Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Starting off the year right!

So the first week of school has passed me by, and entering my senior year I realize how quickly time disappears. It was only last week I was dreading the first day of school and now, here I am sitting among piles of homework, books, and schedules. 
It's crazy how fast things move. 
With that in mind, I'm planning on tackling this year a little differently, especially considering how many different commitments I have to balance on top of my classes.
My first few years of high school I tended to procrastinate A LOT and just let things happen instead of taking action. As a result, my life was a disorganized mess. 
Here's my plan to make sure that doesn't happen this year!

1. MAKE LISTS. Lots and lots of lists. Make lists of everything: homework assignments, meetings, things you need to tell your teachers, stuff you need to buy. I'm making sure I write every little thing down so I don't forget in the mess of senior year!

2. DO THINGS AHEAD OF TIME. That means start studying for the SAT weeks in advance. As much as I hate admitting this, I've started doing my homework on the bus...because I just don't have time anymore. If you're sitting at home with nothing to do, don't get dragged into Netflix or Twitter! DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE. My three years of chronic procrastination only remind me that I regret it every. single. time. So huge change for this year: don't keep putting things off. Do it now!!

3. BE PROACTIVE. Nobody's going to sit there and hand you straight As, perfect teacher recommendations, leadership positions or cross-regional projects to raise money for struggling children in America. If you want to get something done, do it and DO IT FAST. Show initiative! This is a big thing I didn't do at the beginning of high school and I really regret it. It's SO important to show that you're a go-getter and work on those kinds of leadership skills early so you can build a solid foundation for later years and really make a difference. I wish somebody had told me that when I was a freshman.

So those are three major ways I'm looking at altering the way I attack my final year of high school. Hopefully this was helpful to other highschoolers so you guys don't make the same mistakes as I did! Let's make this year count!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Four Years...

It seemed like an awfully long time when I was a freshman in high school. Four years to think about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to be. As I approach the last of those four years, I might be ever more clueless than when I started this adventure we call high school. I thought there would be a moment where I just knew, after reflection and consideration, that I would all of the sudden understand what my purpose in life was. Unfortunately, that moment is yet to come. And now, as I apply to colleges, as I tell those colleges my intended major, and as I write essays about why that is my intended major, I can't help but feel as though I may never actually know what I want to do.

The years I've spent in high school have not been, as I expected, years of consideration and contemplation as to what my future would hold, but rather years of getting by and occupying myself until I realized that I'm going to be a senior in less than two weeks. If there's any advice I would give my freshmen self, it would either be to lower my expectations, or to do something about them. High schools seems like a long time when you're a freshman, but if you put off thinking about what you want to do with your life until it becomes a more relevant issue, then you're going to find yourself clueless when it comes time to make that decision.

This blog is entitled High Schools Survival, and the best advice I can give to someone looking to survive high school is to figure out what you want to do after high school before the time comes when you're out of high school.

If you don't believe me now, just wait until you blink your eyes, opening them to find yourself in the first class of your senior year.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 on stress

We have all spent our summers working, relaxing, hanging out or preparing for the next school year.

Summertime is considerably less stressful than the school year.

Now that August is underway, we have to start mentally preparing ourselves for the high school routine (and workload).

High school can be stressful: standardized test prep, tough classes, community service, sports, extracurricular activities and college research.

The key is balance and time management.

What can you do to ease your long days, excessive homework assignments and organize your overflowing schedule of events?

  • Well, first, you can get an agenda. Jotting down everything that you have to do and keeping it in order is the best way to keep track of your activities, assignments and deadlines. 
  • Have fun. Take some time off of work on the weekends. It's good to spend an afternoon with your friends. 
  • Exercise. This is a huge stress reliever. If you are feeling frustrated, go for a jog or to the gym for an hour. Later, come back with a clear head and get back to work. Chances are, you'll feel much better.
  • Don't over-do it. Challenging yourself is important, but you should play to your strengths and respect your limits. When you are stocking up on tough classes, make sure you don't take too many. Leave room for flexibility. You need a breather every once in a while. 
  • Do what you love. Take classes and participate in activities that you enjoy. You are more likely to stress out when you dislike your work.
Work out a plan early so you start the school year off right. Your preparation could shine in your report card.

5 on Class Schedules

When you first get your school schedule, you might be pleasantly surprised to see all the classes you wanted or that your least favorite teacher is no longer on your list of things to deal with. But sometimes you might find that your number one choice for an elective has been replaced by your worst nightmare.

Here are some things to think about when filling out your course selection sheet and then finalizing your schedule in August:

  • Meet the requirements. As a student, it is your responsibility to make sure you meet all course requirements for graduation. That might include core courses, specific electives, the number of credits, and an online class. Double check with your school to make sure you're on the right track to graduate on time. Additionally, check if some of the colleges you're interested in require a minimum high school curriculum for acceptance.
  • Challenge yourself. If you feel you're ready, push yourself to advance to an honors or AP level course. This can help you learn and grow more in your studies and prepare you for college.
  • Don't forget to do what you love. Many students will get caught up in stacking up credits for their GPA, college, or Val/Sal recognition. Try to remember to take classes you might enjoy or that are in a field you're interested in. This can help you gain insight for a future career.
  • Know your limits. Yes, AP classes are great ... if you can handle them. Don't get worked up in taking all the hardest classes at once if you can't manage them. Figure out where you stand and you can build up as you go.
  • Do your own thing. This kind of goes along with the third one. At your school, there might be certain courses that are unofficially labeled as "the class you take if you're smart" or "the class you take if you're not smart." While its good to hear your peers' reviews on what a teacher is like or how a class is you don't want to get caught up in thinking that you have to take a specific course in order to be socially accepted as intelligent. In other words, you don't need to follow the crowd. You can do things your way and still be successful.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Surviving the College Application Process

Tomorrow is the big day. August 1st is the day that the Common Application comes out and the next application cycle truly begins. For many students, this is an extremely stressful time. Much of this stress, however, is overreaction. 

Part of the problem is that so many students get caught up in the megalomania of college search and create a romantic image of their dream school. It is important for students applying to remember that a plan B is indispensable, and sometimes even a better option. Students can fall in love with their perception of a school, even though it may not be the truth about that school. That is why admissions offices look over applications to see if students are a good fit for the school's community.

But the real problem exists in that students so often forget what it means to be a fit for a school. These schools aren't rejecting students to be malicious, they are rejecting students because they only have so much room in their dorms and classes and need to make sure their class is made of up of students who can handle the rigor at that institution, and will take advantage of the opportunities there.

When a school rejects a student, what that student really needs to know is that it isn't because they weren't good enough, but because they weren't a match for the community at that school. There is something the admissions office saw that the student did not, that made them incompatible with the school. They may be a good fit for a different, even more prestigious, school. They just weren't a match for the school that rejected them. 

These are the things I will have to remember as I begin applying to colleges this fall, and the things that I hope other students applying now and in the future will remember, so they aren't so hard on themselves if any particular college does regret to inform them about an admissions decision.