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.

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

wonder_rjpalacioI recently finished the novel Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I had seen good reviews about this book and its ability to connect with readers from a wide age group. After reading the story for myself, I found a novel that was personable and heartfelt, teeming with life lessons. The book is about a 5th grader named August Pullman who was born with a facial deformity. It’s told from the perspective of various characters in the story, explaining how their lives are affected by August. August has been homeschooled his entire life, up until the 5th grade, when his mom urges him to attend a local elementary school. Apprehensively, August complies, and is hit with the expected reactions: stares, whispers, and giggles from his fellow classmates. Naturally, I began to develop a dislike for those characters who hurt August, and excluded him just because he looked different. I’d often ask myself how characters could be so cruel, how strangers could openly gawk at him with no shame. Unfortunately, the answer was simple; people are curious and often afraid of what’s different.

This novel really makes the reader inquire on what it means to be different. August dawns the same playful and curious personality of a 5th grader, just with an alternative appearance. One of my favorite quotes from the novel was “The only reason I’m not ordinary is because no one else sees me that way.” This line captures the essence of the entire story, reminding the reader that normality is simply an idea in one’s head. Differences are a thing to be celebrated; they make the world a colorful, interesting  place. However, problems arose when characters in Wonder couldn’t just see August as a human being, similar to themselves. Flowers come in a multitude of colors, lengths, and locations, but they’re still flowers. August’s face does not fit the typical standard, but it doesn’t make him less of a person. August Pullman is different; one look and anyone could see. Nonetheless, at the end of the novel, students and parents came to realize that August Pullman is not lost cause, a sad story. Just because he dawns his differences on his face, it doesn’t make him any more unusual than the next person. I recommend this novel to anyone and everyone; it’s a well-written reminder that variety really is the spice of life.

-Diana P.

Wonder is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download on Overdrive

 

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

harrypotter1_jkrowlingHarry Potter is an eleven year old boy, but not an ordinary one. Certainly not ordinary. He is a wizard. But he never knew this for eleven whole years.

Harry Potter is a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own through hundreds of mysterious letters. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends, Ron and Hermione, who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths: That they were killed by the Darkest wizard of all time, Voldemort.

Voldemort was such a powerful Dark wizard, that many feared to speak his name. He was know by common witches and wizards by “You-Know-Who.” Voldemort was part of Harry’s mysterious past, of why he was left on the doorstep of his mother’s sister’s house, eleven years ago. Harry’s mother and father, James and Lily Potter, were both of magical blood. Voldemort tried to kill Harry and his family one night at Godric’s Hollow, but failed to do so. Harry’s parents died tragically trying to save him, but Harry Potter lived on with only a lightning scar on his forehead to resemble his horrible past connected to Voldemort.

So this was why Harry Potter was brought to where his aunt, the Dursleys, lived, at the age of one year old. And he lived there for eleven years, not know he was famous, not knowing that Voldemort had tried to destroy him, not knowing he had broken the powers of one of the most powerful Dark wizards of all time. The young wizard lived with the Dursleys, where he was treated like a slave. But one day Hogwarts wrote to him, and off he went to the magical school, where he and his scar were famous.

At the magical school, Harry meets Ron, a good-natured, red-haired wizard, and Hermione, a bossy know-it-all witch at Hogwarts. Overtime, they become good friends. Harry found Hogwarts very exciting, what with all of his classes, perhaps except for Professor Snape’s class, which was Potions. He has never flown on a broomstick, played Quidditch, the popular sport in the magical world, or worn a cloak of Invisibility.

But not that his whole year at Hogwarts was fun. At the end of term, who other does he come face-to-face than Voldemort, his arch-nemesis. Harry barely manages to escape, but in the end he does, by using his wit and courage.

And there goes the story of a brave wizard, where he is remembered as the true hero at Hogwarts. However, he has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, which he is definitely not looking forward to. Oh, well. He can’t wait for his second year at Hogwarts, where he knows there will be more adventures to come.

I really liked this book, because it was really unique. Harry Potter’s adventures, Quidditch, everything, was so original. My favorite part of this book was when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went through a secret trapdoor to defeat Voldemort once and for all. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and adventure! I know I certainly enjoyed the book!

-Katharine L.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is available to checkout in multiple formats from the Mission Viejo Library and online through Overdrive

Manga Introduction: Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Haruhi Fujioka, a middle-class student, hopes to finish high school in the prestigious Ouran Academy as quietly as possible, but that is not going to happen in a school full of rich kids. She stumbles upon the Third Music Room where Ouran High School Host Club resides. The first encounter is not what would be called the most fortunate as Haruhi accidentally breaks a vase worth $80,000. To repay back this debt, she agrees to work for the host club, but to add to her misfortune the members of the host club mistake her as a boy. With this misunderstanding, she becomes the club’s errand boy.  Her story unfolds with the odd collection of high school hosts: President Tamaki Suoh, Vice-president Kyoya Ootori, Identical twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka and his cousin Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka. This is the story of her adventures with these characters and how she survives in the crazy world of the rich and eccentrics. From daily costume parties to romantic adventures on a island, her life is definitely not going to be as quiet as she hoped.

First off some basic facts:

  • The manga began in September 2002 and ended 8 years later in November of 2010
  • There are 18 tankobon volumes (manga books)
  • A 26-episode anime television series aired between April 5 and September 26, 2006 (Note: The anime does not cover the entire manga series, to completely finish it you will have to read the manga. Same applies the the live action)
  • There was a live action drama and film released in 2011

This is personally one of my favorites. I can admit I’m not crazy about romance and ridiculous scenarios but this manga I would read again and again. It has a female character who has her feets more or less set on the ground. A nice contrast to the rest of the host club who has a much more eccentric lifestyle. This is the only shojo manga which most of my friends have enjoyed. This most likely because the importance the manga places in friends and family. Also in how each character is properly developed and not left without a compelling backstory.

This is one manga I would recommend to everyone, even if they are not a fan of shojo manga. It will give a unexpected surprise. Of course I can say this for everyone. So discover it for yourself.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

 

Book Review: No More Dead Dogs, by Gordon Korman

no_more_dead_dogsLet me start off by saying: best book ever!

Wallace Wallace, (not a typo- that’s his name!) the most popular kid in school who is the football star, doesn’t tell lies… He has learned that lying is horrible; from his dad who lied on everything possible to Wallace, one of the big lies was that he was in the army. LIE! So that’s where Wallace learns not to lie from, so when Mr. Fogelman gives Wallace an assignment to read and give a book review about “Old Shep, My Pal” he writes this:

“Old Shep, My Pal by Zack Paris is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everyone equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End”; this book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”

Mr. Fogelman was enraged! How dare Wallace say that?! So after confronting Wallace, which ended in an argument, Mr. Fogelman gave a detention to Wallace where he would write a “proper’’ review, which meant he couldn’t play football until he was done with detention! And as everyone knows Wallace can’t say a lie! So how will Wallace be able to join football again…..?

And with that, something horrible keeps on happening to the school play… which Mr. Fogelman is the director; all eyes are on Wallace as the prime suspect. Nothing could be worse; the Giants are on a losing streak without Wallace! The team hates him, the drama club thinks he is the person who destroys the set of the play, and most of all how can he lie in his report!? You’ll have to read the book to find out what Wallace does…..

I would recommend this book to boy or girl ages 8-14. It’s an amazing read. Enjoy!

-Satej B., 8th grade

Book Review: Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor_parkWhile browsing Sparknotes one night for help with homework, I was lured into the “fun section.” You know, the section where you can find information about celebrities, current events, and popular books. Well, I’m very glad I did, because there was an article on great books to read during the summer. Eleanor & Park was near the top of the list. The comments on the book were mostly positive, so I decided to give it a try.

Guys, this book is really, really good. It’s funny, exciting, and relatable on so many levels. Eleanor & Park follows the lives of two teenagers in high school as they go through all of the awkward stages of love.

It’s not a typical, boring, lovey-dovey type of love story, but rather it is raw and honest. Both Eleanor and Park struggle to find their respective places in the world, and both have issues with their parents (problems I think most teenagers can easily relate to).

The story is told in a dual-narrative style, with both Eleanor and Park sharing their opinions on the events taking place.  I usually don’t like this type of narration because it can easily become repetitive and boring.  However, Rowell manages to keep it fresh, without rehashing scenes that the reader already knows about. Overall, the book was very enjoyable to read, and I definitely recommend it!

-Amanda D., 12th grade