May, 2010

Memory Lane

seanna-85In honor of finishing up my first year, and being back home, working and relaxing…I’d like to just do a re-cap of seven top memories.  Five is too few, and ten might be too many…but seven…now THAT’S a perfect number!

1. Walking into my dorm room on the first day with all of my boxes…looking around the room, taking in the white walls and twin-sized bed, and realizing that THIS WAS IT!  College had begun.

2. Bus ride during Orientation Adventure (for freshmen)…I met two of my closest friends on that trip…unbeknownst to me that they’d be so influential in my first year…(close relationships can happen where you least expect them and with people that you might not notice at first)

3. First OBSA social lunch (OBSA = Office of Black Student Affairs)…it was great to see fellow African Americans on campus and get to know more of them as a part of my new community—the mac n’ cheese was amazing, too…be sure to reach out to mentor and support systems on campus!

4. Receiving my first “A” on a written assignment in my freshman critical inquiry class; although I may have been an excellent writer in high school…that DID NOT automatically carry over in college…be ready for constructive criticism and a willingness to put in a lot of hard work…this is an entirely new ballpark!

5. This will be a double memory, but represent the same thing…

- Spending the night with my second half, Ale…watching movies and drinking hot cocoa…laughing, talking…

- Staying up until 3 AM with my best friend, Martin…talking about anything, everything, and nothing

- Receiving a Sponsor Position for next year…meaning that I’ll be helping incoming freshmen acclimate to the environment, serving as a resource and living in the hall with them to serve as a mentor and friend…I’m so excited for next year!

- On my birthday, there was an end-of-the-year freshman pool party…a group of the students there surprised me by singing me happy birthday, while I stood blushing in the pool…it reminded me that although I was 2,000 miles away from home…I was still among family

My first year can’t be summed up in words…filled with ups and downs, good times and bad…but I can say that freshman year is unlike anything you’ll have experienced before.  Keep your eyes and mind open, try to stay positive, and keep your goals in mind.  Oh, and have fun along the way…time will fly by…guaranteed!

7 Days Left to Apply for the CSO Opportunity Scholarship!

CSOlogo-85High school seniors, could you use $1,000 to help pay for your freshman year of college? Or better yet, could you use $1,000 every year for the next four years to put toward your college expenses? If so, keep reading…

Class of 2010, YOU’VE DONE IT! You’re almost to graduation and you are ready to move onto the big leagues: COLLEGE! Woot, Woot! You received your college acceptance letters, selected the college you want to attend, are sending in your housing deposit and receiving your financial aid package. So now you can just chill out during the summer!

Well, not yet. Before you begin your chill session, make sure you apply for the CSO Opportunity Scholarship–a $1,000, four-year renewable scholarship awarded to first-generation, low-income, and/or minority high school seniors (class of 2010; entering the college class of 2014) enrolling at a CSO College Partner. If you win, you’ll also be given the opportunity to share your college journey and offer advice to younger students on how to make it to college on this blog!

Download the application here or email scholarship@csopportunity.org to receive an application.

Make sure your application is completed and postmarked by the deadline, May 28th. And again, congratulations on making it college!

The End, El Finito

joseph-85To those coming to college,

The last 3 months of my life have been the most trying and difficult of my entire academic career.  Last summer I participated in M.S.I., an intense program at my college that lasted one month, and before this, that was my most intense academic experience.  During that program, the time constraints made it difficult for everyone.  I sense that the difficulty I experienced this semester, though, is a product of both my own complacency, and the exceeding difficulty of the courses I took. 

The first mistake I made was waiting for books to come in the mail that I purchased off of the internet.  While I saved a significant amount from the bookstore’s used price and this is a practice I highly recommend, some of the books didn’t come for weeks.  This in itself shouldn’t be a problem for the serious student who can assertively ask to borrow the readings from others.

I didn’t though, and the second mistake I made was to underestimate just how much I was missing.  I based that assessment on the first semester (which was less rigorous for me looking back.) I told myself that I would catch up, maybe over spring break.  Needless to say, the break is worked into many of the instructors’ syllabi for work on their classes. 

Here is where I made my third mistake.  While I did a decent job of keeping up with the intermediary reading before the break, trying to add old readings had the effect of disjointing my reading experiences and made me less productive than I would have been otherwise.  If I had just buckled down and done it before, the time after spring break wouldn’t have flown by so fast and I wouldn’t have been so stressed out the last few weeks!

But why am I telling you this?  Well, just keep in mind that classes are structured in a way that readings build off one another, and the slow gradual accumulation of understanding most professors try to write into their syllabus is probably the best order to learn the material. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of time.  A few crucial missed readings can really mess you up.  Stay on top of the reading, be assertive and take control of your academic future! 

Now, I was able to catch up later this semester with a great deal of diligence, but you can be assured that I will not let this happen again.  Learn from me so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes and you can enjoy the discovery and great times of college instead of cramming and hesitantly rejecting social invitations on Saturday nights.


tereza-85At this point, most of you have already decided where you are going to college, unless you applied to a school with a rolling admission.  I know after I had applied to the colleges I decided I was interested in it felt like forever before I found out which schools accepted me. Once I found that out, then I had to look at the schools more closely and decide which one would be the absolute best fit for me, even though they were all great schools.

For the juniors in high school who are now going to be seniors, my advice is to apply to at least 5 schools. That way you have options and you always have a fall back school. I know that may sound bad, but you never know what could happen, so it’s always best to just have a “safe” school.

Now, unless you’re rich, most people cannot afford college. Never think you cannot go to college or decide not to apply or go to a school because it is too expensive. That’s what financial aid, scholarships, and loans are for. A good tip to remember is to never stop looking for scholarships. Not all deadlines are the same and not every scholarship is looking for the same things. Look for ones for which you know you meet the qualifications, so that you do not put in a lot of hard work applying for a scholarship just to find out that you are not qualified for one reason or another. Also, never not apply to a scholarship because they are offering a “small” amount of money. Any amount of money you are awarded will be so much help to you because being a college student is definitly not cheap.

Although most of you have already decided on where you are going to college in the fall, I wish you all luck if you are still looking for scholarships to help you avoid taking out loans.

Senior Sickness


1. Mind over Matter—Out of my eight senior-year teachers, only one of them refused to acknowledge senioritis as a legitimate disease that infects more than 80% of the graduating high school class.  In fact, not only did she refuse to acknowledge the grade-threatening disease, she wouldn’t give us any leeway on the quality of our work or assignment deadline extensions.  Although she was technically a “pain in my neck” during that last month, she was also a constant reminder that it was still necessary for me to work just as hard as I had at the beginning of the year.  I’d made my way through nearly thirteen years of public education…there was NO JUSTIFICATION for me falling off now.  (Despite her best efforts, I hear that 80% of the senior class once again contracted the disease).

2. Teaching for the Test—Although it may not be the best way to educate students or promote critical thinking, many of my teachers “taught for the test”, whether that was the end-of-year AP, IB, or similar exam.  In doing so, the curriculum was fairly straight forward, but often pushed through material at an alarming rate.  However, no matter how difficult the lessons were, I was still going to be expected to demonstrate my acquired knowledge in mid-May.  You will, too.  By succumbing to senioritis, you run the risk of missing important end-of-the-year information, as well as failing to constructively utilize review sessions.  So, although you may never use the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus when you’re the executive of some big-shot company, that poor test score could still affect your initial college experience.

3. Be that Little Engine—You know the one I’m referring to…the Little Engine that Could.  By the end of the year, I was exhausted; physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It was much easier to surrender to negative and self-defeating thoughts, rather than personal motivating advice or uplifting ideas.  Just keep chugging along!  As you receive those college acceptance letters, realize that it was your hard work that got you this far.  If you receive a few rejection letters, know that better things are coming your way.  Refuse to stop.  Refuse to give in to those destructive thoughts.

Last but not least, keep in mind that “this too shall pass”.  Senioritis is not a permanent disease, but instead, a temporary illness…kind of like the common cold.  However, if it direly affects you now, you could continue to come down with other sicknesses.  Therefore, wash your hands often.  Cover your mouth when you cough.  And most importantly, turn in all assignments, study for those tests, and smile at your teachers.  They’re tired, too!