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  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com, Tips

    How to Choose Your College Major

    college major

    So you’re going off to college! You’ve finally found the perfect school, been through the exhausting application process and have been accepted (yay!), but where do you go from here? Although it may not have seemed like it before, that first step is easy. Now comes the big question… what do you want to do with your life? 

    Yes, that’s a truly loaded question. Perhaps you had a favorite subject in high school, but is that something you could see yourself doing every year, every day for the rest of your life? 

    Don’t stress out now– it will be okay. Although choosing a major is a big decision, if you keep these in mind, the process will be smoother.

    This decision isn’t the end-all-be-all.

    Just because you think you want to major in one thing now, doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind in a year or two. I’ve even switched. As you grow into yourself during college, you’ll find subjects and paths that cater more to who you really are. 

    And a major isn’t the only education you can get. You can minor. You can double-minor. Heck, you can even double-major. You can join clubs and take online classes that have nothing to do with your major at all. Even when you narrow it down to one specific field, there will always be more information and opportunities to learn. 

    Choosing your major and taking classes aren’t the only facets of college life. “Welcome to the College Life” explores the other aspects of college we sometimes forget.

    Explore your options. 

    I went into college as a journalism major with a degree in creative writing. While my true passion is writing, I took a computer science course in my freshman year, and I fell in love. Now I’m minoring in computer science, all because of one requirement in my college career. 

    You’ll never know what you like unless you try. In high school, I could’ve never imagined working with computers– writing was the only thing I wanted to do. By taking out-of-the-box classes, exploring interesting activities on campus and tagging along with friends to their meetings, you can fall in love with a subject that was never even on your radar. 

    Once you’ve done all that, narrow it down. 

    More often than not, our interests can be combined in one way or another. In my experience with writing and computing, I thought there was no way the two could crossover– that is until I discovered the world of coding and website design. 

    There are truly more options in college than you could ever imagine. By engaging in a little bit of research (and a little bit of soul-searching), you’ll find your perfect major in no time. Even if you don’t, however, keep in mind that it’s completely normal to change your mind once or twice. Everyone’s college experience is a little different, but as long as you’re sticking with something you truly love, then your major is right for you.

    Still need help figuring out what you want to do in college? Check out Best College’s “Student Guide to Choosing a Major!”

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Relationships

    A Friendship 4,000 Miles Apart

    friendship

    Why Doesn’t Anyone Talk About These?

    Whether you have listened to a friend or family member talk about their experiences or have personally dealt with this difficult situation, we’re all well aware of the struggles that come with long-distance relationships. They seem like an overused movie plot or a daily topic of conversation, but why is there never any talk of long-distance friendships?

    I’m currently a junior in college; I’ve had the same group of friends for the past three years, and in that short time, I’ve developed a stronger-than-expected bond. I don’t know how I’ve survived up to this point without them, but I can confidently say they’ll be sticking around for years to come. 

    I’m with this group of individuals day and night, seven days a week. The three months of summer that used to feel so brief in high school are elongated, each day without my best friends feeling slower than the next. When you’re with your friends 24/7, they begin to feel like family. 

    My Own Long Distance Friendship

    This past semester has been especially hard for me. My best friend, the one person I know I can trust with anything and everything, is studying abroad in Spain. I truly didn’t think spending a few months without her would be a big deal, but the six-hour time difference and lack of cellular connection has really begun to take a toll. 

    But that’s the thing about best friends– no matter how many miles are in between you, no matter how many days pass by before you can have a conversation, you’ll always pick up right back where you left off. True friendships doesn’t fade after a few missed calls. 

    My best friend and I have been on opposite schedules for a few weeks now; whenever I finished my midterm exams, hers were just beginning. When I go home after a long day of classes, she’s already been asleep for hours. Whenever I have a not-so-busy week, she’s traveling to Rome or Paris. 

    While it’s not an ideal situation, it’s comforting, in a way. Seeing your best friend living her best life, making memories that will last forever is an amazing feeling. No matter how much you miss her, no matter how much you wish you were there, the happiness you feel for her is overwhelming. And knowing your friendship can remain solid if not grow stronger, despite 4,000+ miles makes you feel lucky you’ve found something so great.

    Long-distance friendships are exhausting and even disheartening, at times. But when you’ve found a bond that survives, and even thrives, under these circumstances– that’s when you know you’ve found your best friend for life. 

    Long-Distance Friendships can work! Don’t believe me? Check out Aubrey’s story.

  • Articles, Home Life

    Finding the Good in the Bad: Dealing with Divorced Parents

    divorced parents

    Watching your parents go through a divorce is one of the toughest parts of life any child can go through; regardless of age. Whether you’ve experienced this as a child or an adult, there are positive lessons that come from the difficult process. 

    If you found out your parents are getting divorced know that everything will be okay, and whatever you’re feeling is normal. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have.

    It’s an End, But it Makes A New Beginning

    A divorce is technically the end of a relationship. Despite that, it proves that in life, it’s never too late to make a change and find your happiness. It’s never easy to watch two people, originally thought to be together forever, split up. But if you keep the possibility of their happiness in mind, it’s easier to understand the steps they have to take to get there. Everyone deserves to be happy, even if that means taking some less-than-ideal steps along the way.  

    Sometimes, we can get caught up in seeing our parents as a unit with their sole purpose being to raise us. We forget that they had a life before having kids. That their personalities masked due to only viewing them as a mom or dad. They’re actually real people with real feelings. 

    In negative situations, our negative qualities are brought out. A divorce results in the separation of two people. But it also is the separation of the cynical and pessimistic emotions that stem from overall unhappiness. Divorce isn’t ideal, but it results in seeing your parents as individual people. People with dreams, unique characteristics, and emotions completely separate from their children.

    The technical term for divorce, without relation to marriage, is to separate or dissociate from something else. Similarly, the definition of independent is not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence. 

    The Main Thing to Take Away From Divorce

    The main lesson that can come from divorce is independence. Life doesn’t end with one bump in the road, and it’s possible to be content without relying on another person. Seeing our parents as individuals focusing on their own personal happiness, no matter how hard at first, is an inspiration to find happiness in ourselves first.

    Young or old, watching your parents go through a divorce is difficult for everyone involved. But, like all painful experiences, it provides the opportunity for a positive mindset and lifelong lessons. 

    Just remember: you aren’t the reason your parents divorced. You can take this crazy time and make something amazing out of it!

  • Articles, Money

    Money Saving Skills for Students

    save money

    For most people, high school is a time of “firsts” — your first relationship, your first car, and perhaps the most important, your first job. 

    When you secure your first job, there’s no better feeling than spending the money you’ve rightfully earned. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s easy to wear the cash-goggles, blinding you to the amount of money you’re spending and the significance of the objects you’re buying. There will come a time when you consider saving your check instead of using it immediately. 

    Whether you’re saving money to purchase something a little more expensive or thinking ahead to college funds, these tips, with a little pre-planning and self-control, will leave your bank account fuller for longer. 

    Split it up! 

    When I was in high school, and still to this day, I used this strategy. I swear by it. Typically, there are two components to every bank account: your checking and your savings. By immediately splitting your paycheck in half (or whatever fraction you prefer) and stowing part in your savings, you’ll forget you even put it there.

    If your parents are anything like mine, they’ve probably taught you that your savings account is strictly reserved for emergencies or for future endeavors. Since they ingrained that statement in my mind, I forget the money in that account exists.

    If you form the habit of splitting your paycheck upon receiving it, you can quite literally trick yourself into spending less money. 

    Limit yourself

    Back in high school, meetings and practices dominated my schedule; when a free day came around, which wasn’t very often, I would make plans two weeks in advance. For me, hanging out with friends usually consisted of going to get food or go shopping. Now that my life isn’t controlled by sports, I have more free time to go out. Which means I spend money. I have to intentionally limit myself instead of relying on my activities and hobbies to do it for me. By planning ahead of time what days you’re going to spend money, it’s easier to say no and save instead. 

    Do the math and write it out 

    If you’re looking to go a little more in-depth with your savings (or you love spreadsheets like me), then this is the strategy for you. You can do this by dividing your paycheck up into percentages, such as 10% for gas, 15% for random expenses, etc. (Model budget breakdown percentages can be found all over the Internet, especially on Pinterest. Here is the link to one of my favorite free budget template– it’s great for beginners). After creating ratios you’ll apply to each paycheck, you can keep track of your spendings in Excel, which will complete all of the math for you. 

    By knowing where your money will be going in advance and documenting the purchases you’ve made, you’re creating a budget and ensuring you won’t run out of money for the extent of that paycheck period. 

    While high school jobs don’t provide extensive amounts of money you can also implement these techniques in the future. By forming solid saving habits now, you’ll be setting yourself up for success in the future.

    Here are some more money tips to help you have more money!

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    Not Your Average Family

    family

    I wish everyone in the world could experience the look of bewilderment I receive when I try to explain my family dynamic. Yes, I am one of six kids. Yes, four of my siblings have a different mother. Yes, I am a 20-year-old with four nieces and nephews. Yes, my oldest brother just hit the 40-year milestone.

    I might not have a traditional family, but I wouldn’t change my upbringing for the world.

    I imagine my older siblings and I get along so well because they spent most of their life raised in a different home. We didn’t have the stereotypical sibling experience of being at each other’s throats 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Except for my younger, full sister. She’s a terror). I would see my half-brothers and sister every other week, which isn’t much time, but we made up for it.

    Reflecting on my childhood memories, my favorite times have always included them. My brother Zack, a high schooler at the time, showing me what “cool” music was while laboring over yard work. Baking Christmas cookies with my older sister, Katie, while belting out “Winter Wonderland” at the top of our lungs. My oldest brothers, Darin and Chad, instructing me on how to throw the perfect spiral, urging me to stay outside in the brisk Illinois air until I perfected it.

    While these memories, along with countless more, have made my childhood so special, I’ve realized, just in the past few years, how important my siblings are in shaping who I am.

    My Siblings Shaped Me

    The summer before my freshman year of college, I received a gift from my older sister: a necklace with an angel charm. But placed on the box was the true gift—a sticky-note asking me to be her maid of honor. Shock rippled through me. All of my older brothers were married at this point, but this proposal hit me the hardest; I felt like it was just yesterday that Katie and I were dancing to “Crazy Frog,” pajama pants pulled up to our belly-buttons. And now she’s getting married?

    Months passed, and I moved to Alabama for college. For the first time, I had been away from my family. It was also the first time I could truly sense my own identity, learning how much of a role my siblings played in it. Fall break rolled around at the same time as my sister’s wedding, and I was so excited to return to the mundane cornfields of the Midwest. More so, it would be the first time in years that all my siblings would be in the same room.

    We’re Back Together

    The last time we were all together was Katie’s high school graduation in 2012. One of my older brothers had a falling out with my parents and hadn’t spoken to them in years. My other brother had entered the Air Force, living in Iraq, Hawaii, New Mexico, and most recently, Florida. My oldest brother was fighting over custody for my nephew.

    Life had gotten in the way.

    Although I had never been more excited to see my siblings, I had also never been more nervous. Would they talk to me? Would there be a fight? God forbid, would something ruin my sister’s wedding day?

    I’ll never forget how I felt as I walked into the wedding rehearsal. I froze and looked around at the familiar faces. Faces I had grown up with, that I had shared so many memories with, but somehow, they looked like strangers. I can only compare the feeling as walking up to a podium, preparing to give a speech to a 400-person lecture hall. It was nerve-wracking.

    But then, all at once, I couldn’t remember why I was even worried in the first place. My brothers and sisters hurtled towards me, enveloping me in the most loving, warm embrace. I’ll never forget it.

    Despite everything, we’re still family

    I Idolized my older siblings in my younger years, but as I grow up, I realize how flawed they really are. How flawed we all were. But I never should’ve doubted the indestructible bond of family.

    I would never trade the unique dynamic of my family, or the lessons they taught me. I learned how to throw a football (a perfect spiral, might I add). How to flawlessly decorate a Christmas cookie and how to execute an impeccable punch (thanks, Zack). But from them, I also realize the gratification of being an aunt. To not take everything so seriously. To not grow up so fast.

    I learned that these people have shaped me into who I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    Family teaches you invaluable lessons like how to throw a football or that it’s okay to like stupid stuff. Madeline has ten invaluable lessons that she learned before turning 20, check them out!

  • Articles, College, Confidence, School

    5 Things I Wish I Could Tell my High-School Self

    high school advice

    5 Things I Wish I Could Tell My High School Self

     

    If I had the choice to travel back in time to my first day of high school, to do everything differently, there’s no way I would do it. High school played its part in shaping me into the woman I am today. If I had a choice to send a letter to my 14-year-old self, however, I would give that girl supporting words and advice on how to carry herself. Words that I think every high-schooler should live by.

    Be okay with being alone.

    You’ll run into days when it feels like nobody is on the same wavelength as you like everyone else lives in a different dimension. Don’t strain yourself to fit in with the “cool” group. Don’t try to find a boyfriend because it’s what everyone else is doing. You’re always going to be your own best friend, so the sooner you accept yourself for everything you are and everything you’ll become, the sweeter life will be.

    Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

    This is going to play a big part in preparing you for life outside of high school. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Take risks. When you challenge yourself and push your own boundaries, you open the door for beautiful, unexpected things to happen.

    Don’t worry what others think of you.

    Tell yourself this every morning when you wake up. And again in the middle of the day. And again. And again. Everyone is so concerned with what they’re doing and how they’re portrayed during high school, not what others are doing. Focusing on your own happiness and success will lead to the best memories.

    Stop worrying about the future.

    I was notorious for this in high school, and consequently, it tainted my final two years. Trust me, you’ll do well on that test. You’ll be accepted into a good college. You’ll find a career doing something you love. There come a time and place to focus on those thoughts, but don’t stress out about it too much right now.

    Realize that high school doesn’t last forever.

    You might not believe it right this moment, but you’re going to miss the hallways you stroll down each day. You’re going to miss those homework assignments because trust me, they get a lot harder. You’re going to miss seeing those familiar faces every day. While there may be some excruciatingly painful parts of high school, you never realize what you’re going to miss. Don’t take a minute of it for granted. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up; be present in each moment.

    Just take the moment to soak it all in, because when you look back you’ll think that is so high school. Think about that and other advice in the article “It Will All Be Over Soon.” 

  • Articles, College, School

    The Final Pages of your High School Chapter

    The Final Pages of your High School Chapter

    High school seems like it lasts a lifetime. And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over.

    Before you realize it, you’ll be cheering on your team at the last home football game, hardly registering the fleeting experience due to the overpowering noise from the bleachers and marching band.

    Soon after, you’ll be adding the finishing touches to your makeup, preparing to slip into your last prom dress.

    Although it may seem like a relief, in a few short months, you’ll be walking into harshly lit hallways and classrooms for the final time. You never realize how much you’ll miss the rooms that had the supernatural ability to make five minutes seem like a full hour.

    Speaking from personal experience, it’s easy to wish away the final days of high school. It’s easy to see everything from a negative perspective– too much homework, too many responsibilities, too little sleep.

    Don’t fall victim to that mindset like I did.

    Enjoy the time you have left with your friends; although you may spend eight or more hours with them now, soon, you will all be dispersed throughout the country, living different lives.

    If you’re involved in sports, give your full effort without taking the game too seriously. Some of my favorite memories began with goofing around with my best friends at track practice. This will also be the last time someone forces you to exercise… take advantage of that.

    Go all-out during spirit weeks and pep rallies. You’re not going to remember how silly you looked, you’re going to remember how much fun you had doing it. Don’t dull your high school experience by worrying about what others think.

    High school is a whirlwind of stress and emotions, but somewhere in between all of that mess, lifelong memories were made. Don’t take the time you have left for granted– live in the moment. Spend that extra hour with your childhood friends.  Dominate the dance floor at prom. Attend every sporting event that you possibly can, and don’t be afraid to cheer at the top of your lungs.

    These are the final pages of this chapter of your life. Make the most of them.

    Check out this letter from a college student to a high school senior. And remember you’re only in high school once!

    Even though you may be starting your senior year, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to grow and change. Here’s some advice on how to your own person in high school