college applications

How to get straight A’s in college. Seriously.

Yes, even if you’re taking the maximum credit load. Because if I can do it, you can do it too. Note: My credit load also included a handful of honors courses. 

Side-note: I’m going to be a junior (how??) and an RA (!!!) in the fall. Life moves fast. College moves faster. Anyways, 

Here are my top tips: 

1. LOOK AT THE SYLLABUS AND WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. This is step number one, and it’s not up for debate. If you do this, there’ll be no surprises, and if there are: point it out to the professor (a simple, ??? this wasn’t on the syllabus ??, usually works). Also, you have to check and see what constitutes as an A in that class. Sometimes it’s a 90, sometimes it’s not. (a 96 was an A- in one of my classes last semester. I’m so serious.)

2. Get a calendar. Not a planner. One of those giant calendars with puppies or something on it and write down everything you have to do for the month. Put it above your desk. This helps A LOT because you can see everything you have coming up for the next few weeks, instead of jus playing it day-by-day. 

3. It is OK to use ratemyprofessor. Sometimes it can be really helpful, but pay attention to the more in depth reviews that talk about what the homework, tests, quizzes and projects are like (instead of “her lectures are boring :///) 

4. Sit in the front of your class. You’ll be more likely to pay attention and less likely to scroll through instagram. (by the way, mine is @parissdb :) It also grabs your professors attention, so even if you’re shy, they’ll at least know your face.

5. Do that extra credit. A lot of professors offer it in the beginning of the semester, and hardly anyone does it because no one’s thinking past tomorrow. It may be what saves you in the long run. 

6. Figure out your best method of note-taking. For me, it’s good ol pen and paper. It helps me remember everything. Some people prefer typing it out. This is beneficial bc it makes it easier for you to find exactly what you’re looking for. (Thank you, command + F)

7. Put your effort into the percentages. If an assignment is worth 1% of your grade, do it well, but don’t exhaust yourself. It’s 1%!!!! If it comes down to it, spend more time studying for that exam that’s worth 30% than the group project worth 20. 

8. Please. Stop studying what you already know. We’re all guilty of it. It makes you feel better knowing you have chapters 1-3 down, even if you don’t know 4-7. The key to studying is to learn what you don’t know. 

9. Learn how to study. (Yes, it’s actually a skill that has to be learned.) I’m the biggest procrastinator I know, especially when it comes to studying. But I’ve found that studying 2 days before an exam usually does the trick for me. I create a master study guide during day 1 and study it all on day 2. Depending on what time the exam is, I may review on the morning of day 3. 

10. SAVE SOME TIME FOR FUN ffs. Seriously. You don’t have to study 24/7, and I don’t know about y’all but my attention span was not built for that.

I might add more to this later, or make another post because I could give these tips for ever and ever. But hopefully this helps someone out there. 

Be sure to check out my college tab here:(http://thesoontobenewyorker.tumblr.com/tagged/college) and follow me on instagram @parissdb (https://www.instagram.com/parissdb/) for more stuff. :) 

University classes are a monster you can’t prepare for until you’re in them. I have been through every up and down with schoolwork possible in the past year, so here are some tips that can hopefully help you avoid those downs:

Choosing and Registering for Your Classes

  • Make sure to thoroughly check both your major requirements and your gen ed requirements. Normally, you’ll have an advisor to help you make sure you’re on track, but Vandy doesn’t assign first-year engineering students one until after registration when school starts, and I didn’t have an advisor for this year’s registration either due to my major change, so I’ve spent hours and hours doing this on my own. There’s often recommended courses and example schedules in the course catalog that tell you what classes you should be taking at this point in time. Pay attention to that and you should be fine. For example, you have to have taken a first-level writing class to qualify for junior standing here. Those are the little things you have to look out for. To keep track of it all, I have a spreadsheet I use for planning my sophomore - senior years that lists all the requirements I need to meet in terms of hours and courses in order to graduate on time. I plug in possible courses and see which requirement they would fulfill and when. You can check it out here to see what I mean, it’s very helpful.
  • Find at least one fun elective to take if at all possible. It gets very tiring when all you have on your schedule are really difficult classes that you don’t enjoy. Try to find at least one class that you’re genuinely interested in to help get you excited for the day. Each of my last semesters, my schedule consisted of a calculus class, a lab science, a comp sci class, and Italian. Italian was the only fun one that I enjoyed going to. It really helps you out. You’re not just in college to get your degree, you’re there to discover what you really want to do, so feel free to explore your catalog and take something completely out of character just because you want to. Bonus if it fills some kind of requirement (Italian filled my Foreign Language Proficiency and one of my International Cultures reqs.).
  • Have multiple versions of your schedule based on which classes you may or may not get into. I don’t know about your school, but at Vanderbilt, class registration is literally like the Hunger Games. You’re assigned an enrollment date based on your year (seniors get to go first, then juniors, etc.) and at 8 am on that day, you refresh the website and either enroll in your classes or get placed on the wait list for it. If you’re a freshman, you’re basically screwed because you go last, and so you could have planned out your perfect schedule only to find they’ve all filled up the day before your enrollment period starts. To avoid having to scramble, have multiple versions of your schedule, with back ups and substitutions for every class. This way, you won’t be surprised when you go to enroll and all but one of your classes are filled, then you have to search for other classes, but at that point, all that’s left are scraps that don’t fit your requirements. Plan plan plan and practice clicking the enroll button on all your classes as fast as you can for when the clock strikes 8.
  • You have freedom over your schedule now; take advantage of that! No more 8-3 Monday through Friday; you can take classes whenever you want. I prefer to have all my classes on MWF in a block of a few hours and only one or no class on TR. Of course, sometimes you’re going to have to take classes at less optimal times, but do try to accommodate yourself and take classes at times you know will be good for you. Lots of people prefer to start early and finish early, while I like to start no earlier than 11, even if I don’t finish until 5. The best part of college is you can do what you want.
  • Don’t take 8 ams. I’m repeating this cause it’s important. I swear, you’ll regret it. In high school, I woke up every morning early as hell to catch my bus at 6:30, but in college, it was nearly impossible for me to get up for my 11 am only three times a week. Don’t ever take an 8 am by choice. And if you have no choice, good luck lol.
  • Don’t be afraid to drop a class. If you’re doing terribly in a class or you absolutely can’t stand it, drop the class. There’s a very little chance that if you’re failing during the first half of the semester, you’ll be able to change your grade dramatically in the second half. Maybe you decided to be an overzealous freshman and signed up for the maximum number of hours possible and now you’re drowning. Drop a class! Sometimes, a course is going to do more harm to you than good, so it’s best to get rid of it than have an F or a W on your transcript.
  • Use RateMyProfessor! I totally forgot about this when I originally posted this and it’s already got almost 1,000 notes but hopefully people see this. RateMyProfessor is so fucking useful. It’s IMPERATIVE that you check this website before you enroll in classes. Someone at Vandy actually made a Chrome extension for our enrollment website that automatically shows a professor’s ranking while you’re looking for classes. Obviously, take it with a grain of salt, and make sure the reviews actually make valid points about the workload and class and isn’t just someone bitter about failing. I took calc with a professor who taught at my high school just cause she taught at my high school even though her reviews said she was insanely difficult and the class was near impossible to pass. Guess what? They were right and I failed as did a big chunk of everyone else in her class. You don’t have to let RMP dictate your schedule, but definitely check it out, and if everyone says the professor is awful, don’t fucking take them. 

Attending Your Classes

  • Establish a connection with your professor early. I recommended introducing yourself on the first day of class just so they know your name and face in another post. It’d be even better to attend an office hour or review session or something. Just make sure they know you. It’ll be easier to communicate when you need something later in the semester if it isn’t their first time seeing you.
  • Actually use this connection with your professors. In my experience, they can be pretty understanding and when you’re in a bad place, they’ll likely help you out. If something is preventing you from doing your best in class, go to them for help (I didn’t go to many office hours but I wish I did! Who better to explain to you something you don’t understand than the person who grades you on it?) or explain to them your situation. I had professors let me take tests late and redo assignments due to my mental health after I explained to them I wasn’t just a terrible student; if it wasn’t for this, I would’ve failed all of their classes. Maybe at the end of the semester they’ll drop one of your wonky grades or bump you up that extra half point you need. Your professors are a resource, and it’s up to you to use it.
  • Take notes however you want. I used my laptop in some, paper in others, and even my iPad and a stylus for calculus. In all of your classes will be a mixture of different techniques and no one cares what you do. Whatever works best for you and helps you get down the most information is what you should do. Also, you don’t have to write down everything. If your professor uses slides and posts them for you to download, you don’t really have to write down anything at all unless they add extra points, so that’s really convenient. 
  • You don’t have to sit in the front. As long as you can see and hear, which you’ll likely be able to due to large projection screens and microphones, it literally doesn’t matter where you sit. In my experience, the professors call on people from every part of the lecture hall, so everyone gets an equal chance at participation. It’s up to yourself to make sure you can pay attention, not your seat.
  • Do your best to attend every single class meeting. It’s inevitable that you’re going to miss class at some point; you will get sick, you won’t have finished an assignment, you’ll need a mental health day, something will happen. Missing class can too easily become a habit if you do it often, so try to never do it. Don’t force yourself to go if you can’t handle it, obviously your health always comes first, but I mean don’t skip cause you want to sleep in or cause you just don’t feel like going. If you do have to miss class and 1) you have a good reason for it (i.e. sickness) and 2) it’s a class small enough that your professor will notice you’re not there, email them and let them know why, just so they’re aware you’re not just skipping to skip.  
  • Try to make friends in your classes. A little study group would be even better. It’ll be really useful to have someone who can help you with a homework question you don’t understand or send you their notes when you miss a class. It can also be great to study with other people, depending on how you study best. I’ve had friends in all my classes so far and it’s been a great help, even if we just complained about the test we just failed then went to get pizza.

Tackling the Coursework

  • Make a REALISTIC study schedule. The key word here is realistic. During winter break I made a study schedule that started with me waking up at 8 am every morning to go work out and ended with me going to sleep promptly at 11 or midnight after spending literally the entire day studying with breaks only for meals. No breaks on weekends, no room to socialize, and I thought this would be perfectly fine for me to follow. Of course, I didn’t last a week because that was fucking ridiculous. You don’t need to schedule every hour of your day; college doesn’t work like that. Just do something simple, an hour for a class or maybe less depending on how hard it is and if you have a test coming up. Trust your instincts. There’s no need to go overboard, and you don’t need to spend six hours a day working, just dedicate a time to studying and stick with that.
  • Explore study techniques until you find one that works for you. Everyone doesn’t study the same, so if you do what everyone else is doing you might not get the results you want. Even if you had a great system in high school, it might not be fitting for college, so check out a bunch of different methods and see how you do with them. Once you find the best way you study, you’ll be unstoppable when exam time comes.
  • Start your assignments early, as soon as you can after they’re assigned. There’s nothing worse than having a bunch of assignments/tests/papers due on the same day and you haven’t finished any of them. Trust me, it is so much less stressful to complete an assignment as soon as you can after it’s been assigned so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Putting things off has much more severe consequences than it did in high school and you will regret procrastinating. If you have a weekly assignment due every Friday, try to complete them by Wednesday every week. At the very least, start an assignment the day you get it even if you can’t finish it that day. It’s a lot easier to do something after you’ve already begun working on it, and that one thing you do is progress.
  • The name of the college game is prioritization. If college teaches you anything, it’s how to prioritize your duties. You need to create a hierarchy of importance for your classes and types of assignments. For me, calculus assignments were always done first because that was the most difficult class and the one I absolutely needed to pass, and Italian was always done last cause it was my easiest class and I could complete even our biggest assignments in one day. You’re going to have a very large amount of work and sometimes you have to sacrifice finishing a small homework assignment to finish a huge paper or study for an exam. I liked to complete my hardest/longest assignments right when I got back from class to get them over with and leave my easier ones for later. Prioritizing is essential if you want to succeed in university, so learn how to do it immediately! 
  • Remember that uni is really difficult and your grades don’t define you. Something I learned the hard way is that sometimes you can try really really hard, do the best you can, and still fail. That’s just life. Sometimes you have to do something a million times before you get it right, or before you discover that it just isn’t right for you at all. I worked harder than I ever had this past year, and what I got in return was two failed classes, two D’s, academic probation, and a 2.3 GPA. Actually, my current GPA isn’t even a 2.3, it’s a 2.295, which is probably blasphemy to the studyblr community, but this shit happens. It happens to all of us and it sucks. It can be really shitty to feel like your effort wasn’t reflected in your result. What you need to do is adjust your expectations and keep working hard. After you hit your stride, your grades could be great in no time. Or you could discover that math or science or english just isn’t for you. Maybe you’ll discover university as a whole isn’t right for you, and that’s okay! Bad grades, whether you define that as a B or an F, don’t mean you’re a bad student or a bad person. You do what you can, and then let go of what you can’t control. The sooner you grasp this idea, and the sooner you learn to be gentle with yourself, the easier a time you’ll have.

So I feel like I forgot a lot of things but also this is pretty long so I’m going to end the post here. If you have any further questions or topics for a post you’d like to see, my inbox is always open. I don’t know which post is coming next, but I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for reading and I hope this helped you out!

Previous Posts:

i’m going into my junior year of high school, the time when many students are getting ready to apply for college. many of my friends and peers have been concerned about what, exactly, they should be doing to prepare this year, and when. so, we held a college information session. this may be geared towards my specific area/region, but hopefully everyone can take something out of this. here are some tips that we learned:

ON COLLEGE VISITS

questions to ask:

  1. what is your freshman retention rate?
  2. what is the percentage of students that graduate in 4 years? (new statistic: ¾ of students don’t; the average student takes 5 ½ years to graduate)

make sure there is written documentation of your visit

when reviewing applications, colleges note “touch points”– these include things like taking an official tour, sending in those cards you get in the mail, or something as easy as emailing one of their admissions counselors with a simple question. they’ll keep your information, and it may give you an advantage over other students because you showed you’re seriously interested in their school. so, even if you’re taking an informal campus tour, make sure to stop in the admissions office and fill out one of those cards with your information. it’ll be added into their system as a touch point– and you’re already one step ahead!

TESTING

some things to remember:

  • the SAT and ACT are, for the most part, equally accepted by colleges.
  • certain schools may require an SAT subject test. make sure to check out programs you’re interested in so that you can prepare all of its requirements.
  • the SAT is a test of aptitude, while the ACT is more knowledge-based and straightforward. 
  • if you’re bright and a good test taker but maybe you don’t get the best grades, the SAT may be more fit for you.
  • if you’re more studious and focused on grades and retaining information you’ve learned in class, the ACT may be a better match. 
  • a guidance counselor recommends: take both tests once, and whichever you feel you performed better on, take it again. 
  • many colleges like to see growth in scores because it shows you’re really working towards something. this may change depending on the selectivity of the school, but consider this before only sending your best score. 
  • if you know what colleges you’re interested in, check and see what they prefer/require before taking the tests. most likely, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money in the long run.

SO, WHEN SHOULD I BE DOING ALL OF THIS?

here’s a timeline of what was recommended for your junior year

October: 

  • take the PSAT again (this is the year that you can qualify for NMSQT). i’m not sure if this applies everywhere but i know where i live, this is a requirement.
  • if your school uses Naviance, make sure you have your login information. you should be using the tools it provides to research colleges and find out more about jobs you may be suited for.

November/December

  • take the ACT or SAT. if you’ve already taken the SAT, i suggest taking the ACT before doing the SAT again. 
  • this is around the time you should start visiting colleges if you haven’t already. if you can’t go to schools, look for information sessions and college fairs near you. if you’re on a college’s email list, they’ve likely sent you dates that they offer tours or perhaps are even hosting information sessions closer to you.

April/May/June

  • start asking for letters of recommendation!! many teachers give letters on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get ahead. usually you want to have 2-4 of these. think about programs and schools you may apply for, and think about what subject teachers may be most helpful in your application. also, check schools’ websites and see what they recommend/require. outside letters are also okay, if they’re from someone who knows you and your work ethic well. 
  • consider taking the SAT or ACT again. 
  • schedule your senior year. it’s no longer a time to slack off; colleges now look at your grades as late as third marking period. continue to challenge yourself, but also take electives that interest you to get a better idea of what careers you may want to pursue.
  • get the Common App essays from your guidance counselor. you should at least think about these over the summer to get an idea of what you’ll say in your application essays.

August

  • this is when the Common App is available for that year. many, but not all schools, use this. do your own research to decide if it’s a necessity for you.

MISC. TIPS

  • very few students partake in college interviews anymore. requesting and interview may set you apart from other students (touch point!), but it is definitely not required or even recommended by the vast majority of schools.
  • if you know you will be going to grad school or a higher ed program, think about where you want to concentrate your money. a cheaper but respected undergraduate school may be a great idea to save money for a great graduate school. (you probably don’t care where your doctor went for their undergrad, but where’d they go to med school?)
  • MAKE SURE YOU’RE MEETING YOUR SCHOOL’S GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS.
  • check to see what courses certain colleges recommend you take in high school. this may be a good way to plan the rest of your high school schedule, and also gauge whether or not you can achieve a college’s expectations.

Before I start this post, I want to say that everyone’s orientation is different! I’ve seen that a lot of schools have orientation over the summer, weeks before classes start. My school, I guess because only a few of us are from here and the majority of students are out of the state/country, we had orientation week starting on move-in day, the same week classes started. That’s why I will be discussing move-in day and the first day of classes here, though yours might be a completely separate experience. Let’s get started!

Move-In Day

  • Dress for a lot physical activity. You are going to be lugging your shit up and down stairs (elevators get full, if you even have them) all day, walking back and forth to your car, and once you get everything in your room, you will have to unpack and loft your bed, etc. You are going to be sweaty and exhausted by the time it’s all over. I wanted to still be cute so I wore spandex, my Vandy t-shirt and hat, and a full face of makeup lol. I know you might want to make a good first impression on your roommate and new classmates, but everyone will be wearing what looks like workout clothes. Don’t wear jeans or a dress or something. It’s August, it’s hot, you’ll regret it.
  • Be patient. Oh my god, I swear 90% of the memories I have of move-in day are just me waiting. Waiting in the car for the line to move towards the dorms, waiting in line to get my key, waiting for a dolly to free up, waiting to get inside the elevator, waiting for the stairs to clear up. It’s so boring, especially when you’re so excited to just finally be there. Be prepared to wait and try to appreciate your last few moments before college ruins your life (just kidding!).
  • Brace yourself for something to go wrong. No matter how organized your school is, chaos is inevitable on move-in day. You will have planned according to a schedule they gave you, and something will not go the way it’s supposed to. Thousands of freshmen who don’t know anything all in the same place at once is a recipe for disaster. Just don’t stress about it cause it will all work itself out. Honestly, that’s a philosophy to live by for your entire college career, not just move-in day.

Orientation Week

  • I can’t even explain how busy you’ll be. Starting from the first floor meeting we had on move-in day, the entire next seven days were packed full of activities and meetings and ceremonies. I still have my freshmen guide with the itenerary of all the things we had to do, and it was pages long. Everyday we would wake up at like 8, and have things to do until after midnight. I was so busy, I didn’t even have time to be on my phone, and I love social media. You will be so tired, and it will get old really quick. I don’t really have any advice, but through the exhaustion, remember to try and appreciate this chaotic time and stay in the moment. You’ll never again experience the freshness and excitement of your first week at college, soon you’ll get used to it all and you’ll wish for that feeling back.
  • You don’t have to attend everything. Like I said, you will be exhausted. You won’t want to wake up at 6 am for the Freshman Sunrise (i did and i regretted it), or to take the class picture where you have to stand still for an hour and you can’t even see yourself in the photo (again, i should’ve slept in). You might feel obligated to go to everything, but if you just need a break, then take that break. Orientation is overwhelming. 
  • Don’t freak out if you miss a required meeting. We had lots of events that were marked required. It’s inevitable that people miss these, due to sleeping through an alarm, or reading the time wrong, or getting lost on campus since you don’t know where everything is. Lots of the time, they only mark it as required to scare people into going when there’s no real consequence if you don’t. Even if there is a consequence, you won’t get into any major trouble the first week. You’re freshmen, they understand. Do try to make it to them, though. The best way to do this is to find friends or other people who are in that same section and go together.
  • Don’t stress about making friends. It is quite literally impossible to not make friends during orientation week. You will have to attend so many things with the same group(s) of people that you’ll bond over that alone. You don’t even have to try, so if you’re not a social person, don’t worry. As long as you don’t stay silent in a corner, you’ll have plenty of people to hang out with. 
  • Don’t stress about keeping the friends you do make. You will meet a million people, and have a million new numbers in your phone. You will have a hard time matching everyone’s names to their faces. People form connections really quickly, that’s just human nature, but this is especially heightened in university when everyone is away from home and no one knows anyone. Don’t feel like you have to stay attached to the same five people you became best friends with after two days for fear of not finding anyone else to be close to. Lots of people meet their real friends at the beginning of the year, but most people don’t. All of the pictures and videos I have from my entire first semester are with and of people I don’t even speak to anymore, people who, frankly, I can hardly stand to look at now. During orientation, you’ll gravitate towards anyone, but you’ll soon realize you don’t know them at all and they might turn out to be shitty people. I met all the friends I have now second semester through the LGBT group on campus, and they’re great. Point is, don’t feel too attached to your orientation buddies. You will find your people, even if it takes a while.

First Day of Classes

  • Find the buildings where your classes are held beforehand. Yes, I mean physically walk to them and find the exact classroom, don’t just use Google Maps to make sure you can get there in ten minutes. I knew the names of all the buildings and their general location, but then I found out some buildings are attached to each other and numbered in a strange order, then you finally find the right building but can’t find the right floor and hallway. I was late to all of my classes the first day. University buildings are so confusing. You will have trouble, I promise you. Do yourself a favor and figure out how to get to all of your classrooms sometime earlier in the week. You will feel great about not being that embarrassing freshmen asking the upperclassmen for directions (who are happy to help, but will laugh at you just a little bit).
  • Introduce yourself to the professor before or after class. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want, but it can’t hurt. Just shake their hand and make sure they can match your face to the name. Doing this the first day makes it easier to establish contact with them later in the semester, which you’ll probably have to do. Don’t worry, you’ll see lots of the other students in your lecture doing this, too. Just hop on in line.
  • Double check to make sure you don’t have any assignments due/papers to bring. This is unlikely cause you don’t have summer work in college (at least to my knowledge) and it’s never happened to me, but I had friends whose professors had assigned them work for the the first day of class. This is really ugly, I know, but just check your email and Blackboard to make sure there’s nothing to do. 

This is longer than I anticipated, so thanks if you read it all! I hope this helps someone out. Orientation is a chaotic mess but so so fun, cause it’s the only time you’ll ever be able to experience the fun of college without the stress of the work. Up next is advice on living with a roommate (and boy, do I have advice for that). Previous posts:

Application Process

Choosing/Changing Majors

9/18 ▪ Getting back into the swing of things is hard, especially when application deadlines are weeks away. Wishing you a week of productivity and self-love.

Senior year advice and how to make senior year effective

So it’s your senior year in high school and you’re probably super excited for the year to come. You finally get to go to college and become your own person, pursue your dream, or maybe just get away from the bullshit. So here’s some of my best advice to make senior year a good one: 

SENIORITIS WILL HAPPEN

  • There is literally no way you can avoid this. It’s like a deadly parasite that just consumes you. It’s very effective, especially if you’re surrounded by people who have already entered the “fuck school I just want it to be over” phase. 
  • The way senioritis works is, the busier you are, the less it will  hit you. I was a pretty active student year round. I had tennis , our drama one acts in the fall, FFA,  plus work. In the spring semester I had our school play, track, and I joined our FFA vet science judging team (which helped kept me focus ) . 
  • Winter is honestly the only time you should indulge lazyness. Get it out of your system and devote the rest of your school year to being productive

DON’T FILL YOUR SCHEDULE WITH TEACHER ASSISTANT AND OFFICE AID ELECTIVES 

  • The one thing colleges love to see (besides student involvement and volunteer hours) is that you have a REAL schedule lined up for you your senior year. Get classes that apply to what you want to do in college, or find classes that you think you might be interested in. You never know if that could be the deciding point on what you want to do with your life. 
  • Honestly, it’s going to suck when all your friends have relaxing classes most of the day and you have stacks of homework to do your senior year (trust me i’ve been there) but in the long run, colleges will thank you, and senioritis I can guarantee won’t hit you as bad when you’re taking classes that challenge and interest you. 

AP CLASSES

  • This is honestly all preference and knowing your limits, but if you have never taken a AP class your high school career you should probably take one. High school classes are NOTHING like college. AP prepared me more for college and studying then any mandatory classes i’ve ever taken
  • KNOW. YOUR. LIMITS. I only took one AP class my senior year because I knew I would be working and doing a lot of school involvement. Some people liked to make their schedule mostly AP classes because in may when they take their AP exam they just chilled for the remaining of the school. Personally I think that’s a dumb idea, because then you’re just wasting your time for a couple of weeks and it’ll make you want to ditch class, etc. 

APPLYING TO COLLEGE

  • PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD APPLY EVERYWHERE
  • You never know what schools you’re actually going to get accepted to. You may think you have stanford in the bag and only apply to that school. But if you get rejected and have no where to turn but a local community college, your life will suck. 
  • Don’t worry about being undecided,  a lot of people are in the same shoes as you are, and college will understand
  • BRAG ABOUT YOURSELF. When you do those little “why should we accept you essays” you need to write yourself as the shiny little gold nugget that you are. Have confidence in yourself
  • When applying to out of state: you better know your shit. No one is going to help you as much because your councilors only know about local and state colleges. Especially when you decide to go to out of state college, KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Always check your emails and follow the college steps like it’s your lifeline or you’ll miss something. 

SCHOLARSHIPS 

  • Just apply to all of them. Trust me on this because I can guarantee you half of your graduating class would have not applied to a single one of them 
  • Don’t be lazy 

“SENIOR YEAR IS THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE”

  • This is complete bullshit but it also depends on each person
  • Senior year is honestly like every other year but you’re expected to be more of an adult. No one is going to make you apply to colleges and no one is going to make you do anything.
  • Senior year isn’t like it is in the movies, you won’t be partying all the time and not every second of it is going to be perfect. You might lose some friends and some things you love will change. It’s a very emotional and exciting time, make the most of it. 
  • Spend as much time with your high school friends because you’ll probably never see them again. That girl that you’ve been soccer buddies with all 4 year is probably never going to text you again, so make the most of your friends. 
  • Attend all the high school events. It’s the last time you’ll ever be able to do it, so make some memories. 

SOME ADVICE TO FRESHMEN 

  • Don’t be scared
  • you’re going to lose some friends and make new ones
  • but for the love of god get involved. it’s not “cool” to be a slacker. Honestly you’ll have a better experience and things will go by a lot faster.
  • Do your damn homework, it actually counts in high school
  • be nice to your teachers
  • make the most of your high school experience. It goes by faster then you think. 

I’m now an incoming freshman heading off to college this fall. I’m very happy to say that I survived the college application and acceptance process. Here are some tips/advice I have for high school seniors applying to college in the U.S. Best of luck to anyone applying this fall! Feel free to drop an ask if you need advice. 

  • Some schools use Common App, others don’t. Visit the college’s official website. If you search them on the Common App and they’re not there, chances are you’ll have to go to another website to apply. 
  • Avoid asking friends to look over your essay. You might feel tempted to ask them for advice. You’re better off asking a teacher for critiques. They’re professionals, and they can help you get your essay in the right direction. I suggest asking English teachers because they’re great when it comes to grammatical errors and the like. 
  • For the Common App essay, keep brainstorming. Keep writing. Keep editing.  I cannot stress this enough. If you feel that your essay isn’t working, toss it out. Don’t waste your time writing something that doesn’t reflect who you are. 
  • Avoid reading other people’s essays. There’s a reason why their prose and topic works for them. Your essay is meant to reflect who you are as an individual. Reading their essays will not help you in writing yours. There’s no formula. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to write about an accomplishment or the time you won something. Don’t write it for them, write it for you. 
  • START EARLY ON ESSAYS. This is not an essay you can write the night before. A majority of colleges view your essay as one of the main factors in your acceptance. This is not something to blow off or take lightly. You need to spend at least a few weeks or more to craft your essay. 
  • Schools will require ADDITIONAL ESSAYS. Check the Common App or an alternative website for these additional essays. They’re often called “supplemental essays.” Make sure you get these extra essays looked over as well!
  • Recommendations. Some colleges require none. Others ask for as many as 3. Most applications ask for a rec from a counselor and teacher. The Common App gives you the option of getting a rec from a non-academic teacher like a coach. 
    • Some teachers get swamped with several requests for a recommendation. Start asking within the first few weeks of school. 
    • The teachers you’re getting recs from should know you very well, they should be familiar with your success as a student and as an overall person. 
    • If you’re planning on asking, the best way to go is by seeing the teacher in person. It’s more genuine and direct. Send an email as last resort. 
  • Own a planner or notebook to keep track of deadlines and tasks. I suggest getting a mini notebook just for college applications. In the notebook, I would write down: deadlines, essays that need to be edited/looked over, colleges you’re applying to, transcripts that need to be sent, etc. Check off tasks when you get them done. Use the calendar for deadlines. 
  • Work on applications during the weekday. It sounds hectic, believe me, but you’ll save yourself the stress. Work on application related tasks every night, whether it’s editing a paragraph of your essay or sending in those AP scores. That way, you can be efficient during the weekday and weekend.
  • DEADLINES ARE DIFFERENT FOR EARLY ACTION, EARLY DECISION, and REGULAR DECISION APPLICANTS. KEEP TRACK OF THESE DEADLINES.
    • Early decision: If you apply early and you get in, you’re automatically binded to that school. You must attend and decline all your other applications to other schools. 
    • Early action: If you apply early and you get in, you don’t have to worry about applying later on. You are not binded to that school. 
    • Regular decision: You apply at the normal deadline. They notify you later than the early applicants. You are not binded to any schools. 
  • Do your research about your colleges, their test score policies, which AP test scores they accept, etc. Your best bet is visiting the college’s official website and/or checking the requirements on Common App. Write these down because colleges ask for different requirements.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a teacher, counselor, Google, a college representative, family, and your friends. They are your greatest assets. I pretty much got the best help from asking my friends because they had older siblings who went through the college app process.
  • Avoid College Confidential. Enough said.
  • Don’t hold back, and don’t give up. I never would have imagined getting into my dream school but I did. You’d be surprised at what you’re capable of as long as you stay true to yourself and work hard.
  • Senior year will take a lot of your time away from friends and family. Make sure to keep in touch with them frequently! Take breaks. Please do not prioritize school before your mental health. Your health is more important.
  • Your test scores are just a number. It does not define your actual intelligence nor does it define your value as a human being. Your scores may not be within the range of the school but it doesn’t mean you won’t get in because of it. That being said, you should still try and study for them. You have the option of taking the ACT/SAT again in senior year. 
  • Your activities and extracurriculars are really important. Colleges want to see what you’re passionate about when you’re not a student in the classroom. They will ask you to list what clubs or activities you’ve been involved in since entering high school. Leadership positions and volunteer hours are wonderful additions.
  • It can get stressful and frustrating, so make sure you space out all the tasks you have to get done. Remember to take breaks, have fun, and relax once in a while. A clear, relaxed mind works better than a mind under severe stress and lack of sleep. 
  • Senioritis is real. You sometimes have to step back and punch senioritis in the face. Even the best students fall prey to this contagious disease. Colleges DO look at your second semester grades, don’t let them slip. Start strong, finish strong. 
    • Senior year is said to be one of the best years of your life. Sure it’s gonna get tough in the beginning but once you’re done, you’re ready to go off to college before you know it. 

Good luck and have a wonderful year! 

Conquering the Why School? Essay

From a student who got into MIT & the Ivy League

I’ve read many Why School? essays. These often come across as generic, with no real indication of interest. I’m here to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes in your essays.

-Look up their course catalog. Don’t simply write, “I’m interested in your stellar economics program.” Great, so are hundreds of other applicants. Name-drop a couple of classes and explain why those specific courses appeal to you. It’ll show you’ve done your homework.

-Discuss a few clubs. Colleges want students who will contribute to their campus outside of the classroom. Are you interested in journalism? Talk about joining the school newspaper. Are you a violin virtuoso? Indicate your interest in the orchestra. Or are you into something that isn’t yet available? Say you’ll start a new group!

-Latch onto research opportunities. Schools love students who can contribute to their published papers. Look up ongoing research projects in whatever department you’re interested in (and no, research isn’t only for STEM fields!) and talk about how you’ll get involved.

-Talk about what makes a school unique. Columbia has a Core Curriculum; Princeton has a yearlong bridge program in Bolivia. Why do you want to attend this specific school?

-Touch upon your long-term goals. How will this university help you achieve your goals of becoming a lawyer? How do you want to make the world a better place? Colleges are looking for people who will contribute meaningfully to society.

-Don’t mention rankings or prestige. Harvard already knows it’s world-renowned, it doesn’t need you to stroke its ego. You should be choosing the best school for you, not the best school according to US World & News Report

Good luck! I’ll also be happy to read your college app essays, feel free to message me :)

SUPER SCHOLARSHIP TIP

this is mainly for juniors & sophomores (and freshmen who are incredibly ahead of the game I guess) but can apply to seniors too

if you find a scholarship that’s not due until you’re a senior or later in your senior year, DO IT EARLY. obviously you don’t have to submit the application asap, but getting the essay done a few months or a year in advance is really, really helpful. (note that this only applies to scholarships with essays that stay the same each year, of which there are many but not all)

so if you’re an underclassman free from the weight of college apps and decisions, get. it. done! if you’re a senior with some free time, get. it. done!! scholarship apps can be more stressful than college apps for some people like me, so save yourself some time to breathe or look at the sky or something.

k, that’s the tip. aza out.

5

08-01-2017;

for anyone writing a personal statement here’s some advice I collated from countless sheets I have been given over the last three years. This is all sound advice, as I have written three personal statements and all of which have gotten me unconditional’s :) Good luck guys! 

The Essays that got me into Berkeley: Part 1

PROMPT: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
Sitting on my desk in front of me are seven battered Moleskine softcover sketchbooks, each one representing six months of my life in collage, graphs, personal anecdotes, ticket stubs, and thousands of sketches representing thousands of reality-tv obsessions, seasonal decorations, and countless profiles of strangers that I’ve seen in cafes and on trains in the last three years. Not only can I trace my artistic development since my freshmen year, these notebooks also serve as a personal roadmap, tracing the backstory of one [my full name]. Take, for example, sketchbook #7. There is a sticker for a coffee shop in Spokane, Washington affixed to the front and a map of Tahiti’s main island taped to the back. This journal starts in the June before Senior year, continuing on until this very moment. That particular summer was especially tumultuous, with a then undiagnosed mental illness coloring my artwork in chaotic shades of panic, my writing dripping with despair that stumbled into unbridled rage that freefell into hopelessness, leaving me shattered at the bottom of a dismal pit. Really, cheery stuff. But as green watercolor blobs accompanied by white charcoal capsules cut with element number three waltz out of their clear orange bottles and across this depiction of my subconscious, hope emerges. On a slightly less bleak note, #2 contains some portrayal of Jared Padalecki, my favorite actor when I was fifteen, for every day of the year. I was utterly obsessed, given over losing myself in a pop culture oblivion. #4 has more than its fair share of raunchy fanfiction involving Oscar Wilde and Robert Baldwin Ross. My favorite part of #6 is a massive two-page spread that traces the entirety of geological time from the Early Cambrian to the Holocene. Each one is a quantifiable reflection of the hundreds of different people that I have been in the last four years.

i made a college spreadsheet! my junior year of high school ends next week, which means it’s now college crunchtime- yikes! for anyone in the same boat as me, i would highly recommend making some sort of spreadsheet or chart to organize your thoughts. here’s how i laid mine out:

(first, i wanted to mention that this was totally inspired by @thestudyaesthetic‘s chart- here’s a link to her’s!)

so i put the name of the college across the top, then information about each one below in a column. the info i included was:

  • whether or not i planned on applying
  • where the school was
  • majors i’m interested in
  • total size
  • undergrad size
  • acceptance rate
  • cost of attendance
  • average financial aid package
  • average act score
  • average unweighted gpa
  • ratio of students to professors
  • do they offer early action or decision? if so, what’s the deadline?
  • regular application deadline
  • whether they offer credit for ap courses
  • what’s their application format? through the common app?
  • application fee?
  • my impression of the campus (if visited)
  • have i visited?
  • their us news and world report ranking
  • deadline for test scores
  • distance from my home
  • do they have club sports? (i plan on playing club tennis)
  • other notes

early decision is coming out pretty soon for most u.s. colleges and to all the high school seniors out there, i just want to say that i really hope that you get into your dream school but if you get rejected or deferred, you’ll be okay. the place for you is out there, even if you don’t find it on the first try. take some time for yourself and then get back out there; soon this year will be over and you’ll be headed somewhere amazing.

and to those who are submitting their regular decision applications, best of luck! (and make sure you proofread)

anonymous asked:

do you have any quick tips for making your essay really stand out?

Write using some combination of:

  • powerful imagery
  • a new take on an old idea
  • an uncommon perspective
  • a non-standard format
  • well-metered writing
  • a persistent narrative timeline
  • subtle motifs
  • brutal honesty and vulnerability
  • a magnificent depiction of a common entity
  • a denial of expectation
  • a clear authorial voice (MUST HAVE)
  • well-placed sarcasm

You can write a powerful essay about pretty much anything using ^^^^^^^this shit right here^^^^^^^