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College

  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle, Portfolio, School

    Navigating the Road of Life

    road of life

    Everything happens for a reason. It’s cheesy, but it’s true. 

    My life has been like an old, country backroad– full of potholes, unexpected twists, and every once and awhile, a landscape so beautiful that you have to pause for a second to take it in. But every wrong turn and every roadblock that’s come across has led me to where I am now. 

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer; words were the only way I could express myself, remain close to my heart and fuel my passion. So that’s what I’d do: work hard in school, get good grades, and move somewhere beautiful. Somewhere to give my stories inspiration– Arizona or Colorado, preferably. 

    Staying true to my word, I finished high school with great grades, allowing me to have a broad selection of colleges. The University of Colorado at Boulder and Arizona State University were at the top of my list, and after persuading my parents to allow me to go out-of-state for college, we were on our way to multiple college visits. 

    Going Far Away from Home

    The University of Colorado was beautiful and everything I wanted in a school, but sadly, it was completely out of my price range– even with a scholarship. Arizona State University was an amazing journalism school and had the ideal college campus. But when it came down to it, I just didn’t feel like I fit in.

    With foiled plans and a heavy heart, I called off the college search for a while, that is, until my dad brought up the possibility of moving… to Alabama, of all places. He wanted me to visit a few southern schools, just in case, but I knew in my heart that I’d never end up in Alabama.

    Boy, was I wrong. 

    I stepped foot on The University of Alabama’s campus and I knew: this was where I wanted to be for the next four years. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know another soul on campus,  it didn’t matter that it wasn’t one of my previous top choices. This was my school.

    A year and a car full of moving boxes later, we were making the 10-hour trek to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. To the rest of my future. To the many problems (and eventual solutions) that awaited me.

    My Journey has had lots of Detours but I’m Getting There

    As I’m ending my junior year at The University of Alabama, I frequently look back on everything that has gone wrong over the years, realizing every twist and turn has led me to where I am now. 

    Even my three disagreeable roommates my freshman year. They caused me to branch out, meeting new people on a campus of strangers– strangers who ended up being my best friends in the world. 

    Even the dreaded computer science class I had to take as a general education requirement. Without that introductory course, I would never have found my passion (and current minor) in website and software design. 

    Even my less-than-ideal freshman year; in the midst of a long-distance breakup and moving out of my childhood home forever. I was coping with feeling alone and out-of-place. Without experiencing those emotions for the first time, with no one to confide in, I wouldn’t have developed the sense of independence and self-confidence I have now. 

    If those negative feelings had taken control, I would have transferred. But then I wouldn’t have met my best friends. I wouldn’t have branched out with my education. And I wouldn’t have learned as much about myself. My life would be completely different.

    And to think, I had never even considered coming to this school. 

    Life can be crazy and unexpected, and at certain points, there might be more bad times than good. Even when it seems like you’re working towards nothing, you’re still on the right road– potholes and all. 

    Everything happens for a reason, even if you can’t see it. Life is a long, winding road– one you can’t navigate with a GPS. 

    You’ll end up at your destination, nevertheless.

    Sometimes life leads you to unexpected places, or unexpected colleges,  Callie didn’t think she’d like Birmingham Southern but it changed her completely. Read her experience here.

  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com

    Free College? Is that possible?

    girl with cash

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever learned was, “Why say no if its free?” While that might apply to small things such as candy and clothes, I never would have found it applicable to college as well. 

    Growing up, I always heard how difficult it was for families to send their kids to college. While getting an education implies that in the future a person will be more well-off, sometimes, it is even harder to get that initial education. 

    When I was applying to college, I was lucky enough to run across several resources that gave me the opportunities for scholarships. With the amount of money that is being offered for graduating seniors, I can say without a doubt that it is feasible for a person to obtain a degree without the burdens of student loans and debt. For me, I was able to earn over $100,000 in scholarships for my 4 years of undergraduate at UAB. If I can do it, so can you! Check out the resources that I have listed below to see what is out there! 

    Here are a few of the resources that I used to find the scholarships that I received: 

    -Scholarship Websites 

    • There are SO many websites out there that provide high school students with scholarship opportunities. Several of them are similar to search engines that send you to other websites. You can even filter depending on what you plan on pursuing for your education, GPA/ACT scores, region you live in, and etc. 
    • Look for nationally awarded scholarship programs that can pay a certain amount yearly!
      • Several of them go unaccepted each year, and I was awarded one that pays annually for four years (Elks National Foundation Scholarship) 
        • Examples: Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship Foundation, Coke-Cola Scholarship Program, 
    • Look for local opportunities
      • I received several scholarships from local organizations and chapters; I found most of them through my school counselor who would even mail the completed applications for me. They were usually smaller amounts, but receiving multiple ones really adds up and lessens the burden of paying for college. 
    • Play to your strengths 
      • If you are a minority, a first-generation college bound student, earned a high GPA, played sports, or anything else that makes you unique, USE THAT! There are SO many opportunities and scholarships out there that are tailored to specific traits or requirements. Try to look up based on YOU, and I’m sure you’ll come up with a long list! 
    • Check out your school’s scholarship portal! 
      • There are SO many scholarships that alumni and other donors endow, and several of them are never used because no one applies for them! I know my university has a website where each student just fills out one application and are automatically considered for 100+ scholarships. The good thing about these scholarships is that they go directly to your student account, so you can use them ASAP!

    General Tips for Writing Scholarship Essays 

    • Keep your essays so that you can re-use them! A lot of the prompts are similar or can be adapted in different ways, so I would definitely recommend keeping a folder with all essays! 
    • Make it Personal! Try to speak about your experience and write as if you were telling a story. It makes it more compelling and the reader is more likely to remember your application! 
    • ALWAYS follow the guidelines! Make sure to read all the instructions on what the application requires, deadlines, and how to submit! You could miss out on some free money if you don’t follow instructions! 

    I hope these tips were useful and that you can use them as you approach applying to college. I know it requires some time and hard work, but the efforts surely pay off when you no longer have to worry about paying for your education! 

  • 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, College, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Local, Shero

    Life After College

    “What are you going to do after college?”

    Eight simple words. Every college student has been asked this universal question by friends and family alike more times than they can count. It was a question that plagued my mind on two separate occasions.

    The first time was near the end of my junior year at Loyola University New Orleans in 2015. I was sitting in the career counselor’s office, thinking of the options that were given to me. I wasn’t interested in joining the military, so my remaining choices were grad school or hopping into the workforce. In the end, I chose grad school because I yearned to learn more about creative writing and enhance my craft. In March 2016, after countless applications and sleepless nights, I was accepted to Columbia University’s MFA Writing Program!

    The second time the question popped up was as I was nearing the end of my second year at Columbia two years later. There seemed to be a weight on me. A finality that wasn’t present the first time. I wasn’t planning on obtaining another degree, Master’s or Ph.D., after completing my MFA. For me, that meant, as a lyric from “The Schuyler Sisters” from the Hamilton musical goes, “work, work.”

    I spent the second year of grad school applying for internships, any internship but received rejection after rejection. After returning home in May 2018, I received the call of a lifetime. I would be the New Media Editorial Intern for Marvel Entertainment! I ran around the house that day. I would be spending my summer in one of the coolest places in New York, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The internship wouldn’t last forever; August 23rd was my last day in Marvel HQ. Back to the drawing board.

    So, what am I doing now? I’m currently living in New York, which continuously surprises me, and balancing a few jobs. I’m a Quality Assurance Coordinator at a social work agency, a Freelance Writer for Marvel (thanks to my previous internship there), creating articles for their website, and recently added Freelance Editor to my job list, editing a variety of documents like resumes, essays, and personal statements for college applications. When I have free time, I’m working on the third draft of my sequel to my first book, FATE, and writing short stories. In summary, I’m pretty busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Although I’m not where I imagined I’d be right now, career-wise, I appreciate every moment that has led me here. Where my journey begins doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be where I end. I look forward to the next stage of this wild adventure called life.

  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com, School

    Applying for College!

    woman sitting at a desk on a computer


    As a senior, it is time to start applying for college! It can be a little nerve-racking going through the process so here are some tips to make the process go a little smoother.

    1. Even if you don’t think you are going to attend a certain college it can’t hurt to apply just in case so you have a “safety school” or a backup. The purpose of this is to be sure you’re not left without a second option in case your first choice falls through.

    2. If you are applying to a school that requires a college essay for acceptance there are a few easy things you can do in order to make yours stand out! When you are writing your essay make sure to include what makes you unique, talk about something personal and meaningful to you. Your essay is your time to shine and make the admissions office remember you. Remember that a million-page essay or a plethora of big words and long sentences are not necessarily a good thing. Keep it simple, but make sure to include depth to the story you are portraying.

    3. When you are crafting your resume it is important to keep track of all of the service you have done as well as the extracurricular activities you have participated in. A well thought out resume can be the highlight of your application if written correctly. It is your time to brag about all of the things you have accomplished throughout your high school career!

    4. College interviews! If you are applying to a prestigious college they will most likely require you to go through an interview process to determine your character. This process can be very intimidating but it is very important to remember to be yourself and have fun with it. Don’t be too rigid and be sure to smile! A smile can say a lot about your personality and can help you to relax while you’re in your interview. 

    5. Before you decide on your college of choice you should make an official visit. This is a very important thing to do because you are then able to determine whether you like the environment or not. The environment of the school is a very crucial part of your decision. If you choose a school that does not fit your personality then it might be difficult for you to make friends and join clubs. College is also a time for you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things so don’t be afraid to try something new and different. 

    I hope this article was helpful throughout your decision process as well as the application process. Thanks for reading!

    Looking for more resources on college? Check out Mayfield College Advising, https://www.mayfieldcollegeadvising.com

  • Articles, College, GirlSpring.com, School

    Deciding What to Study in College

    what to study in college

    Throughout our childhood and into our high school and college years, many of us are asked the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

    In first grade, I probably answered this question with, “I want to be an artist!” because I loved spending hours after school each day creating “masterpieces” using my markers and colored pencils. However, as I started middle school, I soon realized that I was very interested in science. I loved how applicable it was to real life, and the fact that there was so much still to be discovered intrigued me. By the end of middle school, I was pretty confident that I wanted to be a doctor one day. I was fascinated with medicine and loved listening to others and offering advice.

    This didn’t change in high school, and it made choosing a major when applying to college fairly easy for me. I took several STEM courses over my high school years, and I pursued my medical interests through my extracurricular activities (in addition to exploring other areas of interest as well). Although this process was fairly straightforward for me, I can’t say it was the same for some of my peers.

    For many, high school offers a small introduction to the vast array of opportunities out there in the world.

    Most elementary and middle schools only offer the four basic subjects: math, science, social studies, and English. This is good, but very broad. In high school, students have the opportunity to take more specialized courses within each of these subject areas. There are courses like psychology, computer science, economics, and foreign languages. These can give individuals interested in pursuing a college education a better idea of what they might want to study in the future. In addition, through a multitude of clubs and extracurricular opportunities available, high school students can get involved in activities that allow them to further explore and develop their passions. Although high school gives students an opportunity to explore a variety of subject areas and experiences, I feel that it is still tough for some students to be certain of what they want to study in college since high school is mostly a time of exploration.

    Nowadays, most colleges don’t require an individual to commit to the major they list on their application (which I think is great).

    In fact, many colleges don’t require a student to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. This gives a student time during college to explore their passions and interests and decide accordingly. Some colleges might ask students to simply list broad subject areas they may be interested in studying, which lets students know that they are not committing themselves to something they are interested in at the moment for the entirety of college.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of college students change their major at least once. With such a high statistic, it is important to realize that many students are unsure of what they would like to study or do with their lives. Most haven’t had the opportunity to truly interact with and understand everything available to them until they’re in college. Today, many people stress the importance of setting goals and developing a detailed life plan from early on. Although this methodology is useful and may be beneficial for some individuals, it is not the best for everyone. Life is about having new experiences and doing things that make one happy. If this is a process that takes time for an individual, it shouldn’t automatically be considered unproductive or bad.

    Students are encouraged to make quick decisions. For many, I feel that it would be more helpful if they slowed down and took time to truly interact with the opportunities available to them. That way, they can make a more educated decision on what they want to study.

    Ultimately, I think it is most important for students to not feel stressed out or feel “behind”

    Just because you haven’t decided what you want to do with your life doesn’t mean you aren’t where you need to be. Each individual is unique, and we all have our own pace in which we go about doing things.

    My recommendation for high school students is as follows: this the time to explore opportunities available to you and chase your passions. When applying to college, reflect on what you enjoyed learning and doing in high school. This could be an indication of what you may be interested in studying. Use your first year of college (as I will also do this upcoming school year!) to decide whether you are enjoying the program you indicated interest in or would like to study something else. Overall, make sure you are finding value and enjoyment in what you are putting your time and effort towards.

    When you’re in high school, it’s always a good idea to keep college in the back of your mind. Here is some college advice geared to upcoming high school freshmen.

  • 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.”