Posts Tagged campus

Enrich Your Summer

leah-85It’s almost August. In the blink of an eye, summer will be gone. I never thought summer would go by so fast. I think this is my first summer where the days felt like minutes (and, this makes me very anxious).

Like everyone else, I really wanted to have a happy, stress-free, hanging-with-my-friends-or-watching-tv-all-day kind of summer. But, I’m happy that I didn’t. Some people need structure in their lives and I think I might fall into that category. I’m very grateful to say that I was able to do research with a professor in the mathematics department at my school.

I got to stay on campus for the summer. I didn’t really get a chance to spend time with my family but I really enjoyed living independently all year long. I think I’ve grown in so many ways. Who knew that grocery shopping and paying rent would change me into behaving like a real adult?

Back to a summer job. My advice is to get one. Some people think summer jobs are mindless. In fact, they can turn into a smart career move and really help a student decide what they want to do in the future. So, not everyone can get a job shadowing a doctor or working at a camp, but don’t be ashamed of whatever job you get. Any place can be a networking opportunity. For instance, a friend of mine got a job at a law firm by picking up a quarter someone dropped near the entrance of Macy’s. A job is a job and you are working to earn your money.

If you can’t find a job taking summer classes can also be helpful. This will help you high school student adjust to college easier. You get a preview of what to expect. There are lots of sleepover programs at colleges but usually the applications come out in March. Either way, main message: do something productive during the summer but make sure you still have a fun summer.

Brazil is more than just Beaches!

jesse-85One of the best parts about being in another part of the world is the change of context. Even though you may be experiencing something familiar (for example, a college campus or museum like in the video below), it could be a totally different experience. The opening days in Sao Paulo, Brazil were definitely a change of context and I really enjoyed checking out the museums and cultural landmarks that riddle the city.

Come to think of it, Sao Paulo was a great (and slightly unexpected) introduction to Brazil. When I pictured Brazil, the first thing I thought of was the beach but the urban setting of the metropolitan city of Sao Paulo showed me that there was so much more.

I’m so happy that I’m able to experience all of this first hand. And remember, it’s all because of college! My perspective on the world is definitely expanding- The world is so huge and I have so much more to see.

Sao Paulo is actually one of the largest cities in the world- which kind of blew my mind, to be honest. I was born and raised in the city (San Diego to be specific) so it was similar but totally different at the same time. There was definitely a lot to see, that’s for sure. Actually, let me show you- check out the video to see a few of the things I was able to experience in the first few days!

A Dream Does Not Have Price

irvin-85I remember when I first saw the price tag of what used to be the school of my dreams. Beside the name “Duke University”, appeared a five digit number that seemed to whisper “there is no way you can afford this”. With the hope of finding other schools that would not require my parents to sell everything, I scrolled down the list but all I could see was an expensive price tag for every school that I was looking at. Discouraged, I limited my options to more affordable institutions, such as my community college. All of this was before I found out about financial aid and how, with the help of the institutions as well as the government, I would be able to afford going to a school that I had worked hard for.

I can summarize my feelings towards financial aid in a short sentence: probably the best thing that could have happened to my educational career. Thanks to the help of Dartmouth and as well as Federal Aid, I am able to attend this great institution. Do not be discouraged when you see an expensive price tag. Keep in mind that if an institution really wants you in their campus, they will do as much as they can to help you go there. Financial aid is like a secret yelled out loud that very few people are aware of.

Just because you see an expensive price tag does not mean that that is what you are expected to pay to attend that institution. That price tag can be covered in many different ways such as grants, outside scholarships and federal aid. There might be a few loans here and there but, if you use your resources, you can cover those loans with outside scholarships. Apply to as many scholarships as you can. The more scholarships you get, the more you can help your parents and the more money you will be able to have to buy books and hey, even to buy what we teenagers feel is important, such as clothes and all that good stuff. (With moderation of course).

Whenever I am asked how I am able to attend an Ivy League school and how I am able to afford it, I say that the hardest part was actually in getting into the school. Paying for the school was not one of my main concerns. As I have said before, if an institution accepts you, they are willing to help you as much as they can. You just have to let them know about your situation. If you do not speak up, they will not know what your family is going through and thus they will not be able to help you. The money is out there, all you have to do is look for it. Do not let your dreams be shot down by a five digit number, realize that you dreams do not have a price and that no matter how expensive a school is, with enough effort and education, you can afford it. All it takes is awareness of the resources such as scholarship websites, your counselor in high school and even the financial aid office at the college of your dreams!


jeremy-85Hey CSO Blog Family:

Happy Holidays! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy New Year!  I hope this holiday season brought you peace, love and joy. I hope everyone got some amazing Christmas gifts! As a first year college student, this was a wonderful time of reflection for me.  Going home was EVERYTHING during the Thanksgiving break.

I realized how much I had missed my family and being at home.  But then, after a few days, I wanted to get back to my new life on campus.  I needed my independence back in a major way.  So, going home was bittersweet for me and my mom.  We both noticed the growth and the newfound independence.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not crazy.  I know my mom still calls the shots, but I was just a little irritated by having to be accountable again when I had been on my own for the past three months.  I’m just saying.

So, we both had to assess this new ‘me’ and come to terms with the reality of college and its consequences. Sometimes going home again is the hardest thing to do…

As I ended my semester and headed home, again, for the Holiday break, I thought about my message to you guys for the New Year and came up with five things I know I need to do better going forward and I’m hoping you’ll hold ‘me’ to them.  I need your help in 2011 to be the best man I can be and a successful student as well.

Here are the Five Things You Need To Know Right Now about “That Life”!! (Code for: Freshman Survival Tips)

1. Do Not let OTHERS dictate the things YOU do and decisions YOU make in YOUR life.
2. Work on managing your money better and more wisely.
3. Sleep Does Matter! Change and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
4. Schedule your recreational activities around your studies. They are not priority ~ your classes and coursework SUPERSEDE any and all social stuff.
5. Stay focused! Stay focused! Stay focused!

Happy New Year everyone and God bless you in 2011.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

irvin-85I could totally be cliche and let the college applicant know that I was in his or her shoes just a year ago, looking for the place where I would spend the next four years of my life and really wondering if I would find the right place. And after looking at various places, I felt that gut feeling telling me that this was the place for me to go. Again, roll out the cliches.

The college process is scary, intimidating and stressful. You are deciding the next four years of your life and it all depends on an application and the person that reads that application. Do not be scared if you have not found the one place where you really want to go. This is a normal feeling. Some people do not know where they want to go until days or even hours before committing to a college. I was the exception to this rule since I found Dartmouth as the perfect place for me within minutes of being on campus. Again, I felt that tingling in my heart and the peace of mind when I stepped on campus and all of it told me that I would love to be here for the next four years. Go with that gut feeling, that would be my best advice. If it feels right and if, after taking a holistic view of the college, you like it, then chances are that it is the right college for you.

Once you have found a college, you need to apply. Again, the application process might be even more stressful than finding places to apply to. There are a lot of essays and many short responses that you have to take care of. My best advice for you is this: do the applications for your top three schools first. Release as much of yourself in those applications, in other words, put your heart and soul into them. By doing this, you will gain the momentum which will allow you to finish the other applications. Put equal effort into these since you don’t know how decisions might turn out and you might end up getting denied from your dream school and accepted into a school that you did not consider. It is always good to have options.

A few tips on applications:

1. Proofread them once.

2. Proofread them again.

3. Have someone else proofread them.

4. I think you get my point on how important proofreading is.

5. Be yourself. Do not try and impress anyone by pretending to be someone you are not. College admissions officers will accept you for who you are since they see a place for you in the college. If you choose to be someone that you are not, you are only hurting yourself.

6. The essay. Man, the essay. Be creative, be yourself, be true to who you are. Do you like Gossip Girl and love Newton’s Laws of Physics? Do you love soccer and find Dickens an amazing writer?  Find a way to integrate them both into an essay. Ask your college counselor for tips on what not to write about, you do not want to be cliche.

7. Proofread your essay.

8. Take time to relax and enjoy the last year of high school. You’re only a senior in high school once, make it worth it.

9. Accept and realize that there is always a possibility of being rejected. Have that in your head as you apply and be prepared for an eventual heartbreak. BUT…also be prepared for celebrating an acceptance letter.

Best of luck seniors!

A distorted view

lot-85The Miami Police Beat is the most popular part of the school newspaper. It is essentially a column dedicated to recounting the humiliating stories of students who were caught in the act of intoxication. We all read and laugh along with the column, then we pay no further attention because we perceive those students as irresponsible and removed from ourselves.

If one stops to actually contemplate the repercussions incurred by the students then we would take the stories as a grave warning to the destructive culture that lies within college life. That student who wants to attend medical school or law school has a lesser chance of acceptance because of improper conduct. A current plague upon the youth is that we seem to live for the day at hand rather than foreseeing the consequences of certain actions. I admit that college is a time of great freedom, but I find more often than not that some of my peers are continuously compromising their values for small fleeting moments of excitement. While everybody seeks to have a good time, it is important to contemplate the method in which we achieve this happiness. I’m perplexed by how many of my peers are drawn into underage drinking, overt promiscuity, academic apathy and even illegal drugs. Some people may argue that this is a part of the culture surrounding college life but I completely disagree. Most of my friends who have faced trial due to possession of alcohol have never drank before. So why start now? I believe the culprit behind this care free mentality is our initial perceptions of college life. Media and pop culture tell us that college is about indulging in drunken debauchery but it goes much further than that. For those of you who believe this I offer a sign of caution because this view is grossly inaccurate.

The subject that I speak of is something that is usually skirted in a public forum like this but it is necessary to discuss these issues in public. It is important to know who you are and aspects of yourself that will absolutely not be compromised for the sake of fitting into a perception. I fear that as I continue to live on this campus I will lose myself and become something unexpected.

Expectations Pt.1

irvin-85 This is the first part of a three part blog. It would be a really long blog if put all together and so, in order to not bore anyone, I have divided it into three parts.

Last night, tired of double integrals and finding volumes under surfaces, I decided that the best way to relax would be to watch soccer highlights for a few minutes. I have learned to pace myself and that for every two hours of hard work, ten minutes of distractions are more than deserved. While watching the highlights of the games of the week, a string of words from the narrator stood out. “Such high expectations can either motivate or weigh a team down.”

As I reflected upon that quote, I realized how true it was. Being in an institution of higher learning, you are faced with expectations coming from all angles. First, there are your own personal expectations, what you want to achieve.

During the past four weeks here, I have learned that I have to be reasonable with the expectations I set for myself. High expectations in high school are completely different from expectations at college. In high school, grades were a reflection of how smart or intelligent you were. Therefore, there was more effort put into the pursuit of a letter grade rather than learning and understanding the material. As I have mentioned before, college is no longer high school.

The game and the players have changed, therefore the expectations need to change. Here, after four weeks, I have realized that a letter grade is nothing more than a numerical assessment that tries to encapsulate your understanding of the material. That’s it. It does not reflect how smart you are but rather how well you understand the material at hand. Here, instead of chasing a letter grade, you are pursuing knowledge for the sake of knowledge itself. Grades take secondary role and are not the most important thing. I know that for most of us, this is a hard concept to understand. We are used to seeing a non changing pattern of letter grades and to think that that might change is a scary thought. Believe me, it took a lot of introspect in order for me to understand that I am at Dartmouth to learn, not to get grades.

My expectations have changed dramatically. The perfect GPA is no longer my first priority nor my second. Learning, understanding and being able to apply the concepts I learn are. My second priority is to be involved in campus and be part of this community as much as I am able to. Third, if it is possible to obtain that 4.0, it will come if I work hard, yet, I am happy to say that whatever grades I get, are the product of my effort and understanding of the subject. If those grades happen to be all A’s or a mixture of A’s and B’s, it does not matter as long as I know learned as much as I could along the way.

If there is something that I want the reader to obtain from this is the fact that grades and knowledge are not the same thing. Learn to love knowledge, it is the greatest thing someone can give you, well, besides life but that’s another issue. Life is not about grades, life is about what you know and what you do with that knowledge to make this a better world. Keep that in mind.

The Joys of College Life!

darius-85Wow, college is truly a series of fantastical events that you will never forget. I’ve only been here for a little over five weeks, but I’ve already made friends whom I know will last a lifetime! I’m getting involved on campus (I’m going to be treasurer for a theatre club, and I’m a member of my school’s multi-media blog team!) and finding my way around the city of New York is getting easier and easier! There’s never a boring minute (and if there is, you probably should be studying : P) every minute of my life is filled with school, studying, rehearsals, friends, and eating. Oh, and I forgot sleep! But that comes scarcely, thanks to my old friend procrastination.

A word to the wise: manage your time wisely. Use a planner, write down your assignments, and get them done as soon as you get a chance. That way you have time to hang out with friends and even to sleep! I consider myself lucky that I’m an acting major, we don’t get it as tough as a lot of the others. It’s still one of the harder majors though, plenty of scripts to read and analyze, a ton of writing, and a 4 hour long stagecraft class… lucky me : D



I’m on my own now. After all my college stuff has been moved into my cubicle for a room, after mom cried and dad gave me the speech on responsiblity, I began to write the first chapter in my college experience.

The first couple of hours were spent in preparation and anxious pondering about my roommate and the guys in my corridor. I pondered on the type of personalities they would have? Would they be interested in the same hobbies such as myself? Could I develop a relationship with total strangers? These are questions that roamed not only through my own mind but through the mind of every single freshman student on campus. I guess the fear of the unknown kept us at bay for those initial hours. Everyone has the perception that college is a time to be open and discover a new world, but we all came from areas in which people knew our names, backgrounds and personalities, Having to start over with new people is daunting.

After surfing on facebook for way to long , my roommate arrived. We had talked briefly over the summer but it was exhilarating to hear his voice, watch his demeanor, and understand his background. We had striking differences; I am a democrat, he is a republican. He comes from a long line of college graduates. I am the first in my family to attend college. He is more reserved and introverted at first. While I am sort of loud and willing to strike up the most random conversations. With a few differences came many similarities: We both enjoyed history and politics. We both placed an emphasis on networking, academics and continued individual growth. It turns out we live well together, utilizing the skills such as cooperation, consideration and genuine compassion.

Meeting Dan for the first time put me in the welcoming mood. If nobody wanted to come out, then I would go to them. In Batman and Robin type of fashion, we both walked down the halls knocking on every door as we went by. Everyone received us with hospitality and willingness to introduce themselves. On occasion the guys we met were under the same impression as our own, they wanted to be open but didn’t know the avenues to start from. As the tour went on we found other bands of freshmen walking thorough the halls trying to obtain the same objective we had set. The story was the same all over: parents were gone, new environment, how do I meet people without coming off as weird or intrusive? In a comical way we were all in the same boat just blind to the other passengers in it.

Meeting people for the first time is one thing yet breaking through the frigid disconnect that comes with meeting someone foreign was difficult. Usually the conversation would revolve around the basics: name, origin, and major. Outside of that the conversation turned icy and some what awkward. I thought what helped bond myself with the guys in corridor was the common interest. We all considered ourselves scholars worthy of independent thought. Walk through our halls and listen in on the conversations surrounding race, socioeconomic, current politics, and even gender relations. We dine together frequently, never leaving until the gang is together. We even have similarities in television shows. On any given day around four o’ clock you can bet that at least ten guys are huddled together watching repeats of The West Wing.

Two weeks into my freshman experience I am becoming more acquainted with campus (even if I get lost sometimes) and I’m getting situated with my classes. But the most endearing step is building relationships that will stand past this year and the next. I truly feel connected and at home with my brothers.