One Apology & One Promise from Judge Josh

by Josh Barsch on March 22, 2010

Hello again, my long-lost students. You’d have been forgiven for thinking I’d died or gone on some kind of spiritual quest that involved cutting all ties to the world (or at least the Internet) for the last several months. Really, it turns my stomach to look and see that my last dedicated post was in July.

Sorry I've been gone so long.

That’s ridiculous, and that’s my apology: I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I started this blog to give quick and reliable help to the students who are kind enough to frequent my site, and there’s no excuse for it. I mean, I have reasons (I’m a busy person, I run businesses, I’ve got a family, etc.), but none of them are good enough to justify the absence.

Now, on to the promise: I promise that I am officially back in the saddle here on Outlaw Student. You and I need each other more than ever right now. You need me because scholarships are just as difficult and competitive as they’ve ever been, and I can help you rise to the top of the applicant pools and win some money. And I need you, because I want Outlaw Student to be the biggest and best site of its kind on the Web. I think it’s still safe to say that there aren’t a lot of sites giving students and their parents a great deal of straight talk about how to win scholarships. But Outlaw Student will never be the biggest and best without students and parents coming here often and getting the info they need.

Promise 2 (bonus!): I’m going to start posting videos as well. Warning: I am not a handsome man. But I try hard (which, incidentally, guys, many times does make up for a lack of handsomeness), and I hope you’ll find the videos I post informative, if not titillating.


And HEY — I’d like your help meeting your needs here, so in the comments section or via email or however you like, let me know what you’d like to have me write about or talk about on video.  You ask & I’ll provide.

I’ll have a Facebook fan page built before long, and I’ll probably twist your arm a bit to get you to be my “fan” — hope you don’t mind. Knowing I have some fans is a great motivator for me, personally. When you write on the Internet, it can be a lonely place; you never quite know who’s watching or caring about what you do. So please, feed my ego and become a fan of me on Facebook! When I give you the link, I mean.

Thanks! We shall talk soon, I guarantee it.

All the best,
“Judge Josh” Barsch

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Samantha March 31, 2010 at 3:13 am

My 13-year-old daughter is an exceptional 7th grade student. In fact, she’s been exceptional since kindergarten when the teacher finally listened then realized first-hand this child was not your average ordinary child. She sent her for testing for the AIG (academically and intellectually gifted) program, which she passed with flying colors and has been a part of since then with testing requirements every year. My daughter’s extensive vocabulary, sentence structure, knowledge of definitions, factoids about many subjects even those outside the standard and even AIG curriculum has literally left her in a place where she has few friends though the ones she does have are loyal friends who could not be better for my child if I had chosen them myself. Her teachers all agree. Since kindergarten, each teacher and subsequent teachers has had to obtain learning materials and even books from grades as high as 1 to 2 grade levels above her grade. My husband and I cannot allow her to move up in grade levels because she is simply not mature enough to be lumped into classrooms with students that much older than she is. She simply isn’t ready when it comes to maturity yet she could easily wipe the floor academically speaking, with older students. I literally began teaching her from the womb then from birth and so on.

Right now, she is in the waiting process of learning whether or not she will be chosen for the inclusion into the junior honor society after being nominated recently. Even though it was a nomination with no guarantee she will get into the honor society. I believe she has finally began to understand that it is an honor to be nominated, even if she doesn’t make it into the honor society. School comes fairly easy to her despite the advanced studies and extra credit work she does in addition to serving as the managing head editor of the student newspaper for 2 years along with working alongside as a reporter and giving out assignments while spelling-checking/grammar, and fact-checking. In addition, she has been working on re-writing the last two scripts for two of the plays for the school. One was held a couple months ago and now the students are working on a new play. This upcoming play will have more of my daughter’s creativity with lines and such included as the teacher is giving her pretty much full reign considering how well the previous play turned out with her tweaking of the screenplay and scripted lines by making it more modern for the students so they don’t feel bored performing and as a way to better engage the student body.

Here is the downside to all my problems. Despite the fact she has been an honor roll student since she began receiving letter grades in the 1st grade and being an AIG student in the AIG program since kindergarten, or even working on the school newspaper, the plays, chorus, singing with the chorus at the Festival of trees and then the last couple of times she performed in the Showcase of Stars, which is a musical dance event put on each year by the best of each school in the county, with the latter, she has known her limits. This past year’s Showcase went along without her participation because she knew she was stretched thin. With the work on the newspaper, keeping ALL her grades in the top 3% of her class, often even the highest GPA of the classes, not to mention her online work as moderator of a teen/tween forum as an administrator and the fact she was given the chance, which we took for her to take advanced math this school year after the offer came to use directly from the school based on her math skills and scores, she was mature enough to realize she didn’t want anything to suffer because she had too many responsibilities to her teachers, her classmates, the participants in the programs she is involved in like the plays and writing articles for the newspaper as well as the responsibility to herself to have some downtime during all these events she is involved in.

On the other hand, she still manages to participate in fund-raising programs such as walk-a-thons that benefit the Diabetes Association, Breast Cancer and Cancer Awareness, Heart Smart, and even help with local fund-raisers to help a local child(ren) fighting to save money to cover medical treatment for things like leukemia, MS, etc… The only thing she feels she is missing is helping out the lupus foundations although there are never any programs through her school on or off campus for lupus because it’s not popular like the Diabetes Association or Cancer Awareness Program. She does these things because her father has juvenile diabetes and has problems with his heart after suffering from two heart attacks, a stroke, and undergoing a quadruple bypass leaving him unable to work and worsening his diabetes. She participates in the Cancer Awareness Programs, in the beginning, because of her paternal Aunt Tere, Great-Aunt Rebecca, and her Aunt Tere’s mother Mrs. Marty. Now, she participates for me since I have been going through tests after the discovery of several lumps and a cyst on the right breast and now the appearance of 4 to 5 hard palpable cysts in the left breast. All I can do is wait for the next series of mammograms and ultrasounds before the biopsy process begins. If it turns out the cysts are cancerous, which the mammograms and ultrasounds have yet to be able to determine, it will be time to take this to the next level. Should the cysts turn out to be cancerous, I will have a long hard battle ahead of me – one that I cannot guarantee I can win because my chances considering I have lupus (SLE type) and Sjogren’s disease in the moderate to severe stages complicates everything including my ability to fight off cancer if that’s how the outcome turns. Either way, I am not able to work and now my husband cannot work. My daughter is doing all she can do to set herself up to be ready to begin applying for scholarships as soon as possible. We are all hoping for her to attend a university. I even have had friends chip in to get practice software for the PSAT and SAT to help her better prepare at a younger age so she has more time to learn what she needs to know to get the best scores possible.

The big question is this: How soon do we begin to fill out information for scholarships, what are the best routes to go given that currently we are only surviving on my SSDI? Given our financial problems, health problems, my blindness (I had a retinal eye disease long before lupus, Sjogren’s, the problems with joint disease, etc… that come with lupus/Sjogren’s, and many others), my husband’s inability to work, and her pressing herself to achieve as much knowledge as possible to make it easier when she enters a university so she doesn’t start out behind as many students do since the public school system is not teaching all it should be yet instead focusing on these stupid standardized tests… what kind of odds would you give her when it comes to the possibility of earning a full scholarship to a university?

Personally, I want her to attend Georgetown. Her father would rather she either go to my former alma mater, ECU and some classes held by ECU on a local college campus under a satellite program before blindness cut my education short by 3 semesters prior to graduation due to the dual degrees were considered “sight work” and I was unworthy of financial aid or NCSU where her father attended college until he ran out of money and could not handle the thoughts of piling on more student loans only a few short semesters short of graduation with his degree. He was only going after a BS in MAE. Ultimately of course, it will be her choice but I know I don’t want her wasting her time in a community college when she is university material. Her teachers all believe she deserves a shot at a university education and believe she will do well in the university environment both academically and socially. Each are willing to write letters of recommendations – whatever it takes and these are teachers from kindergarten all the way through even the high school teachers she has yet to have as teachers but has dealt with through the various fund-raising programs. Community members are willing to write letters of recommendation as well.

Any advice would be much appreciated. I am not sure if I could forgive myself if I were to allow her to miss the earliest dates possible to begin scoping out scholarships because without them, she will never have the chance to attend college. This is one child who deserves that chance. Like her teachers, members of the community, and her family – we all believe it would be a crime for her to miss out on such an opportunity because this child’s heart and her brain will make a tremendous difference one day when she truly finds herself and discovers what she wants to do with her life. I expect great things from her in the future. She’s already proved she is capable of them now.

I’m forever in your debt for any assistance and advice you can provide. This is something we cannot afford to bungle.

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