CollegeEducation

Senioritis is all too real, especially with it being finals season, and even graduation soon for some students. While procrastination is already heavily prevalent across all colleges, senioritis is exceptionally worse. Keep reading to learn some strategies on how to stay focused on work, graduation, and post-grad plans.

The end of the semester is either the last thing on your mind because of the mounds and mounds of work you have left to do, or the very first thing on your mind – summer vacation! Yet for many seniors, the prospect of the end of the semester is both exciting and terrifying. Not only are you worrying about all of your classwork, you’re also pouring over graduate school or job applications, apartment listings, and trying to hang out with your friends as often as possible before you all go off into the real world.

How seniors approach the end of the semester can either be stressing out about all of the above, or just acting very apathetic to the work in front of them. Many fall somewhere in between, yet neither is quite healthy for your mind or your grades. Here are some tips to stay focused all the way to the end and still enjoy their last semester in college.

Stay Organized

The quickest way to senioritis, skipping classes, and unintentionally lowering your grades is by not staying organized. If you have your schedule written out on five different pieces of paper and you’ve suddenly reverted to being a freshman in high school and losing all of your homework, you need to either invest in a school planner, or start using a calendar on your phone. Between a constantly changing softball schedule, class hours and my on campus job, Google calendar is my lifesaver.

I’m a list maker. I make lists for literally everything: groceries, homework due, what I’m eating during the day, what non-homework things I need to get done, you name it. So because of that, I have two constant lists: Homework To Do, and Other To Do. Oftentimes the “other” is what I call “productive procrastination” – looking at job sites, car dealerships, recipes my friends and I want to try when we’re off the meal plan, and things my parents want to do when they come out for my graduation. These are all things I have to do at some point anyway, so whenever I’m feeling extra unmotivated to do homework, I switch over to my other list and see what I need to get done.

Juggling all that needs to get done before graduation can cause anyone’s head to whirl. Sometimes it can be too much, but it doesn’t have to be. Alternate what kind of work you do which days: Monday/Wednesday/Friday you do school work, and Tuesday/Thursday you spend the day job searching and apartment hunting. That way, you stay on top of both without stressing yourself out too much.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself is knowing what you can and cannot do during the day without going insane. That includes getting as much good sleep as possible, eating well multiple times a day (taking snacks to class if you don’t have time for lunch works well), and even exercising on a semi-regular basis. These small things are often overlooked, but are essential to not going crazy.

Instead of attempting to pull an all-nighter, when you feel like you’re too tired to do any more work, take a shower and go to bed. It’s better to do it the next day when you are feeling more energized than attempt to carry on working in a half-zombie state of mind.

Take an hour or so out of your day to go to the gym or take a nice walk. It can also be a social hour if you feel like you haven’t been able to spend enough time with friends.

Spend Time With Your Friends

Before you know it, your friend group is going to be pulled apart in different directions as people follow their dream job or attend grad school. Make some time every day to catch up with someone, it can be as small as getting coffee or as big as a shopping day or going to a baseball game, so that you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your last semester of college.

Find Motivation

This might be an odd thing to have on a list of way to keep yourself motivated, but sometimes it’s really that simple. For some, their motivating drive stems from getting their work done so that the end of the semester can be spent relaxing with friends. For others, it can be the pending email about a job prospect. Yet for a whole other group, they need small, attainable goals to keep them motivated for the last two months of the semester. It’s very easy to be so stressed out that you end up doing nothing productive – don’t fall into that black hole. Instead, set a small goal of completing your homework for the day and rewarding yourself with an episode of your favorite show (ONE episode – small goal, small reward!).

Make Playlists for Different Moods

Some people do this for fun, and some dread it (like myself). As someone that will listen to anything, I’m not always aware of what kinds of music affects me when. However, I’ve noticed that I do more and better work when I’m listening to instrumental music rather than top 40 hits. But to get out of bed, I need something pop-y and fresh to get me going for my 9:30am class. Whether you make your own playlists or borrow from Spotify (that’s what I do), find your fit.

Set Aside Guilt-Free Time For Fun

It’s still college, after all. You will remember that time you and your friend spent all day contemplating the importance of a (very) attractive side character of your favorite show than the night you spent doing work. After landing your first job or getting your master’s degree, your GPA won’t matter. It’s about the experiences and memories. Know what is important and what is important to you, and find the best balance of both. If that means forcing your friend to do homework with you so that you can see her AND study for that test on Friday, then do it. If you choose to go out with the boys tonight, just remember to make up that work the next day. Life is all about balance, so find yours.

Image: Flickr

CollegeEducationHigh School

Boarding school is a foreign concept for a lot of people. Some people might mistakenly think that boarding schools are just for wealthy, privileged, white kids, who are troubled and whose parents want to get rid of them. In reality, a boarding school is almost like a college for younger students. The application process is similar to colleges’ too – you need to submit PSAT test scores, TOEFL for international students, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and often have an interview. Some students say that they’ve worked harder in boarding school than college.

Boarding school prepares you for college. While other freshmen in college might be experiencing home sickness and having difficulties adjusting to living in a dormitory, boarding school alums have already gone through these experiences, and moving to college is as stress-free as moving into a new dorm. Boarding school’s rigorous schedule prepares you for the future. Students are typically in class until 4PM, and then they usually have mandatory sports, dinner, “study hall” (usually an 8-10PM time period for students to do homework; social media websites, like Facebook, might be shut off during that time), and at 11PM, lights are turned off and the Internet shuts down. This schedule helps students develop their time management skills and leaves no room for procrastination. Students must also give back to their community and fulfill a certain amount of community service hours. Classes at some schools are based on the Harkness table principle (oval table with enough room to seat 12 students and a teacher) and revolve around discussion, rather than lectures. Once you graduate, you’re more than prepared for college and have a powerful alumni network and lifelong friends, who are like brothers and sisters.

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Myth #1: Boarding school is like Hogwarts!

Books, movies, and TV shows have created a “classic” image boarding school life. People compare it with shows and movies, like Zoey 101 and the Harry Potter series. While boarding school students do have fun on and off campus on the weekends, surviving boarding school takes a lot of work, dedication, motivation, and self-discipline. The shows are right, however, about eccentric personalities and the formation of long-lasting friendships.

Myth #2: Diversity is rare at boarding school.

Boarding schools draw students from a variety of backgrounds and different geographic areas domestically and internationally. They actively seek diversity in order to create meaningful opportunities for students to interact with each other – not only do they study, play sports, participate in various extracurricular organizations, and volunteer together, but also live together. The conversations in the classrooms and beyond force you to be open-minded because people from various backgrounds share their diverse opinions. Students challenge each other’s views, but also respect each other tremendously. Boarding schools do everything to be safe and inclusive spaces for students, at the same time requires them to step out of their comfort zones. Most importantly, a boarding school is a home for students, faculty members and their families, and pets.

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Myth 3: Kids don’t have fun at boarding school.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that there are a lot of rules and curfews at any boarding school. If you want to go off campus, you have to sign out and back in, and if you’re leaving overnight your parents or guardians have to approve your visit and your host has to confirm you’re coming.

Even though strong academics are a key focus of boarding schools, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Throughout this journey, you make incredible friends. You bond easily in various situations; if you’re an honor-roll student, some schools make “study hall” optional as a reward, so you and other honor-roll students can go to a café and play ping pong or watch TV. Maybe you bond while traveling to other schools and playing a sport competitively; maybe you connect through the conversations you have in the dining hall or activities on the weekends.

Some boarding schools don’t allow you to drive a car if you live on campus, but the school provides buses during the weekends to take you to various events or trips, you just have to sign up. Want to go to a mall, or a movie theatre? They’ll take you!

Myth 4: Boarding school is for kids who are having trouble at home or school.

There are two types of boarding schools – college-preparatory boarding schools and therapeutic boarding schools. Sometimes the two are confused, which causes misperceptions that boarding schools are only for “troubled” children.

College-preparatory boarding schools are for motivated students who are already doing well academically and are looking for new challenges. All the schools profiled in Boarding School Review are exclusively college-preparatory boarding schools. While preparing students for college is also a goal at therapeutic boarding schools, they are equipped to work with students who face various challenges, such as behavioral or emotional problems, learning differences, or substance abuse.  Boarding School Review does not list therapeutic boarding schools.

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Myth #5: Everyone wears uniforms.

While this might be true at some schools, others have dress code requirements, not uniforms. For example, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday might be required professional business attire, Wednesday is a casual “Polo shirt” day, and Friday might be formal where you have to wear your school’s blazer and colors.

A lot of thought should go into your decision whether a boarding schools is right for you. You should be able to answer the following questions: Do you feel ready to move out from your house and step out from your comfort zone? What sort of goals do you hope to achieve with the help of the school? Do you have good grades? Can your family afford your education or would you rather save money for college? Boarding schools are costly, with board and tuition ranging from $40 to even $70 thousand dollars. Of course, you can apply for financial aid and scholarships. Finally, is it worth going to a boarding school if you have great public or private schools in your area? Another option is attending a boarding school as a day student, if you live near by. It is also a good decision to enroll as a post-graduate (PG) student to raise your GPA if you don’t have the grades that would get you in to your dream college.

Images courtesy of Demi Vitkute

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

When the Carpe Juvenis co-founders, Lauren and Catherine, were doing research for their book, they stumbled upon someone who immediately inspired them. Determined to get in touch, they sent out a cold email and were so happy to receive a warm reply. Claudia Krogmeier, just a freshman in college, has already experienced and accomplished a lot. When she was younger she moved with her family from Texas to Singapore, where she dove into working part time as a model and starting her own style blog (doing both while attending high school and applying for college). While living abroad, she also received permission to continue working toward her Congressional Award Medal and can proudly boast (although she’s probably too humble to actually boast) that she is a Bronze Medal recipient. We are excited to share Claudia’s exciting story, which is just getting started…

Name: Claudia Krogmeier
Education: Boston University
Location(s): Singapore, Houston, Boston
Follow: Website / Instagram

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Youth Youth”?

Claudia Krogmeier: I thinking seizing your youth is mostly about living up to your own potential and not standing in your own way.

CJ: You are originally from Texas in the United States but now live in Southeast Asia. What was that transition like and what were some challenges you faced during the process? How did you overcome those challenges?

CK: The transition from Texas to Singapore was of course difficult, especially when changing from an American high school to an American high school in Singapore (SAS). Culturally, Singapore is immensely different from America so it takes some time to better understand the locals, to adjust to the increased amount of work I had at SAS, and to strike a balance between everything that is important to me; service, time with friends, sports, traveling, and school work. Once I found a balance among all the things I wanted to spend time doing, I was able to really take in everything South East Asia had to offer.

CJ: You will be attending Boston University next year! What are you looking forward to, what are you nervous about, and do you have any idea what you want to study?

CK: I’m mostly looking forward to finally being able to learn at a more robust level with professors who are extremely knowledgeable in my chosen field of advertising. I’ve known since I was 7 that I want to be in advertising because of the dynamic and creative process. I’m also really excited to explore Boston, a new city that I’ve only visited once. I’m nervous about the immense change (like the cold weather- yikes!) and re-integrating into American culture, even if it has been only three years since I’ve lived in America.

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CJ: Let’s pretend you’re about to do the entire college search and application process over again. What advice would you give yourself?

CK: I would remind myself to remain calm! The entire task seemed so daunting at first, but now that I look back I should have stopped myself from being so nervous and worried! Everyone really does end up at a school that is right for them.

CJ: What’s the best advice you’ve received so far?

CK: My mother always reminds me that nothing will ever just come to you. If you want to do or be something, you have to be the one to do it. She always says, “What’s the worst that can happen? They say no?” So, with that in mind I’ve always gone after what I want, whether it is an internship at a marketing company or starting my fashion blog.

CJ: How do you measure success?

CK: Success is mainly internal. Of course positive feedback or outside support is nice, but the most important thing is to feel validated on the inside. I love to set clear goals for myself in all aspects of my life, and when I achieve them I feel I have a measured success, big or small.

CJ: You run the awesome style blog Claudia Krogmeier: A Style Blog. Where does your interest in style come from and what advice would you give any young person about figuring out his or her own style?

CK: Ever since I was young I’ve been very entwined in all things creative and aesthetic, so fashion was a natural progression for me. Style is really so different for every person and very personal, but the epitome of style is when someone feels confident about themselves with what they’re wearing. I’ve learned that figuring out your favorite self-aspects and accentuating them will make you feel unique and strong, no matter what your style is.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and juggle all of your responsibilities? Are there specific tools you use?

CK: Honestly, it’s really hard to stay organized. School is my first priority, then all other work and service endeavors follow. Staying organized really comes down to me prioritizing what is most important. Setting alarms on my phone before a club meeting at school or before a modeling casting also really helps!

CJ: What are your best tips for traveling?

CK: Take opportunities to explore, whether it is a great food truck a block away or a new museum across the globe, and do as much research as you can before you go! Ask friends and utilize Google to find all the best spots for wherever you’re travelling to. By knowing what to do and what to look out for, you can make the most of your trip.

CJ: You also do some part time modeling. What made you decide to pursue this interest? What was an unexpected aspect of that type of work?

CK: I first started modeling in Singapore because I arrived over the summer in 2012 and had nothing to do, so I thought modeling was the perfect way to stay busy and make a little money. I had been asked to sign with Elite Models in America, but after moving to Singapore I signed here. I quickly started getting booked for shows and jobs. It’s hard to manage it when I’m in school, but modeling is such an amazing way to meet creative designers, photographers, makeup artists, and other models from all over the world. Modeling has been such an incredible experience because I’ve been able to experience Singapore through such a different lens. I’ve met so many more different kinds of people and seen different parts of Singapore that I never expected.

CJ: How do you deal with difficult days and move past them? What have you learned about overcoming struggles?

CK: When I have a difficult day I really lean on the most consistent people in life, my friends and parents. I try to focus on what I can do to improve the situation or how I can move past it. Struggles are part of life and without them we wouldn’t grow into better, more dimensional people.

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CJ: You have earned your Congressional Award Bronze Medal – Congratulations! What are some of the activities you did to earn your hours?

CK: I’ve been a part of volleyball since the 7th grade, so a lot of my physical hours came from all my time playing volleyball. I earned a lot of hours for modeling and marketing/advertising internships under the personal development category as well. I’ve also been very involved in Caring For Cambodia, a Singapore based charity that builds and supports schools in Cambodia. Most of my service hours came from all the time I spent in Cambodia with the students and the club at my school that I helped run.

CJ: What did achieving your Bronze Medal mean to you?

CK: Achieving my Bronze Medal was mainly a huge validation for me. It was one of the few times I felt satisfied and rewarded for the things I have done.

CJ: If you could have lunch with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be, what would you eat, and what would you ask that person? 

CK: I’d like to have sushi with Kristen Wigg just so I could laugh for an hour and a half.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

CK: Avoid as much friend drama as possible (it is never worth it!) and allow yourself to be a little more carefree at times, and remember that there is so much more ahead.

 

Claudia Krogmeier Qa

Images: Ryan Al-Schamma

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

The life of an entrepreneur can be stressful, overwhelming, and busy. It can wear you out, and it’s important to make time for your personal life. Abhay Jain, the co-founder of SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love, knows how brutal the life of an entrepreneur can be. Earning a B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and later receiving his JD from Duke University School of Law and an MBA from Duke University (The Fuqua School of Business), Abhay is no stranger to academia, hard work, and constant learning.

With one more year left in grad school, Abhay came up with the idea for SoundScope and utilized his professors, classmates, and classes to further his business plan and hone his idea. Now he works on his startup full-time in New York City and works hard to make his idea a reality. We’re excited to introduce you to this smart and ambitious entrepreneur – read on to learn more about how he decided what to major in at Virginia Tech, how he managed to earn both a JD and MBA, and which books and resources he finds most useful.

Name: Abhay Jain
Education: B.S. in Bio-Business and Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); JD from Duke University School of Law; MBA in Business Administration from Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business
Follow: SoundScope.com / @SoundScopeNYC / / @JainAbhayk

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

AJ:  “Seizing your youth” means taking the time to learn about yourself. For me it meant traveling, living in new cities, meeting interesting people, and taking every opportunity that came my way. If you don’t know what you want, try and figure out what you don’t want.

CJ: You majored in Bio-Business and minored in Psychology at Virginia Tech. How did you decide what to major and minor in?

AJ: I was an “undecided major” when I first got into Virginia Tech. When my dad and I went into the academic affairs office he said, “You are at a tech school.  Why don’t you go pre-med until you find something better?” In hindsight, it was a smart move from my dad to lure me into becoming a doctor because I was far too lazy to venture to the other side of campus to change my major. Instead, I just added things that interested me. I thought psychology and consumer behavior were interesting so I took the classes I liked.  Plus, this girl I was crushing on was a psych minor, so that was also a draw. Ha. Before I knew it, I had completed the prerequisites for a dual major and a minor.

In retrospect, I’d like to say I was super methodical in my course selection but I knew my learning style — I just couldn’t excel at coursework I didn’t enjoy.

CJ: You also received your JD / MBA from Duke University Law School and the Fuqua School of Business. What led you to your decision to go back to school to receive these two degrees?

AJ: A bit of serendipity, I suppose. I spent every summer of college traveling and experiencing potential careers. One summer, I worked at a few hospitals across Southeast Asia. No matter how much time I spent with the doctors, I was far more enthralled by the work of the hospital manager. Similarly, I spent a summer at the Department of Justice in D.C. and found the ability to impact organizational change exciting. As you can imagine, finding a legal or managerial job with a pre-med degree is not that easy. So, I leveraged my “pre-med knowledge” to get a job at a, then, fledgling pharmaceutical startup. A great learning experience — I got laid-off after 12 weeks. Fortunately, it was 2008, the markets were tanking and I had seen the warning signs. So, I spent my spare time studying for the LSAT and applying to schools. Within weeks of my forced vacation I had an acceptance letter in my hand, a bargaining chip for other job opportunities, and a modicum of respect from my parents.

CJ: A JD / MBA combination is an interesting way to learn about law and business. What was your experience doing a JD /MBA program like? What does the workload entail, what would a day in your life look like, and how did you manage the stress of earning those degrees?

AJ: The learning Duke provided me was truly life-changing! I went from multiple-choice tests to writing and arguing 50-page papers. The JD helped me sharpen my mind in terms of spotting issues, resolving conflicts, and persuading others of my point of view. The MBA restored my quant skills and brought a piece of practical applicability to my academic pursuits as well as strong Rolodex of Duke Alums.

That being said, the JD was a steel-toed boot to the face. Imagine: being surrounded by some of the smartest and most stressed people you know competing academically in an area you know nothing about, going from the world of black-and-white certainty to shades gray and uncertainty, and reading dense legal jargon for five hours a night and being harassed by former politicians and litigators in a room full of 100 peers yearning to outwit you. It was punishment for six months until I finally got the hang of it. Once I understood the system, however, I really enjoyed the thought and learning involved.

Business school on the other hand was dramatically different education. It was a mix of overzealous networking, excel, calculus, calendar invites, and theme parties. To be perfectly honest, I was a bit burnt out from academia at the time and couldn’t stand lots of my overeager peers for a couple months. However, my last year as it all came together I truly enjoyed both realms of the education and savored the life-long friendships I made at both schools.

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CJ: After graduation, you founded SoundScope, a mobile platform that allows people to choose their night out based on the music they love. How did this idea come about and what were your steps for making it a reality?

AJ: During my grad school experience, I had the opportunity to work in various roles in cities around the country. My favorite of which was New York. My summer in finance in New York meant I had very limited time to go out. I always had a passion for music and going out and wanted to make the right decision since my time was limited. I wondered why there were so many amazing things happening in NYC but no way for people to find them?!?

Luckily, I had one year left in grad school so I used my concept for every major class assignment. Thus, I got to use the skills and expertise of my peers and professors to better hone the idea, build a business plan, and connect to people that could help execute.

CJ: What have been the greatest lessons you’ve learned in starting your own business?

AJ:  People are the most important element of any business — I can’t emphasis this enough. Find people that are smarter than you that are reliable and hire them.

CJ: Every day in your life must look different depending on your projects and the time of year, but what does a Monday look like for you?

AJ: Get up and try to make it into to the gym early. Make a list of all my objectives for the week and what we missed last week.  Get into the office at 9:30. Catch up on emails. Go through what the rest of the team is working on during lunch and then back-to-back meetings ranging from financials to sponsorships.

CJ: What should a young adult who wants to be an entrepreneur do now to set him or herself up for success?

AJ: Dive in and seek out mentors.  Experience is the best education for an entrepreneur — intern any and everywhere, test out ideas through an MVP, and talk to potential customers. In your spare time, seek out other entrepreneurs to learn from.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

AJ:  Finding mentors IRL is not always easy. Initially, the web was the best way for me to learn from “mentors.” I really love the Stanford e-corner. They have a weekly SoundCloud segment from successful entrepreneurs that helped me think through tough problems and figure out where I wanted to take SoundScope. Also, Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of the Start” is a good crash course on the current state of startups.

CJ: When you’re not working on SoundScope, how do you like to spend your time?

AJ: Thanks to my iPhone I am technically always working. But whenever I unplug I love traveling, cooking, and listening to good music.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

AJ: I am trying very hard to build a stronger wall between my personal and professional life. Running a startup can be brutal.  It is an emotional roller-coaster that can really wear you out. I am working on keeping more of an even keel and not letting SoundScope pervade things I appreciate personally — whether it’s spending time with friends, going to the gym, or just sleeping.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

AJ:  Life and people around you have a way of convincing you that you need to follow a certain trajectory — as in you need to figure out your career by 25, get married by 27, buy a house by 30, and pop out 2.5 kids by 35. Life is short. Do what makes you happy. Everything else will fall in place.

Abhay Jain Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

EducationSkillsWellness

Essays, assignments, articles, job applications, personal statements, reports, write-ups, presentations. Countless tasks we encounter at work and school require us to write. Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, blog posts. On a daily basis, much of the time we spend communicating with others is used tapping letters into an interface.

All of this occurs by writing.

However, there’s no doubt that the first set of examples is markedly more vilified than the second set. Few would say that they’d rather write an essay over a lengthy Facebook post on any given topic. Writing a cover letter is like getting a root canal in comparison to writing anything on social media.

When considering what it is that separates the two categories, it seems that their largest difference lies in that the one is considered “work” and while the other is considered “play.” Although keeping up with social media can certainly be demanding at times, most of us don’t view it as a job or chore. In contrast, reports and presentations – even for jobs or classes that we enjoy – are often thought of as sheer toil.

So is it the amount of brainpower expended that makes us revile at essay writing so much? Is it the time spent? Or the energy? As humans, we might dislike writing because we want to conserve our limited resources of time, energy, and willpower. Or is it the emotional benefit we receive from social media? In other words, the benefit we get from connecting with friends is typically greater than that spent writing memoirs and memorandums.

The reason why most people dislike writing is likely some combination of the two; the perceived benefit doesn’t outweigh the costs of spending time and energy doing something difficult. However, the fact that novelists, poets, and musicians create their works signifies that there’s something to be gained from writing – they all elevate writing to an art form, using it to express complexity, deal with difficulty, and celebrate what is good.

What it boils down to is that writing can help us think. It can help us flesh out rich thoughts, clarify complex ideas, and parse what is relevant in our multitude of opinions. Who hasn’t experienced a new thought or revelation while writing a thank you note, work memo, important email, or long-overdue text?

If you think about it, we write for pleasure every day. Take blogs for example. Inherently, blogs are supposed to be about things we enjoy discussing: travelling, eating, meeting people, visiting the rare and unexplored, politics, fashion, cooking, TV, movies, literally anything else. Every time we tweet 140 characters, we’re writing for pleasure. Just expand that. Or not. Write exactly that. You don’t always need to tweet about that burrito you had for lunch or how wild your weekend was, but sometimes you do! Just break free of the notion that you have to do these things on social media. Your writing of your thoughts provides more benefit than just updating your friends on what you’re doing.

Start writing on your smartphone at lunch. When you say something witty or insightful, jot it down. Use those notes as a way to delve deeper into those topics. Think about starting a blog. There’s no shame in writing banal and clichéd posts at first. Use them as a springboard to talk about what’s underneath it all.

Once you change your attitude toward what writing is (instead of a chore, think of it as a method to develop your personal understanding), you can more easily make writing a habit. So write it down – maybe you’ll like it. You’ll definitely learn something about yourself in the process.

Image: Flickr

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

The Girl Scouts is an incredible organization that turns young women into leaders. Becka Gately, one of these impressive young women, has always been involved in sports. Therefore, when it came time to choose a project for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, planning a health and fitness night in her community was a perfect fit. Becka established partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, and she pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. Over 400 community members attended!

As a high school senior, Becka is involved with many extracurricular activities, including student government, National Honor Society, and DECA, a business leadership development program. She has a passion for business and helping her community, which she has had the opportunity to do through the Girl Scouts. Having been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten, Becka is no stranger to helping others and being a leader. Becka shares what she learned from the Girl Scouts, how she stayed organized when working on her project, and how she defines success. We’re so impressed with this ambitious young woman!

*The Girl Scouts Spotlight Series is an exclusive weekly Youth Spotlight on amazing young women who have earned their Gold Awards, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn in the Girl Scout organization.

Name: Becka Gately
Education: Kentwood High School

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Becka Gately: I think “Seizing Your Youth” means taking every single possibility you have and taking advantage of it. Never in your life will you have the time or the freedom to join any group you want or any team you want. I think “Seizing Your Youth” means to find your passion and run with it.

CJ: What are you studying at school? What led you to those academic passions and why did you choose to study them in a formal setting?

BG: This year I am taking classes that I need to graduate, but in college I want to study business. Since joining DECA I have had an interest in business. I am also heavily involved in leadership in my school and I think both business and leadership correspond with each other. I am definitely a people person so I found that business was not only my interest, but also something that I am pretty good at.

CJ: During your senior year of high school you will serve as Vice President of DECA (a business leadership development program). How did you get involved in DECA?

BG: My brother actually encouraged me to do DECA. He participated in it his junior and senior year. He told me that I didn’t have a choice and that I had to do it because it would be something that will help me with the rest of my life.

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CJ: How did you get involved with the Girl Scouts, and what did you love most about being a Girl Scout?

BG: I got involved in Girl Scouts when I was in kindergarten. One of my friend’s mom was starting a troop and my mother put me in it. What I love most about being a Girl Scout is the opportunity to help my community. Being a part of Girl Scouts has given me so many opportunities to not only help the community, but to also meet more people in my community.

CJ: What are the top three lessons you learned from being a Girl Scout?

BG: 1. Respect everyone. You never know where being nice and respectful might take you.
2. Giving back is better than receiving.
3. Your life is what you make it.

CJ: To earn your Gold Award in Girl Scouts, you planned a health and fitness night in your community. By forging partnerships between the Kent School District, health organizations, and more than 40 volunteers, you pulled off an event with more than 25 booths about nutrition, physical exercise, cardiovascular health, and more. The night proved to be a huge success—with more than 400 community members attending. Amazing! Why did you choose this topic for your project, and what did the process of putting it together entail?

BG: I chose this topic because I have always had a love for fitness and sports. I have played soccer since I was five-years-old and played basketball and volleyball for a couple of years. A year of playing tennis made me realize that I would rather hit a ball with my feet than with my hands. I grew up watching baseball 24/7 because my brother played and my dad coached. I was surrounded by sports and fitness all growing up so being active became natural for me.

When I started to look into what I wanted to do for my Gold Award project, it was around the time where some of my younger cousins where getting to the age of having an interest in electronics. I noticed that not only were they not playing any sports but that they would rather sit on an Ipad then go outside and play. Another thing that I realized was I didn’t have the knowledge about nutrition compared to exercise. This was one of the reasons I added the nutrition part to my event. Not only did I want to help the community learn about being active, I wanted to learn about nutrition and what I can do to be healthier.

Once I had this concept an amazing opportunity came about. My mother’s school at the time had been chosen by Molina Health Care and the Hope Heart institute to sponsor a health event at their school. After meeting with both Molina and Hope Heart, the event really started to come together! After that I just had to come up with some activities and get donations.

CJ: How did you keep your project organized as you were working on it? How did you balance your workload with school, extracurricular activities, etc.?

BG: When working on my project, I stayed organized by holding weekly meetings. I had a meeting every Friday afternoon with my advisor and my mother. I really enjoy being busy and giving my time to others, so for the majority of my extracurricular activities I spend time at school. During the school week I usually spend two hours after school being involved with Associated Student Body (ASB), DECA, National Honor Society (NHS), or leadership. Then I play soccer and have dinner. I try to have one night during the week where I can just be home. I also try not to plan things on Sundays so I can spend time with family and get homework done.

CJ: Do you have mentors? How did you go about finding them?

BG: I have two mentors. One is my DECA advisor and marketing teacher Mr. Zender. I have known him since my brother joined DECA. My other mentor is our school athletics and activities director Ms. Daughtry. I meet her when I decided to join ASB. She has really encouraged me to put myself out there and make a difference. She has also given me so many opportunities to expand my leadership skills and learn more about myself. Now I get the opportunity to work with her every day as I am the ASB president.

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CJ: To you, what does it mean to be a good leader?

BG: I think a good leader is one whose actions speak louder than their words. There’s a great quote by John Quincy Adams that says “If your actions inspire other to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I believe a good leader does not just tell people what to do but also shows them and inspires them to become better leaders.

CJ: How do you define success?

BG: I think success is giving 100% of what you have into something. I think everyone has different successes in their life, but you can’t compare other successes to yours. To be successful you need to believe in yourself and be happy with the effort that you are putting into your passion.   

CJ: Will you be going to college next year? How do you plan on tackling the college application process?

BG: I am planning on attending college. My plan is to start early on the application process and follow my gut.

CJ: What is a book you read in school that positively shaped you?

BG: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

CJ: What are your favorite books?

BG: Divergent, The Great Gatsby, and The Art of Racing in the Rain.

CJ: What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

BG: I would tell my 15 year-old self two things. First, join as many teams and events as possible. You never know the people you will meet and the experiences you will have. Second, that some people come and go but the ones that stay are very special.

Becka Gately Qs 

Images by Becka Gately

EducationSkills

Have a big test coming up? Working on a project with others? Study groups can be a very effective – and fun! – way to further your education. Studying with others provide the opportunity to make sure you didn’t miss out on any pertinent information and to learn from one another if a certain topic is confusing to you. It also allows you to explain concepts to others, which helps you better remember the information.

Run a productive study group with these techniques:

Create a Study Guideline before the Meeting

Email everyone in the Study Group an outline for the meeting. If there’s a topic you’re focusing on, or if it’s a broad overview of everything that might be on a test, break the meeting down by half hour or hour so that you can all stay on track. This way, people know what to expect when they come to the study group. Also, if there are any missing topics or terms, they can be filled into the guideline before everyone meets.

Pinpoint Confusing Concepts

Utilize the Study Group time to focus on confusing concepts. Go over the class lessons as a whole, but spend more time on topics that are more challenging. Try explaining the concepts to each other – saying what you need to know out loud will help you remember it later on.

Arrive Prepared

Don’t show up to Study Groups not having looked over the material. You want to be a participating member and offer your knowledge. Avoid joining the study group just to sit back and check your notes. Help others on topics they might be fuzzy about. Arrive ready to have a conversation and to prepare for the upcoming test or project.

Divvy Up Responsibilities

Before everyone meets for the Study Group, dividing responsibilities is a great way to relieve some of the burden of studying. Each week someone can take on the responsibility of being the leader of the Study Group, or you can designate just one person, and he or she can break down the topics that need to be covered and who is in charge of each one. If one person in the Study Group is more knowledgeable in the History of the Atomic Model, another person is better at explaining the Periodic Table, and you understand the Ionic and Metallic Bonding, you can all work together to teach other these topics. Play up your strengths to help yourself and others.

Limit Study Group Size

To prevent too much socialization and to make sure everyone has a chance to participate, limit the Study Group size to four to six people. This way everyone’s voice can be heard and it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Study with classmates who share the same goal of earning good grades. This isn’t social hour or a gossip group, so choose to study with people who want to focus and learn.

Make the Timing of Meetings Manageable

In order not to get burned out, overwhelmed, or easily distracted, make the Study Group meetings no more than two hours, with a ten minute break. It’s better to meet for two hours twice a week than four hours once a week. You’ll all be more productive and more time to study and sort out what questions you have. Meet in your school’s library, a local coffee shop, in an empty classroom, or outside on the grass – somewhere that is conducive to paying attention and being able to hear one another.

Eliminate Distractions

This isn’t the time for everyone to be on their phones texting or listening to music. Put phones, laptops, and other devices away. Use the time you have to stay focused and on target. This is the time to pick each other’s brains about confusing concepts, so make the most of it!

Bring Snacks

During your short break, it never hurts to have a granola bar or piece of fruit on hand. Stay energized during this power hour(s) of Study Group.

What tips do you have for running productive Study Groups?

Image by Breather

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first walked into the showroom at Tai Ping Carpets, we were in awe. The carpets are true pieces of art. We were given a tour of the office and showroom by Laine Alexandra, the Global Business Development Director. Laine studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College, but it wasn’t until a field trip to the mansions in Rhode Island when she had an epiphany and realized her passion: interior design.

In addition to working at her top choice design firm after college, she also took night classes at the New York School of Interior Design to further her education. Ambitious, hardworking, and a fast learner, Laine always gives 100% to what she is doing. When it comes to a challenge, Laine is up for it. Laine demonstrates that even if you think you are on a certain career path, you just might have a eureka moment and things can change, and that’s more than okay. You never know when inspiration will strike! Read on to find out how Laine chose her college major, what books and resources she finds most useful, and the advice she would give her 20-year-old self.

Name: Laine Alexandra
Education: B.A. in Communication and Sociology at Boston College; AAS in Interior Design at New York School of Interior Design
Location: New York, New York

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Laine Alexandra: Saying yes to any opportunity to learn. Doing what scares you. Doing what you’re not good at. Making mistakes. Doing what you enjoy and seeing where it can take you.

CJ: You studied Communication and Sociology at Boston College. How did you decide what to study?

LA: I was a senior in High School on 9/11. Watching the world depend on television, and more specifically on television journalists, to both find and effectively communicate the truth about events that impact lives on a tremendous scale had a significant impression on me, and I decided to study broadcast journalism. I ended up with a minor in sociology (and almost a minor in Art History) simply because I took all the electives I loved!

Laine D

CJ: What did your career path look like when you graduated from college?

LA: My career path took a 180 from what I studied. Two things happened. 1) In the years following 9/11, I grew increasingly disillusioned by sensationalism that, to me, seemed to overshadow the value of journalism. This lead to a pit in my stomach about entering the profession I had spent the last five years dreaming about joining. 2) I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In the early days of my diagnosis, it was quite severe and it was critical to be near a progressive hospital with the clinical trials I needed.

With these factors in mind, my Mom gave me some amazing advice. “Please, please do what you love, not because it is prestigious, altruistic, or lucrative. You can’t be happy unless you are actually happy. And, if you start with something that makes your heart sing, you can go anywhere. (Just please go somewhere with good healthcare).”

The following week an art history elective I was enrolled in took a field trip to the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. In the ballroom of the Biltmore, I had an epiphany. While I had always loved interior design and considered it a passion, I didn’t realize how significant the industry and opportunities might be until I got a taste in Newport. The next day, I emailed 50 interior designers I found in Architectural Digest. I got three interviews, and an offer from my top choice – the venerable Drake Design Associates, Jamie Drake’s firm.

CJ: You attended the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). What was this experience like and why did you choose to attend this school?

LA: Jamie [of Drake Design Associates] is both a talented and trained designer. I realized while a formal education is not always necessary in the interior design world, I felt that I needed the credibility and knowledge that comes with a degree. NYSID was fantastic for a few reasons. The professors are actively involved in the design community and offered both classical education as well as real, business-savvy perspective. Secondly, NYSID offered night and weekend classes, so I was able to complete my degree while continuing to work for Drake Design Associates.

CJ: You are now the Global Business Development Director at Tai Ping Carpets. What does your role entail? What do your daily tasks look like?

LA: I’m project managing a global distribution initiative for Tai Ping, working with people in all areas of the company and in three continents.

CJ: What is the best part about your job? The hardest part?

LA: It’s both intimidating and exciting making the road map.

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CJ: How do you stay organized and manage your time?

LA: Handwritten lists.

CJ: What are some books, resources, and websites that have influenced you – either personally or professionally (or both)?

LA: TED Talks. Deepak Chopra’s guided meditationsJust Kids by Patti SmithLean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

CJ: When you are feeling overwhelmed or having a bad day, how do you like to unwind or reset?

LA:  Long walks or yoga. Wine with friends also works.

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

LA: Yes, I am big believer in and supporter of Planned Parenthood (PP). My mother was a counselor there when I was a kid, so I have always admired the organization. As a young-adult facing major medical bills and insurance issues, I developed a significantly deeper appreciation for the affordable healthcare PP provides women (and men), both related to reproductive issues and also as general practitioners.

CJ: What are you working to improve upon – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

LA: What I’m working to improve applies both personally and professionally. I’m trying to get comfortable with the unknown, and learning it’s okay to be wrong and not have all the answers.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

LA: Take the class you might fail. Invest in travel. Don’t worry about 10 years from now, figure out two years from now, or even just next month.

Laine Alexandra Qs

Images by Carpe Juvenis

CollegeEducation

Okay, that’s only sort of true. Obviously it matters. Apart from your graduate school applications, some say a GPA’s significance is limited to the three years following graduation, and others argue that it has no fundamental value post-education at all. But before taking sides, I have a slightly different perspective.

While currently working in HR for a global cable & wiring manufacturing company, I find myself on the other end of the scavenger job hunt – I’m now the interviewer. I sift through résumés, interview and screen candidates, and aim to ultimately select the best person with the most appropriate set of skills. During my interviews, I take notes on KSAO’s: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that were reflected on their resume. Those “other characteristics” are the real kicker. They can be a variety of details, such as their potential fit to our company culture, for example.

The truth is, whenever I review someone’s résumé, the last thing I look at is their GPA.

I ask myself questions like, “Does this résumé look like they just threw words together and sent them with 50 other applications?,” “Did they make any stupid grammar/spelling mistakes?,” and “What did they do that makes them more valuable than someone else?” It’s never about the number next to their college degree. Sure, putting your 3.0+ is helpful, but quite frankly, unless you can show evidence that you’re capable of getting the job done, it’s only a fun fact. It’s everything else about that application that either gives them the boot or scores an interview.

Granted, your GPA clearly matters when applying to graduate school – but even then, once you’re in, your grade is not nearly as important as the content you truly learn. The phrase “easy A” exists for a reason, and that is exactly what I encourage students to beware of. It looks great on paper, but means nothing. Ultimately, you’ve lost the battle. It sounds like common sense, yet people don’t invest time in their skills that make them employable: critically analyzing situations, strategizing, networking, and communicating, to name a few.

“But I’m still in school and not working! How am I supposed to make myself employable?!” Good question! There’s a plethora of opportunities around you to help build your skills without having to register for a class. The best way? Figure out what you like doing – something that won’t burn you out because it’s a source of joy – and go for it. If you’re a social person, make friends with as many people as you can! Network like crazy. You never know who you’ll meet, who they’ll know, or how and when they may be helpful.

Yes – I’m literally telling you it’s a skill to make a bunch of friends. And if you’re feeling super ballsy, take that class with that professor that everyone avoids because they’re rumored to grade “unfairly.” Challenge yourself to make them like you and help you – prove to him or her that you’re different from everyone else. The ability to understand a really difficult person is much more useful in life than memorizing that one formula that one time in that class a semester ago. You’ll build the confidence to influence people, and the capability to change a person’s mind, attitude, and behavior is priceless.

Needless to say, going out of your comfort zone is uncomfortable and awkward, but I promise you’ll thank me for it!

Don’t stress yourself out over your grades – go do amazing things in real life and have fun doing them!

Image: Flickr

CultureHealth

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been extremely fast-paced. I always expect everything in my life to happen instantly, and my strong desire for instant results often leaves me overwhelmed and exhausted.

I’m a highly competitive individual; I always mange to turn everything I do into some sort of competition by setting sharp deadlines to achieve my goals.

Recently, however, I’ve been self-assessing where I am in my life and where it is I am trying to go.

My answers came from a magazine advertisement I was reading one morning on my commute on the London tube.

It read, “Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day, and Neither Were You.” Inspired by the choice of words, I wrote it down in my notes section of my iPhone of things to look into later that week. Having heard the expression in literature and other numerous places before, I decided to research its origins. I learned it was a French proverb from the late 1100s, and it wasn’t translated into English until 1545.

By relating that phrase to my current life ambitions, I was able to further understand my journey of self-development. My interpretation of the phrase was that all things in life take time to create, and substantial things, such as the great city of Rome, take years to complete.

As humans, we should not set expectations to achieve great successes. We need to rewire how we think about our accomplishments. Ancients Rome’s vast network of developed roads, buildings, and modern advancements were not simply erected overnight. The empire recruited people from afar, and spent years developing into the great power it was known to be. Personal growth is essentially the same way. It takes time and lots of strategic planning, but the time logged pays off dramatically.

The constant search for instant gratification is something that, now being 25, I am getting better at channeling and understanding. Nothing in life comes easily, and the most rewarding things in life require work and perseverance. There are three avenues Generation-Y can relate to directly that include our strong desires for self-development and fulfillment:

  1. Professionally

I often feel the past eight years of my life have been extremely rushed, often making me feel unclear of my life plans. After high school, much like my counterparts, I went straight into university. Not knowing what to do after, I enrolled in a master’s program and soon after found myself working a 9-5 job from Monday to Friday in London. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with my choices, but I often wish that I had taken some time to fully explore my life options and develop my soul and inner character.

At the time, I was in a rush to finish my education and immediately start working. I realize I could have taken more time exploring all my options and really focusing on developing and fine tuning my interests while still in school. I was in such a rush to start making money and live a professional independent life that I sometimes fail to enjoy moments and absorb what I was working towards. Take time to fully develop your interests and life goals early on. There is no rush to finish university and immediately have a job lined up post graduation. This time aids in building character and self-awareness, which is essential in life.

  1. Personally

As any young professional living in a large scale global city has probably experienced before, personal development is an ongoing process in life. We are always changing mentally and emotionally, which directly affects how we feel and how we interact. Our social circles can be vastly divergent from spending time with a significant other, work colleagues, or friends.

Working and living in a new city takes time to adapt to. You need to give yourself ample time to set your foundations to achieve new and great heights. Big cities can often become overwhelming, and often you may feel as if you don’t know how you fit in, but self-development is a cycle of figuring out how your personal growth will continue to morph your life ethos.

Don’t rush getting to understand which social scene you think you belong to, or which Tinder match will become your destined life soul-mate. Live life and go with the flow.

  1. Physically

In the last few years, I have become obsessed with staying fit and maintaining my overall health. Though I have yet to adapt a stricter routine, I used to get frustrated seeing guys at the gym lifting three times more then I could.

Since then, however, I have learned to pace myself towards understanding that I will not have a six-pack overnight. Life is a balancing act where you must make continued and conscious health choices towards adapting a plan that is suitable for your busy and changing lifestyles.

If you want to achieve great things in life that garner longevity, much like the city of Rome, then perhaps consider reconditioning the ways you go about your daily life. Better ways of channeling your thoughts and desires are the key factor in establishing and setting yourself up for success. Good things take time, and rushing to reach the end is not the best solution.

Image: Carpe Juvenis

EducationSkills

The almost-there feeling of getting an interview for graduate school is both an exciting and daunting one. You feel accomplished for sending out those applications and validated that you are headed in the right direction. So pat yourself on the back for making it to the next step and get ready for your interview the right way.

First and foremost, be yourself. Your background and interests were what brought you to the interview and now it’s just a matter of figuring out if the program is the perfect fit for you. Faculty, staff, and current students that are interviewing you are looking for students who are genuinely interested in their program and have unique skills and interests to offer. Believing that you are capable and ready is the best way to start preparing. Once you have that covered, prepare with these four tips:

1. Research and Relate

You’ve researched the school in-depth and you know what it stands for. You know the school’s mission and the goals of your program of interest. Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with more specific information. Look into the course catalog and read about the classes you would be taking. Jotting down notes about the learning outcomes for each course can help give you a framework of the “language” and style of the program. Are there specializations that you are interested in? If so, ask yourself why they interest you.

If you are seeking graduate school, there has been some sort of spark within you that has motivated you to learn more. Asking yourself to examine that spark can help you verbalize how your personal history blends with your curiosity for the program. Other details to look for include what types of internship or fieldwork opportunities they offer, graduate assistantships or fellowships, and faculty-specific research interests that tie in with yours. It’s helpful to have this sort of knowledge bank so you can connect what you have learned and experienced so far with what you will be learning in the future.

2. Know the Interview Format

It’s always good to know if you will be in an individual or group interview. In many cases, a program representative will let you know via phone or email what the interview dynamic will be like. If not, it’s okay to inquire with an admissions counselor. Individual interviews allow you to be the main focus of the panel. One of the best ways to prepare is by writing a list of possible interview questions and having a friend conduct a mock interview with you. Pay attention to the length of your answers. Are you being concise or talking too long? Are you saying “um,” “you know,” and other filler words? What are your hands, arms, and legs doing while you’re talking? Have a colleague take note of fidgeting, awkward pauses, volume, and eye contact.

With group interviews, the attention is divided and things can get a little tricky. Fortunately, there are ways to make group interviews go a lot more smoothly. For starters, non-verbal communication can keep you engaged throughout the interview even when you’re not the one talking. Nodding your head in response to others shows that you are listening and open to what everyone is saying. If the panel asks a question and does not direct anyone to start answering, wait a few moments to gauge the room and be the first to answer if you are ready. If another person begins to answer first, do not worry. The most important thing is what you say, not when you say it. If you’re looking for a way to begin your answer, try short starter statements like “I’ll start this one off,” or “I agree with that and have a similar experience as well,” or “I’ve considered this a lot while applying and…,” or “There are a few things that come to mind including _____ and ______.” Statements like these will help you ease into your answer and help you sound prepared and reflective.

3. Prepare with Questions That Ask More

It is common for faculty and program directors to ask questions that dig deeper than the expected “So why choose our school?” question. Rather than asking a question at surface level, they may ask a question with a different angle to examine how you respond to more difficult subject matter. For example, rather than asking about your opinions or experience with diversity, they may ask what about diversity makes you uncomfortable and how you see yourself overcoming that. Rather than just asking what makes you a good candidate for the program they may ask what you have done to prepare yourself for the rigor of graduate studies. It’s always a good idea to ask yourself the hard questions before the real thing.

4. Absorb and Emit Positivity

Although you may be nervous during your interview, good energy can get you through it. Condition yourself with positive thoughts before and during the interview. Having good thoughts about yourself and those around you can show through the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and body language. It can also calm you down if you begin to feel anxious. Feel excited about the opportunity at hand to meet professionals at each school. Feel proud of your accomplishments and thankful for the chance to share more about yourself. Remind yourself that the outcome of your interview does not define you as a person and that whatever comes your way is for your benefit. You have come a long way to now be in a turning point towards graduate studies. Be confident and be you, and the rest will fall right into place.

Image: Flickr

EducationLearn

Senior year of high school is a big milestone. We have prom, graduation, and plans for where we are going post-high school. Senior year was my favorite year of high school, and I had a lot of fun. Remember to make the most of every second without letting anything fall to the wayside.

1. Maintain Your Grades

Don’t forget to maintain your grades after you get accepted into college or figure out your plans after graduation. Some people think that once they get into the college of their dreams, they are free to do whatever they want. You should enjoy yourself! However, if there is a steep drop in your grades without explanation, you could lose your place in college. I’ve even known people whose grades dropped so badly, they nearly didn’t graduate at all. Just one class could separate you from your goals, so keep giving it all you’ve got.

2. Avoid Trouble

It is wise to avoid trouble during your senior year. Once you get accepted into college, a weight is off your shoulders. More than that, it’s time to celebrate! When your future finally seems secure, it’s tempting to cut loose. Just keep in mind that there could be consequences for out-of-control behavior. If you get suspended or if things escalate and you get arrested, you could lose your place in college. You may be having senior fun, but colleges don’t want someone who will reflect badly on the school.

3. Create a Legacy

I recommend creating a legacy. The end of high school provides many mementos and keepsakes such as yearbooks and photos. Some people regret how they left their mark. Some are worried that they didn’t make an impression at all. You can start a club or get involved with planning an event. You could participate in a fundraiser. It’s not just about making your mark. It’s about leaving your school a slightly better place than when you entered it.

4. Don’t Miss Out

Lastly, don’t miss a single moment. There were times when I was too tired to go to senior events. Though I don’t regret anything, I do know it was my last chance to be around the people I grew up with. Many of those people I never saw again. Treasure all of the memories you are making.

It’s okay to have fun in your senior year. Everyone does. Make the most of every single second. It’s the last time you get to live comfortably at home and to hang out with everyone you grew up with. Just don’t let enjoying the year come between you and your future.

Image: StokPic

EducationSkills

I remember the day I decided to take on a senior thesis in strangely vivid detail. I walked out of my advisor’s office feeling extremely confident and excited about the project I was about to undertake. However, by the time I had made it the three blocks back to my dorm, I was on the phone with my best friend in a panic, fervently begging her to talk me out of the decision I had just made.

As I look back now, over a year later, I can happily say that it was one of my better decisions. I currently work as an intern in a biological anthropology lab at The George Washington University studying primate behavioral ecology. For the past three years as an undergraduate student, I have studied data on maternal behavior and infant development in wild chimpanzees, wrestled with excel spreadsheets for countless hours, cataloged infinite sheets of behavioral data, and memorized an extensive protocol for entering data into excel and our online database. I came across this internship opportunity through an email sent out to all students pursuing their anthropology major.

My greatest passion has always been finding the answers to questions. I was never satisfied chalking things up to fate, chance, or destiny. Everything in my mind has to be answered with facts and correlations. I’ve always been curious; most of us are. The idea of research appealed to me because it is a way to establish facts and reach brand new conclusions – having tangible answers has always been crucial for me.

When I learned that the lab was working with Jane Goodall’s database, I knew I needed the job. Jane Goodall has been a personal inspiration my entire life. Her courage, strength, and dedication to science have always been traits that I admire. Jane embarked on a research journey in Tanzania in 1960 that many men and women would not have dreamed possible. Her independence and drive allowed her to succeed during a time when women were barely respected in scientific research. She individually named all of the chimpanzees she studied, researching their culture, hunting behaviors, and tool use. Her discoveries changed the worlds of primatology, anthropology, and the way we study evolution.

Although I didn’t necessarily plan on pursuing a career in primatology, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get my foot in the door of research and learn more about something I loved. I’ve learned that in order to discover your true passions, trying new things and jumping on interesting opportunities is a must. Working in the lab taught me that research was something worth pursuing, even if biological anthropology and primatology weren’t my primary passions.

When I first began working in the lab, entering data was exciting and informative. However, I soon realized that I was itching to get more hands-on in the work that the other lab members were doing. I would watch as the graduate students developed their research questions for their dissertations, and the post docs queried data for their analyses. I wanted to see if I had what it took to create my own questions and pioneer my own project. I met with my research advisor to discuss options and she suggested I begin work on a senior honors thesis.

The concept of individual, original research can be daunting, and it has been anything but easy for me. My near-fatal flaws include procrastinating and a lack of organization, but over the past year I have learned many valuable lessons about pioneering my own major project. Hopefully these skills will be applicable to you throughout your own research, senior theses, or any other type of long-term project.

1. Create a flexible timeline with small goals

This is extremely important for those of us who tend to leave things until the last minute. My thesis has taken place over the course of three semesters. I dedicated my first semester to creating proposals for two research topics, a major literature review, drafting preliminary research questions, and writing a 10 page introduction. I set deadlines for these individual tasks with my advisor in order to hold myself accountable. My second semester was all about performing the actual analyses and revising the questions after preliminary results. This semester, I’m finishing the final analyses and writing up the full body of the paper. Having smaller goals and requiring someone else to help keep you on track has really helped me stay organized and has limited my procrastination.

2. Keep an up-to-date spreadsheet tracking all of your sources/literature

The first step in research is almost always reading. There are so many studies that have already been done and it is crucial to educate yourself on the facts and information that already exist in the academic world. I ended up reading over a hundred journal articles in preparation for my research project. At first it was hard to keep track of the knowledge I was gaining just from the notes I had been jotting down, so I created a system to keep track. I started logging every article into an excel spreadsheet, listing the title, author, year, species, questions asked, methods, and results. This made it easy for me to look back and pull out the relevant information. I gained a foundational knowledge of my topic, as well as ideas for potential research questions and methods. For someone with severe organizational problems, this was a lifesaver, and I am constantly referring to this document. Make Excel your best friend!

3. Be proactive when it comes to meeting with your advisor

Fostering relationships with professors and mentors in college is one of the best moves you can make. Not only will they support you during your time in undergrad, but they typically have abundant connections that they are more than willing to share with you when it comes to your future. However, you are not their number one priority. Professors have multiple classes, conduct their own research, and are involved with countless other commitments. Therefore the responsibility is on you to be proactive when it comes to getting help with your project. You may have to be the one to schedule weekly meetings to touch base. You may have to be the one to create your own deadlines. Chances are that the more proactive you are the more your mentor will recognize your motivation and drive, and will do his or her part to help you succeed.

4. Treat the project as if it were a class

At most universities, working on an individual research project with an advisor can qualify you for research credits. For example, I got three credit hours towards my degree for each semester I performed undergraduate research. Therefore, I learned to treat my thesis as an actual class. If you think about it, you spend about two and a half hours in class per week, with an additional two to five hours on homework and readings. Each week, I try to dedicate that same amount of time to my project. This way, tasks don’t build up and you will feel less overwhelmed.

5. Utilize the people around you

I cannot stress this enough. Having other lab members around to support me has been absolutely invaluable. The grad students had all written senior theses in the past and are currently working on dissertations, which makes them excellent resources when it comes to research design, time management, and staying sane. At first, I felt a bit awkward approaching them; I wasn’t exactly sure that they would want to spend their time mentoring an undergrad when they already had so much on their plates. Luckily, they have been in your position before and understand the importance having mentors. Ask to grab coffee and talk about their projects and tips that they might have for you. People love talking about themselves and their work, and your colleagues want to see you succeed!

6. Never stop reading

New information is constantly being published. Even though I performed my major literature review over a year ago to jumpstart my research, there are countless new articles on my topic. It is so important to stay informed and always have the relevant and recent information on your topic. Reading the latest publications may give you new ideas for how you want to frame your paper, something else that you should control for, or another question you should be asking.

Good luck with your own research and thesis journey!

Image: Flickr

Health

Have you ever come across that person who is always complaining, gossiping, or making negative comments? Before identifying him or her, it can be very difficult to stay away from responding with negativity. Negative people like negative company. Constantly dealing with people who bring negativity into your life or who never fail to bring you down in some way are the kinds of people you should consider weeding out of your life. If these are people you ultimately can’t escape, there are ways to distance yourself without being harsh or rude.

Law of Attraction

The law of attraction notes that “likes attract likes” and if you focus on positive thoughts you will find yourself with a positive outcome. Now, consider applying this concept in another form. If you openly display certain qualities or interests, you are likely to attract people who are also interested in those same things. This, after discerning that you want to surround yourself with new people, is the first step of attracting people who are likely to understand you and who share similar traits.

Farewell to Your Comfort Zone

This one is difficult but very important. Many of us do not enjoy leaving our comfort zones because, well, it is no longer a comfortable place. However, leaving your comfort zone is the only way to achieve goals and stand out from the conventional – it is vital in life. It also allows you to get comfortable with what was once uncomfortable, therefore making your life a constant cycle that pushes you to try new things. Try joining a new club, traveling somewhere with a program, sitting somewhere else for lunch, or even inviting people you’ve never spent time with (outside of school or work) for lunch. Branching out is essential in trying to make new relationships.

Make Time for Yourself

Aside from trying out new activities, having some time for yourself is also an important component to this transformative time in your life. Allowing yourself to think alone and reflect on your experiences will bring you to identify the parts of your life you wish to alter. It allows you to make calm, well thought out decisions.

Focus on Work or School

Focusing on work or school is a great way to concentrate on the things that are important. In addition, it only leaves time for few people which allows you realize that quality time is meant for quality people. This is an easier method for not only distancing yourself from negative people, but it is also a great way to appreciate the people who matter most in your life.

Start Acting Positive

Almost like my law of attraction point, you can attract positive people if you begin to act positive. After you hear the typical, “I hate Monday, I wish it were Friday,” you can either not respond to it by changing the topic or you can respond with positivity by noting, “Really? I don’t mind them – they’re like any other day.” Like I previously mentioned, negative people like to feed off of other negative people. You will be surprised as to how quickly people will begin to catch on to this mindset. Being positive can: 1. Help positivity flourish in those around you, and 2. Repel negative people. Both of these are helpful for achieving your goal.

Staying positive is not only a mood booster, but it is also necessary for your physical health. Do yourself a favor and begin changing the parts of your life that will help you become a better person. The steps may be unfamiliar but you can’t go wrong in trying!

How do you add positivity into your life?

P.S. Journaling and living inside out can also help you live a more positive life.

Image: Bảo-Quân Nguyễn

CollegeCulture

This past weekend I went out for Greek life recruitment at my college. It was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. But what I realized the most during this process is how important it is to be you and stay true to yourself, no matter how corny and cliché that may sound.

Throughout the weekend, I was brought into rooms filled with girls, most of which I had never met before. I made small talk and found people who I clicked with, and who I really felt comfortable with. When I walked into a room and found someone I could completely be myself and let my guard down around, it made me realize how important it is to just be you.

They say that when you’re going out for a sorority you’re supposed to go with the chapter that you feel most at home with and that you’ll know where you belong. When I would talk to different girls, I asked them how they knew their sorority was the one for them. They all answered that the sorority for you is the one that you feel like you don’t have to try to be someone else in.

That’s what made me realize how important it is to be myself. I ended up meeting girls just like me and girls I could see myself being future sorority sisters with. And while Greek life isn’t for everyone, the fact of being who you are and not changing to fit in still stands true. All of your quirks and imperfections make you who you are in the best way, and that is something you should never take for granted. It’s old, catchy, and a little bit overplayed, but Bruno Mars says it best: you’re amazing just the way you are.

Schedule Breakdown: Recruitment Weekend and Greek Life

At my university, spring recruitment is split into three days over a single weekend. We are split into smaller groups of around 30 girls to make the overall process easier. On the first day, a Friday, we visited six rooms. Each room represented the six different sororities on my campus and I visited each for 30 minutes. I was paired with a girl and learned more about her as she learned more about me, watched a video on their organization, and talked to more girls in order to get a feel for who I felt most comfortable with. At the end of the day, I voted for my top four sororities and my bottom two in ranking order. Which sorority you get called back to is based on mutual selection – you have to want to spend more time with them, and they have to also want to spend more time with you.

The second day you could be called back to a maximum of four rooms. I received my call that morning and was called back to my top four. This time, I was in each room for a total of 45 minutes. I talked with more girls in each sorority and also watched a video on their philanthropy. At the end of the day I picked my top two rooms and ranked my bottom two.

On the final day I went to two rooms. These rooms were an hour each and really allowed me to get to know each sorority. They each showed me a traditional ceremony that they do in order for us to feel more at home and part of the sorority. I had a more intimate one-on-one conversation with a girl who chose to talk to me. This day really allowed me to know I was making the right decision. At the end of this day I had to rank the two sororities. Then on Monday at 10PM, my bid was revealed and I found out which sorority I was in.

Being in a sorority gives you sisters and lifelong friends. Not only does they give you close relationships with people who have the same interests and mindsets as you, but they allow you to really work towards helping a good cause. Choosing a sorority that has a philanthropy that you believe in and support is also something that comes with Greek life. The community service and bonds that you form along with the involvement in campus that comes with being in a sorority is something that truly allows you to make your college experience a memorable one.

Image: Courtesy of Nicolette Pezza

CultureEducation

Traveling between my native Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. has become routine for me since starting school at The George Washington University nearly four years ago. After a couple of tedious, traffic-filled car rides and even more horrendous experiences with buses (think overflowed bathrooms and broken air conditioners), I’ve decided trains are without-a-doubt the best method of transportation there is. Here’s why.

  1. Trains are relaxing and convenient. Their movement gently sways side-to-side, the quiet murmur of people is calming, and the cushioned seats provide the perfect amount of leg room. This combination always creates an ideal environment to do homework, read, doze off, or just sit in peace with your thoughts. When time is not a serious constraint, might as well choose a method of transportation that makes the journey just as enjoyable as the destination. Additionally, trains are amazingly convenient in their free Wifi and easy ticket purchase. Traveling can be stressful enough as it is, so why not make the voyage as painless as possible?
  2. Call me a romantic, but something about a train is beautifully nostalgic. Looking out the window at the quickly passing scenery often leaves me thinking about the early 20th century, a time when the train was somewhere between luxurious and adventurous. While some trains served the saltiest caviar and finest wine like the infamous Orient Express, many carried brave souls traveling for work, to run away, or to simply start a new life. When I’m on the train, I just can’t help but think about those who rode the tracks before me and what adventure I’ll find when I arrive at the destination.
  3. Finally, trains have specialized cars – the quiet car and, of course, the café car. If you are the type of person who relishes in silence, find your paradise by sitting in the train’s quiet car, where cell phones and talking louder than a whisper is prohibited. If you’ve worked up an appetite after all that serious relaxing, you’re in luck because most trains even have a café car that serves coffee, pasties, sandwiches, and other tasty items. Trains, you rock.

Image: Unsplash