March Madness

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With the month being March, sports watchers have something new to watch which will keep them interested. It’s March Madness! March Madness is the NCAA Division One College Basketball tournament where 64 teams compete for the right to call themselves the Champs. 

First of all, there are four regions in the NCAA tournament: West, East, South, Midwest. Each region has its own one seed, two seed, all the way up to the 16th seed. Until the Final Four, each region’s teams only compete with each other. 

There are six rounds in March Madness, but not all teams are fortunate to make all of them. In fact, only two of the 64 teams are able to compete in all the rounds. To qualify for the tournament in March, teams are required to have a great regular season or win the conference championship. First comes the round of 64, where there are 32 different games total. The one seed in each region matches up with the 16 seed, the two seed with the 15 seed, up to the eighth seed versus the ninth seed matchup. Then, the winners of those games compete in the round of 32, which consists of 16 games. Next is the Sweet Sixteen, with eight games. The winners of the Sweet Sixteen matchups compete in the Elite Eight, which is also a regional final for each of the four regions. The winners of the regions go on to compete in the Final Four, where the region champions play against each other. The sixth round is the NCAA Championship Game, where the last two teams battle for the rights to cut down the nets and hold up the trophy! 

Performing highly in this college basketball tournament can also raise the stocks of players trying to make it to the NBA. Some top players to watch in the rest of March Madness include Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Drew Timme (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith Jr (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Mark Williams (Duke), Jaden Ivey (Purdue), and Ochai Agbaji (Kansas).  

Some top teams to watch in March Madness include UCLA, Arizona, Duke, Gonzaga, Purdue, Auburn, Houston, Kansas, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Texas Tech.

I always enjoy watching top teams battle it out during March Madness. Whether it’s a 15 point comeback by an underrated team or a 30 point performance by a star player, March Madness never disappoints! 

-Mert A.

College Stress: Tips While You Wait for Decisions

Applying to colleges is stressful. But what many don’t tell you is that waiting to hear back, and then having to pick a college, is even worse. I was lucky enough to hear back from my dream school in December. But many of my friends don’t have that same luxury. Though we all finished our applications around the same time, many of them have to wait until March to hear back from all their schools. After that, they then have to go through the process of which school you want to go to.

On top of the stress of the waiting game to hear back from schools, you’ll have people at every corner telling you whether or not you should go to this school or that. Everyone around you is lobbying for their favorite. Parents, of course, usually want their kids to stay close by. Relatives are hoping you’ll be near them. It can be hard to block out the people around you and figure out what you truly want for yourself.

When you have more than one top school, it can be hard to find the one for you. I always recommend that my friends visit the schools they are most interested in. That way, they can get a feel of the campus as well as some of the people they will be surrounded with for the next four years of their lives. On top of that, make sure you do really good research on the living situations, meals, and transport on campus.

I found that the two most important things when I was picking a school were extracurricular activities and job opportunities. I wanted to make sure that I had fun on campus and would have things to do outside of just going to school and the occasional football game. Perhaps even more important than that was that I would be able to get job experience while on campus, whether it be internships or even just making connections with people in my industry. 

So even though college can be stressful, hopefully you have some tips to help you pick the right school and relax a little while you wait for colleges to return their decisions. 

-Danielle B.

Applying to Colleges

As I head into my senior year, the college application season is no longer a far off thought. Though you are somewhat prepared for it when you start high school, I have found the actual thing is very different from what you imagine. Though you see your friends and family apply and discuss whether or not they got in, having to do it for your own future takes on a whole new perspective. I have personally found the experience exciting, yet somewhat overwhelming. Though I am getting to select my own future and the place that I want to spend the next part of my life, I am also having to worry about grades, getting in, and moving away from family. 

A lot of people when looking into colleges, never truly talk about how much their senior year was affected by applying for colleges. Some people I’ve spoken to have said that senior year was super easy, but as I start this fall, I don’t quite feel that way. Not only am I taking my most challenging classes yet, I am also trying to balance hanging out with all my friends before we go our separate ways as well as applying to multiple colleges and get in. 

Now the application and search process has been quite fun so far. I have been able to look at schools in places I can see myself living past college as well as ones that are good for what I am looking into. I have also been able to see how what I am going into as a career can help others besides myself. This is the part where you can explore different passions outside of a major, with the wide array of classes so many schools offer. And every school is different, not every school is the one for you and that is okay. What I found I struggled with was that I didn’t like some of the schools offered to me and felt like I was letting someone down. Everyone is different and so is your search, so not fitting into one school or another is okay.

I think that college searching can be fun because you are able to look into the more superficial things such as dorm life and things to do when you aren’t in classes. College also allows you a sense of freedom you often don’t get while still in high school, in the fact that you are mostly depending on yourself to wake up, eat, get to class, and so on. The search is a way for you to see how you will be when you are off on your own and starting your own job and life away from home. 

Now while I have talked about being overwhelmed with this endeavor, I also urge you high schoolers, seniors especially, to not get too caught up in the stress of it all. Enjoy the time with your friends and family before you all go and do your own things. We will never be in a time quite like we are now, which is something a lot of my older friends who are now in college agree with. Though college application season is now, so is senior year and we should bask in that. 

-Danielle B.

ACT or SAT?

What made you choose the test that you would have to take? I think the best advice is to take a practice test for each and see which you do better at. There are books to check out with practice tests and books you can purchase as well.

You could also just go in to each test and take official ones just to see how you score, but you have to pay for the actual tests. You may do so well in one that you could find this the fastest way to be done with it.

You could also decide based off researching each test. There are four sections in the ACT and three in the SAT. The ACT is described as being more heavily a reading comprehension test. You have a reading, writing, and science section and the science section does not require a lot of outside scientific knowledge, just the ability to read the questions and answer based on what they present on the test. This makes it another reading section, in effect. The SAT just has the traditional Reading, writing, and math. This makes math worth 33% of your grade where on the ACT math is 25% of your grade. This can help kids make the decision as well.

The UC schools, like UCLA, UCI, etc., no longer look at these test scores which makes your GPA and extracurriculars more important. If you are only planning for these schools, I wonder if you will even bother with these tests anymore. If you want to keep options open, many schools either require the scores or list them as optional.

Best of luck as you make decisions on your future.

Educated by Tara Westover

With overwhelmingly positive reviews from Bill Gates, Barak Obama, as well as consistently winning the best memoir of the year in 2018 by multiple institutions, I had to see if this book lived up to all the hype it seemed to be receiving from everywhere. 

Needless to say, it went above and beyond my expectations. 

Educated is the author’s own story of growing up in a survivalist family that did not allow anyone, least of all Tara, an education. It is the journey of her breaking free from the destructiveness of her family and ending up studying at Cambridge and Harvard.

This memoir is easily one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, if not only for the powerfulness of it. Throughout the memoir, you go from pitying Tara, to pride for all that she’s accomplished. 

One trait I love about Tara is her determination. As she starts studying for the SAT, she knew almost nothing and had to learn almost all of it by herself. For example, when she started practicing trigonometry for the first time, she had the math level of a 5th grader. But as she studied more and more, and was so driven that she passed the SAT without receiving any instruction other than her brother Tyler and some books. 

This book affected me in such a deep way that I feel as if it will resonate with me forever. Now whenever I’m doing my schoolwork and feeling unmotivated, I think about Tara and how hard she had to work to just prove she had what it took without proper schooling to get into high prestige schools. She was very independent and as someone who is striving to do so, Tara is someone I look up to.

Now because of her upbringing she did have a lot of mental health issues. After discovering herself, she was pushed away by her family. Even though she had spoken out to her other family members about how manipulating and damaging her childhood was, almost no one believed her. Because of this, her family ignored her, and even though they have been the root of almost all her problems, she finds herself heartbroken over this. 

But the main thing her family has done to her was the manipulation of ideals they have put upon her. As she was growing up she was taught that the government and all of its institutions were part of the illuminati and were out to kill them. The only thing Tara’s parents willingly taught her about was religion. In fact, when she attended college she couldn’t write the way other student did because she learned to read and write only from mormon texts, she had almost no idea of how to function in a normal society. When going through with all this manipulation her parents justified it in their name of their faith, but it is clearly radicalism, and it is so, so frustrating to read about. 

And with that I leave with you a quote from the memoir that perfectly encompasses the idea of finding your own truth:

“Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create.”

-Asli B.

Educated by Tara Westover is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Price of Admission by Daniel Golden

The Price of Admission (Updated Edition): How America's Ruling ...

This book was recommended to me by my friend who accidentally found this book online while she was exploring her college options as a student who needs financial aid. I wasn’t exactly drawn to reading this book at first simply by looking at its title. The United States of American is a nation where equality, justice, and freedom prevail, I thought. But curiosity still prompted me to read the first few pages of this novel and I was truly surprised at how much the rich and wealthy alumnus parents manipulate college acceptance officers to help enroll their children in the Ivy League universities.

I didn’t feel bitter because of the rich kids who, with mediocre academic records and criminal offenses managed to get into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. Well, life is unfair, and their parents just naturally are more powerful and connected to tycoons who with a phone call ensures the matriculation of a child into these universities. What I felt to be a decline in democracy, meritocracy, and most importantly, the prominence of the American education system—one which the U.S. proclaims to be of the top in terms of its position in the world—is the fact that scholarly institutions are no longer willing to discover talent and support intellectual efforts from the rough and lower socioeconomic tiers.

Wealthy legacy and children of generous donors occupy spots that they don’t deserve. Perhaps they don’t even think how many nights did students from working and middle class spent studying instead of partying like them. Is the advancement of education really still the major goal and core of private institutions, or in maintaining their status in the academic community and attracting tycoons their one and only aim now?

-Coreen C. 

You Will Be Mine by Natasha Preston

This was one of the best books I read. As always I enjoyed Natasha Preston’s book yet again; it was almost better than “The Cellar.” This book started with a scene of pure terror when all of a sudden two dorm mates get a letter signed to Sonny, one of their roommates. Included in the letter is a note that says “Your heart will be mine”, not only is it almost Valentines Day, but the note has no address stating who it came from. Not worrying too much about the note, Layla, Issac, Sienna, Charlotte, Chace, and Sonny go to a party to enjoy their break from college. Following their arrival at the party, they are accompanied with free drinks that were already paid for, but by who? Following the next day, Layla is startled to realize that Sonny never came home from the party, he is one to come home late, but with the startled advancement of the note, her roommates are questioning whether somebody killed him.

This book has the perfect amount of suspense, mystery, and action. This would definitely be a book I would recommend.

-Rylie N.

You WIll Be Mine by Natasha Preston is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

One Hundred Days

They told me high school would be a long four years, a time I would dedicate to navigating schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and a social life. A time when my stresses would only consist of getting the grades and the friends. That everything in my life had prepared me for this brand new stage.

When I was little, I used to dream of the days I would grow up into a teenager, go out with my friends, get a driver’s license, and even begin to drink coffee regularly. I couldn’t wait to join school clubs, meet more people, and bring a date to those formal dances everyone always talked about. Because this was the amazing life I had built up in my head all those years ago.

And I was told to hold on to it because it would all happen so quick. That I would soon miss the bottom lockers that no one wanted and the crowded hallways filled with people I’ve known since third grade. That I would learn to cherish it and make the most out of every second I had here.

But it wasn’t long before the time had escaped me.

Suddenly, they were telling me one hundred days. Only one hundred days until I was out of this building, out of this life, and moving on to a bigger, brighter future. Eight-year-old me, meeting my best friend for the first time on the top of the swirly slide at recess, could never have begun to imagine that my high school graduation and step into a completely life-altering environment was only one hundred days away.

Four years of trying to figure out who I was and what I liked, and I’m still not close to done. Now, I have to decide my future in one hundred days and counting. Impossible. But then again, I used to think being this age was impossible. I once believed I would always just be that girl waiting for that goal of becoming a semi-independent high school student, similar to how I can only envision myself being a slightly-more-independent college student.

Change happened fast and I didn’t realize how unprepared I was for that notice of one hundred days to completely turn my life around.

-Sabrina C.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Image result for fangirl bookFangirl….not a title that sounds like  your cup of tea? Well think again, because Rainbow Rowell’s brilliant and relatable novel encompasses a young adult’s perspective as she tries to navigate her first year in college. Cather, or Cath, is an incoming Creative Writing Major who already has a following for her work in online fanfiction, done so under a pseudonym. Snippets of her writings are also included between chapters to provide a balanced parallel and subplot. The novel also gives the readers some great insight on the online community, and how very real and important fan created content is to people.

Cath is beyond nervous as she goes off to college with her twin sister, Wren. Unlike Cath however, Wren is outgoing, daring, and a social butterfly. After Wren decides not to share a dorm with her sister, Cath is left to her own devices in navigating the new roommate, campus life, and her newfound independence. She is also quite witty, along with a few other characters in the book that provide many hilarious lines and nods pop culture. I personally identified with this novel, because of Cath’s introverted qualities, escapism in books, and social anxiety. In addition, Cath’s number one stress release is writing, as she gets lost into her world of writing about her favorite fictional characters. Her intense love for the book series Simon Snow, and the friends she made through it reminded me of how I feel that Harry Potter  shaped me into who I am, and it made me nostalgic for the midnight premiere excitement. I believe everyone can relate to that on some level, whether it be with a book series or movie, like Star Wars.

I recommend this book to anyone going to college soon, because it gave me some great understanding and insight on what to expect and look out for. I really loved how the author very subtly showed things the characters did, to foreshadow their true character. In summary, Cath’s first year in college is full of family drama, friend drama, writing career hurdles, inner conflict, and a potential romantic interest. Don’t miss out on author Rainbow Rowell’s unique voice!

-Ava K.

Fangirl is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library