Browsing Category:

School

  • School

    How to study for the ACT / SAT

    Junior year is considered the hardest year and most juniors’ biggest stress is studying for the ACT or the SAT. Now, for most standardized tests, the best way to prepare is simply to practice. This article is here to help you guide yourself for studying for the ACT / SAT and to give some guidance on preparation.

    First, assess your current situation. Have you taken the test yet? If yes, then you know your starting point and what you’re trying to build off of. If you have not taken the test of your choice yet, then take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have many times in the future to take the test over again. You probably have plenty of time to study and prepare.

    Second, sign up for your test. Most of the time, the sign-up deadline is roughly a month away from the test date. This would be a good time to either: purchase a practice test book or find a good practice program online. I know that Khan Academy provides a good SAT practice program, and many people have given good reviews with inspiring scores. Any old practice book will work also. You can easily buy one at a bookstore.

    Third, set up a practice schedule. If you don’t think you will need to study that much, then limit yourself to only 20-30 practice problems every few days. If you don’t think you’re going to do very well, then I would recommend 25 practice problems a day. With this schedule, you can easily finish a practice test in a couple of days.  If you record your answers on a separate sheet of paper, you can retake the same test and avoid buying another book after finishing it.

    Fourth, make sure to check your work. Most practice booklets have an answer key at the end of each test and explain each answer. Read the descriptions of why things are right! It helps to build connections and will strengthen your smarts on why a certain answer is right.

    Note: Standardized tests L O V E short and concise answers. If you’re in the English / reading portion of your test and it asks for a replacement statement, go with the most concise answer.

    Fifth, its the day before the test. On this day, don’t do any practice! You have been working so hard for the past month or so, and before the big day, you need a break. Make sure to print out your ticket, and have the directions for your testing center. Pack your bag with what you plan to bring to the test, eat a nutritious dinner, and go to bed early. I don’t mean wildly early, just enough so that you can get 7-8 hours of sleep.

    The next morning, wake up early enough to eat a good breakfast. Not just a pop tart. Get some protein and carbs so you have the brain energy to make it through all of the test. Leave your home early enough to reach your testing center with a few minutes of extra time to find your testing room and settle in. Before the test, take a deep breath and remember all the practice you have done. You are ready to conquer the ACT / SAT!

  • School

    Academic Communication

    Academic Communication

    My second semester of tenth grade, I came down with mononucleosis, which is also known as “the kissing disease”. This illness is much more than people think it is and caused me to miss nearly six weeks of school. During that time, I kept in contact with all my teachers. They sent me email copies of homework assignment and reading lists. When I came back to class healthy, I was on the same page as the other students.

    Whether you are in public school, private school, or are going to an umbrella campus for home school, you will need to be able to communicate with your teachers. If you’re sick or don’t understand the material your class is covering, just stay after class or write your teacher an email. Some schools don’t have email available to you for communicating with your instructor, and in this case, you may need to speak with them during class or write a note. Here are some writing samples for communicating with teachers:

    1. Composing an email: 

    Dear Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    I am emailing you concerning [insert whatever it is you are having problems with]. If you have any helpful tips on how to stay on top of my academics during this time, please let me know. {add any ideas you have for staying on top of the issue]. I am available to meet with you to discuss this in person if needed. Thank you for your time.

    Thank you,

    Your Name

    1. Composing a note: 

    Mrs./Ms./Miss./Mr. Teacher,

    [go right into your current issue] I.e. “It has come to my attention that the recent project we are working on is due on a day that I will be out of town. Would it be okay for me to submit it early?” [or give alternate requests/suggestions].

     

    Thanks,

    Your Name

     

    From experience, teachers are more likely to help you out, or be understanding of your situation, if you get in contact with them. They just want to know that you are okay and that you are willing to do what is needed to stay on track.

    Here are some outside references to help with academic communication:

  • Body Image, College, School

    Three Rules for the New School Year

    Three Rules for the New School Year

    guest post by Martha Underwood, CEO of Executive Estrogen

    This year, how will you navigate making new friends, encountering new teachers, growing physically and emotionally all while staying cool. It can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. You are unique and beautiful in your own right. Here are a few tips to navigating the school year.

    Get a Mentor & Meet a New Friend

    Approach new teachers and new people with the intention to learn about them and yourself. Find a good teacher that can serve as a mentor to you. Also, you may be able to use them as a confidant or tutor should you need one. Be open to meeting a new friend and seek out friends that may differ from you, doing so will help expand your perspective of people and  in the end you may find that you are more alike than you may have thought.

     

    Embrace Physical Change and Growth

    Your body and emotions will change. It’s natural. I was so skinny, I used to get teased that I walked on stilts. Instead of staying indoors looking at all the photoshopped bodies in magazines, I made it a point to ride my bike and enjoy the outdoors. Being outside reminded me that everything is always evolving and my body and emotions weren’t any different. So instead of staring at Instagram all day,  go for a walk.  Enjoy the outdoors, it offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment which will help balance all of the physical and emotional ups and downs you will experience.

     

    Be You

     

    Most importantly, be you! Even if you feel like you look silly doing the floss, do it anyway. Even if you feel like people will pick at you because you still love Harry Potter, love it anyway. Someone will always have an opinion about how you look, what you say or how you dress, in the end the only thing that matters the most is how you feel about it. Take note of how you feel when you are experiencing new people and new things. If it makes you happy, keep doing them, if it makes you uncomfortable or sad, remove it from your life.

    Here’s to an awesome 2018-2019 school year!

    Keep Shining,

    Martha

  • Articles, College, Confidence, Money, School, Writing

    How to Write College Essays

    How to Write College Essays

    guest post by Rick Wedell, RFG Chief Investment Officer

     

    College application deadlines are approaching, and with that there comes the stress of the application process. Some schools do not ask for essays, while others may ask you for several different pieces of writing. With that in mind, we thought we would share with you a good approach to writing college essays beyond the simple “make sure you proof- read carefully”.1

     

     

    Step 1: The Personal Narrative

    Ideally, a college application should tell a compelling story about who you are, why you want to go to school in general, and why this institution in particular. We’ll call this your personal narrative – the twenty second elevator speech youwould give to the admissions of cer if you were fortunate enough to be able to trap them in an enclosed space for thatlength of time.

    This is a story that you should construct on paper prior to even looking at the application, and it’s crucial that it weaves itself together into a compelling and coherent story line. Consider two narratives –

    1. I’m Rick, I’m a natural leader, I ran track and focused on Model UN in High School, I want to go to college so that I can become a marine biologist, and I’m interested in the University of Miami because of your amazing overseas exchange student program
    2. I’m Samantha, I’m inquisitive, I was active in the debate team and student government in High School, I’m looking to go to college so that I can one day go to law school, and I’m interested in the University of Virginia because of your excellent pre-law curriculum track 2

    To a college admissions counselor, Rick sounds like he has no sense of what he is doing with his life, while Samantha sounds like she has been organized around a single purpose since the day she could walk. Each aspect of her narrative is complementary and additive to the others, and as a result, Samantha is a far more compelling candidate. More importantly, her story is a heck of a lot more memorable because it all hangs together – inquisitive, debate, law school, pre-law.

    As a guideline, your narrative should include two to four characteristics that describe who you are (or who you want the admissions department to think of you as). These can be interests, achievements, activities, or descriptors.
    The most important thing about your narrative is that it needs to be believable! If you say you want to help impoverished children, then you had better be able to point to something concrete that demonstrates this desire.

    That said, saying it needs to be believable is not the same thing as saying that it needs to be 100% accurate, particularly when you discuss why you want to go to college and why this school in particular. In your heart of hearts, you may want go to the University of Wherever because that’s where your friends are going, or because you love their sports teams, or because your parents went to their arch-rival and you are trying to rebel. These are all valid reasons for going to the school and horrible reasons to put on your application. You shouldn’t lie about grades, an activity, a leadership role or accolade or anything like that, however stretching the possible on your motivations or what attracts you to the school is fair game so long as it is believable. In our examples above, Rick could make his story more compelling if he tied his experience in Model UN to an interest in a government degree and Miami’s fantastic public policy program. He can always switch to marine biology once he enrolls.3

    So now we’ve got our personal narrative, which is a well-constructed, believable story about who you are, why you want to go to college, and why you want to go to this college in particular. The next step is to actually look at the application itself.

     

    Step 2 – The Grid

    Every college application is different. Some applications ask for a single essay, others ask for multiple short answers, others ask for multiple essays, and some ask for no written samples at all. If the application asks for a single essay – no problem – just take your personal narrative and start writing. If multiple written responses are required, that’s when we come to the concept of the grid.

    The grid is pretty simple – put your narrative in boxes across the top row and the list of writing requirements down the page. At the far right should be a column called “topic”. To illustrate, we’ll use Samantha’s narrative and some essay questions I made up:

    Inquisitive

    Debate

    Student Gov.

    Law School

    Pre-law track

    Topic

    Talk about a time you struggled?

    What are you most proud of?

    Why would our campus be a better place with you on it?

    Now, all we need to do is decide which situations or experiences we are going to address in each essay, making
    sure that we touch on all of the elements of our narrative at least once in the entire application. We don’t want every response to check every box, but we do want to check 2 or 3 boxes with each answer and make sure that nothing in ourpersonal narrative gets left out when the admissions of cer nishes reading the application as a whole.

    page2image47944page2image48104

    What the grid forces you to do is focus your writing on your message and avoid the cardinal sin of application writing – DO NOT simply answer the questions in a laundry list fashion. Samantha may be very proud of the time she won the spelling bee in Junior High. If the application asks what she’s proud of, she might be tempted to write about it. After all, who wouldn’t be proud of that? At the same time, that response is off message. It’s impressive, and it might make for a good essay topic for some applicants, but it doesn’t really fit into Samantha’s story. She certainly should list that achievement when asked about extra curriculars, awards, and accolades, but she shouldn’t spend essay time writing about it. Instead, she should pick an experience or situation to write about that helps to tell her story.

    Keep in mind that the questions are just prompts to get you talking about yourself, and no admissions officer is going to penalize you for being a little off topic with your answers so long as you make an effort to frame it within the question. The best overall candidates get into school, not the people who have the best examples to fit into the application questions.

    If Samantha wants to talk about a debate tournament she won for the “struggled” question, she can spend a little time describing the struggle she had with preparation for the tournament as she crafts the response. If she’d rather talk about the tournament in the next question, then she can be “most proud of” the fact that she worked together with her team and coaches to get to the victory. You get the idea.

    When Sam is finished with her grid, it might look something like this:

    Inquisitive

    Debate

    Student Gov.

    Law School

    Pre-law track

    Topic

    Talk about a time you struggled?

    XXX

    XXX

    Debate Win

    What are you most proud of?

    XXX

    XXX

    Class Senator

    Why would our campus be a better place with you on it?

    XXX

    XXX

    XXX

    Legal Intern

    She’s chosen topics to write about for each of these three essays that highlight the qualities checked on the grid. Once again, she’s not talking about everything in every response, but when she’s finished her narrative should flow through the application. Now that she has her topics, it’s off to write!

     

    Step 3 – The Writing

    Steps 1 and 2 are about figuring out what to write about for each question, and now we get to the point of actually putting words on paper. A couple of tips:

    • Make every word count. You have a limited number of words, and most of us are prolific with our prose. You want to cram as much content into as few words as possible. Start by writing with no filter, and then go back and delete / rephrase until you hit the target word count. Intro phrases like “for example” and “in other words” are great candidates to slash and burn.
    • Show, don’t tell. Wherever possible, use examples / stories / anecdotes (like the Samantha and Rick storylines above) to illustrate your points versus just stating them – it makes the work more engaging to the reader.
    • Customize your answers for each school. You may be tempted to copy essays from one application to the
      next. Resist the temptation unless the questions are the same. You can talk about the same situations on every application by reframing the experience (e.g. Samantha’s debate tournament win), but the copy / paste function on your word processor should be avoided like the plague.
    • If a question asks you about your personality or “who you are”, be brutally honest. These questions are probing not only for who you are, but for how well you know yourself, and should be treated with an appropriate level of introspection. They aren’t necessarily asking you to talk about the time you were elected president of the student government or some other mind-blowing achievement or skill. You can still fit these into the grid, but be careful – you want these responses to show that you are aware of your weaknesses as well as your strengths.4 Be honest with yourself. A good rule of thumb is that you will know that this type of essay is ready to submit when you hesitate to print a copy for fear that one of your friends might someday find it.
    • Find someone you trust to edit and proofread. You do not need 50 different editors, because they will give you conflicting advice. Find 1 or 2 people who will read all of the essays together and make sure that they present a compelling storyline, and who are willing to suggest changes to things that are a little off – an editor is worthless if they simply tell you the essays look great.

    Step 4 – The Recommendations

    You might think that we are all done once we’ve done the writing, but we still have letters of recommendation to consider! After all, we did all the work to come up with our personal narrative, and there is no reason not to share that with whoever is writing your letters of recommendation.

    page4image33496

    Indeed, you should probably think about your personal narrative when you think about WHO you ask. Ideally, we want the recommender to discuss something additive to your story, but not repetitive. If Samantha has her softball coach write a letter, it’s nice, but it doesn’t really build her story. Her Social Studies teacher might be a better option, as that is consistent with and adds to Samantha’s narrative. Having her Debate coach write the letter would be more in the repetitive camp.

    Once you’ve identified who you want to write the letter, you should ask them. Give them an out, so that if they do not want to write the letter they have a pre-built excuse. Something like “Mr. Johnson, I’m applying to the University of Wherever, and I was wondering if you have the time to write a good letter of recommendation for me?” Asking if they have the time gives them an out without hurting your feelings – you don’t want someone writing a rec who doesn’t want to do it.

    If they agree – great! Most people who write letters of recommendation want to see you succeed – they wouldn’t write it if they didn’t care. By telling your recommender how you are positioning your application, you let them know what
    to highlight in their letter. At the very least, it helps ensure that they won’t directly contradict you! Share your personal narrative with them, and if you feel comfortable enough, suggest what you think they might be able to add to the conversation.

    Sam might say: “Mr. Johnson, thank you for agreeing to write a recommendation for me. Elsewhere in my application, I’ve talked about how I’m inquisitive, loved student government and debate, and am interested in law as a career. I was hoping that you might be able to highlight my work in your class for the admissions office?” This is innocuous enough to not be pushy, but gives the letter writer enough information to compliment her story.5

    Last, but not least –

    I hope that this has been helpful as you approach your college applications. While the process may seem daunting, in a sense you are really just being asked to tell a couple of stories about yourself. These stories should be chosen and written carefully so that they are both interesting and present the best picture possible, but try to approach the process with a sense of humor. After all, no one is more qualified or better positioned to write about your life than you are.

    Good luck!

    page5image28448

    1 Which you should 100% do.
    2 The “why this particular school” portion requires you to do some homework on that school and what they offer you in that particular field. Spend the time and craft a custom answer – it shows you aren’t cutting and pasting.
    3 As an aside, MOST schools want a nice mix of math geeks, jocks, and poets. For schools that have a particularly dominant bent towards one type of major, saying you are interested in something OTHER than that might be helpful (so long as you can make it believable). Case in point – I applied under the guise of pursuing an engineering degree at a school more known for finance, then switched once I got there.
    4 I’m not talking about weaknesses like “I like to steal things” or “I have a crippling addiction” which will get you kicked out of the process immediately. We all have things we are great at and places where we could improve. Show that you know about both aspects of yourself.
    5 You should send this to your recommender in an email, or otherwise write it down so that they can refer to it later – most letter writers are doing a lot of them this time of year, and simply saying it risks they will forget it.
    Investment advice offered through RFG Advisory Group, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor.
  • Articles, School, work

    How To Spruce Up Your High School Resume

    How To Spruce Up Your High School Resume

    In high school, my resume was kind of rough. What little information I had on it wasn’t very well formatted, which is why I am going to explore some ways you can make your high school resume more appealing. Keep in mind that there are a ton of different resume templates that you can find for free online, so if you haven’t started building one yet, those free templates are a good starting point.

    Valid Resume Items That You Might Not Know To Include
    There are certain things that you should be putting on your resume if it needs a little fluff. Some of these things include:

    -baby sitting/ pet sitting
    -errand services/ running errands
    -tutoring
    -relevant coursework to what you are applying for

    Join / Start A Club
    If none of the above activities apply to you, then I would suggest joining or creating a club. Creating and then maintaining your own club would be a very impressive accomplishment for a high schooler, so keep that in mind.

    Volunteer
    Another way to beef up your resume would be by volunteering as much as possible. Make it your thing to volunteer at your local animal shelter on the weekends, or anywhere that contributes to a cause you’re passionate about. This demonstrates community involvement and contribution, which reflects positively on your character.

    Part Time Job
    If you can balance a part time job and school work, then that’s great. Colleges and employers like knowing that you have good work ethic and time management skills.

    Internships
    No, internships aren’t just for college students. Participating in a summer internship in high school will make you seem very mature and focused.

    Learn A New Skill
    This can be anything that you can learn at home that would look good on a resume, like learning a computer coding language on Khan Academy, or getting a certification from Google Analytics. Both are free resources just waiting to teach you highly sought after skills.

    But let’s say that coding isn’t your thing. There are a ton of free online learning resources for a wide variety of skills. One example is iTunes U, which offers free courses on a whole bunch of subjects.

    Click here for a link to Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/
    Click here for a link to Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/
    Click here for a link to iTunes U: http://www.open.edu/itunes/

    OK, But What About Formatting?
    Formatting is really really important if you want your resume to look professional. Make sure that you fit everything onto one page. Put a header at the beginning of the document with your bolded name slightly bigger than everything else. You want to ensure that each subheading is bolded and slightly bigger than the information underneath it.

    For examples of different resume templates, click here: https://resumegenius.com/resume-templates

    https://www.teenlife.com/blogs/improve-high-school-resume
    https://www.mma-tx.org/blog/12406/strengthen-high-school-resume-count-ways/
    https://www.satprepgroup.com/7-ways-to-boost-your-high-school-resume-over-the-summer/
    https://careercenter.georgetown.edu/resumes-cover-letters/resume-formatting-tips

  • School

    A Feminist’s Guide To Buying Clothing Ethically

    If you’re a member of GirlSpring then chances are you identify as a feminist, which is great! What’s fun about that is wearing clothing that shows your passion for women’s liberation. But as a feminist, it’s majorly important to buy from clothing brands that don’t use exploited worker labor. How would you feel if you bought a shirt with the phrase, “This is what a feminist looks like” only to later discover that it came from a sweatshop that employed underpaid and overworked women? This isn’t a random example by the way, something like this already happened. Read more here:

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/2014/nov/03/feminist-t-shirt-scandal-exposes-entire-system-exploitation-elle-whistles-fawcett-society

    Does this mean that you should avoid buying feminist apparel altogether, or more generally clothing from any brand? Of course not. It just means you should buy from brands that you know don’t use exploited worker labor. You should also try to expand that to all of your buying habits including the food you eat to ensure that you are always using your money wisely. That can also include doing necessary research to find out if you are buying from places that use exploited worker labor, which most people can agree is bad. So without further ado, here are the best places to buy feminist clothing that don’t use exploited worker labor.

    GreenBox Shop
    This clothing company is responsible for a design you might have seen before, the, “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” shirt is gaining popularity. The website describes the company as a social justice apparel company that is completely fair trade.

    Check out their stuff here: https://greenboxshop.us/

    Aurora Lady
    This clothing company puts out clothing made by the same person, the woman who founded the company. Her work reflects her passion for social justice, and I’d highly recommend you check out her Etsy shop and her website’s shop. Even if you don’t want to buy any feminist clothing, you should check out her website for the incredible visuals alone.

    Check out her website’s clothing store: http://www.auroralady.com/wearables/
    Check out her Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AuroraLady

    Feminist Apparel
    This shop is actually pretty well known. It supposedly is 100% ethical and fair trade, and had a bunch of different clothing options to choose from.

    Check their website out here: https://www.feministapparel.com/

    Femininities
    This brand emphasizes messages of intersectional feminism, which is awesome. One of their shirts talks about the wage gap in a way that is very interesting and depends upon the race of the person making the purchase. What that means is that when buying the shirt, you must pick your race which then changes the amount on the shirt. For example, the white/ asian options says, “You owe me 21 cents” while the black option says, “You owe me 36 cents.” Basically, it accounts for the way in which the wage gap is racial instead of just being about gender.

    Check out their website here: http://www.femininitees.com/shop/

    My Sister
    The slogan for this brand is this, “feminists who are tired of exploitation”, and they do their best to donate to organizations aimed at helping women and girls around the world. Part of their earnings go to programs designed to give more opportunities to victims of sex trafficking, which is a very noble cause to support.

    Check out their website here: https://www.mysister.org/collections/shop-all-clothing

    Please note I found out about these brands from these articles:

    Ethical Alternatives to Mainstream Feminism Apparel ft. GreenBoxShop and More

    5 Feminist Fashion Brands With Awesome Ethics

  • Articles, College, School, Sports, TRENDING

    Groundbreaking female football player Becca Longo’s advice to young girls: ‘Don’t listen to all the negativity’

    Becca Longo, 18, is believed to have become the first female in history to earn a football scholarship with a top-tier college team when she signed a letter of intent Wednesday with Adams State University.

    Longo, a high school senior from Arizona, said she would tell young girls who have big dreams like her to “do what you love” and ignore the negativity.

    “If they want to play football, go out and play football. If they want to play hockey, they can go out and play hockey,” Longo said today on “Good Morning America.” “Just don’t listen to all the negativity because you’re going to get a lot of it.”

    “Just go do what you love,” she said.

    Longo was introduced at a signing ceremony Wednesday at Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona, as the first woman to sign a letter of intent to play football at a Division II level college or higher, according to ESPN.

    Longo, who will also play basketball at Adams State, said she was as surprised as anyone.

    “I didn’t believe that it was true,” she said. “I just remember sitting there and Coach [Gerald] Todd saying that I was the first girl to ever do that. … I was so blown away.”

    Making Longo’s rise to the ranks of college football even more improbable is that she only played football for two seasons in high school.

    “I started playing my sophomore year and then I transferred schools so I had to sit out my junior year and I didn’t get to play until my senior year,” Longo said. “I didn’t really expect to play after high school until sort of the middle of my senior season, which is kind of late.”

    Longo also overcame injuries and defied doctors’ expectations in her rise to become a college athlete.

    “The doctors told me that I couldn’t play sports ever again and I just kind of like used that as motivation to prove them wrong,” she said. “I love both of my sports too much to just give up and I’ve spent so much time and money and effort just to just let it all go.”