08/29/16

Applying to College – Part Six: Making a decision

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This is part five 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 of this series, check it out here: my experience applying to college, finding the right school, pre-application prep, applying, and results.

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!

visiting campus

If you are invited to fly up to campus, try to make it happen. I did one fly-up for a school I got into and it completely changed my tune about the school. It went from being purely a safety to one of my “I’d TOTALLY go there” choices. One recommendation is that if the school doesn’t offer to pay for your flight, ask them if they can. Call up the admissions office and see what they say – let them know you’re incredibly interested in the school, but visiting the school would be the piece that would allow you to say yes.

make a pros and cons list

If you’re struggling over which school to pick, I highly recommend making a pros and cons list. Think back to the reasons you applied to each school and the things you love about each one, along with the things you aren’t so sure about. Compare and consider your end thoughts.

talk to a current student

I know a junior at Barnard, so I called her up and spent two hours on the phone asking her a billion questions and hearing all about her experience at the school. That conversation cemented my decision to go to Barnard! If you don’t know someone at a school you’re highly considering, call their admissions office and ask if you can speak with a student. Pretty much every office has students working there and they’d probably be happy to chat with you about the school and answer any questions you may have.

think, think, think.

I spent a lot of time mulling over my choices while doing laps in a pool, one of the few places where I can mull things over in my head. I highly suggest going to whatever place allows you to do that and just thinking about your options. Which one feels the most right? What’s holding you back from making that choice, if there’s anything holding you back?

make the best choice for you

I cannot stress this enough. Make your college choice based on what YOU want, because you’ll be the one living there for the next four years. If it’s something that your family can financially swing and you love it with your entire heart and soul, take the plunge. Your college decision should be something that you feel confident in, and even if it wasn’t your first choice, it should still be a decision you’re comfortable with.

submit your decision

This was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Accepting my admission at Barnard made me almost cry with happiness, and hitting decline for the rest of my acceptances was incredibly freeing. Revel in what you’ve succeeded in doing, and then go out and celebrate because guess what? YOU’RE GOING TO COLLEGE!


I hope you enjoyed this series, and feel free to email me or shoot me a tweet if you have any questions! Email: willasramblings@gmail.com, and Twitter is @WillasRamblings.

Best of luck on your college adventures!

08/26/16

Applying to College – Part Five: Results

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This is part five 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 of this series, check it out here: my experience applying to college, finding the right school, pre-application prep, and applying.

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!

the waiting game

The pain of applying to college is definitely the time between applying to hearing back. Waiting for results was 100% the worst part of the entire process, but even then, it wasn’t that bad. My biggest tip for getting through those months is to keep busy. Try not to think about it (as hard as that is) and instead make plans to fill up your time and brain space. I recommend applying to scholarships, which is equally as time-consuming as applying to college. Surprisingly enough, the time passes pretty quickly.

#1 most important thing to do when waiting for responses: stay on top of your email and portals. Most schools use a portal to keep track of your documents and will communicate with you via the portal, so make sure to check it regularly. Check to make sure they’ve received all of your documents and that they don’t have any weird school-specific documents (ESPECIALLY in the financial aid department).

financial aid

Financial aid is the reason I’m able to go to the school I am. Make sure that your parents get their taxes done ASAP (I’m serious. Like. As soon as humanly possible.) because many schools will not give you your need-based financial aid package until they receive your parents’ taxes. As mentioned above, some schools have unique requests in the financial aid department, so keep a look out for that on your portals and in your email.

Another big thing about financial aid: once you receive your package, know that you can always contest it if you think you deserve more, especially if you get more from a similar school. Don’t be afraid to ask for more need-based financial aid!

gettin’ those results

The classic getting-your-acceptance-letter-in-the-mail-thing? Not 100% true. I had two schools who sent me my letters ONLY via mail, the rest posted responses on our portals or emailed us and then mailed acceptance packages. If you get back positive results, CELEBRATE! Get some ice cream, call all of your biggest fans and party party party. If you didn’t get in, take my mom’s advice: every place is what you make of it – even if it’s not originally your #1, you can make it your #1.

If you got deferred, you’re in the same boat I was in for two of my schools. What to do: write a letter of intent. This letter essentially says, “yes, I’m still interested going to [insert school name here] because of [reason 1], [reason 2], and [reason 3].” Obviously, it’s a bit longer than that. My letters were both about a page and focused on reasons I loved the schools and new things that had happened in my life since I applied. Did you ace your finals? Let them know! Did you start a new job, join a new club, do some incredibly meaningful service? Let ’em know! Considering switching your major? Let ’em know! I also got an additional letter of recommendation from someone outside of school (mine was from someone in publishing who knows me really well, which appealed to my career goal focus of my application) and this is something I highly recommend doing.

Note on deferrals: don’t write your letter until at least two weeks after you’ve gotten your response. Simmer down from the initial anger, and don’t tell the school how hurt you are by their deferral. Be kind and polite!

what’s next?

It’s time to make a choice, as shocking as that may sound. Take a bit of time, consider your options, and refer to next week’s post about making a decision.


Next up in this series:

  • Making a decision

If you have any questions about my process or anything along the way, feel free to comment down below, send me an email (willasramblings@gmail.com), or a tweet (@WillasRamblings) and I’ll be happy to reply.

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.

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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.