Education

fall supplies 2014

‘Tis the season for going back to school, and we all know what that means: new school supplies. Start your semester off on the right foot with these handy notebooks, planners, and tools. Don’t start your new classes without these seven necessities:

1. Big Monthly Planner – A big calendar made for big plans and big dreams. Mark all of your important dates, and never miss a meeting, class, or event again.

2. Thought Cloud Sticky Notes – Have a brilliant idea? Write it down! Don’t want to forget something brilliant your teacher said? Note it.

3. Moleskine Classic Notebook – Take notes, write down your to-do’s, and jot down your ideas and accomplishments.

4. Sharpie Chisel Assorted 8 Pack – When you want to make a statement, do so in a big and colorful way. Sharpies are perfect for labeling, notes, and crossing things off of your to-do list!

5. Pencil Case – A durable pencil case will hold your statement Sharpies, writing tools, school ID, and anything else you need for class. We like the handle at the end for easy access from your backpack.

6. Camelbak Water Bottle – You all know very well that water is incredibly important. Stay hydrated throughout your classes, sports practices, and after-school clubs with a reusable water bottle.

7. Lime Green Streamer Binder – Your backpack can get pretty packed. Avoid wasting time searching for specific class binders and just assign patterns and colors to each class. This binder definitely stands out.

Image: Laiwan Ng, Flickr (edited)

CollegeEducationHigh SchoolInspiration

The transition from college to high school is a weird time. Not only are you getting ready to embark on a new journey in your life, but you might be going on a journey that is different from your friend – some of whom may decide to go to a different university, take a year off to travel, or maybe they don’t see themselves continuing with their education. Whatever their choice ends up being, it will usually end up being different from the one you make.

That is a hard realization to come to, and for many of you, you are already trying to navigate your collegiate experience without the people you have spent four years (or more, if you knew them before high school) of your life with. Luckily, we live in a society where technology has advanced and we don’t have to rely on writing letters to communicate with someone. So, if you’re missing your friends, you can always video chat with them or send them a text.

As it gets to be later in the semester, this line of communication may be hard to keep up, especially once you start getting involved with activities and get bombarded with various assignments. You might even make new friends that share the same interests or are taking the same courses you’re taking.

It’s never easy to talk about ‘letting someone go,’ especially if you’ve known them for a long time. This is not to say that it is impossible to stay friends with the people you went to high school with when you’re in college. Many people are able to keep the friendship intact, which is always a great thing. But if you and your friend(s) grow distant over time, that’s okay too.

We grow up a little each day, and sometimes when that happens, we become different people. The jokes we used to make with our friends might not seem as funny as they used to. Our definitions of fun changes and we just grow away from the people we used to be close to. When I was in ninth grade, I thought the people I befriended would be my friends forever. While we still message each other on Facebook from time to time, we don’t have the bond that we use to have. That is partly because none of us are the same people we were when we were in high school. This might apply to many of you because you just started your first semester of college. I think it’s important to talk about this now because no one told me that I wouldn’t have the same friends after I graduated from high school and went to college. No one told me that the people I sat with at lunch for four years would become strangers.

This might not happen to you but if it does, don’t worry about it. When I say ‘let someone go,’ I don’t mean that you should close them out of your life forever. It’s just that if a friendship has run its course, let it run its course. Some people are in your life for seasons, and others, especially the ones you meet in college, may become your lifetime friends. It’s up to you to decide who those people will be.

On the other hand, you might have had friends who partied a lot and participated in things they shouldn’t have participated in while they were in high school. If you were the kid who hung out with that crowd, it’s up to you to make the decision on whether you still want to keep those kind of people in your life. People can tell a lot about the kind of person you are based on the people you associate with. You might see or understand the importance of choosing your friends carefully right now but, trust me, as time goes on you’ll begin to understand why people don’t always keep in contact with their friends from high school or why people change in the first place.

It’s up to you to decide whether someone will benefit your life in any way, or if the person you used to get into trouble with when you were in high school will keep you from reaching your full potential and having the best collegiate journey you could possibly have. I’m not saying that you can’t be friends with the girl you used to party with a lot or the guy who used to do crazy pranks. It’s just that if they’re still the same way and aren’t going in the same direction you’re going, you don’t have to cut them off completely, you just have to distance yourself from them so you have room to grow and to become the person that you want to be.

College will change you and your life. Whether for good or for bad, that is entirely your decision. Just make sure you have the right people in your life because part of what changes you is the people you associate yourself with. You’re not going to be the same person you were in high school, so don’t be afraid if your friends aren’t the same either.

Image: morguefile

EducationSkills

Many of us can’t wait to be out the doors and in our dorm room, but when the time actually comes, it can be difficult to finally say goodbye. Whether it’s to your friends, family, or even your co-workers who you never thought you’d miss, goodbyes aren’t easy. Here are some tips to make giving that final hug a little easier:

1. Make Plans

As summer comes to an end, your days will start to get numbered. Make time for the people you care about. Have a group of you and your co-workers go out to eat after work or have a beach day with all of your closest friends from high school. Do the things you love with the people you love. Don’t put off spending time with people you care about because saying goodbye is just around the corner.

2. Pictures

Don’t forget to take lots of pictures while you’re out spending your final moments with your favorite people! Putting pictures in your dorm will make coping with goodbye so much easier. They’ll make your dorm feel homier and help remind you that your friends and family will be waiting for you when you go home during breaks.

3. Social Media

Social media helps so much with saying your final goodbyes. Whether it’s just a #throwbackthursday post of Instagram with your besties or a Skype call with your brother, social media will remind you that even though you may not be able to physically be with your friends and family, they’re still there to talk and listen.

An important thing to remember is to not spend all of your time trying to keep in touch with your friends and family. While you’re at school, make sure you focus on your studies and have time to add new people to your life. Don’t worry, your friends and family will always be there for you, and they’re always just a phone call or text message away. The time you spend apart will make the time you spend together so much more special, and you and your friends will have a lifetime’s worth of stories to share come winter break!

Image: Civilon, Flickr

HealthSkills

Like many returning college students, the next few weeks will be a whirlwind of textbook hunting, syllabus sighing, and alarm clock slamming. Being a senior (and preparing for a thesis… or two…), I would love to say that I’m used to the First Week hustle and bustle. But like the Freshmen who are moving into the dorms, and like the underclassmen who I’ve come to know, I end up losing a bit of sleep due to all the excitement. There are a few things that I’m sure people get nervous about, like meeting professors, finding your place, and academics. Here are a few things I tell myself, and they might help you out too!

“I’ve done this before.”

Freshman or senior, this applies. You’ve taken those SATs, AP exams, midterms, and finals. You’ve met new people, made new friends, and survived an awful prom night with terrible acne (eck). College is a little better because you (hopefully) like what you’re doing and you can change your mind if you don’t. If you don’t know what you’re doing, this is a good chance to explore. The tip here is to be confident in yourself. You might be worried about the workload, and the syllabus may look intimidating, but that’s okay. You’ll meet upperclassmen who can tutor you and classmates who will study with you. You’ll meet people who relate to you more than ever. Do your best and fear not. Take one step at a time.

“I am who I want to be.”

This comes in handy often. In a new environment, you might find yourself wondering if you will fit in somewhere. You might see yourself change a bit (your clothes, your music tastes, your interests). That’s a normal and healthy thing to do. Don’t feel too pressured to do something if you don’t think it fits you, but do embrace things that seem to feel right. For example, I didn’t particularly like watching movies until I got into college. I was a bookworm and that was the end of it. Now I try to watch one or two a month because it gives me something to talk to people. I didn’t become a movie ­snob (a term I use endearingly), but I am giving it a shot and it has added to my view of the world. You are always you, and no matter who you meet, who your new professors are, or who your peers are, that one fact will never change. Be open-minded but be honest with yourself. This will help you keep a good balance.

“It’s okay to mess up.”

This applies for both of the previous things, but people forget this one often. Anxiety, nervousness, fear. These things come from the feeling that we humans can’t understand or control something. That’s natural and everybody feels these emotions. You might be nervous about a test, or you failed one and you’re afraid of failing the next one. But who will find you ten years from now and ask you, “How did you do on that one quiz in Freshman year Design in that class in room 912 in building C with Professor Twitts?” Probably nobody. And who’s going to come up to you and ask, “Do you remember that one time when you went to that party and stood around awkwardly?” Also probably nobody. Chances are, everyone is feeling like you – they’re freaking out about who they are and what they want to be – and they’re so occupied with that they won’t remember the little things that might consume you at the moment.

So incoming Freshman and fellow seniors, and everybody in between… are you ready for a new semester? Put your worries and fears aside. All of your experiences will be great stories one day, so have no fear, and go forward with confidence!

Image: Unsplash

EducationHealth

Preparing for college starts the minute you walk through those front doors on the first day of high school. The classes you take not only affect your GPA, but affect what schools you can apply to and how prepared you are when it comes to deciding on what you want to do for the rest of your life. Here are some tips for those going into and currently in high school to prepare for college:

1. SAT Scores

The dreaded test many of us spend three of our high school years stressing over and preparing for may not be as intimidating as you think. Yes, SAT scores are important, but if you don’t do well on them it doesn’t mean you won’t get into college. Of course, some schools such as Ivy Leagues are extremely competitive and require high SAT scores in order to get accepted, but there are more and more schools that are starting to realize that judging a persons’ academic skills based on one single test is unfair. If you’re not a good test taker, look into these schools! Many schools no longer require SAT scores as part of the application at all, but even those that do are starting to weigh them less heavily. Coming from experience, I can say that whether you have extremely strong SAT scores or not will not directly impact your acceptance to most schools, however it does impact the grants you receive. The higher your SAT scores, the more money your school is willing to give you as far as academic grants go!

2. Dual Enrollment

Though not all schools have dual enrollment programs, more and more are starting to add them. Dual enrollment classes typically give you college credit through your community college as long as you pass the class; no test required. They’re free and a great way to gain college credit! Though not all colleges will accept them as transfer credits, many do and it looks great to have college classes under your belt when applying to schools regardless! These classes can end up saving you tons of money and don’t necessarily have to be harder than any other class you’d take in high school.

3. Honors/AP Courses

Yes, honors and AP courses are extremely helpful when it comes to getting accepted into a majority of schools, but they aren’t the end-all, be-all. If you don’t feel as though you’ll do well in these courses, don’t stress yourself out. Instead focus on doing the absolute best that you can in the classes that you’re in to get the highest GPA that you can. If you’re willing to take on harder courses, I can’t stress how important it is to start your freshman year. Your classes will be your easiest then, and they can really boost your GPA. Don’t slack off just because you think you have four more years to get your grades together. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!

4. Your Schedule

Your guidance counselors are most likely to tell you all about the importance of taking challenging classes in order to look more appealing to colleges, but what they don’t tell you is that taking diverse classes are just as important. Yes, it looks great to take that Honors Algebra 2 class or that AP Environmental Science, but it looks just as good to have Theater and Sculpture on your schedule. Colleges want to see diversity and that you’re able to balance a variety of different things and excel in them.

5. Extracurricular Activities

As I said above, diversity is key. Colleges love seeing that you’re in National Honor Society, but they love seeing that as well as your involvement in the spring musical and basketball and writing for the school newspaper. Colleges want diverse and unique students to come to their campus in hopes that you will bring that diversity to their campuses!

Overall, enjoy your four years because as corny as it sounds they fly by! Have fun, be yourself, and pursue your passions.

Image: Flickr

Education

When it comes to packing up our bag for school, the main motto is: Less is More. When you’re lugging your backpack around all day from class to class it’s better to focus on the essentials rather than extra stuff that seems necessary at first but is actually just a pain in the neck (literally) later on. Focusing on the most important tools also helps you keep clutter at bay, leaving more time for fun and productivity rather than stress over a bag full of, excuse our French, crap. So what exactly are our essentials?

Take a look and get packing!

1. Backpack

Okay, this seems so obvious it’s silly but stick with us. The type of backpack you carry matters. Even though side bags are popular we prefer to stick with a traditional, two-strap backpack that goes around the shoulders. It’s better for your back, neck, and shoulders, especially when you’re probably carrying more than 18 pounds of weight around.

2. Two pencils, two pens, two highlighters

It might be tempting to bring an entire case of writing tools with you because well, they’re fun. But please, for the sake of your sanity, don’t do it. Bring one or two of each and focus more on the assignment than what you’ll be using to write it with. Plus, studies reveal that the less small decisions we have to make in a day the more energy we have for big things that matter.

3. Small bag for personal items

This could include a contact lens case and solution, personal hygiene products, Chapstick, hand cream, Advil, allergy medicine, a small Kleenex pack –whatever you always seem to need but never seem to have. If you aren’t totally sure what those items might be jot down what you keep reaching for during the first week of school.

4. 16 oz. reusable water bottle

You can refill this as often as you want and leave it in your locker before heading home. If you play on a sports team it’s also a great way to stay hydrated throughout the day without realizing it! Plus it’s nice to have right after gym class.

5. Laptop and charger when necessary

Every school is different when it comes to the laptop and electronics policy but if you’re allowed to bring your laptop to school it could be a great tool for getting work done in between classes or during a free period.

6. Planner

You already know that Carpe is old-school when it comes to planning. High school is where you’re learning to juggle multiple schedules at once (academic, athletic, extra-curricular, personal) so it really helps to have a quality planner that you can keep track of everything in.

7. Cell phone

Just make sure to keep it on airplane mode during class.

8. Wallet

This is the ultimate place to keep basics: $15 of cash, debit card, driver’s license, and student I.D. Done and done.

9. Keys

Car keys, house keys, bike keys, locker keys, you name it.

10. Headphones

Headphones are great. Whether you’re relaxing before an exam or jamming out while doing homework, headphones can be an awesome tool for focusing in or purposefully zoning out. Library tip: Even if you don’t have music playing h a red flag that you don’t want to be bothered.

What do you keep in your backpack? Did we miss any essentials? Let us know on Twitter @carpejuvenis #backpackessentials

Image: Flickr

HealthSkills

Being a student isn’t a walk in the park. There’s always a paper to write, a homework assignment to complete, a book to read, a test to study for, and the list goes on.

This is why I like to think of both college and high school as four year careers. Sure, it doesn’t provide you with any kind of salary, but the lack of an income doesn’t stop any of you from hoping that all of your hard work will pay off in the end.

Why is that you ask? Well, I like to to think it’s because we all have a particular equation drilled into our heads. It might look different for you, but basically the equation goes like this:

Completing every assignment + Participating in class + Doing well on tests = __________

There are a number of outcomes to this mathematical problem. If you’re in high school, doing all of these things could mean getting straight As, graduating at the top of your class, and getting into the university of your dreams. In college, it could guarantee that you’ll make the Dean’s List every semester and possibly gain you admittance into your college’s honors program.

The point is, we all have our reasons for working hard in school. We all have short and long term goals that we strive to achieve during our scholarly careers.

But what happens when we don’t reach those goals? What happens when that equation, though simply put, becomes more complicated than we thought it would?

I know no one wants to think about the alternative to success. If we’re set on accomplishing all that we want to do, what is the point of thinking about that seven letter word that begins with an F? Some people might think they’re immune to this word because they’ve always gotten good grades, participated in class, and received stellar grades on their tests. While it’s always good to think positively and to never doubt yourself, it doesn’t do you any good to think you’re invincible or that the seven letter word, which almost always feels like a punch in the throat, will define us for the rest of our lives.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the word I’m talking about is failure. So many of us are afraid of it because, for whatever reason, we believe that if we ‘fail’ we have to automatically consider ourselves failures. Oftentimes, the standards of success and failure that we live by are the ones we set for ourselves.

Our greatest critic is the one living in our heads. No one else will be as hard on you as you are on yourself. This can be a good and a bad thing. Because while we have the ability to push ourselves to do better and to be better, we also can drive ourselves into a very negative place.

Failure is such a heavy word. And it hurts. Especially when you feel that you haven’t lived up to your idea of what success is. Again, we all have goals and dreams, but somewhere along our journey to achieving all that we set out to achieve, we forget that we are only human and that it’s okay to not succeed all the time.

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy and that I’ve never ‘failed’ in my life, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying this. However, I am writing from experience. This past year was hard for me because I was juggling six classes and set high expectations for myself. It really hurt when all of those expectations weren’t met. I started to see myself as a failure because I had ‘failed.’  As I’m sure a lot of you know, the bad thing about seeing yourself as a failure is that it affects every other aspect of your life. It makes you doubt yourself more and it makes you not want to strive for other things because you feel like it’s impossible for you to succeed now that you haven’t accomplished one or many of your goals.

Whether that goal is getting into the university of your dreams, making the Dean’s List, or graduating at the top of your class, don’t be so hard on yourself. You will always have opportunities to do better, be better, and learn from your mistakes. I know it hurts and I know you don’t see it now, but life will go on. You will be great and wonderful and you will not, I repeat, you WILL NOT be a failure if you ‘fail.’ If you have given something your all, that’s what truly matters. Don’t dwell on the past or what you haven’t accomplished because it’s only going to hinder future successes and, trust me, there will be an abundance of those if you continue to believe in yourself.

You just have to keep going and keep your head up; realize that not achieving a goal doesn’t make you a failure and being hard on yourself is not the answer to those questions that I posed earlier. If you don’t reach your goals, make new ones and try again. If you don’t get perfect grades or do well on a test, instead of wasting your time and energy on beating yourself over what you consider to be failures, learn from your mistakes and remember that failing, though it may hurt, is not a bad thing. How you deal with failure, on the other hand, is what can potentially tear you down and make you forget how amazing you truly are.

So again, don’t be so hard on yourself. I know this is easier said than done (trust me, I know) but once you relieve yourself from the guilt and the pain that tends to come with ‘failing,’ you’ll begin to see that success starts when you accept your failures and stop seeing yourself as one.

Image: morguefile

CultureSkills

Most of us haven’t had to make friends since high school, and even then we didn’t have to start from scratch. Going out to a new place on your own – some of us not even in our home state – can be pretty intimidating. Most of us aren’t used to having to make a whole new group of friends. Here are some tips on how to break out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and make the most of your college experience.

Start Early
Making friends takes time and the only way to speed up the process is to start early. If your college or university has a Facebook group, you’re in luck. Social media is the easiest and holy grail of ways to make new friends and meet new people in general. Post on your school’s page and post a brief paragraph about yourself including your name, major, where you’re from, and a few interests and hobbies that you enjoy. Breaking the ice yourself and starting the trend is always an easy way to get the ball rolling!

Have Questions and Ask Them
If you end up talking to any of your future classmates one-on-one through any sort of social media, have a few generic questions to ask. Questions that can allow you to get to know people and see if you have anything in common can include asking what their major is, how far they live from the school, what their hobbies/interests are, if they have any siblings, and what music they like to listen to. These basic questions always lead to more in-depth conversations and allow you to get to know each other.

Keep the Conversation Flowing
Don’t let the conversation die out. By letting the conversation end, you’re losing the opportunity to continue the relationship you’ve already started! There are always more questions you can ask to break the ice. Feel free to start a question game and go back and forth asking questions you’re curious about. Feel free to ask for someone’s phone number if you’ve been talking for a while as well as their other social media accounts to keep the relationship going.

Be Open-minded
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Try to connect with as many people as you can, regardless of if you think you’d have nothing in common with the person based on their 2010 profile picture. Never pass up an opportunity to talk to someone new; you could be missing out on your future best friend!

Have a Positive Attitude
If you have a positive attitude not only about making friends, but towards the people you’re making friendships with, you’ll be a lot more successful. A smile or exclamation mark can really break a shy person out of his or her shell, so don’t forget to spread the happiness!

Overall, be yourself when meeting new people. Never try to be someone you’re not. College provides an opportunity for you to find the people you really click with and make friendships that will last for years to come!

Image: Unsplash

EducationSkills

Last week I shared a few tips on how to get involved on your campus, this week I’m here to talk to you guys about how to find the clubs that are right for you. While it is true that joining clubs allows you to get involved, clubs aren’t fun if you’re not really interested in the ones you’re a part of.

And though clubs can be fun, keep in mind that they are also commitments. Once you decide to join a club, you are responsible for attending all of the meetings (within reason), show up on time (again, within reason), follow club rules, participate in events thrown by your club etc.

You don’t have to worry about those responsibilities just yet. I just want you guys to keep them in mind when you’re at your school’s activities fair. Speaking of which, seeing all of the clubs and organizations with their respective stations at the activities fair can be a little overwhelming, especially if your campus has more than forty clubs to choose from. And even if your campus doesn’t have that many, it still doesn’t make deciding which clubs to join any easier.

You could always sign up for all of the clubs at once and then go to each club’s first meeting to see if you like it, but then you run the risk of missing meetings that might be going on at the same time.

This is not to say that going to every club meeting can’t be done, but it’s always good to have an idea of what kinds of clubs you want to be a part of just so you have a smaller, more manageable list to work with. If you’re not sure what kinds of clubs are available at your university, make sure you check out your school’s website. There should be a list of clubs available there. Don’t worry if you can’t find it. You can still make a list of things you either like doing or are interested in. Before you groan and say how much you don’t like making lists, let me just say that it doesn’t have to be a very long one. It doesn’t even have to include sentences if you don’t want it to. Also, if you were part of clubs in high school that you really liked, add that to your list. Chances are there will be something similar offered on your campus.

Your list might not be as vague as this one, but here’s an example of a club list you can create:

  • Writing
  • Books
  • Mock trial
  • Doodling
  • Singing
  • Leadership
  • Learning about other cultures

I know this list isn’t long, but as I said before, it doesn’t have to be. I don’t want to write a book about things I’m interested in because from these seven bullet points I can think of a reasonable sized list of clubs to join off the top of my head. But let’s pretend that I can’t think of any clubs to join and that I have no idea what kind of clubs/organizations my campus offers.

In that case, I can do one of two things:

1. I can use my list as a guide when looking through the clubs and organizations listed on my college’s website. It will help me narrow down any list, regardless of the size, especially if there’s a search engine on the site i.e. Penn State’s Student Organization Directory (in case you’re wondering what a site like the one I described might look like).

OR

2. If I can’t find a club/organization directory or website of any kind, I can wait until school starts and go to the activities fair. Each club will have their own table on it with a sign so it’ll be like using a search engine, only in real life. Look for the signs with words that are similar to the ones your list.

Let’s pretend that I did both of those things on two separate occasions.

If I were to choose the first option, I would type in the words from my list into the search engine (assuming that your school’s club website has one. If not, your search might take a little bit longer) and look through the descriptions of every club/organization that pops up. After that, I’ll jot down the ones that appeal to me so that I have another list; one filled with clubs I want to check out during the activities fair.

I used Penn State’s Student Organization Directory to make another list to show you:

  • Writing: InState Magazine, Kalliope, WORDS
  • Books: African Library Project, Book Club
  • Mock trial: Debate Team, Mock Trial Association
  • Doodling: Art Club
  • Singing: The Coda Conduct, University Choir, Women’s Chorale
  • Leadership: Atlas, Blue & White Society, Bridges to Prosperity, Circle K
  • Learning about other cultures: AHANA

See how I turned a list of seven into a list of sixteen? I could’ve made it a bit longer because there were still more clubs in each category but, to follow my own advice, I only picked the ones that really appealed to me.

As for the second option, I can’t check out all of the clubs at once, but as I do with a search engine, I can utilize keywords. There will be signs and posters at the activities fair, so find the ones that relate to your interest list. I like writing so chances are, signs that say campus literary magazine or newspaper will appeal to me just as much as the student government association, international club, and the debate team would.

Clubs are a great way to get familiar with your campus, get involved, make new friends, and once you become a full-fledged college student – de-stress. So choosing the right ones for you is important. Like I mentioned before, being a part of clubs take a lot of commitment, which is why you want to be sure you join ones that fit your interest. Again, I know it might be overwhelming, but if I can take a list of 1,024 clubs (that’s how many are offered at Penn State) and narrow it down to sixteen in less than an hour, so can you! And don’t worry if your university doesn’t have a website for the clubs. I personally used the second option my freshman year, and it worked out for me.

Now what are you waiting for? Go make YOUR list.

Image: Colgate.edu

CultureEducationSkills

I used to work in a zoo. Yes, a zoo. While this may seem silly, bizarre, or abnormal, I learned a lot from being around seals, baboons, and alpacas. I would have never expected that volunteering would be useful for me, but it was a quite the experience.

I went to a high school that required community service hours, and most students fulfilled this by working at the local library or at a senior service center. Bor­ing! I wanted to work somewhere fun, something new and unexpected. After some searching around, I found out that the local zoo was in need of some volunteers. After an interview in the wallaby (tiny kangaroo) pen, I was accepted immediately and began spending my Saturdays hanging out with Brooke the sheep.

I was volunteering once a week that summer. Because of the free time, I was able to dedicate myself to learning the materials I needed to teach visitors about our variety of birds and mammals. Best of all, I didn’t need to worry about school. Volunteering over the summer lets you really give your all, so take advantage of it.

The reason I wanted to volunteer at the zoo was because it was a first­time experience. I’ve never, ever worked with animals before. All I’ve ever had was a pet goldfish! I was worried that someone (including the animals) would get hurt, and a part of me was a little afraid of them.

The great thing about volunteering is that many places are often willing to teach you what you need to know. They probably know you’re new (after all, you’re only in high school) so don’t worry about not knowing how to send that official e­mail or handle the Twitter account. If you can’t get a job because you lacked the skills, volunteering at a nonprofit can help you gain those skills. Volunteering opens you up to new experiences and lets you learn things that might come in handy later.

Another reason I wanted to volunteer was because it would allow me to try something I’ve always wanted to try (but never could!). I like being outdoors and teaching. Yet, I never quite found something in the neighborhood that allowed me to do that. Now that I’m in college (and deciding on majors, and looking for jobs, and all that “adult” stuff), I know what and who I want to work with. It turns out that I’m great with kids, but I’m not so helpful on a stage. Volunteering lets you find out what you like or don’t like, and that’s good too!

So this summer, go out and volunteer! If it’s three days a week, or just an hour or two on a Tuesday night, it doesn’t hurt to try. You’ll learn something new about yourself and hopefully enjoy yourself as well. Have fun!

CultureEducationHealthSkillsTravel

*Background information: The Congressional Award is an award for young Americans (the only award given to youth by Congress), and was established in 1979 by the United States Congress. As a participant in the program, you set and meet goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. Based on time commitments, you earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Congressional Award Medals.

I first learned about the Congressional Award in 2007. As a junior in high school, I thought that I was already over occupied with activities and volunteering. However, while I was involved in academic and extracurricular activities, I was not setting goals or measuring my achievements in ways that would help me grow and learn more about myself or my community. After learning more about the Congressional Award and realizing what new opportunities and growth I could experience from the program, I recognized that it was never too late to set goals and try new experiences.

The Congressional Award positively impacted my life from day one. From the moment I knew I could be a part of this program, I had no doubt that my life was going to change in a great way. While I have learned many lessons, there are three in particular that stand out the most. The first way the Congressional Award has played a positive role in my life is by allowing me to experience things I never would have otherwise.

For example, for my Gold Medal Exploration, I planned a road trip following the Mormon Trail and the destinations that my great-great-great-great grandfather documented in his journal as he led a wagon train to Salt Lake City, Utah. Through this journey, I learned a great deal about my family history, the difficulties my ancestors faced, and saw parts of the United States I may never have seen without the Congressional Award giving me the motivation and reason to do so.

The second way the Congressional Award has positively influenced my life is that it presented me with the chance to learn more about myself through the process of evaluating my strengths and weaknesses, setting goals, determining steps to make my goals a reality, and to improve upon my previous achievements. As I earned my medals and set new goals for each new level, I had to push myself further than I did before, and being able to self-analyze and learn what I was capable of achieving was eye-opening and critical in my self-growth.

The Congressional Award is an organized journey with the freedom to choose your own paths. It is because of the structure of the program married with the individual choice to decide what activities to be involved in that brings me to the third way my life has been positively influenced. Although participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals as an amazing honor for accomplishing goals and hours, for me the program was never about the material achievements, but the personal non-tangible rewards I attained along the way, such as perseverance, dedication, self-motivation, and confidence. There is no question that the Congressional Award has positively influenced me, and it is an experience that has provided endless lessons and will remain a positive force in my life.

Next week, I will be accepting the Congressional Award Gold Medal from members of Congress. I have no idea what is in store, but I’m excited to find out. I will be tweeting updates about the journey via @carpejuvenis, so be sure to follow along! It is an honor to be awarded the Congressional Award Gold Medal, and it will be a very humbling and eye-opening experience.

[The photo above is me receiving the Bronze Congressional Award Medal from Congressman Reichert.]

CultureEducationTravel

Backpacking through the Trinity Alps, kayaking down the Salmon River, conversing with local school children in rural Chile…these experiences are just the norm at the Alzar School.  And Elena Press, a sophomore at Upper Dublin High School, located outside of Philadelphia, was one of just ten participants in its Fall 2013 session.  From mid-August through the end of December, Elena attended the fully accredited semester school, partaking in the schools “Six Foundations:” leadership training, academics, outdoor adventure, service learning, cultural exchange, and environmental stewardship.  The school, based on a 100-acre campus in Cascade, Idaho, is for motivated sophomore and junior students.  Students participate in significant outdoor expeditions, learning to whitewater kayak, backpack, rock climb, surf, ski, snowshoe, and more. Its academics are challenging, all honors and Advanced Placement, and the leadership opportunities that are provided are what Elena describes as “once-in-a-lifetime.” But these high level courses are distinctly different from those familiar to a traditional high school. The Alzar School emphasizes critical analysis, creative thinking, and effective communication, while using its unique resources to provide a vast variety of hands-on experiences for its students.

Elena Press elaborates:

Before beginning the process, I was hesitant to depart my highly regarded high school, as well as the town I had lived in my whole life.  Leaving behind friends, family, school, clubs, and activities would be an immense sacrifice. Of most concern, since I was missing a semester of my customary education, was how this would impact my future?  A typical worry of many teenagers is college.  Many students, including me, wonder: What classes should I take?  How can I earn the best grades?  Should I get more involved in my community and service projects?  How many awards can I receive in my high school years?  Yet colleges love seeing students partake in unique activities and take risks, two items surely fulfilled by an experience at the Alzar School!

A frequent activity of the students at the Alzar School is kayaking. Students kayak in Idaho, Oregon, California and Chile, providing many opportunities for a first-time kayaker, like me, to increase their knowledge of this riveting sport. I vividly remember staring with wide eyes and quaking in fear as I gingerly paddled in my kayak, mortified at the prospect of going down Snow Hole, a Class IV rapid. My instructors insured me that I was capable and reviewed the line with me multiple times. Then, I went down. I did it! And I flipped over and swam out. Consequently, I discovered that kayaking is absolutely thrilling; you can choose to challenge yourself however much you desire. The uncertainty of being under the water’s influence taught me to push myself, but kayaking is all about community; my friends and I learned many lessons from each other, and constantly supported and cheered one another on, whether doing a flip in the air, or leading down a rapid for the first time.  This is one of the reasons why the Alzar School integrates a large amount of kayaking into the students’ time.  The school considers it a great medium for empowering young leaders.

Of the five months spent at the Alzar School, students spend two weeks traveling through the Northwest, six weeks in Chile, and the remainder of the time in Idaho.  When traveling to Chile, students fully immerse themselves in the culture, vastly improving their Spanish skills by participating in a homestay program, attending a Chilean school and conversing with locals. By traveling through Chile, I discovered that smiles and laughter can break even the strongest barriers of age, language, and culture. The traveling opportunities are not presented purely to allow the students to experience new places, but to open their hearts and minds to other parts of the world, and an unknown culture.  All these contribute to the ultimate goal…to empower and teach young individuals to become leaders in our world today.

Throughout the semester, I learned to plan and lead expeditions and service projects. Alumni continue to develop the leadership skills they acquired from their time at the Alzar School by creating a Culminating Leadership Project to make a difference in their home communities and the world.  The goal of my CLP, Girls Outdoor, is to foster an appreciation of the environment by exposing young girls to the outdoors.  I’m planning and taking 19 Girl Scouts on a three day camping trip. This will involve, among other things, teaching them Leave No Trace principles, risk management, and camping planning.

My semester at the Alzar School was the peak of my high school career and a highlight of my life. The greatest benefits that I acquired from the experience were figuring out who I am as a person and becoming confident in that person, while gaining a support group of the most incredible lifelong friends and mentors from all over the world. From chopping wood, to teaching Chilean kids how to kayak, I’ve never had more fun doing anything. I overcame limits, fell a lot and laughed even more, and found out quite a bit about myself in the process. I wish that every high school student could partake in an experience like the Alzar School offered me.

 Elena encourages anyone who is interested in the Alzar School to check it out.  For more information, visit www.alzarschool.org

EducationSkills

Let’s face it: interviews are stressful! There’s no denying that interviews lead to increased anxiety, rushes of adrenaline, and panic over not knowing what to say. Use these tricks below to help you shine and prove why you are the best candidate for the job.

Basics:

1)   Maintain eye contact.

2)   Give a firm handshake.

3)   Remember to smile.

4)   Arrive ten minutes early.

5)   Dress appropriately.

When in doubt, dress nicer than you think you need to. Looking sloppy is the easiest and quickest way to start off on the wrong foot.

6)   Bring an extra copy of your résumé*.

*Don’t necessarily keep this in front of you, but have a fresh copy stowed away in a bag or briefcase. Use your own judgment to assess whether or not to offer a copy to the interviewer.

7) Keep a notebook and pen in front of you.

Not-So-Basics:

8) Ignore that little voice in your head.

There is a common saying that we are all our own worst critics. That little voice in your head telling you that you aren’t prepared enough, that you aren’t qualified for the position, that you aren’t ready, IGNORE it! Switch off the emotional voice and focus in on the pragmatic one. Don’t stand in your own way! You can do this!

9) Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Carpe likes to prepare in two simple ways: personal and professional.

For the personal preparation, update your résumé. Make sure it is up-to-date with the most relevant information (i.e. if you are now a sophomore in high school consider removing random activities from before freshman year; if you are now a sophomore in college consider removing anything from high school that does not highlight an important personal asset). Take a look at Purdue University’s Online Resource for how to create a great résumé.

Secondly, prepare professionally by doing thorough research on the company you are interviewing for and the people you are interviewing with. Two good places to start are on Linkedin and through the website of the company or group you are interviewing with.

10) Have information in front of you.

Create “cheat sheets” for yourself. Print out a copy of your own résumé and highlight the three main parts that stand out. This will provide you with a quick reference for your personal agenda (see below). Warning: don’t look down at paper for more than a quick glance to guide your thoughts. You want to keep the conversation flowing.

11) Set a personal agenda.

Before the interview begins, decide on a couple standout points that you want to work into the conversation. It could be as simple as a fun fact about yourself to help the interviewers remember you, or something more specific like the latest project you worked on and how it challenged you. Depending on how long the interview lasts, try to work in 1-3 important points that you believe will set you apart from the rest of the competition.

12) Send a reminder e-mail.

Sending a brief and polite e-mail the day before an interview can be a good way to make sure the interviewer is still available to meet. Let them know what you will be wearing and reiterate that you are excited to speak with them in person. Sending this short email will help sooth your nerves the night before.

13) Send a follow-up email.

Always send a follow-up email or card to thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration. I would recommend sending this follow-up a few hours after the interview or early the next morning.

14) Offer to pay.

If you are meeting for coffee or a small meal, offer to pay. It is appropriate to spend about 5 to 15 dollars.

15) Be able to confidently answer, “Why do you want to work here?”

You need to know why you want the job. If you can’t think of a reason right away, reconsider if you are aiming high enough or following a true passion. At Carpe we pivot all the time to follow what inspires us, and you should do the same.

16) Don’t be afraid to ask, “Why should I work here?”

You matter. You are valuable. You are going to be contributing to a team and working hard, so ask the tough questions and don’t be afraid to demand what you deserve.

No matter how informal or formal an interview is, these steps will help guide you in the right direction.

How do you prepare for an interview? Let us know!

Education

Not only does a new year bring new goals, new classes, and new friends, but January also means that a new semester is starting. For high school seniors, this semester is critical. It is the last few months that you will spend with friends you’ve known for years, it is the time to create a legacy for your class, and it is a time where major life decisions are being made, such as where to attend college or what to study during your gap year.

The countdown begins for seniors, and it is bittersweet because these are the “last time” experiences that you will cherish for a while. You have five months to make your last semester of high school awesome – these 6 ideas will help you make it a semester you’ll never forget.

Designated dress-up day. When I was a senior in high school, my classmates and I wanted to leave a legacy. We wanted to do something memorable. What we decided to do was coordinate dress-up day for one day of every month. This took a lot of effort even though we were a fairly small senior class because in order to pull off the stunt, every single senior had to be dressed up – it had more impact this way. Every month all of the seniors would meet and decide the theme of the month. On dress up day, all of the other non-senior students were thoroughly entertained and surprised. Dress-up day also brought our senior class closer together and gave everyone something fun to participate in. Dress-up ideas include: toga, 70’s, the Great Gatsby, Under Construction, school colors, Hawaiian, mismatched, sporty, ugly sweater, one color, twins, and alphabet.

Connect with teachers. High school teachers are fantastic and they have been there throughout major growing moments in your life. Get to know your teachers better so that when you graduate, you can keep in touch and visit. The loads of homework your teachers assign can be annoying, but don’t let that deter you from getting to know them better.

Get to know your classmates. If you have found your close group of friends that you are comfortable with, that’s awesome. But remember that there is always room for more friends. Get to know classmates you didn’t have the chance to talk to last semester. The friends you make this semester might be your friends for life. Take the time to talk to people you don’t know before graduating and leaving for good.

Nix the drama. High school is filled with unnecessary, stressful drama. And guess what? It’s never worth it! Reject participating in drama and allow yourself to have a stress-free semester that you can actually enjoy with friends. Don’t let petty drama ruin your last days of high school.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Your last semester of high school is the perfect time to try something you didn’t have the opportunity to do during the last three and a half years. Step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. If you are shy and didn’t have the chance to try your hand at drama, audition for the school play. Always wanted to make a 3-pointer? Tryout for the basketball team. Your last semester of high school should be fun and filled with new experiences that could change the course of your life. Who knows, maybe the pottery class you decided to take last minute will inspire you to major in Art in college! Use this time to try new activities and discover new things about yourself.

Go to the Prom. Whether you go with a date, your best friend, or your sister, go to prom and have fun. Try not to worry about being asked or how you look. In a few years there’s a good chance you won’t even remember the dress you wore, but I can guarantee you will remember how much fun you and your best friends had laughing together. Many seniors opt out of going to prom, but it’s one night of your life and you can make it the night you want it to be.

How are you going to make your last semester of high school awesome?

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EducationExploreSkillsSpotlightTravel

Alternative Education Highlight: High Mountain Institute

Education comes in all shapes and sizes; there has never been a “one size fits all” when it comes to learning. Figuring out how you learn best is a challenge that you should continue to tackle until you discover what works best for you personally. Carpe Juvenis recently sat down with Megan Morrow, High Mountain Institute (HMI) alum, to talk about the high school semester program she took part in her junior year. Megan now studies at Johns Hopkins University where she majors in Global Environmental Change & Sustainability.

HMI is a program for academically driven high school students interested in an outdoor educational experience. HMI focuses on building students’ relationships with nature and their community through full physical and emotional integration. Based in Colorado, students take AP level place-based classes in tangent with learning survival and camping skills. There is a campus with off-the-grid cabins and fully functioning classrooms where students live and study when they are not busy leading hiking expeditions and camping explorations.

HMI offers a range of programs: Semester, Summer team, Apprentice Program, High Peaks Adventure, and Wilderness Medicine and Avalanche Safety courses. If you’re interested in applying to HMI, click here – applications for Fall 2014, Spring 2015, and Summer Term 2014 are due February 15, 2014.

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to Megan Morrow. Read on to learn more about her experiences at High Mountain Institute!

Carpe Juvenis: What exactly is High Mountain Institute?

Megan Morrow: High Mountain Institute (HMI) is an outdoor education program combined with experiential education. There are around fifty students from around the United States and you go on a set of three backpacking expeditions that are interspersed throughout the semester. You take normal classes that you would in school but you continue them when you’re on your hiking trips.

CJ: Would you recommend that someone apply to HMI and why?

MM: Yes, definitely! I was really hesitant to go and spent the entire month after I got in deciding whether or not I wanted to go. I actually replied late saying I would. But [HMI] helps prepare you for going away to college because you’ve already done it before for four months, and being in a small community forces you to deal with people. But [the staff] also teaches you about conflict resolution, getting along with people, and working with group dynamics. Its something I never thought I would be able to do … but being able to spend more than a month in the Colorado and Utah wilderness is amazing. I would have never been able to do that in my regular high school.

CJ: What is a challenge or difficulty you faced that took you by surprise?

MM: I expected that I would be homesick – and I was – but I got over it. The hardest struggle for me that I didn’t expect was that it took me a really long time to adjust back into real life again. I got so close to the people [at HMI] that I had a really hard time going back to school.

CJ: How did you feel about the academic aspect of HMI?

MM: The academics I think are really, really good. You have scheduled time to do work every night for two hours. [And work is continued on hiking trips] so you’ll have English class discussing Henry David Thoreau, or you have to do a science lab on your expedition walking around looking at trees, collecting data, writing essays, and all that. The other component is leadership training; you go over types of leadership, how to be a good leader, and you have to be “leader of the day” twice throughout an expedition where you lead your small group of students and you have to use topographical maps and make decisions about when to rest and how far to walk. As expeditions go by you become more and more independent.

CJ: Is there a certain “type” of student that should go to HMI?

MM: I think it definitely helps to be an outdoorsy person, but it was a mixture of people. It’s been interesting to see how [the students in my semester] have all grown up through college because we’re not all the same type of person. I think what’s interesting about something that [happens] in high school is that I was still young enough that it helped mold me. I was young enough to not come into it with such a strong identity that I wasn’t willing to be changed by it. I was sixteen when I went.

CJ: Has HMI stuck with you in any way?

MM: That’s actually where I started getting interested in environmental science. It’s a natural science program there so we would do water tests near old mines and learn about pollution and go to logging areas and learn about the succession.

Carpe Juvenis would like to thank Megan for her time and insight about HMI! For more information about this awesome person, check out her study abroad blog, as well as her professional blog

Photos courtesy of Megan Morrow

EducationSkills

Keeping track of homework assignments, sports games, music lessons, extracurricular clubs, and social activities can be challenging. High school can be the best time to explore all of these great things, but learning to juggle them requires major organization. These are tips that we find useful when we have busy schedules and want to plan out our days.

1. Pack up before bed. High school is often characterized by late nights of projects and studying, and a strict wake-up time, sometimes as early as 6:30am! Packing up your backpack and gym bag before bed, as well as choosing an outfit for the next day, usually takes around ten minutes. If you simply crawl into bed without this small preparation, you might find yourself groggily trying to stuff things in your beg before running out the door. Packing the night before means remembering all of your homework, and having extra time in the morning to either sleep, eat breakfast, take a shower, or simply prepare mentally for the day ahead.

2. Pack a snack. This tip may sound silly, but throwing a granola bar/apple/banana into your bag before you leave the house in the morning can make all the difference between classes. That small burst of energy will enable you to stay awake through your third class and power on!

3. Decide what to do during free period. If you have a “free block” during the day – meaning there is no scheduled class but a block of free time – decide what to do during that time. Rather than letting an hour slip by, choose an assignment, project, or miscellaneous task to accomplish. It might be hard to pull yourself away from friends, but using that precious time wisely might allow you a full extra hour of sleep that night!

4. Use a planner. We have said it once and we will say it again: planners are essential! When you receive syllabi from your teachers at the beginning of the semester, write down when all major projects and tests are due so you can focus your attention to the immediate rather than worrying about future assignments. Using a planner in high school can also help you keep track of club meetings and outside-of-class help meetings. An organized planner usually results in a relaxed mind!

5. Dress the part. You may have heard this mantra when it comes to job interviews, but it also applies to school and class. Keep in mind that dressing that part does not necessarily mean wearing a suit and tie, but rather maintaining a strong level of appropriateness while attending class and interacting with your advisors and teachers. Throwing on sweatpants and a sweatshirt might be the most comfortable option, but it can also be viewed as sloppy and inconsiderate to your teachers who prepare lessons for class everyday. Keep in mind that when it comes to asking for college recommendations or job references, having looked presentable will surely give you an extra edge.

How do you plan out your day?