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.

Advice From A Current Senior

I am now approaching the end of my senior year and have plenty of advice to give to those either entering high school, or those who will soon be seniors.

Sports

My top advice even before getting into classes would be getting involved with your school’s sports. Join a sports team, even if you’re not very good or nervous. You will make so many friends on a team and even more memories. I ran in track and field my freshman and sophomore years and still think back to all the great times I had. I was beyond nervous joining track but have no regrets now. Being a part of a sport will also greatly improve your mental health because you’ll be outside and exercising releases serotonin. 

Classes

I recommend everyone to at least try an advanced class at some point in high school. I especially recommend taking honors courses your freshman and sophomore years because the classes are relatively easy for the GPA boost. Secondly, I recommend taking all your harder classes your first three years of high school so your senior year is easier. You really do not want to overload your schedule senior year because you will probably be worrying about college, life after high school, or working a job. Finally, my last recommendation is taking health, civics/government, or economics online over the summer. Most schools should have this as an option and typically the summer courses are shorter than a semester. This will free up time your senior year to either get out of school earlier or take other electives you’re interested in

Extracurricular/Miscellaneous

My final recommendation is just getting involved with your school. Go to school dances, join clubs, and go to sport’s games. I never went to any dances my freshman and sophomore year of highschool and it has been one of my biggest regrets. Enjoy going to football games or watching other sports because you might regret it once you graduate. Finally, don’t be afraid to join some clubs. This will help you make friends, explore your interests and look good for college applications.

-Michelle L.

Biology? What?

Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science…. the list continues for a while. As a current high schooler, one of my new interests is learning about biology. When I first signed up for AP biology for the 2021-2022 school year I was not the most excited, to say the least. But, now being 5 months into the course, I am happy to say I made the right decision in choosing which course of the many sciences offered to take. 

Just like most people, when I go through my daily schedule, the interactions inside and outside of my body were not a thought that ever crossed my mind. But now, my perspective has shifted. One of the most interesting aspects of biology is learning how all of those little organelles inside of your body all work together to create specific outcomes that keep you alive. Unlike most other offered courses, normal or AP biology highlights the extreme complexity of organisms and how our bodies have evolved into completing intricate processes such as cellular respiration. If you are a person like me, someone that is always curious about how things we expect in life work, biology is an interest that may be worth picking up. 

For those of you reading this and still not found a spark of interest, you may be more interested in the other parts of biology. Currently, I am learning about genetics, or how organisms inherit distinct traits. If you have ever stared at your family and wondered why you look like none of your siblings even though you come from the same set of parents, it is not just a fluke. Siblings could show traits that even their parents do not have and it is still completely normal! Coming from a big family of 6, I had always wondered why I did not look like a single one of my brothers and sisters. Learning about recessive traits, dominant traits, etc… explains why there is such a low likelihood of you looking like anyone else in the entire world.

Personally, these types of topics are thoughts that have lingered in the back of my mind and now that I am actively learning about the interactions of life, are all answered. So, to any of you still reading this, I encourage you to find an interest that you find curious and interesting so that you want to find out more. Biology is a topic that applies to everyday life and is complex and always offers something new to learn.

-Lilly G.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Best friends to enemies, learning to adapt to new environments, and creating characters with unique personalities are concepts Soman Chainani effectively intertwined throughout his series, The School for Good and Evil. Sophie, a perfect young girl, and her best friend Agatha, the gloomy lone wolf, are brought into a world much different than their own. They find their fortunes reversed as they land in schools opposite of their personalities.

This series brings much thrill and excitement. Chainani takes you on an adventure full of twists and turns while creating a plot that is both complex and exhilarating. Personally, I enjoyed the different characters and how they were based off of popular fairytales. The description of each individual develops a unique image of them, and their actions throughout the story make them even more enjoyable to read. I also enjoyed the many details that Chainani included in his writing; it always made his work fun to read and easy to picture in your mind.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys plot twists, meaningful themes, and a hint of drama and romance. It’s perfect for those who love fairytales and using their imagination. It’s always been one of my favorite series to read, so I would most definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new book to read.

-Kaiya T.

The School for Good and Evil is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Libby.

You CAN Handle that Workload!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Now that most high schools have returned to in-person school everyone is feeling the academic and social pressure. The teachers were not hesitant to give a large workload for all students. I want to share some tips for time management that helps me manage my time while still taking 8 classes. 

My first tip is for those procrastinators out there taking many AP classes, feeling the work pile up faster than imaginable. This first tip is very helpful but may seem crazy to some. Personally, I set screen time on my phone from 5pm to 10pm. I get home from school around 4, I give myself a little mental break but once it hits 5 my phone blocks entertainment. I first thought this idea was going too far, but after several months it has really helped my procrastination. If I want to open instagram or tiktok I get a reminder that I should not be on my phone. This way I have a 5 hour window to sit down at my desk and simply work.

My next tip is to create a google sheet to plan both your homework and reminders for the day. Make a column for each of your classes on the top. On the right put each date and fill in the homework for each class. Whenever you finish an assignment turn the cell block green to show that you completed that task. This is a simple way to keep organized that does not require buying a planner. Also, personally I find motivation to turn all of the blocks green as soon as I can.

My next tip is to know your limit of classes. Some people, especially as they enter their junior and senior years, attempt to take as many AP, IB, and honors classes as possible. But, I would recommend taking the workload you know you can handle while still pushing yourself. This way you are not overexerting yourself to a point where you are not doing well in any classes.

My last tip is to take advantage of given class time and homework times during class! Oftentimes teachers leave 10-15 minutes to work on assignments. Many people tend to spend that time talking to their friends. I say get as much done as possible, your future self will thank you for it. During this time you are often more productive, have the teacher to ask any questions, and can get some of that work done before you even reach home. 

Overall my tip is find the best time management plan for yourself, as it differs from person to person. Once you find that schedule that fits your workload and personality perfectly, you will find dealing with all of the assignments will no longer be as daunting.

-Lilly G.

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.

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.

Preparing for school?

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

The much dreaded back to school season has finally arrived. Although it is a disappointing time for most, the best way to enter the new school year is to be prepared. By setting yourself up for success before the school year starts, your future self will be thanking you once the workload begins to pile up. 

One tip I would recommend is to get a daily planner before the school year starts. One of the hardest parts of being a student is keeping track of assignments, test days, and extracurriculars all at once. Finding yourself a planner that works before the school year starts will help boost your efficiency and time management. I would recommend looking on amazon to find cheap and durable planners. They have a wide variety of options where you can even choose which month the planner starts and ends on.

Although this tip seems simple it is important. Most students neglect to check if there is ever summer homework and it always comes back to bite them in the butt. So, before school starts make sure to check your high school’s website to ensure you have all the summer work you need to do. This way the first tests on the summer information will not cause your grade to drop as soon as school starts. 

Another tip I would recommend is refreshing up on your previous year’s math concepts. One of the most difficult parts of returning to school with math is carrying over the skills you learned. Unlike other subjects, math tacks on the cumulative information that you have been learning since middle school. Going to Khan Academy or simply watching review videos on YouTube will help tremendously in starting the school year off strong and with a high grade.

For those taking AP classes, another huge tip I would recommend is buying test prep books at the beginning of the school year, along with reading the basics of the class which is available on the college board website. AP classes throw so much information at you all at once. Having a very simple basic understanding of what you are going to learn will help. Also with review books, you can make sure you understand each concept as you learn it by trying the practice questions.

Although these tips are simple and seem quite basic or unnecessary, they will be very beneficial once you begin receiving 2 assignments for each of your 7 classes. These small changes and advancements will put you ahead and will helps you receive that strong starting grade that is crucial in determining how you will success in a class. 

–Lilly G.

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY (complete, unabridged and with all the original  illustrations from first publication) - Kindle edition by DICKENS, CHARLES.  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Nicholas Nickleby is a boarding school teacher, an ambitious young man who is left penniless by the death of his father. His usury uncle not only refused to extend his hand to help, but uses his sister’s beauty for his own profit. He was upright and kind, and fled back to London to help abused schoolchildren. After many trials and tribulations, he fought with bad guys and exposed his uncle’s plot. Finally, he succeeded and married the girl he loved. Through his experience, the author reveals that at that time, the so-called poor run schools were actually profit-making places, the students suffered from hunger all day long, and whipping became the most important means of education.

Like most of Dickens’ works, Nicholas Nickleby is set in a contemporary setting. Most of the action takes place in London, with some episodes in Portsmouth and some in Yorkshire and Devon. This work satirizes social injustice in the form of irony. In the subject matter of this book, the main one is the education at that time. Dickens strongly criticized the education system at that time. He believes it is a serious crime that the British education system allows poorly functioning boarding schools to abuse children. Kindness and compassion are the main themes of this book. Noggs also plays the role of guardian angel because he is kind and upright. The friendship between Smike and Nicklyby further shows Dickens’ pity for some unfortunate people.

Greed is also an important theme of the novel. All characters make others suffer for their own financial gain. Most of their mistakes are caused by the love of money. Just as the Bible says: Money is the root of all evil. The book also deals with sexism and the passage of teenagers into adulthood. The book tells the story in the third person. Sometimes, the feelings of the characters are directly written out, and sometimes the feelings or thoughts of the characters are indirectly expressed through some small actions or facial expressions. When Dickens describes the abused children in chapter 8, he employs different rhetorical devices such as exaggeration, metaphor, alliteration and personification to leave readers with images of those children.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

schoolofgoodandevil_somanchainaniIn the school for Good and Evil, there are two friends: Sophie, a vain young woman who believes she is good, and loner Agatha who does not like others. They live in what appears to be a perfectly normal town. Except, two kids always go missing once a year, taken to the School of Good and Evil by the school master.

That night rolls along again, with Agatha and Sophie being taken away. But something seems wrong: Sophie, the “good” girl is taken to the School of Evil. Agatha, the “evil” girl, is sent to the School of Good. The girls go through their classes, trying everything in their power to get switched to their rightful schools until they break into the Headmaster’s office who gives them a task that, if completed, will send them home. For example, what is Sophie’s task? Sophie must do something no evil student has done before: Find love.

Soman Chainani weaves a terrific story of love and fantasy and adventure. With plot twists at every turn you never know what is going to happen next. This book is perfect for one of those lazy days when you feel like picking up a long book. It takes you though many adventures and even has you thinking about your own personality. All in all, this is a very well written book.

-Ava G.

The School for Good and Evil is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.