Posts Tagged papers



After endless papers, countless pages written and read, I finished freshman year. Exhausted, sleep deprived, eager and most importantly proud of what I have achieved during my first year of college, I turned in my last paper, went through the odyssey of moving out and began my journey home. The stress of finals made home appear like a an oasis in the middle of the desert. After being away for six months and after being under the most intense academic pressure I had ever experienced, home was a necessary stop for I needed to “recharge” my batteries, and as many of my professors suggested, reflect on the successes and downfalls of the year that had just ended. I thank them for their advice for I was considering taking summer courses but after some thought, I realized that that would not have been the best idea since I was mentally exhausted from six months of intense academic expectations.

College tires you out, as high school has done to those who are seniors now. You can only write so many papers and read so many books until you stop enjoying what you are doing and begin to see it as a burden and a hassle. I experienced this at one point during spring term where, when it was sunny and really nice outside, I found myself in the library doing readings for my comparative politics class. Had it been earlier in the term (and less sunny outside) I would not have been complaining about the work that I had to do. After talking to some of my friends about this issue, we came to the conclusion that at the end of the day, we are still kids (although we are older than 18) and that there is a need for us to have fun and put aside the academic pressure that piles on us. Also, we arrived at the conclusion that we need to match our determination to succeed with an approach that assures that we are healthy psychologically. If our minds are tired or stressed, we will not perform our best and thus, a bit of fun from time to time is necessary.

I know that some of us fall under the category of those hard workers that are always looking for something to do. There is nothing wrong with that since it is that work ethic that has gotten you to the position in which you are right now. But remember that you are not a machine (a fact that I tend to forget a lot of times) and that you need rest and time to relax. It is a proven fact that you learn more and are able to assimilate more material when you are not under stress and thus, there is a need for study breaks.

And so, my message in this short blog is that those who are seniors (and now high school graduates), enjoy your summer after what I am sure has been a stressful year. For those who are rising seniors, enjoy your summer as well because you are going to need to be well rested for what will be a really intense year, full of applications and essays. Have a great summer guys!

Look Ma I’m Going to College!

leah-85Congrats on getting into college! I bet you are beyond excited. I remember when I first got an acceptance letter. For some reason Swarthmore sent me a small envelope so I initially thought “Dang, here goes my first rejection.” It took me a while to open the letter because I didn’t want to end up in tears. But I finally had the courage to open the letter and in capitals letters I saw “CONGRATULATIONS!” I yelled, jumped, and danced. And, then I realized my dad was yelling at me to get off of him. I was so shocked and in my own world that I didn’t realize I tackled my father to the ground.

But, it was hard for me after the other letters came. I got rejected by some schools. And, I didn’t know how to feel. Was I mad? Relieved? Happy? I just knew that God has a reason for everything so I kept it moving and got positive about the places I did get into. So, be thrilled no matter what. Getting to college is such an honor.

As for deciding I can also give you this advice: do you! When trying to decide which option is best or what path to choose, think of yourself and be selfish for once in your life. It’s not about what your parents want or how many of your high school friends are going to a specific college. It’s about where will you mesh, where will you get a good education and where will you grow. I mistakenly thought that I had to please my parents by going to Tufts. And, yes it is a fabulous school. But I was the one who had to do the papers, exams, and etc, not my parents, so shouldn’t I choose where to go? I think people will always make the wise decision if they have faith in themselves and if they have a plan of action. Make yourself your first priority. It may be tough, but in the end, you will have made the right choice.

If Time is Money, I’m SO Broke

jenny-85Time just seems to run away from me. There are never enough hours in a day to do the things I want to do. Can’t take a nap. Can’t go to the movies. Can’t go read a book for leisure because I’ll definitely end up reading it instead of the books I need for class. And then I can’t do the things that I need to do. Like study for that exam that’s coming up. Finish my homework. Can’t finish the insane amount of reading I have for my writing class. Time-management? Not my forte. It’s harder than I thought it’d be.

You’d think that you would have more time in college. Classes don’t start till nine or ten. Some classes don’t meet every day. You probably thought, “YES! Freedom!” Nope. Not at all. Between classes, lunch lines, laundry, coursework, clubs and sleep, me-time is cut down severely.

One thing I do is keep a planner. In this age, phones seem to have this application too, so no excuses. I first list the things that are due. For example, papers for writing class or problem sets for my science courses. Then I split them up into parts I can take on day by day. Do these things by Tuesday and then move on to the next part on Wednesday. Don’t take on everything on one day. Trust me. Papers don’t turn out too well when you’re writing while sleep-deprived.

Once things pile up, they can start to affect your grades. So, you may have to drop something, whether it be reading manga, watching Glee or gelling your hair Super-Saiyan style. Yes, all of these things are very important. But grades are more so. I, for one, realized that Korean dramas took up A LOT of my time. I would wait for them to air and then check if anyone put in subtitles. Then I would procrastinate too often to watch the shows. I understand how hard it is to quit cold turkey. But you gotta do what you gotta do!

You don’t come to college to socialize or play, so if it really comes down to it, you can be a hermit in your room for a few days and study or catch-up with classes. Your friends will understand. The disappearing act is only for a while. If they don’t, they might have a few attachment issues. (Ahaha.)

Handy Dandy…PLANNER!

seanna-85                Last week in Neuropsychology, my professor was explaining the short and long term effects of stress on the body.  The hypo-something interacts with the adrenal-something-else and cortisol a.k.a the stress hormone, is released in the body.  Short-term, stress can help you get through the all-night cramming session with that test you procrastinated for…it’ll help you finish that 5-mile marathon run that involved a mildly twisted ankle at the 2-mile mark…heck, it may even get you through final week four papers, two tests, and one final project later.  HOWEVER, after that test…after that run…and after final week, the prolonged influence of stress will often lead to a temporary immune system collapse, maybe a little bulge build-up, and most definitely, a bout of over-exhaustion. 

                In conclusion…STRESS is not good for the body, and yet, college students find themselves routinely anxious, running from one class to the next activity, squeezing in food and showers when time allows it…FORGETTING repeatedly to take that “me-time” for recuperation. 

                Enter…the planner…a well-structured, pre-organized, time-charted, life-saving strategy for stress management.  Sophomore year, I’ve been able to pull my planner from my bag more often than a stick of gum or lip gloss.  My fingerprints are permanently engraved on the front cover, but it has helped immensely with my ability to look at my entire week, prioritize to-do tasks, and SCHEDULE IN relaxation/party/”me” time.  Every year of college involves a new onslaught of activities and obligations that’ll fill the time.  Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them, even including the class assignments and study groups with friends.  This year, I’ve found myself learning to say “no” to some things…over-commitment is a sworn enemy of balance. 

                This week alone, I have a mid-term on Tuesday, commentary due on Thursday, four meetings, gym time, 16 hours of classes, two seminars to attend, over 300 pages of reading, and preparation/study time for next week.  But guess what I’ll be doing from 10-11:30 PM three nights this week?  I’m open to suggestions, but they can’t include ANYTHING that takes focus away from me taking time for myself.

Better College Student

leah-85Sorry for not posting sooner. This was meant to be posted in December:

I have been in my own world lately. Papers, projects and finals were stressful that I made sure never to touch my computer because I knew Facebook would take over my life. Let’s just say I need to work on my self control.

So first semester at Swarthmore was a success. I don’t know how I made it exactly but I did. The course load was unbelievable. Every week I found myself reading two books, completing two problem sets, and writing papers. It was hard and everyday was a challenge. But, I took that challenge head on. I spent hours studying, rewriting, visiting office hours, and in the end things had a way of working out. Some days I didn’t think I would make it. I didn’t have faith in my abilities or myself. I started to doubt myself, until I realized I am not alone. Friends are great resources. Their attitude, advice, and gestures motivated me to do better and work harder. They encouraged me and taught me that working hard is not enough, you need confidence. You need to know when to ask for help, when to take a break, when to yell, and when to complain (because everyone needs to vent).

What could have possibly made my experience better? Well first off, time. I wished I had more time with everything. I wished lectures weren’t crammed in 50 minutes and I wished they days were longer so I would have more time to study. Second, a well thought out plan. Honestly, in college there are people who want to be a chemist for instance at the age of four. And, they dedicated their entire time prepping. That means taking summer classes, doing internships, or going to a high school that specialized in that field. So when it comes down it, they are exceeding expectations and things are natural and easy for them. They have preparing to do what they want to do forever. I wished I knew then or even now about my future. But, I still remain clueless. Lastly, I think what’s important is that your high school values your independent thinking and asks you to learn things on your own. It’s important to have analytical skills and think theoretically at all times.

As for me, I am happy to be going home. I can finally get eight or more hours a sleep. I am still not used to handling college. I need to work on studying, socializing, and sleeping. But, I know that I’ll get into the motion and this break I will prepare myself to be a better college student.

Oh great, here we go again (sophomore year)

khadijah-85Ok, so honestly, first year, freshman year, you will probably get your butt kicked. Seriously- different environment, high expectations, you’re on your own- even if you’re a beast academically, you will get your butt kicked. Even if you are a social butterfly, you would have to adjust to peers who seem like they have so much money, they don’t know what to do with it, and be kicked in the butt by your empty, angry wallet, or work hours and hours to afford a burger from the overpriced restaurant down the street (but those burgers are soo GOOD). Class matters at Harvard, (so many of my black peers at Harvard come from private school, high income brackets, or another country) and so does race - “the black experience, the poor black experience”(everyone turns to me- share your wisdom, oh poor black girl). Not obviously, of course, but definitely more than I expected. I was and am sometimes disillusioned, and to top it all off, I had more work than I knew how to deal with. Although I know this is a crazy thought now- I thought I was going to fail out of Harvard, be a disgrace to low-income, homeless and black females everywhere, and I thought I was a failure socially. Shouldn’t I be the social butterfly? It’s only a few papers and exams, why is this so difficult? WHY so much reading? I don’t want to see my report card. No. Intro Economics, I’ll pretend it doesn’t exist.

So, since I’m still posting, you can see that I did make it to sophomore year. And oh my goodness, I finished my first semester of sophomore year! And you know what, it was harder in many ways, but easier in many other ways. First off, those 300+ pages of reading a week, it’s doable, it really is. The papers, I’m figuring out my formula, and I’m using it to try to work on my papers. I’ve had to ask for extensions, but you know what, this time I knew what I needed, I hadn’t a clue before.

Basically, what’s easier about sophomore year is this awareness I now have. I’m aware of my own rhythms- I know never to do heavy reading late at night, and I know I must start a paper on Friday because it’s not getting done during the week. It’s just not. I know that 9 am class, even if I get up at 8 am every day (including weekends) should absolutely be considered cruel and inhumane treatment under the constitution. I’m aware of the importance of time management, looking at the syllabi and talking with professors in September- “So uh, I have 3 papers due within three days, may I turn in my paper in December on a different date?” Yeah, you can do that! (Ask, you never know, professors are pretty nice typically). What makes sophomore year different than freshman year is that you know better who you are, and you know your strengths and weaknesses. You get into a routine, you find your clique of friends, you’re more comfortable turning on and off the social butterfly (or keeping it off indefinitely, if that’s your thing).

So I promise, even when your butt gets kicked freshmen year, and your gpa makes you cry, it will get better. Your feelings of not belonging, of being a failure, the doubt, is all normal, and trust me, it won’t always be like this. Sophomore year, you’ll look back at your freshman self and wonder why, instead of cranking that paper out and getting the crappiest grade, you didn’t simply ask for a day extension. It will get better, because you’ll not only know yourself better, you’ll know how to work with, not against, your natural self. And with knowing yourself better, everything else begins to fall into place.

Take 2

abigail-85I just got done with my math midterm. Phew.

This is the third one I’ve taken since I’ve arrived at Dartmouth but let me tell you, it doesn’t make it that much easier. In the last couple of weeks I’ve learned more about myself as a student than I ever did in high school. I used to be able to study the night before a test and still ace it. Now, I have to make sure I schedule time a few days ahead of time in order to get a good review of the material. Before I could take my time with a paper but now I have to start working on it right away. I don’t mean a full blown innovating thesis in one sitting but at least start jotting down ideas and seeing if I’ll be needing to do some research for it.

You may come into college with a fixed mindset of your study habits and may be hesitant to change them and that’s okay. But don’t let this prevent you from becoming a better student! Yes, you may not be able to go out everyday but it pays off! Be proactive not reactive with your education; you’ve already made a good choice in attending college, now it’s time to realize that it doesn’t end there. In order to achieve your long time goals you will need to work harder than you did in high school and be willing to adapt. In doing so, you may discover something about yourself you may have not otherwise!


The Scary, The Sweet, & The Spicy… Of College!

jesse-85Happy Halloween! You know, this is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. I have so many fond memories of Power Ranger costumes, $1 ninja swords from the swap meet, and making trades with my brother, “I’ll give you two butterfingers for those M&M’s, C’mooooon.” Yup, those were the days!

Things have changed a little bit now… Instead of screaming alongside my cousins as we watched scary movies in our apartment, I now find myself afraid of something a lot more intimidating than a possessed doll or some dude with really sharp finger-claws. I’m talking about College.

Especially when midterms and papers start to pile up, College can be a very scary place. Not only do you have a bunch of other things you have to worry about (practice, meetings, work, etc), you have to make sure to stay on top of those studies! That is, after all, why you went to college in the first place.

Despite how scary things can get, if you work hard and put in the time, you WILL make it through. I promise. Besides, you’ve had to go through so much to make it to college as a first-generation college student already, a little homework itsn’t going to stop you!

Check out this video to see how I was holding up during a rough patch (The Scary), how I made it through (The Sweet), and how I did on my first Salsa Performance of the semester (The Spicy)!

gobble gobble!

tereza-85It’s already 2 weeks until Thanksgiving and I know most of you high students are looking forward to it because that means a 4 day weekend! I remember thinking that last year and couldn’t wait for it to come.

What I also remember about this time was that I was getting ready to start my college application process and I hope all of you high school seniors are too. If you have not started yet, don’t worry it’s not too late to start.

There are so many colleges out there and some students are probably wondering “Which one do I want to go to? How can I pick?” What I suggest doing is making a list of everything you look for in a college and go off of that. Some sample questions would be:”Do you want to stay close to home? Do you want to be in a city or in a college town? Do you want to go to a big school or a small school? Does diversity in your college matter to you?” and more questions similar to that. By answering a bunch of questions like that can really help narrow down your search and make it easier to pick which colleges you are interested in. I myself answered questions like that to help me narrow down my search because before I did that I was feeling kind of overwhelmed by how many colleges there where and this helped me eliminate some. For questions which you could go either way on like “how big do you want your school?” just apply to both because then you can never have too many options.

I would also suggest to at least apply to 5 schools. Every school will offer you a different financial aid package and different things and like I said before, keep your options open!

Try making a time line for yourself especially when applying to schools that have application deadlines. You do not want to miss an important deadline. Some schools may have rolling admission so there really is not a deadline but it is always better to apply sooner because then it’s more likely you will get a spot!

If you have not already figured out which teacher you would like to write you letter of recommendation it would be good if you made that decision soon so then you can ask that teacher. Also so then they could get started on it if necessary because just how you don’t like doing papers at the last minute, they don’t like doing letters of recommendation at the last minute.

You should probably begin creating a personal statement if you have not already started and I highly suggest you have someone else read it and help you with it! They can help you improve it and make suggestions that you might have not thought of before.

After you have all these things done all you really have left to do is wait to hear back!

To all you freshmen, sophomores and juniors, you can do all of these things too because it is never too early to start college preparation. Of course you cannot apply to college yet but you can have everything ready so that when you are able to apply for college all you have to do is fill out the application because everything else is already done. Also make sure that you take the ACT/SAT and make sure you are prepared for them which means study!

I wish everyone the best of luck and if you need help or have any questions don’t be afraid to ask your parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, or even me! Just leave me a comment after you read my blog.