08/22/16

Applying to College – Part Four: Applying

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This is part four of my “Applying to College” series! I hope that these help some of you in your college search and process. If you missed part one or two of this series, check them out here: my experience applying to collegefinding the right school, and pre-application prep.

Note: I’m not an expert in any way, shape or form. My advice may not get you into your dream college – it’s just what worked for me!

half the journey is clicking submit

One of the things that I think everyone who applies for any nerve-wracking thing struggles with is hitting submit. The button that sends something off into space and you won’t be able to change anything anymore. That permanence is frightening for a lot of people, I think.

Once I’d put all of my pieces together, put finishing touches on my essays and triple checking my application for spelling errors, I had to hit submit. I was so nervous. I kept on wondering if there was anything else I could change or perfect in any way. At a certain point, I just had to do it. I was ready, everything was together, and it was time.

The final push for me was my college counselor telling me that it was time. He told me it was time to do it, and my friends cheered me on as I hit submit for the first time, and I saw those beautiful check-marks appear on my portal in the Common App. That feeling of comfort and relief is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

So, come time to submit, don’t be afraid of that button. If you’re ready and it’s time, take the plunge. Hit the button and celebrate with people who support you – you’re worth it!

submitting everything else

The other things you have to submit aren’t nearly as nerve-wracking as the application itself, in my opinion.

Test scores are the most important thing outside of the application itself that you’ll most likely need to submit. Make sure you’ve put aside a bit of money, because sending test scores can get expensive REALLY fast. Make sure you’ve got the right schools down and send those puppies off. One thing to know is that you can send test scores to a school before you’ve submitted your application, so you don’t have to wait to submit them. If anything, DO submit them early because most schools take a while to process all of the pieces of your application.

One of the things I didn’t expect to have to submit was a resume. A couple of my schools had the option of submitting one in addition to your activities list, and I’d recommend submitting one if given the option. It’s an opportunity to give the colleges EVERYTHING you’ve done, and also give them a better idea of what your skills are outside of the classroom. Say you have experience working with Photoshop or Final Cut Pro – those are things you can put on the resume that will demonstrate a proficiency in real-world skills that colleges may like seeing! This will also be an opportunity to put down any summer college camps you’ve gone to, awards you’ve gotten, etc. I, personally, LOVE making resumes, so let me know if you ever need advice on creating one – I’d be happy to help.

recommendation letters

Once you’ve submitted your application, write whoever wrote you recommendation letters a thank you note. It’s a kind gesture that goes a long way, and it’s also a way to let them know you’ve submitted, and possibly, a subtle reminder to submit your letters.


That’s it for today’s post! I’ll be back next week with part five in the series, all about results and the waiting game.

 

08/17/16

My inner history nerd is dying right now | THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE

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Novel: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig | Goodreads
Release Date: February 16th, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

As some of you may or may not, I’m a MASSIVE history nerd. Like. Really, really big. Moon-sized big. So, obviously time-travel of any kind? GIMME.

The Girl from Everywhere is time-travel, except there are ships! weird time-traveling abilities! maps! flirtatious and kind thief Kash! (I’m a big Kash fan, FYI.)

As you can tell, this book is right up my alley. It’s all the things I love in a book and drew me in from the beginning. Nix and father’s relationship fascinated me, especially the decision he was making that would risk Nix’s life. It creates an interesting dynamic that spans the course of the book and made the story much more about their relationship and Nix coming into her own than anything else, which I adored. I loved seeing not only Nix develop, but also seeing her father, Slate, make hard decisions and struggle with the consequences of it. He is deeply flawed, and it made me like him a million times more.

The concept is just…beautiful. A ship that travels through time with the help of maps? YES. Heilig has obviously done intensive research, because not only does she intricately describe life aboard a ship, but also brings the historical locations to life on the page. You can feel the beauty of Hawaii in your bones, hear the splash of the water against the boat, and smell the sea. I was astonished by the details she managed to find about these locations, and she made them vibrant and real, no matter how old the time.

The book is set in Hawaii for the most part, and centers around Slate’s attempts to get a map that would take them back to the time of Nix’s mother’s death. Slate wants to save Nix’s mother, but this would risk Nix’s entire existence, which causes Nix to oppose her father getting the map. In her attempts to save herself, she meets Blake, a young man who surprises Nix in more ways than one, and Joss, who knew her mother and father and gives Nix information that will change everything. Set against the backdrop of a Hawaii becoming more and more influenced by imperialism, the story will enchant every reader (it certainly grabbed me!)

The Girl from Everywhere is an incredible debut from Heidi Heilig that will appeal to readers who enjoyed Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger, and are fans of historical fiction, fantasy, and time-travel. Go out and grab yourself a copy, and wait in desperation with me for the sequel, The Ship Beyond Time!

 

08/14/16

Change.

change

On Friday night, my high school friends and I had our last whole group sleepover before we all head off to college.

In the wake of that event, I’ve been thinking a lot about change, friendship, and growing up.

The group of friends I finished high school with were not the ones I started middle school with. My school was sixth through twelfth grade, so hypothetically, I could’ve had the same friends all the way through. But, I when I entered sixth grade, I wanted new friends – I wanted to separate myself from the friends I’d had in elementary school, three of which came to my new school with me. In my desire to separate myself, I unknowingly was setting myself up to struggle a lot with friendship. I spent three years jumping from friend group to friend group, struggling to find people who got me. When I hit high school, I started hanging out with the set of friends I have now – three of them were those same people I wanted to desperately to separate myself from in middle school in an attempt to be someone else.

My new group of friends was huge. It consisted of me and ten other girls, all of whom had been friends since sixth grade. Coming in in ninth grade, I felt like an outsider, and all I wanted was to feel accepted. And they accepted me with open arms and smiles, but there was this feeling of outsider-ness that stayed with me through my junior year. I struggled to feel like they valued me in their group, mainly because sometimes people did things without me.

In the summer after my junior year, I started a new job with new people and suddenly, I was making plans to hang out with them and was constantly busy. It taught me that sometimes I had to be the one to initiate plans to hang out with people, something I’d always been horrible at doing. When I went back to school, I returned with a new motto: that I would make plans with my friends.

And I did. Suddenly, our friendship clicked. In the midst of senior year and all of the change, I was happier than ever before. I felt like my friends knew me, that I relied on them in a way I never had before. I had these moments of beautiful friendship with them at eleven o’clock at night at someone’s house, cackling in laughter or at dinner, talking honestly about our fears for the future. I felt valued, loved, and accepted. I realized that the problem all along wasn’t them – they were more than happy to go out and do things with me, they just didn’t think to extend the invitation before I started asking them. The problem was that I was to afraid to ask, to afraid of rejection, to afraid that someone would say no.

At the end of the school year, I felt this mixture of happiness and sadness that I’ve mentioned before on this blog. I felt happiness for the places I was going, but torn apart by the idea of leaving the people I love so dearly behind. This summer, I decided I wouldn’t leave them behind. Instead, I made plans, I had lunch with my friends, went rock climbing, saw movies, had sleepovers, drove around the city we’ve all grown up in singing along to old Justin Timberlake songs. And now, at the end of the summer and the end of a time, that feeling of sadness has returned, but it’s a bit different.

I’m not sad to be leaving them behind, because I won’t be. I’ll still text them and hear what’s going on in their life, get letters in the mail every month, see pictures of their lives. No, I’ll be sad that I can’t experience all of the incredible things in their lives right next to them. That I can’t see, firsthand, all of the beautiful things they’re going to do. Instead, I’ll have to hear about them on the phone, or see pictures after the fact. I won’t be able to get lunch with them every day, stay up late studying for finals with them, or have 14-person sleepovers on the weekends.

And that part is going to suck. It’s going to suck so, so much. But at the same time, it’s a part of growing up. In order to move into the next phase of our lives, sometimes things have to change, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave people behind. You can still have them with you, just in different ways. You have to make an effort to stay in touch, and realize that distance doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong friendship – it’ll just be a different friendship.

Today, two of my friends moved into their dorm rooms. I got to see pictures of their set-ups and of orientation, and this feeling of pride suddenly washed over me. Pride in how far they’ve come, how many successes they’ve had, how they’ve picked themselves up from the hard moments and found the light in the darkness. How they make me laugh and smile and see the beautiful parts of life, and how, most of all, I can’t wait to hear about all the people they’ve spread their light to in this new chapter of our lives.

08/9/16

One day + inventive storytelling | THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR by Nicola Yoon

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Novel: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Goodreads
Release Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

I’ve read enough books set over the course of one day to know that they are usually not my cup of tea. I struggle with the insta-love that tends to happen, a lacking setting, and not enough character development. But then I read The Sun Is Also a Star and it became the anomaly in this grouping because it was amazing. 

Me upon finishing:

Nicola Yoon’s debut, Everything, Everything definitely hit me in the feels, but I also had a complicated relationship with it. The book made me angry. It made me hate the mother, angry that the entire story felt like a lie, and that made the reading experience not incredibly enjoyable for me. BUT! The Sun Is Also a Star blew me away.

I consumed this book.

I was immediately struck by two unique characters: a girl about to be deported, and a boy going to an admissions interview for Yale, a school he doesn’t even want to go to. They were dynamic and raw and real from page one, and I think it was this connection to the characters that kept me reading. Then their banter hit me in the feels and the evolving romance broke me half and the TENSION and the question of whether or not Natasha would be deported…I just…I couldn’t stop reading.

The story is beautiful. It’s real. It’s not a happily-ever-after ending, but I think that’s what I loved so much about it. I loved that the ending was a testament to true life: that people’s choices impact our own. (I’m not going to say anything more because I don’t want to spoil but if you’ve read you know what I’m talking about because I was literally YELLING AT THE BOOK at that ending.) Nicola Yoon does a fantastic job of building tension over the course of the book as well as allowing the characters to evolve organically. I loved the character development and how they pushed each other to be honest with themselves.

My #2 favorite thing: the random bits of history about random characters, words, or concepts. There are these short chapters scattered throughout the story told from the perspective of a minor character or someone Natasha and Daniel encounter in passing, or of a scientific concept Natasha mentions. These chapters added a new dimension to the story and allowed the book to feel well-rounded and well-developed, despite the short time frame in which it’s set.

And then my #3 favorite thing: THE FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS. JUST. YES, NICOLA. THANK YOU. Thank you for authentic family dynamics, for complex relationships with heritage, for apologies and understanding. Thank you thank you thank you thank you. The family parts broke me almost as much as the romance did.

So, in conclusion, I loved The Sun Is Also a Star, and I desperately hope this one is as popular as Everything, Everything was, if not more. Yoon has crafted a honest story about heritage, growing up, and love, and I loved every second of it.

07/30/16

Life Update – July, A Novel Chat, and writing

LIFE UPDATE JULY

July has been a bit of a crazy month – I’ve been busy doing a variety of things that have all made my reading time go down the drain and my desire to blog dissipate. But! Never fear, Willa’s Ramblings is continuing on. Here’s what I’ve been getting up to:

writing

As some of you may know, if you keep up with me on Twitter, I completely my first draft of my manuscript this month! I have Camp NanoWriMo to thank for that one – it kicked me into shape, and I got so obsessed with the story that I marathoned the last 20,000, putting in 5k days four times in one week to finish. I’ve been working on this story for eight months, and somehow I’m still in love with it, so I’m heading down the revision hole for the first time. I’m crazy nervous about the whole process, but if I can get my way through one almost complete first draft, rework the entire plot, and then write another first draft, all of the same book, I think I can do it. Currently, my draft is being read by two of my closest advisors, and then I’m launching into as many revisions as I can before I head off to school at the end of August.

a novel chat

I hope all of you have been tuning in every week to my podcast, “A Novel Chat!” I co-host the podcast with my besties Aneeqah and Emily, and it’s been a blast. We pick a book to feature each month (July’s was The Passion of Dolssa) and then spend the month discussing topics tied to the book and giving recommendations. We give almost ten recommendations an episode, so if you’re looking for some good books to read, I’d highly recommend checking us out. Emily tends to give more contemporary recs, Aneeqah prefers fantasy (exclusively), and I’m somewhere in the middle, so we give a nice diverse spectrum. You can find A Novel Chat on iTunes, Stitcher, and SimpleCast, as well as on our website, anovelchat.com. Shoot us a Tweet if you’re enjoying listening – we’d love to talk to you!

getting ready for college

As you may have seen in past posts, I’m off to college in the fall! I’m heading to Barnard College in NYC, and I’ve been spending most of this month making lists and putting various items on wishlists on Amazon, Society6, Redbubble, and Target. I’ve also been spending the month alternating between jumping around excitedly and curling up in a ball and wondering why I decided to leave Austin in the first place.

Moving to college is hard, y’all.

reading (as per usual)

The few books I read this month have been spectacular, and I highly, highly recommend you check them out. I did some reviews, which you can check out here: mini-reviews & GIRL IN PIECES.

frolicking about

I’ve been focusing on spending more time with my friends this month, and have been getting lunch at new places around town (I’m currently in love with True Food Kitchen) and having really incredible conversations. I also went bouldering, stocked up on clothes for college at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and drove an hour round trip for a pair of boots. Somehow I’ve avoided buying books, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, especially considering I’m moving to NYC aka the home of THE STRAND in a month.

crying because i’m going to crooked kingdom’s launch

sorry i need a few minutes to collect myself guys

*breathes*

I’M GOING TO THE LAUNCH FOR CROOKED KINGDOM IN SEPTEMBER AND I’M SO EXCITED TO REUNITE WITH MY FAVORITE HUMAN LEIGH BARDUGO

okay i’m calm now

MORE KAZ!!!!!!! I LOVE KAZ!!!!!!!

jk


What have you guys been up to this month? Let me know in comments – I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading.