Posts Tagged parents

Fun in the sun???

lot-85If you haven’t heard it a million times since now I am going to say it again: Congrats on getting those acceptance letters! I can understand the gratifying feeling when the good news comes and the realization that all the years of hard work has culminated into something tangible. You should be proud and remember to enjoy the last days of senior year. However I would implore you to start thinking of life once the graduation ceremony has come and gone. The summer is a prime time to make sure that the transition to college life will be seamless with as little turbulence as possible. Thus I have outlined two key pieces of advice:

GET A JOB: It’s that simple because there is no way around it. As you know college is expensive and you might think mom and dad will be there to bail you out, but there are no lessons learned from always falling back on the same people. An objective during the college experience should be independence on some level. No I’m not saying that parents won’t be in the equation but I am saying that self-reliance is something to be strived for. If you’re like me paying for books, extracurricular activities and miscellaneous items can amount to a hefty bill. Thus I would encourage all of you to start saving NOW. I understand prom is around the corner and you probably want to buy that outrageously expensive dress- which will only be worn once- but in the long run it’s not worth it. I have learned a lesson this year on how to prioritize and sacrifice. There are two categories when it comes to spending money: wants and needs. You need textbooks and a laptop, you don’t need to buy those extra pair of shoes or that 45′ inch plasma t.v for the dorm.

Internships & Community Service: These are important to building towards a new resume. One thing students don’t realize is that once high school is over, many of the accomplishments such as: National Honor Society, Key Club, and Student Government are no longer admissible on resumes in the future. During your freshman year you can rely on those high school achievements to secure jobs and other opportunities on campus but that is only because of youth/ inexperience. This summer I am clearing all my high school achievements and starting over with what was done in my freshman year. It would be wise to start looking for opportunities for possible career experience. For example if you are a political science major, start looking for internships in your local elected representatives office. Whether it be a state senator or even a U.S. Senator it doesn’t matter the experience will give much needed insight and boost your resume. The same can be said for all majors and areas of interest. The relevant career experiences that I speak of are not the type that are found easily, you might have to contact an office or ask for parental advice, but the work in the long run is worth it.

Burst the Bubble

leah-85Leave that nest. Yes, I’m saying get out of your comfort zone and go to a new place.
College is really about starting fresh, experiencing something new, adapting, growing, and let’s not forget about the academics. I think you should consider a college in a new setting away from home and the parental control.

Think about if you really want to stay in your hometown for college. Sure, it’s going to be different because you’ll look at your city as a college student, meaning some places won’t be restricted and you’ll notice new hot spots. But the streets will still be the same streets. I guess what I am trying to say is that it gets a bit depressing when things become too familiar and predictable. Living in the same place gets tiring. Shake things up a bit. Take a risk and try something new. Sure, it may feel a bit weird but in the end you’ll obtain a great lesson. And, plus it’s only for four years.

Personally, I love being away from home because I realize how great I have or had it. For instance, this may sound weird but I really am starting to appreciate my city’s streetlights. Swarthmore’s campus is pretty dark so whenever I walk through the campus, which reminds me of the woods in a scary movie, I get really paranoid. Who would have thought that I would miss the sirens at 2:00AM, the impatient drivers honking as I cross the street, the loud barking emitting out of the smallest dogs. And, do I miss 7-11 and other 24 hours stores. But, at the same time I love how I get a break from it all.

I don’t think I ever got homesick here and that’s all thanks to skype. It’s not the same obviously because everything is virtual but when I am on the verge of feeling like I don’t belong at my school I know the voice of a love one can always cure my doubts and troubles. So don’t be afraid to search colleges out of your region.

L.O.V.E. = Love. Obey. Value. Encourage

jeremy-85Greetings CSO Nation!

As I look back on my first year in college, I realize I’m at the half way point.  I’m grateful for the opportunity, but more importantly, I’m grateful for L.O.V.E.  The month of February gives me a chance to express my love for those who have been in my corner.  February is also a chance to thank those who have my back through whatever and whenever.  That would be my parents.

Oftentimes, we take our parents for granted.  Seriously, I realize some of you may have grandparents who are your parents or you may have other family members who substitute as your parent.  I just want to show some love to my parents because I realize how critical their assistance has been in my life.  Especially up to this point.

I am pursuing higher learning because I want to achieve a level of success in life which will allow me to have my best life *as he says in his best ‘Oprah’ voice*.  The main reason I’m here today is because of values instilled in me by my parents.  My parents ensured I was in the right programs and schools in order to position myself for college.  I could not have done this alone.

So, it is with love that I write this post in the month of February.  L is for the love my parents have consistently given me through the years.  O is for my continuous effort to try to obey their rules, advice, and guidance as they share their personal experiences with me.  V is for the value of all that love and support – it’s priceless and I value them to the highest.  Finally, E is for the fact I encourage them to continue to be a part of my life even though I’m away from home.  I call my mom.   I ask her for advice and direction.  I realize that I still need them in my life – now, more than ever.

As you’re preparing for college, please never forget what matters most: the L. O. V. E. you share with your parents – it’s invaluable and the best thing in life!

2011 Financial Forecast: F.A.F.S.A. = Find and Apply Financial Strategies in Advance!

jeremy-85Greetings CSO Nation!

I survived the Blizzard of 2011!  I’m officially a SURVIVOR!  I hope everyone reading this post endured and weathered the storm – no matter what state you’re in.  This too shall pass…

There are great lessons in every storm!

A storm teaches you to prepare in advance. A storm teaches you to come together with those close to you and help each other out through the difficult periods.  A storm teaches you about your inner strength and how much you can bear.  Storms give us an opportunity to reflect and realize that trouble doesn’t last always.

As I read the news reports out of my hometown, Chicago, there were people stranded on the Lake Shore Drive who really thought they were not going to make it.  But they did.  The amazing thing was the kindness of strangers.  People came out of their high rise condos and apartments to bring food and water to those who were stranded on the drive for well over seven hours.  Storms can bring people together.

Many schools were closed for the day and some through the week, but life goes on.  Speaking of life, the money matters, as it relates to college, can be a do or die experience for many and creates a personal kind of storm.  As a storm teaches you to prepare in advance, so does the process of Financial Aid.  It behooves you to prepare in advance.  The FAFSA is the foundation and a mandatory rite of passage for all college students.  After the college application, it is the most critical piece of paper you will ever complete!

When FAFSA says they are accepting applications on the first of January, believe them!  File your application on the first day!  The money goes so fast and as a future college student, you want to be in the early processing batch which is always the first two weeks of January.  Don’t delay.  Seek help from your parents (they have the expertise you need to figure the paperwork out) and work together as a team!  Those are my tips for financial aid as you work towards higher education.  Stick to this strategy each year and you won’t regret it.  Some storms can’t be avoided, but financial storms can be if you file your FAFSA as soon as possible.

Working During the Year?

jesse-85It feels so good to be home after a semester full of great experiences. Looking back on my Sophomore Fall, some of the best memories have got to be while working with Crimson Summer Academy. Remember that job I had during the summer? Well, I loved it so much I continued on into the school year.

Working and balancing schoolwork can be challenging but if you find a job where you learn, have fun, and enjoy what you’re doing, the balance comes a lot easier. If you’re wondering how my job went this semester, check out this video where you can get a brief look at how it went!



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.

Closer to Center Stage

seanna-85Seanna Leath.  Pomona College Class of 2013.  First-generation, low-income, student of color…first year at college.  Oh, wait…scratch that…it’s sophomore year. 

I’m now back on campus in sponsor training, already moved into my single, making connections with new people and excitedly reconnecting with “old friends”.  Just as a heads up, the sponsor program at Pomona College is (in my own words) one of the foundational mentoring bases available within our community, which focuses on integrating first-years within the campus atmosphere.  As a sponsor, I have thirteen first-years in my hall, “under the wing” of me and my Co-Spo, Martin Barrera (an amazing guy).

As I helped the new “kids on the block” move in, I absorbed the awkward looks and silent moments during uncomfortable conversations between harried parents and students.  While some “fit” right in, others remained hesitantly in the background…more at ease with blending into the scenery of tall trees and mountaintops (not literally, no one was THAT tall) than reaching out to others.  And that was where I came in.  I knocked down the trees and eroded the mountains, leaving those anxious students bare and seemingly unprotected.  Okay, I need you to continue reading before you form the hasty assumption that I’m a psychologically scarring first-year mentor. 

After removing them from the scenery, I created conversation, made horrible jokes, and included them with others in our group.  During icebreakers, I didn’t hold back.  Not even the most silent could refrain from laughing a few times, and soon, everyone was participating.  Back in the hallway that night, I knocked on doors and banged down barriers.  Even if they don’t realize it yet, the stories they can tell other students about their “extremely excited and overly welcoming sponsor” will easily start more than one conversation. 

Coming back as a sophomore, my role on campus has shifted.  Ready or not, I realize that some students may look to me as a mentor—a guide-line—someone who has “been there and done that”.  Over the summer, I frequently contemplated the impression I wanted to give off to others.  Do I want to seem haughty and overbearing?  How can I refrain from seeming too available?  How does my personality come off at first-encounter?  What legacy will I put into effect as I continue my education at Pomona?  Is it possible to balance my life, while also serving as a student leader…and should those two items even exist separately?

I walked into the dining hall today.  One of my quietest kids was showing another student a pamphlet and laughing.  More than likely, I had nothing to do with that.  On the other hand, if I had allowed her to remain part of the “scenery”, would she have been laughing and talking?  In the minute chance that my outgoing and animated personality on the first day helped at all, I’ve successfully started the year as I’d hoped.

So in summary…my kids feeling unhappy or alone on campus this year due to a sponsor or mentor absence…?

Not a risk I’m willing to take.

The Financial Aid Process

angelica-85GET HELP!!! These are the first two words that come to mind when I think of the financial aid process. Completing the FAFSA form can be very difficult without the proper guidance. It is very important to get assistance while completing this form.

My first suggestion is to sit down with your parent or guardians because there are many questions that you won’t be able to answer on your own. There are many questions that can trap you up. If you’re not able to get assistance from your parents, your high school Guidance Counselor would be your next best option.

As a senior in high school I tried to complete the FAFSA form on my own, it took me a while to finish it. To be honest, it took me 4 months to complete it and I was forced to get assistance in order to complete it.

I often hear counselors advise students to fill out the form in January, I feel that this is great advice. Filling out the form as early as possible will increase your chances of getting sufficient aid. Please seek assistance and fill out the form as soon as possible, it is a long process.

Good luck!!!

Don’t Judge a College by The Pamphlet

ashley-85I’m sure you have heard this before but don’t rule out a college by the price, but there are other things that I want to point out that you should or should not judge a school by.

1. Size– I know many people do base their college searches on sizes of the school; but sometimes there are other things that are more important, like the benefits schools offer their students. I have a friend who wanted to go to a State University, but instead came here because of the Nursing Program. You don’t want to go to a school if they can’t provide you with what you need, no matter how perfect everything else may seem.

2. For other people– Never consider a school because that’s where your best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, or parents want you to go. College is about making you the person you want to be. No matter how much you want to make people happy, when it comes to your future, your happiness is all that matters.

3. College statistics and reputation– Never think that a college is too good for you. If you are looking at schools and think that it is perfect, but that you would never get in, apply anyways. Each person is unique and we all provide different things. If you are worried that you wouldn’t fit in based on stereotypes… ignore those stereotypes. Colleges don’t want students all the same.

4. The feel– This is what I want all of you looking at schools to look for. When you have found the right college for you, you will know. I know this sounds cliché, but it is true. There is a college out there for everyone, don’t settle for anything less.