Advice from a Rising Senior

As junior year came to an end, the long awaited college application season was just around the corner. I began to research the various aspects of the application and selection process for colleges, and I realized that my application was lacking in various areas. As a first generation student, I have navigated high school largely on my own without the advice of my parents or older siblings. As I approach the college application season, there are many things that I wish people had told me my freshman year of high school that would have greatly boosted my college applications. I would like to share these with others who are in high school and in need of guidance.

Join Clubs Freshman Year

Throughout my first two years of high school, I mostly focused on sports as my main extracurricular activities. I played soccer and ran cross country and track my freshman and sophomore years, which left me with almost no time for other actives or clubs. As an underclassman, I did not realize the importance and necessity of joining clubs that pertained to my interests. Last year, my junior year, I joined many clubs such as CSF, NHS, Mock Trial, and my school’s debate club. Although now I have many clubs and activities to write about on my college applications, I have only been involved in each club for around a year. In the college application process, the deans of admission look for consistency in a student’s applications. This is why I recommend joining clubs during your freshman year and remaining a part of them throughout your four years of high school. Moreover, not only will joining clubs your freshman year demonstrate consistency, but it will also allow you to have more leadership opportunities as an upperclassman, which is very important when applying to college.

Stick With Your Sport

Whether you’ve been playing a sport since you were five or decided to join a sport in high school, it is very important to be consistent and stick to at least one sport throughout high school. My freshman year, I played soccer and ran cross county and track. The next year, my sophomore year, I ran cross country and played soccer. Lastly, my junior year, I ran track and field. Although I have always played a sport in high school, jumping back and forth between sports does not demonstrate consistency to a dean of admissions. Despite having my personal reasons for making these decisions regarding sports, a dean of admissions will probably see it as a lack of dedication and consistency. To any underclassman, I suggest sticking to one sport throughout high school.

Challenge Yourself

Before high school, I had always been very hesitant to try new things or step outside of my comfort zone. Luckily, I had some very good mentors and teachers that pushed me to challenges myself and step outside of my comfort zone. They pushed me to take on challenging classes, some of which I never would have thought of taking. Sometimes, my fear of failing or of not receiving an A in a course would stop me from challenging myself. However, I learned that with hardworking, persistence, and dedication, any class in high school is doable. When looking at your application, the dean of admissions will look at the rigor of the courses that you took in high school. More often than not, a transcript with difficult classes and lower grades is much more impressive than a transcript with easy classes and higher grades. For those entering their sophomore year, I suggest taking on a more rigorous course load in order to boost their future applications.

Always Try Your Best

Despite being first in my class and having nearly all A’s throat high school, I will always be plagued by the two Bs I received in math during my freshman and sophomore years. During my first two years in high school, I was always very preoccupied with sports and oftentimes I would end up not finishing my school work because I was too tired to put in the work. Had I dedicated just another hour of my time to trust understand and master the concepts, I know I could have easily received an A in both courses. However, at the time, I did not think much of it and since I had been accustomed to receiving As without too much effort, I did not put as much effort as I should have. Although there are only two Bs on my transcript, I do wish that I would have put in just a little more effort in order to have a perfect transcript. These two Bs might not have as much as an impact on my college decisions as I may think, but it has affected my confidence level when applying.

All in all, high school is a time to find your interests and passions in order to pursue them in college and beyond, which is why I suggest immersing yourself in as many new activities and hobbies as possible. The goal should be to have fun and enjoy your time in high school, while building up your future college applications.

-Yvette C.

Reviewing Advanced Placement Classes

As the we approach Spring Break, the long awaited and very much dreaded AP season has begun. It’s time to bring out the Princeton and Barron’s review books and cram the last eight months of knowledge into our brains. As a high school junior, those feelings of stress, panic, and anxiety that accompany the months of April and May have become very familiar. I have taken a total of eight Advanced Placement classes, four of which I am currently taking. As the school year comes to a close and incoming students are deciding on their course selections for the following schools year, I would like to review some of the Advanced Placement classes that I have taken in hopes of aiding some of you in your decisions.

Human Geography

This class was by far the most eye-opening and useful AP class that I have ever taken. I took this class my freshman year, as most students do. This course is the foundation for all AP history courses. So, if you’re thinking about taking European, United States, or World history, I would highly recommend taking Human Geography. The books used for European, U.S, and World History assume that the reader has taken Human Geography or has knowledge of the terms and concepts that are central to the course. All in all, this class was super interesting and was fairly easy. The AP exam is one of the easiest that College Board offers since it is mostly taken by freshman. If you are an incoming freshman and want to try out AP classes, I would highly recommend taking Human Geography.

European History

European History has been my favorite history class so far. Not only is the history of Europe itself extremely fascinating, but I had an excellent teacher. Unlike U.S. history, the time periods and units in the European History are easily distinguishable and easy to remember. The course covers a variety of areas, including a study of European art and literature. Because the course has a strong emphasis on European art, I would highly recommend taking Europe History in the same year as Art History. The two go hand in hand and expand on the curriculum taught in each course. Because of he Documents Based Question, Long Essay Question, and Short Answer Questions, European History is definitely a huge step up from Human Geography. I enjoyed the challenge that it presented; however; if you’re not a fan of writing and reading, I would not recommend this class. Due to the pandemic, I did not take the European History exam as normal. Instead, we were given a single DBQ, which was fairly. Overall, I would recommend this class if you like to read, write, and are excited about history.

Art History

Art History was a very interesting class. My teacher formatted the class very differently from most art history teachers; however, his method was much more engaging and fun. To be completely blunt, I am not artistically inclined and have never been. I’m sure others love to appreciate art for its beauty and meaning, but I found the material somewhat boring at times. I felt that this class was somewhat useless for me. On the bright side, I can now identify works of art when I am out in public and can tell you the school of art, artist, and the materials that the artist used. I would recommend this class to anyone looking to boost their GPA or to those that need to fulfill their VAPA requirement but are artistically challenged. It is a fairly easy class that mostly requires memorization.

Chemistry

AP Chemistry is by far the hardest class I have ever taken. Up until this class, there had never been a class that I truly thought was impossible at times. Although it may seem impossible, AP Chemistry is totally doable with great deal of studying and hard work. I would recommend this class to those that are more mathematically and logically gifted. If you performed well in Honors Chemistry and are looking for a challenge, I would definietly recommend this class; however, do be warned that Chapter 17 is horrible.

Spanish Literature and Culture (Spanish 5)

Unlike Spanish 4, this class is primarily reading and writing. Basically, every week, we are assigned a new story, discuss the story, respond to questions, and write and essay on the story, all in Spanish. I would recommend this class to you if you have very strong skills in Spanish, specifically in writing and reading. As the year progresses, the stories become increasingly more challenging and complex in language and meaning. Even as a Spanish speaker, sometimes these stories seem a bit difficult to comprehend. However, if you dedicate time to understand these stories, you can definitely do well in this class.

All in all, I have had a great experience with with Advanced Placement classes and would recommend them to anyone looking to challenge themselves. They are a great way to learn, obtain college credit, boost your GPA, and look great on transcripts for college applications in the future.

-Yvette C.

A Guide to: The Office

After fifteen years, The Office continues to be one of the most popular and loved shows, and for obvious reasons. It’s one of those shows that one can just watch again, and again, and again. Its relatable characters and original comedy contuse to pull its viewers in. I, for one, am a huge fan of The Office. After watching the entire season through around four or five times, Id like to share the episodes that keep pulling me back.

When you need a good laugh…..

“The Dinner Party”

By far my favorite episode of The Office, The Dinner Party (Season 4. Episode 13) combines humor, drama, and awkwardness to make a hilariously uncomfortable episode that will have you rolling on the floor. This episode begins in the office, of course, as Michael Scott forces everyone to stay late in order to work on a supposed corporate assignment, however; as everyone will soon find out, it’s all just Michael’s way of ensuring that Jim, Pam, Andy, and Angela can attend his dinner party that evening. After Jim admits to not having any plans that evening, Michael cancels the supposed corporate assignments, forcing Jim and Pam to accept his invitation to his house. And so the torment begins, and all four of the employees are forced to endure a painful dinner party, which ends in complete disaster.

When you’re in need of comfort….

“Niagra”

After many long years, Jim and Pam finally tie the knot, however; with the whole office in tow, their wedding does not come with setbacks. Pam and Jim have a rather difficult time before the wedding, having to deal with her grandmother’s disappointment on her premarital pregnancy. To make matters worse, a co-worker seriously injure himself and has to be rushed to the hospital. Despite these inconvencies and many more, we witness a wonderfully joyous moment as Jim and Pam are married and everyone dances down the aisle.

When you need to cry…

“Michael Leaves”

This episode is without a doubt the saddest episode in the show. Not only was the departure of Michael Scott as a character absolutely devastating to the show itself, but it was heart-wrenching to see all of the Dunder Mifflin employees say they’re good-byes. In a particularly touching scene, the office gathers in the conference room for Michael’s last meeting. Together, they surprise Michael, and actually the actor himself, with a song dedicated to him. Though this, one sees not only the characters themselves saying goodbye to their boss, but real actors saying goodbye to a co worker. The show was never the same without him, and the loss of his presence was truly felt by all.

-Yvette C.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Book Cover, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, 1947 | Objects  | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

A Streetcar Named Desire is a tragic play written by Tennessee Williams. It is centered around Blanche DuBois, a fragile thirty year old woman who is detached from reality. After being fired from her previous job as a schoolteacher and losing her home, Blanche decides to go and stay with her younger sister, Stella Kowalski. Stella Kowalski lives with her Polish husband, Stanley Kowalski, a plain and straightforward man. Despite falling out of touch with her sister, Blanche arrives with her large trunk at the Kowalski household.

The title of this play is very crucial to its message and illustrates its entire plot. In the beginning, Blanche recounts her journey to her sister’s house. First, Blanche rode a streetcar named Desire. Then, she took a a streetcar named Cemeteries, which took her to a street called Elysian Fields. Elysian Fields is the land of the dead in Greek mythology. This entire journey symbolizes Blanche’s life and her fear of death. At first, Blanche allows her sexual desires to overcome her and ruin her life. As a result, she is evicted from her childhood home, and lastly, she is taken to an asylum and ostracized completely from society.

Throughout this entire play, we watch as Blanche DuBois gradually becomes completely out of touch with reality. Because of her adherence to lies, fibs, and illusions, she clashes with Stanley. Stanley is a grounded and vicious man who represents the vital force, the strength which animates all living creatures. Everything that he does, he does with extreme passion; he loves passionately, treats Blanche cruelly, and is extremity loyal to his friends.

In the end, after Blanche’s depressing and indecent past is revealed to Stella and Stanley, they decide to send Blanche to an insane asylum. The final moments of this play are heart wrenching and painful. As a broken, depressed, and insane Blanche pleads for her sister to save her, she is lead to the asylum like a prisoner.

Despite its tragic finale, this play discusses very important themes such as death, illusions, and sexuality. Overall, this was an extremely intriguing and deep play that I would recommend to anyone who does not mind a sad ending and loves to explore complex themes.

-Yvette C.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.