Posts Tagged college applications

From my Dorm at USC

jordan-85Please enjoy my first video blog, talking about the college admission process, the new year and new classes, and showing what a typical college dorm/residence hall looks like.

Check it out here.

Reality Changers and Sophomore Fall

jesse-85It feels so good to be home! This past semester was definitely tough but when I get back home and visit Reality Changers where all the students work so hard to become first-generation college students, I know that it’s all worth it.

After a challenging semester, there’s nothing better than to come home and relax! At least for a few days. I got an internship in Denver for winter break so check back to see how that went!

In the meantime, check out the video below to hear some thoughts about this sophomore fall and get a peak into the world of Reality Changers!

Christmas/New Year’s: Stuffing Myself

jenny-85Instead of having the usual presents under the Christmas tree, I had food. Lots and lots of food. No presents in colorfully wrapped boxes. Just food. And I was so very happy. You know the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”? My version goes like this: “On the first day of Christmas my parents gave to me: a big bowl of noodles with crab meat!”  Then shumai and porkbuns! Imagine my joy.

I hope all of you are enjoying the break as much as I am. I know my stomach is.  The first day I got home and had a bowl of hot, steamy rice, I cried. I’m not lying. It was THAT good. To those of you who will go to college away from home, check if rice cookers are allowed in your dorm. If not…well, some people bring them anyway. I’m just saying. Ahem. Moving on.

College apps are done or almost done. I know it’s been hard and you probably will never want to write another essay, but all of you should apply for scholarships. Don’t just aim for the larger, more well-known scholarships. Go for the small amounts, too. Chances are, many other college applicants were thinking “I should apply for the bigger scholarship because it will save time!” Nope, not all the time. More well-known scholarships mean more competition, too, you know. Go for the big ones, but also go for the smaller ones for backup. And in college, you’ll come to realize that even $100 is important. So work on those scholarships! It’ll save your parents money. I have a younger sibling that will attend college soon, too, so I’m looking for scholarships to take some of the burden off my parents.

Happy New Year’s everybody! Stuff yourselves, that’s what people do on holidays. Enjoy your break with your loved ones!

Straight outta the South

seanna-85Straight outta the South

2011 is right around the corner.  A new year often brings hopes of new opportunities, fresh starts, and unforeseen possibilities.  For college students, it marks the beginning of another semester.  For high school seniors, the majority of applications have been sent in and the waiting process begins.  Before the clock hits midnight on January 1st, many of you may write out resolutions and goals for the upcoming year.  Maybe you want to get straight A’s that last semester in high school, help your parents around the house more, or exercise 3-5 times a week.  All of those are great, but as you prepare to make those changes, remember to keep one important thing in mind.  You’re amazing just as you are.

As you finish up the last semester & start hearing back from different colleges, you may start envisioning your freshman year…the classes you’ll take, friends you’ll meet, and fun you’ll have.  In many cases, there are attributes or habits that students had in high school that they want to leave in high school, eager to present a fresh & new persona to college peers and professors.  Although the new educational atmosphere will most likely deviate considerably from your high school experience, you don’t have to lose who you were back at home in the process, especially as you try to transition.

I remember being afraid that I’d be too out of place in the big state of California (never mind that I’m in the tiny town of Claremont) after coming from a state like Arkansas.  I didn’t want to be the naïve country gal fresh outta the boondocks, so I tried to smother my accent at times and know just as much about “big city things” as others.  Only after I established strong friendships and felt more at home within the college did I realize that I didn’t need to be anyone else, or reshape who I was.  Now, people back home tell me that they don’t hear the accent anymore, and newcomers at school are surprised when I tell them that I’m from the South.  The tables have turned, and I’m not sure if it was for the best after all.  I didn’t “become” smarter because I lost my Southern twang.  I wasn’t a better person because my vowel sounds shortened, and I stopped “fixin’” to do things.  I’m still myself, and still capable of succeeding at Pomona while being that happy, Southern-raised belle.

As you start thinking more and more about college, resolve to be firm in who you are and believe in your beliefs and values.  It’s great to transform and grow, but it’s also okay to retain a strong sense of self and pride in who you are.  When looking back after more than a year, I’ve realized that many changes are imperceptible as they occur; only receiving notice long afterwards.  Maybe this year, one of my resolutions will be to reassume my deeply imbedded habit of using “ma’am” and “sir”…nothing wrong with a little hint of Southern hospitality : )

A fortunate gift


Finally my semester exams are over and now I am sitting here at home just enjoying the company of some good friends and family. I’m sure all of you are putting in all the long hours into college applications, scholarship forms, and academic work. From my perspective, the end of the semester brings a chance to relax, yet now that I have much down time, I’m starting to reflect on my experience so far. Miami has opened many new doors for me: I traveled to Washington D.C. for the first time in my life, and I even got a meeting with the president of the University. All the opportunities are the reasons why this semester has been successful, but the one that stands out the most didn’t happen on campus but in an inner city project probably an hour away from the posh georgian architecture that Miami is known for.

When I first arrived on campus I heard of an organization called America Reads. The program at its core takes students from Miami’s campus and places them into various primary education facilities. The goal is to give students more opportunities to improve their reading capabilities and also be mentored by students who are distinguished in their own right.

At the start of this year all tutors are allowed to choose a school where they wish to work at. I decide that my skills would be best utilized and felt at Ethel Academy. From the statistics and description given the school caters to students from grades 1 to 8. The demographic student body is overwhelmingly African American and over 90 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged. Those two indicators gave away the academic situation in the school. From first hand experience I know poor and black usually equates to less than desired results but I automatically sympathized with those students so I made this a personal mission.

The first day of tutoring myself and six other students load up in the university minivan for a an hour long drive to Ethel Academy. Our first encounter was with the 7th graders. Oh boy were they stubborn! The first student I was assigned to seemed very distracted from the book he was reading. He would repeatedly stand up from his stool and failed to cooperate for an extended amount of time. After all the posturing and delay I finally got him to crack open his book. He began to read. After several attempts to pronounce the word “ internet” I became aware of the situation. The student I had was in the 7th grade yet he had a book written for a third grader. I put the pieces together and realized the previous actions were attempts not to expose the the true reality. Right then I had to stop him and once that happened, I could see him lower his eyes towards the ground. His slouching posture and lack of confidence spoke of the stigma that is associated illiteracy. The inevitable had happened.

Once the tutoring shift came to an end, I couldn’t help but take a quick glance around the surrounding area around the school. Most of the buildings were abandoned warehouses and living projects. I asked the principal “How are the conditions in this neighborhood?”. His answer was sort of a surprise to me. He said “ There is not a grocery store or gas station in this area at all… Most of the jobs have dried up and the situation is a struggle for these kids”. His words give insight into the lifestyle that eight year old children grow up in. It’s a lifestyle that is often ignored and I wonder what will become of students who lack resources and mentorship? How do we say that each citizen has equality of opportunity when some are denied the basics?

I want to note that my experience at Ethel was not all negative. I came into contact with my intelligent students who will one day flee the grasp of the inner city but there are many who will not. This story doesn’t have an ending because it is still in progression and if you are on this site reading these words then you must have a gift that needs to be cherished and shared. This holiday season I wish that you will give a gift worth more than any present: yourself. It is only when individuals decide to make little changes, little impacts on the lives of students will we truly be able to move forward in correcting this social ill.

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!


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.

TAG!! You’re it!

seanna-85I was never good at hide-and-seek.  I could handle it a little better if I was the one counting, but hiding was horrible for me.  On the one hand, I’m lanky, slightly clumsy, and never good at fitting into the covert nooks and crannies of the house.  But more than that, I’m extremely impatient.  Even waiting for my friend or cousin to count to twenty was too much.  So you can imagine my anxiety as I anticipated college admission decisions.  I was convinced that time had stopped.  Not only had time stopped, but the mailman was in cahoots with the colleges to keep me from the outcomes as long as possible.

Just as I’d reached my end and was about to call the Pentagon to report the conspiracy, I received my first letter in the mail.  Actually, it was less of a letter and more of a package.  Okay, so if you’ve heard the theory that acceptance letters come in big envelopes, while rejections arrive in small envelopes…I have to admit that I think it might be true.  (I apologize if you were waiting for me to discredit the rumor).  I was ecstatic!  I called my mom, texted my best friend, and hugged my boyfriend.  The hard work WAS paying off.  Someone DID want me!  I’d applied to over ten schools, and each of the letters were soon rolling in.  However, the one I was most nervously awaiting had yet to find its way to my mailbox.  Pomona had not replied.

By April 15th, I was sure that I’d been rejected.  Honestly, I was crushed at first.  I wondered what I’d done wrong, if my essays weren’t strong enough…if I wasn’t academically sound enough for their admissions process.  Here’s a small piece of advice—a rejection letter does not reflect a shortcoming in your personality.  Although you may not have been the best fit for that particular college according to a few admission officers, you should not take it as a personal attack on your character or on your worthiness as a human being.  In fact, sometimes when we’re required to open our eyes to new options and alternatives that we weren’t willing to consider at first, windows of opportunity fly open that benefit us amazingly.  Therefore, keep your mind, heart, and eyes open.  While knowing what you want is important, be receptive to changes and prospects from colleges that may not have been your number one.  And if you do get into your number one, congratulations!

Oh…I finally received that acceptance package from Pomona.  I’d given them the wrong zip code.  Second piece of advice—double check your address before submitting information.  The government wasn’t conspiring against me after all.

Is it here yet??

ashley-85As I have previously mentioned, I applied late and that only made the waiting game worse. I had to hear all about my friends getting their letters in while I still hadn’t heard anything. I tried to hide my anxiety by working more, but it didn’t help. Everyday before work, I would come home and the first thing I would do is check the mail. If the mail wasn’t there yet, I would search for it when I would get home from work. More and more I kept hearing about friends and classmates getting their letters and mine hadn’t come yet. When my first letter came, like usual I was looking for this big envelope… and it wasn’t there. As I was flipping through the rest of the mail, I came across a small envelope from one of the schools which I had applied to. My heart dropped, I thought if I didn’t get in there how was I going to get into the school I really wanted?! I didn’t even notice the Congratulations that was printed on the front of the envelope. I slowly teared open the envelope and read the words, You have been accepted! My heart soared. Even though that wasn’t the school I really wanted to go to, the feeling was unbelievable! After that the other two, big envelopes came in within a few weeks of each other, but I will never forget that first letter.

Try not to stress out about when the letters are coming, because no matter how long it takes it will be worth it in the end.

Apply early. The earlier you apply, the earlier they may respond.

And remember, if you don’t get in where you wanted. Everything happens for a reason. :]