, we did a very traditional pirate-themed treasure hunt, straight out of Treasure Island.

Here’s some pirate music to set the mood for our pirate treasure hunt.

Treasure hunts are inexpensive. You don’t have to buy anything at all for a treasure hunt—all you really need are some slips of paper and something to search for.

pirate kits

To go with our pirate theme, I bought these costume accessory kits from the Dollar Tree for $1 each.

If you want to make things a little more fun or play with the theme you choose, go to the dollar store to find your treasures. You can also use old Halloween costumes and other items from around the house for themed treasure hunts.

You Will Need

  • Some prizes for your “treasure”
  • Computer and printer or paper and pencil
  • Costumes (optional for a themed treasure hunt)

Preparation Time

15-20 minutes

Activity Time

15-30 minutes (longer if you add more clues)


Your backyard, house, apartment or local park/playground

Here’s how to plan the ultimate at-home treasure hunt. Let’s get ready to find some treasure!

#1: Pick Your Theme

Your first step is to determine a theme.

A theme is optional. You don’t need one to do a treasure hunt, but it does add a role-playing element that makes the activity a bit more fun, so I recommend that you choose one.

This time we did a pirate treasure hunt.

kids with map

A theme (like pirates) adds an extra element of fun.

Use the interests of your kids to help choose your theme.

For example, one of my sons loves dinosaurs so we did an archaeology-themed treasure hunt that allowed the kids to learn more about dinosaurs while hunting for fossils.

One of my daughters is a big fan of Disney princesses, so her treasure hunt sent her on a mission to guess the princesses from a series of clues. At the end, her big prize was a princess dress-up kit, complete with crown.

A treasure hunt is a great game for a birthday party, too. Just include goodie bags or small prizes at the end for the guests.

Some other ideas are:

  • Archeology/Indiana Jones
  • Ancient Egypt
  • African/jungle
  • Carnival
  • Camping
  • Princesses
  • Fairies
  • Mystery
  • Scavenger hunt (be the first to collect all the items from a list)
  • Point-based treasure hunt
  • Topical events
  • Games and TV shows
  • Storylines
  • Etc.

You can also check My Kids’ Adventures for lots of different treasure hunt themes, such as Minecraft, Geocaching and an outdoor photo treasure hunt.

#2: Plan Your Clues

Next you need to write out some clues for your treasure hunt. The clues will guide your players from one spot to the next, building anticipation for the big treasure they’ll find at the end.

You can search for creative clues online or brainstorm your own clues based on the ages and abilities of the children who will be playing.

Use more difficult clues for older kids. They may enjoy the challenge of clues posed as riddles they need to solve, such as “I have a face that doesn’t frown, I have hands that do not wave, I have no mouth, just a familiar sound, I don’t walk—but I move around.”

Keep clues simple if the hunt is for younger children. They’ll enjoy rhyming clues like the ones we played with in our pirate treasure hunt.

If you have very young children, you can use picture clues instead of written clues.

Want to sneak something educational into their fun? Ask the kids to say the clues out loud to help develop their reading skills.

Here’s an example of some treasure hunt clues. We used 10 simple clues aimed at 5- to 7-year-olds:

  • Clue #1: If you’re in a hungry mood, go here first and find some food. (I put Clue #2 in the pantry.)
  • Clue #2: Now you’re on your second clue, these go on before your shoes. (I put Clue #3 in their sock basket.)
  • Clue #3: If you want your teeth to shine, pick this up and spend some time. (I put Clue #4 under their toothbrushes.)
  • Clue #4: If you want to learn and grow, turn the page, get in the know. (I put Clue #5 in a book on their bookcase.)
  • Clue #5: Add some color to your days! Pick these up; you’re on your way. (I put Clue #6 in their art drawer with crayons and paint.)
  • Clue #6: Take a walk and step outside, this is where you go to ride. (I put Clue #7 in the tire rim of our van.)
  • Clue #7: Time to chill, time to think; please go here for a cool, cool drink. (I put Clue #8 in the fridge on a shelf they could reach easily.)
  • Clue #8: Keep it clean and keep it dry. Can you guess? Come on, just try. (I put Clue #9 on top of our washer in the laundry room.)
  • Clue #9: You’re almost at the very end, but this is where your guests come in. (I taped Clue #10 to the front door.)
  • Clue #10: The final clue. The final prize. Look into this to see your eyes. (I put the treasure box in the master bathroom in front of our large mirror. They actually went to every other mirror in the house first, so it was fun watching them get so close but have to keep looking.)

Another fun option is to tailor your clues to your theme. I did not do that for the pirate treasure hunt, but I did create a realistic-looking pirate treasure map that the kids loved.

map collage

Create a map on the computer. Crumple for an aged look.

Ours was just a prop—it didn’t show the course of our treasure hunt—but it was lots of good fun.

#3: Plan Your Treasure

Go somewhere private and prepare a surprise treasure for your players to find at the end of their quest.

I used a chest from my bedroom as a “treasure chest” and filled it with toys and trinkets from a dollar store. For less than $15, the kids were thrilled to find light-up rings, necklaces, glow sticks and small toys. You can also include candy, chocolate coins (if the weather is not too hot) and pencils.

treasure box

Use any type of box for your treasure chest. Fill with inexpensive goodies and treats.

You can use any type of box or chest that you already have. You can also use plastic bins and decorate them for your theme. You could even use a cardboard box and construction paper to decorate. If you design your own box, I suggest that you let the kids help decorate it but then fill the box when they are not looking so the treasure will be a surprise.

Alternatively, you can skip the box idea altogether and use goody bags for individual “treasures.”

#4: Hide the Kids and Place Your Clues

Once the treasure is ready, it’s time to place your clues, but make sure the kids can’t see.

If your kids are in school, place the clues just before they get home for an after-school hunt.

For younger kids, if you have someone who can take the kids for a walk or even leave for a short drive, you can place all of your clues without any prying eyes sneaking a peek (you know how curious kids can be).


Place some clues that are easy to find and some that are more hidden and challenging.

Always keep the age of the kids in mind when placing your clues. I try to make some of the locations more challenging so the hunt takes longer, but not so hard they cannot figure it out on their own.

inside fridge

Hide clues inside places to make them more difficult to find.

You should also try to plant clues far apart and in places that are not too similar to ensure they don’t accidentally find the wrong clue (for example, I hid one in the pantry and one in the fridge without realizing this might have messed us up.)

#5: Send Them on the Hunt

When the clues are in place, it’s time to gather the children, get them in their costumes (if necessary) and explain the rules and boundaries.

Treasure hunts work best with five or fewer kids. Split a large group into smaller teams for treasure hunting to minimize chaos.

Tip: If you have a large group, plan your treasure hunt outdoors where there’s plenty of space for them to run between locations and stand around reading the clue.

To keep the game fair and fun (and prevent the faster child or better reader from running ahead of the pack and getting every clue first), help younger kids read the clues out loud. Instruct older kids to take turns reading the clues aloud and to brainstorm together as a group before going on to look for the next location.

Encourage kids to work together and help their teammates so everyone will have fun. Treasure hunts are a good way to practice cooperating and working as a team.

finding clues

Encourage kids to work together to find the clues.

As your treasure hunters move from one clue to the next, go along to cheer and encourage them and to help if they get stuck. But be sure to allow them to think for themselves as much as possible and play the game at their own pace.

finding another clue

Success! They found a clue. Resist the urge to help them too much.

If they need help with a clue, give them small hints until they figure it out. You can also play “Hot and Cold” if your kids are struggling to find a clue. Tell them “warmer, warmer, hot” as they get closer or “cooler, cold” as they get farther away.

Resist the urge to point to the clues, solve the riddles or tell the children where to go—no matter how obvious the answers may seem to you. Part of the fun of a treasure hunt is the challenge of figuring it out themselves.

pirate hunt collage

Dress-up, problem-solving, boredom-busting and prizes make for a fun day!

When your treasure hunters solve the final clue, reach their destination and find their treasure, be there to cheer, clap and celebrate with them.

And then you can start to plan the next treasure hunt!

Some Final Thoughts

You can get as creative as you want with a treasure hunt. You can hold one outdoors, indoors (great on a rainy day), indoor/outdoor, around your neighborhood or at a park. And the possibilities for themes are endless, for endless fun.

Hint: I save all of the clues and ideas for our treasure hunts in a binder. Sometimes we go back to repeat the ones they liked best.

Treasure hunts are the ultimate kids’ adventures because they’re fun and exciting, they’re something that you and your kids create and play together and they can be personalized to the tastes and age levels of everyone playing.

I can’t wait to hear about your treasure hunts. Have fun!

What do you think? Have you ever had a treasure hunt with your kids? If you have a themed treasure hunt, share your ideas and pictures with us in the comments!

The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans to eligible students to help cover the cost of college or career school.

Students may be eligible to receive subsidized and unsubsidized loans based on their financial need.

Subsidized and unsubsidized loans are federal student loans for eligible students to help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school. The U.S. Department of Education offers eligible students at participating schools Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. (Some people refer to these loans as Stafford Loans or Direct Stafford Loans.)

What’s the difference between Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans?

In short, Direct Subsidized Loans have slightly better terms to help out students with financial need.

Here’s a quick overview of Direct Subsidized Loans:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need.
  • Your school determines the amount you can borrow, and the amount may not exceed your financial need.
  • The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan
    • while you’re in school at least half-time,
    • for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and
    • during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).

*Note: If you received a Direct Subsidized Loan that was first disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, you will be responsible for paying any interest that accrues during your grace period. If you choose not to pay the interest that accrues during your grace period, the interest will be added to your principal balance.

Here’s a quick overview of Direct Unsubsidized Loans:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need.
  • Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive.
  • You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods.
  • If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Try This Resource
Federal Student Loans: Basics for Students—Provides students with information on Direct Loans. Includes an overview of eligibility, the application process, and repayment.How much can I borrow?

Your school determines the loan type(s), if any, and the actual loan amount you are eligible to receive each academic year. However, there are limits on the amount in subsidized and unsubsidized loans that you may be eligible to receive each academic year (annual loan limits) and the total amounts that you may borrow for undergraduate and graduate study (aggregate loan limits). The actual loan amount you are eligible to receive each academic year may be less than the annual loan limit. These limits vary depending on

  • what year you are in school and
  • whether you are a dependent or independent student.

If you are a dependent student whose parents are ineligible for a Direct PLUS Loan, you may be able to receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds.

The following chart shows the annual and aggregate limits for subsidized and unsubsidized loans.



Dependent Students (except students
whose parents are unable to obtain
PLUS Loans)
Independent Students (and dependent
undergraduate students whose parents
are unable to obtain PLUS Loans)
First-Year Undergraduate
Annual Loan Limit
$5,500—No more than $3,500 of this amount
may be in subsidized loans.
$9,500—No more than $3,500 of this
amount may be in subsidized loans.
Second-Year Undergraduate
Annual Loan Limit
$6,500—No more than $4,500 of this amount
may be in subsidized loans.
$10,500—No more than $4,500 of this
amount may be in subsidized loans.
Third-Year and Beyond
Undergraduate Annual Loan
$7,500—No more than $5,500 of this amount
may be in subsidized loans.
$12,500—No more than $5,500 of this
amount may be in subsidized loans.
Graduate or Professional
Students Annual Loan Limit
Not Applicable (all graduate and professional
students are considered independent)
$20,500 (unsubsidized only)
Subsidized and Unsubsidized
Aggregate Loan Limit
$31,000—No more than $23,000 of this
amount may be in subsidized loans.
$57,500 for undergraduates—No more than
$23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized
loans.$138,500 for graduate or professional students
—No more than $65,500 of this amount may
be in subsidized loans. The graduate aggregate
limit includes all federal loans received for
undergraduate study.


  • The aggregate loan limits include any Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans or Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans you may have previously received under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. As a result of legislation that took effect July 1, 2010, no further loans are being made under the FFEL Program.
  • Effective for periods of enrollment beginning on or after July 1, 2012, graduate and professional students are no longer eligible to receive Direct Subsidized Loans. The $65,500 subsidized aggregate loan limit for graduate or professional students includes subsidized loans that a graduate or professional student may have received for periods of enrollment that began before July 1, 2012, or for prior undergraduate study.

If the total loan amount you receive over the course of your education reaches the aggregate loan limit, you are not eligible to receive additional loans. However, if you repay some of your loans to bring your outstanding loan debt below the aggregate loan limit, you could then borrow again, up to the amount of your remaining eligibility under the aggregate loan limit.

Graduate and professional students enrolled in certain health profession programs may receive additional Direct Unsubsidized Loan amounts each academic year beyond those shown above. For these students, there is also a higher aggregate limit on Direct Unsubsidized Loans. If you are enrolled in a health profession program, talk to the financial aid office at your school for information about annual and aggregate limits.

Try This Resource
Federal Student Loan Programs—Lists federal student loan programs with loan details and award limits.

Am I eligible for a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

To receive either type of loan, you must be enrolled at least half-time at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program. Generally, you must also be enrolled in a program that leads to a degree or certificate awarded by the school. Direct Subsidized Loans are available only to undergraduate students who have financial need. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduates and graduate or professional degree students. You are not required to show financial need to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

How do I apply for a loan?

To apply for a Direct Loan, you must first complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Your school will use the information from your FAFSA form to determine how much student aid you are eligible to receive. Direct Loans are generally included as part of your financial aid package.

What are the current interest rates?

The interest rates for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans are shown in the chart below.

Loan Type Borrower Type Interest rates for loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/18 and before 7/1/19
Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 5.05%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 6.6%

The interest rates shown above are fixed rates for the life of the loan.

Got other questions about interest?

  • Understanding interest rates and fees—Find out how interest is calculated.
  • Information for military members—If you are a member of the military, you may be eligible for special interest benefits relating to your federal student loans.

Is there a time limit on how long I can receive loans?

If you are a first-time borrower on or after July 1, 2013, there is a limit on the maximum period of time (measured in academic years) that you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans. This time limit does not apply to Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans. If this limit applies to you, you may not receive Direct Subsidized Loans for more than 150 percent of the published length of your program. This is called your “maximum eligibility period.” Your maximum eligibility period is generally based on the published length of your current program. You can usually find the published length of any program of study in your school’s catalog.

For example, if you are enrolled in a four-year bachelor’s degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is six years (150 percent of 4 years = 6 years). If you are enrolled in a two-year associate degree program, the maximum period for which you can receive Direct Subsidized Loans is three years (150 percent of 2 years = 3 years).

Because your maximum eligibility period is based on the length of your current program of study, your maximum eligibility period can change if you change to a program that has a different length. Also, if you receive Direct Subsidized Loans for one program and then change to another program, the Direct Subsidized Loans you received for the earlier program will generally count toward your new maximum eligibility period.

Certain types of enrollment may cause you to become responsible for the interest that accrues on your Direct Subsidized Loans when the U.S. Department of Education usually would have paid it. These enrollment patterns are described below.

Do I become responsible for paying the interest that

accrues on my Direct Subsidized Loans because . . .

Yes No
I am no longer eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans and I stay enrolled in my current program?


I am no longer eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans, did not graduate from my prior program, and am enrolled in an undergraduate program that is the same length or shorter than my prior program?


I transferred into the shorter program and lost eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans because I have received Direct Subsidized Loans for a period that equals or exceeds my new, lower maximum eligibility period, which is based on the length of the new program?


I was no longer eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans, did not graduate from my prior program, and am enrolled in an undergraduate program that is longer than my prior program?


I lose eligibility for Direct Subsidized Loans and immediately withdraw from my program?


I graduated from my prior program prior to or upon meeting the 150 percent limit, and enroll in an undergraduate program that is the same length or shorter than my prior program?


I enroll in a graduate or professional program?


I enroll in preparatory coursework that I am required to complete to enroll in a graduate or professional program?


I enroll in a teacher certification program (where my school does not award an academic credential)?


Other than interest, is there a charge for this loan?

Yes, there is a loan fee on all Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The loan fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement. The percentage varies depending on when the loan is first disbursed, as shown in the chart below.

Loan Fees for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans
First Disbursement Date Loan Fee
On or after Oct. 1, 2017, and before Oct. 1, 2018 1.066%
On or after Oct. 1, 2018, and before Oct. 1, 2019 1.062%

Loans first disbursed prior to Oct. 1, 2017, have different loan fees.

What additional steps must I take to receive my loan?

If your financial aid package includes federal student loans, your school will tell you how to accept the loan.

If it is your first time receiving a Direct Loan, you will be required to

  • complete entrance counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan; and
  • sign a loan contract called a Master Promissory Note, agreeing to the terms of the loan.

Contact the financial aid office at the school you are planning to attend for details regarding the process for receiving a loan at your school.

How will I receive my loan?

The school will first apply your loan funds to your school account to pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and other school charges. If any additional loan funds remain, they will be returned to you. All loan funds must be used for your education expenses. Learn more about the process of receiving federal student aid.

Who will contact me after I receive my loan?

When you receive your Direct Loan, you will be contacted by your loan servicer (you repay your loan to the loan servicer). Your loan servicer will provide regular updates on the status of your Direct Loan, and any additional Direct Loans that you receive.

When do I have to pay back my loan?

After you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, you will have a six-month grace period before you are required to begin repayment. During this period, you’ll receive repayment information from your loan servicer, and you’ll be notified of your first payment due date. Payments are usually due monthly. Learn more about repaying your loan.

What types of loan repayment plans are available?

There are several repayment options available that are designed to meet the individual needs of borrowers. Your loan servicer can help you understand which repayment options are available to you. Generally, you’ll have 10 to 25 years to repay your loan, depending on the repayment plan that you choose. Learn more about your repayment options.

What if I have trouble repaying my loan?

If you are unable to make your scheduled loan payments, contact your loan servicer immediately. Your loan servicer can help you understand your options for keeping your loan in good standing. For example, you may wish to change your repayment plan to lower your monthly payment or request a deferment or forbearance that allows you to temporarily stop or lower the payments on your loan. Learn more about deferment or forbearance options.

Can I cancel a loan if I decide that I don’t need it or if I need less than the amount offered?

Yes. Before your loan money is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of your loan at any time by notifying your school. After your loan is disbursed, you may cancel all or part of the loan within certain time frames. Your promissory note and additional information you receive from your school will explain the procedures and time frames for canceling your loan.

Can my loan ever be forgiven or discharged?

Under certain conditions, you may be eligible to have all or part of your loan discharged or forgiven (canceled). Find out about loan cancellation, discharge, or forgiveness.

Where can I find information about the student loans I’ve received?

Visit «My Federal Student Aid» to view information about all of the federal student loans and other financial aid you have received and to find contact information for the loan servicer for your loans.

COVID-19: Major Changes

Dear students, faculty, staff, and families,

The COVID-19 virus continues to spread and affect many parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has announced that we are past the point of being able to contain this disease. While there continue to be no reported cases of the virus on our campus, we need to focus on mitigating its possible effects.

We know that many people will travel widely during spring break, no matter how hard we try to discourage it. The risk of having hundreds of people return from their travels to the campus is too great. The best time to act in ways that slow the spread of the virus is now. Let me make our decisions clear and then provide additional information:

  1. Amherst will move to remote learning after spring break, beginning Monday, March 23, so students can complete work off-campus.
  2. Classes are canceled on Thursday and Friday of this week, March 12-13, so faculty and staff have time to work on alternate modes of delivering courses, and students have every opportunity to secure transportation.
  3. All students are expected to have left campus by Wednesday, March 18 (this date has been updated since original communication). Only those students who have successfully petitioned and have remained in residence over spring break will be allowed to stay on campus to do their remote learning. The deadline to petition to remain on campus is noon on Friday, March 13.
  4. Campus will remain open and all faculty and staff should continue their regular work schedules.

Additional Information:

  1. How do I apply for permission to stay on campus through spring break and the remainder of the semester?
    We understand that for a limited number of students, going to or staying at a location away from campus is not possible. For that reason, the Office of Student Affairs has created a petition process for students who believe they must remain on campus. The deadline for submitting a petition is 12 noon this Friday, March 13 (this date has been updated since the original communication). Late petitions will not be considered. Students whose petitions are approved are required to remain in Amherst during spring break. 
  2. Should I take my personal belongings? What if I cannot take them all?
    Because the duration of this disruption is unclear, we encourage students to take as many of their belongings as possible, particularly the items and materials they need to continue their studies remotely after the break. A subsequent notice to students will provide more information about packing and moving support.
  3. Will the College be closed?
    Our campus will continue to operate during this period. The work of educating our students and caring for those who remain on campus will continue without interruption. Therefore, faculty and staff are expected to do their work as usual while following the health protocols the College has already put in place, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
  4. Where can I get more information, or ask additional questions?
    Please check your email and the College’s COVID-19 website for updates and more information. For questions that are not answered on the website, students, faculty, staff and families can email [email protected]. From noon until 8 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, March 10, staff will be available to answer your questions at 413-542-2919.

It saddens us to be taking these measures. It will be hard to give up, even temporarily, the close colloquy and individual attention that defines Amherst College, but our faculty and staff will make this change rewarding in its own way, and we will have acted in one another’s best interests. We know these decisions pose significant challenges and wish they were not necessary. Our goal is to keep members of our community as safe as we possibly can while ensuring that students can complete their coursework for the semester and the daily operations of the institution can continue.

Sexual Harassment and Assault at Work: Understanding the Costs

In recent months, the #MeToo movement has raised the visibility of sexual harassment and assault at work and the personal toll it takes on women’s lives to unprecedented levels. Workplace sexual harassment is widespread, with studies estimating that anywhere from almost a quarter to more than eight in ten women experience it in their lifetimes (Feldblum and Lipnic 2016). Sexual harassment and assault at work have serious implications for women and for their employers. Women who are targets may experience a range of negative consequences, including physical and mental health problems, career interruptions, and lower earnings. In addition, sexual harassment may limit or discourage women from advancing into higher paid careers and may contribute to the persistent gender wage gap. It may also intersect with other forms of discrimination and harassment on the basis of race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

Through a review of the current literature on sexual harassment and assault, this briefing paper highlights how workplace sexual harassment and assault affect women’s economic advancement and security, and the costs of these harms to employers (including estimates of financial losses where available). It also provides recommendations for preventing sexual harassment and reducing the negative effects of harassment for individuals and workplaces.

Defining and Reporting Workplace Sexual Harassment and Assault

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) defines sexual assault as “any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent” (U.S. DOJ, OVW 2018). While sexual assault is a criminal offense, the law also recognizes sexual harassment as a form of employment discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) states that “unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment” (U.S. EEOC 2018a). Such harassment may include unwelcome verbal, visual, nonverbal, or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature or based on someone’s sex. Case law has established that to meet the legal standards for action, workplace harassment must be “severe or pervasive” and affect working conditions (U.S. EEOC 2018b).

Sexual harassment constitutes illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the EEOC; anyone who wants to bring a legal claim of sexual harassment under Title VII has to bring a charge to the EEOC or a cooperating state agency first. In 2017 the EEOC received 26,978 claims of workplace harassment, of which a little more than half (12,428) were about sex-based harassment and a quarter (6,696) specifically about sexual harassment (U.S. EEOC 2018). Between 2005 and 2015, women made eight in ten sexual harassment charges to the EEOC; 20 percent were made by men (Frye 2017). Among women, Black women were the most likely of all racial and ethnic groups to have filed a sexual harassment charge (15.3 charges per 100,000 workers), and 1 in 17 sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC also alleged racial discrimination (Rossie, Tucker, and Patrick 2018). Research suggests that only a small number of those who experience harassment (one in ten) ever formally report incidents of harassment—let alone make a charge to the EEOC—because of lack of accessible complaints processes, simple embarrassment, or fear of retaliation (Cortina and Berdahl 2008). This fear is justified: according to an analysis of EEOC data, 71 percent of charges in FY 2017 included a charge of retaliation (Frye 2017).

In 2015 the EEOC convened a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace to better understand why harassment persists in so many workplaces and what can help prevent it. The Select Task Force looked not only at harassment that met the legal definition, but also at conduct and behavior that “may set the stage for unlawful harassment.”

Employment Situations Associated with High Rates of Harassment

Identifying work-related factors associated with increased risk of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace may help target efforts to eliminate sexual harassment in particular occupations and situations. Some key risk factors include:

• Working for tips. Workers in “accommodation and food services”—which includes wait staff and hotel housekeepers who are typically classified as “tipped”—account for 14 percent of harassment charges to the EEOC, which is substantially higher than the sector’s share of total employment (Frye 2017). A survey by the Restaurant Opportunities Center finds that women restaurant workers who rely on tips for their main source of income in states where the sub-minimum wage is $2.13 are twice as likely to experience sexual harassment—from managers, co-workers, and customers—as women servers in states that pay the same minimum wage to all workers. The survey also found that many women employees continue to work in tipped jobs in spite of harassment because tips are an important part of their income (Rodriguez and Reyes 2014).

• Working in an isolated context. Many workers—such as female janitors, domestic care workers, hotel workers, and agricultural workers, who often work in isolated spaces—report higher than average rates of sexual harassment and assault (Fernández Campbell 2018; Yeung and Rubenstein 2013; Yeung 2015). Isolation leaves women vulnerable to abusers who may feel emboldened by a lack of witnesses (Feldblum and Lipnic 2016). Frontline reported in 2015 that ABM (described as the largest employer of janitors) had 42 lawsuits brought against it in the previous two decades for allegations of workplace sexual harassment, assault, or rape (Yeung 2015). A National Domestic Workers Alliance and University of Chicago report found that 36 percent of live-in workers surveyed reported having been harassed, threatened, insulted or verbally abused in the previous 12 months (Burnham and Theodore 2012).

• Lacking legal immigration status or having only a temporary work visa. Undocumented workers or those on temporary work visas can be at particular risk of harassment and assault. Agriculture, food processing and garment factories, and domestic work and janitorial services are fields where many undocumented and immigrant women work (Bauer and Ramirez 2010; Hegewisch, Deitch, and Murphy 2011; Yeung and Rubenstein 2013; Yeung 2015). In principle, victims of sexual violence at work who bring charges have the same protection against deportation as survivors of domestic violence through U-visas (Hyunhye Cho 2014). Yet, many fear that reporting harassment or assault will put their immigration status at risk. Others may not know their rights or may find it difficult to access legal supports without knowing English. Retaliation against women who speak up against workplace sexual assault may involve threats to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement or to revoke temporary work visas (Bauer and Ramirez 2010; Smith, Avendaño, and Ortega 2009).

• Working in a male-dominated job. Women working in occupations where they are a small minority, particularly in very physical environments (Willness, Steel, and Lee 2007) or environments focused on traditionally male-oriented tasks (Fitzgerald et al. 1997), may also be especially vulnerable to harassment and assault. In a survey from the early 1990s, close to six in ten women working in construction report being touched or asked for sex (LeBreton and Loevy 1992). In another study from 2013, three in ten women construction workers report experiencing sexual harassment daily or frequently, with similar numbers reporting harassment based on sexual orientation, race, or age (Hegewisch and O’Farrell 2015). A 2014 RAND study of sexual assault and harassment in the military estimated that 26 percent of active duty women had experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination in the past year, including almost five percent who had experienced one or more sexual assaults (compared with seven and one percent of active duty men, respectively; National Defense Research Institute 2014). A recent National Academy of Sciences study documented high levels of harassment of women faculty and staff in academia in science, engineering, and medicine, with women in academic medicine reporting more frequent gender harassment than their female colleagues in science and engineering (National Academy of Sciences 2018).

• Working in a setting with significant power differentials and “rainmakers.” Many workplaces have significant power disparities between workers. These power imbalances, particularly given women’s lower likelihood of being in the senior positions, are a risk factor for sexual harassment and assault.[4] Workers in more junior positions may be especially concerned with retaliation, the handling of internal complaints, and continued vulnerability within their job. “Rainmakers”—such as a well-known professor, well-recognized or high-earning partner, or grant-winning researcher—may feel they do not need to comply with the rules that govern other employees (Sepler 2015) and may not be disciplined if accused of sexual harassment or assault (Feldblum and Lipnic 2016).

These structural risk factors often intersect and are exacerbated by racism, discrimination, and harassment on the basis of age, disability, or national origin. In addition, working in low-wage jobs itself can entail a higher risk of harassment (Sepler 2015). Low-wage work is more likely to take place in smaller, less formalized workplaces without official complaints mechanisms. Earning low wages may also make it more difficult for a worker to leave a job, or to risk losing it by making a complaint.

Sexual Harassment Costs to Individuals

Sexual harassment and assault can affect individuals in a number of ways, including their mental and physical health, finances, and opportunities to advance in their careers.

• Negative effects on mental and physical health. A number of studies indicate that sexual harassment has negative mental health effects. Exploratory research on the intersection of racial and sexual harassment suggests that harassment can lead to depression; one study reported that one in ten women who experienced harassment had such severe symptoms that they met the definition of PTSD (Dansky and Kilpatrick 1997). These effects can last for many years after the harassment (Dansky and Kilpatrick 1997; Houle et al. 2011). Even when relatively infrequent and less severe, harassment can have significant negative effects on psychological well-being and work behaviors (Schneider, Swan, and Fitzgerald 1997). In addition to negative mental health effects, researchers have found higher risks of long-term physical health problems in response to repeated, long-term gender-based harassment (Schneider, Tomaka, and Palacios 2001). Harassment can also lead to increased risks of workplace accidents by leaving workers distracted while working in a dangerous job (Sugerman 2018). These negative effects can often lead to significant costs for both mental and physical health services.

• Reduced opportunities for on-the-job learning and advancement. In many occupations, becoming a skilled worker and advancing in one’s profession depends on on-the-job instruction and mentorship of more experienced workers. Harassment can restrict women’s access to such learning opportunities (Hegewisch, Deitch, and Murphy 2011; Sugerman 2018). For women in the academic sciences, engineering, and medicine, a recent study found that harassment affects their career advancement by leading them to give up tenure opportunities, drop out of major research projects, or step down from leadership opportunities to avoid the perpetrator (National Academy of Sciences 2018). 

• Forced job change, unemployment, and abandonment of well-paying careers. Unemployment is a concern for some women who feel they must leave a job due to sexual harassment before finding another job opportunity (The Nation 2018). A recent study finds a high correlation between harassment and job change: eight in ten women who experienced sexual harassment began a new job within two years after experiencing harassment (compared with just over half of other working women). The study found considerable financial stress as a result of such job change, highlighting likely long-term consequences of harassment for earnings and career attainment. Harassment contributed to financial strain even when women were able to find work soon after leaving their previous employment (McLaughlin, Uggen, and Blackstone 2017). As a result of harassment, some women may leave their field entirely (National Academy of Sciences 2018).

Individual financial costs of sexual harassment vary depending on the targets’ occupations and career trajectories—those in higher-paying occupations will lose more in wages than those in lower-paying occupations. The impact of sexual harassment, however, is significant no matter the amount of the wages lost: both those with high and low incomes may rely on this money to meet basic needs and achieve economic security.

Sexual Harassment Costs to Companies

Workplace harassment can result in substantial costs to companies, including legal costs if there are formal charges of harassment, costs related to employee turnover, and costs related to lower productivity from increased absences, lower motivation and commitment, and team disruption. While there are no recent estimates of the business costs of sexual harassment, earlier studies suggest these costs are substantial. Some of the economic burden of sexual harassment comes out of taxpayers’ pockets. An estimate based on a 1988 study of the costs of sexual harassment in the U.S. Army reported annual costs of $250 million, which would be much higher in 2018 dollars (Faley et al. 1999). A U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board study from the early 1990s estimated the economic costs of sexual harassment to federal government workplaces over a two-year period at $327 million (U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board 1995).

• Legal costs. High profile sexual harassment cases highlight the potential legal costs of tolerating harassment for employers (Fortune 2017). Typically, the amount of financial payouts in settlements is kept confidential, making it difficult to reliably estimate total legal costs related to harassment. The EEOC, which publishes all financial settlements it reaches on behalf of employees, in FY 2017 gained $46.3 million in monetary benefits for employees in relation to sexual harassment charges (U.S. EEOC 2018). These costs likely substantially underestimate the actual payouts made by employers in response to sexual harassment charges because the EEOC litigates only a small number of all charges it receives (Rutherglen 2015).

• Employee turnover. Research shows that sexual harassment in the workplace can increase employee turnover (Chan et al. 2008; Fitzgerald et al. 1997; Sims, Drasgow, and Fitzgerald 2005; and Purl, Hall, and Griffeth 2016). In their study of the relationship between sexual harassment and women’s career attainment, McLaughlin, Uggen, and Blackstone (2017) found that targets of harassment were 6.5 times as likely as non-targets to change jobs. Costs related to employee turnover constitute the largest economic cost of sexual harassment, considerably higher than costs related to litigation (Merken and Shah 2014). Replacing an employee can be very expensive; a meta-analysis of case studies of the cost of employee turnover estimated average costs of 16 to 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary, rising to up to 213 percent of salary for experienced managerial and professional staff (Boushey and Glynn 2012).

• Increased Absences. An analysis The 2010 National Health Interview Survey found that those who reported having been harassed or bullied at work in the previous year were 1.7 times more likely to have had at least two weeks off work than those who had not (Khubchandani, and Price 2015). A 2016 S. Merit Systems Protection Board study (2018) found that close to one in six employees who experienced sexual harassment took sick or annual leave following their harassment.

• Reduced productivity. There is substantial research to show that workplace sexual harassment is associated with reduced motivation and commitment, as well as lower job satisfaction and withdrawal. The negative effects of sexual harassment are not limited to the targets and can also affect those who witness or hear about harassment, and reduce both individual and team performance. One study of 27 teams at a food services organization found that sexual hostility—a form of sexual harassment that consists of explicitly sexual verbal and nonverbal behaviors that are insulting—is damaging for team processes and performance (Raver and Gelfand 2005). Based on their meta-analysis of research on the antecedents and consequences of sexual harassment, Willness et al. estimate an average cost through lost productivity of $22,500 per person working in a team affected by harassment (Willness et al. 2007).

Recommendations for Addressing Workplace Sexual Harassment

Providing resources and training and the development of new tools to prevent and address workplace sexual harassment and assault are critical to making workplaces safer for all workers and capture resulting productivity gains.

• The EEOC recommends the following interventions to help address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace:

• Employers should conduct assessments for the risk factors associated with sexual harassment and assault and conduct climate surveys to assess the extent to which harassment is a problem within their organization;

• Employers should adopt and maintain comprehensive anti-harassment policies, communicate the policies to employees frequently, offer multi-faceted reporting procedures, and “test” their reporting systems to determine their functionality;

• Employers should ensure that discipline for perpetrators of workplace harassment is prompt, consistent, and proportionate to the severity of the circumstance;

• Employers should train middle-management and supervisors on how to respond effectively to observed instances of sexual harassment;

• Employers should include workplace civility training and bystander intervention training;

• Labor unions should ensure that their own policies and reporting systems meet the same standards as employer systems;

• Researchers should assess the impact of workplace trainings on reducing the level of sexual harassment in the workplace;

• The federal government should conduct additional research, including developing and fielding new polls and/or adding questions to existing surveys on sexual harassment and assault, through agencies such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Office of Personnel Management.

• Many resources and trainings are available to those who wish to prevent sexual harassment and assault at work. Promising examples include bystander intervention trainings such as “Green Dot” (Alteristic 2018), and the new EEOC Respectful Workplaces training (U.S. EEOC 2017). In addition, worker-led efforts like the “Hands Off, Pants On” initiative by union hotel workers (United Here Local 1 2018) or practices implemented by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (2018), are showing how stakeholders can work together to prevent harassment.

Violence Against Black Women – Many Types, Far-reaching Effects

Black women disproportionately experience violence at home, at school, on the job, and in their neighborhoods. The Status of Black Women in the United States details these many types of violence. Black women face high rates of intimate partner violence, rape, and homicide. Black girls and women also experience institutionalized racism; they are disproportionately punished in school, funneled into the criminal justice system after surviving physical or sexual abuse, disproportionately subjected to racial profiling and police brutality, and incarcerated at rates far exceeding their share of the population. By drawing on available studies the report helps lay the foundation necessary for positive change.

The data show that:

  • More than four in ten Black women experience physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetimes. White women, Latinas, and Asian/Pacific Islander women report lower rates.
  • Black women also experience significantly higher rates of psychological abuse—including humiliation, insults, name-calling, and coercive control—than do women overall.
  • Sexual violence affects Black women at high rates. More than 20 percent of Black women are raped during their lifetimes—a higher share than among women overall.
  • Black women face a particularly high risk of being killed at the hands of a man. A 2015 Violence Policy Center study finds that Black women were two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than their White counterparts. More than nine in ten Black female victims knew their killers.

Racial disparities pervade the educational and criminal justice systems. Black girls are suspended or expelled from public schools at much higher rates than other girls. School administrators are more apt to perceive Black girls as “disruptive” or “loud” compared with other groups of boys and girls, and Black girls are more likely to be punished for dress code violations, talking back to teachers, and “defiance.”

Not surprisingly, multiple suspensions and expulsions impede some Black girls’ educational success. School discipline disparities can also contribute to girls’ disproportionate involvement with the criminal justice system. Black girls make up nearly one-third of the girls referred to law enforcement, and over 40 percent of girls arrested in connection with a school incident.

For too many Black girls school leads to imprisonment.  Black girls aged 18-19 were four times more likely to be imprisoned than White girls. Girls and women of color are the fastest growing populations in American prisons. Scholars cited in the report ascribe disproportionate incarceration rates to racial disparities in school discipline, “War on Drugs” policies, and other forms of institutionalized racism and sexism.

Formerly incarcerated Black women experience long-term economic, political, occupational, educational, and physical consequences. The report comprehensively describes the urgent need to prevent violence against black women.

The Top 7 Mental Benefits of Sports


You already know that sports are beneficial for your physical health. But there’s more good news. In recent years, research has also found that sport participation can positively affect your mental health. Here’s how.

Sports improve your mood

team sport

Want a burst of happiness and relaxation? Get involved in a physical activity. Whether you are playing sports, working out at a gym, or taking a brisk walk, physical activity triggers brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. Team sports in particular provide a chance to unwind and engage in a satisfying challenge that improves your fitness. They also provide social benefits by allowing you to connect with teammates and friends in a recreational setting.

Sports improve your concentration


Regular physical activity helps keep your key mental skills sharp as you age. This includes critical thinking, learning, and using good judgment. ResearchTrusted Source has shown that doing a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities is especially helpful. Participating in this kind of activity three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes can provide these mental health benefits.

Sports reduce stress and depression


When you are physically active, your mind is distracted from daily stressors. This can help you avoid getting bogged down by negative thoughts. Exercise reduces the levels of stress hormones in your body. At the same time, it stimulates production of endorphins. These are natural mood lifters that can keep stress and depression at bay. Endorphins may even leave you feeling more relaxed and optimistic after a hard workout. Experts agree that more quality research is needed to determine the relationship between sports and depression.

Sports improve sleep habits


Sports and other forms of physical activity improve the quality of sleep. They do this by helping you fall asleep faster and deepening your sleep. Sleeping better can improve your mental outlook the next day, as well as improve your mood. Just be careful not to engage in sports too late in the day. Evening practices within a few hours of bedtime may leave you too energized to sleep.

Sports help you maintain a healthy weight


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend sports participationTrusted Source as a healthy way to maintain weight. Individual sports, such as running, cycling, and weightlifting, are all particularly effective ways to burn calories and/or build muscle. Staying within a recommended weight range reduces the likelihood of developing diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

Sports boost your self-confidence

team handshake

The regular exercise that comes with playing sports can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. As your strength, skills, and stamina increase through playing sports, your self-image will improve as well. With the renewed vigor and energy that comes from physical activity, you may be more likely to succeed in tasks off the playing field as well as on it.

Sports have been linked to leadership traits


Team sports such as soccer, baseball, and basketball are breeding grounds for leadership traits. StudiesTrusted Source done in high schools reveal a correlation between sports participation and leadership qualities. Because of the opportunity to train, try, win, or lose together, people involved in sports are naturally more inclined to adopt a “team mindset” in the workplace and in social situations. The team mindset leads to strong leadership qualities over time.

Benefits for children

Sports can benefit children in many of the same ways that they benefit adults. The biggest difference is that when children start participating in sports at a young age, they are far more likely to stay active as they grow older. The same source suggests that participating in a team sport improves academic performance and results in more after-school participation.

What to keep in mind

Some popular team sports, including American football and ice hockey, commonly result in injuries. Frequently reported sports injuries include sprains, contusions, and broken limbs. Most sports injuries will result in a complete recovery if there is proper medical attention. However, some injuries, such as brain trauma and concussion, can cause permanent, lifelong damage to the athlete.

Concussions have gotten more attention from the sports community in recent years as their occurrence has increased. The CDCTrusted Source has specific guidelines about how to avoid and recover from concussions related to sports. Repeated head trauma can completely reverse the benefits of sports participation, leading to depression, reduced cognitive function, and suicidal tendencies.

Exercise-induced asthmaTrusted Source is another condition reported by many athletes. If you are practicing a sport several times a week and begin to develop asthma symptoms, it’s important to pay attention. Ask your doctor or a training specialist about breathing exercises and practice them. They may help you avoid developing chronic asthma. Your doctor may suggest taking medications prior to exercise to help reduce asthma symptoms as well.

Bottom line

The pros of participating in sports are plentiful — from the advantages they provide to young children, to the proven link to mental health and happiness, and of course the endorphins they trigger. There is no shortage of reasons to find a sport to get involved in. Pick one and get moving!

Speak to your doctor before beginning any sports activity. Make sure that your heart is healthy enough for strenuous exercise. Keep in mind the possibility of serious injury and exercise-induced asthma. Though there are hazards to participating in sports, there are some that are safer than others. If you are worried about injury, consider a low-impact sport such as swimming.

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