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advice

  • 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.” 

  • College, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Mental Health, Puberty, School, Stress, Tips, Tough Questions

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    By Maggie Thompson

     

    Being uncertain is a feeling with which we are all familiar.

    A looming pressure to know exactly what we want in life is placed on us as early as middle school – if not before. This question of what we want our lives to be is actually ridiculous. How could one possibly know what they truly want if they have yet to decide what they do not?

    Uncertainty is how we learn.

    When we acknowledge our uncertainty, we open the door for more opportunities. This is because knowledge is not obtained without first admitting its absence.

    Experiences shape our beliefs – on everything.

    Hesitating to wear a certain color, deciding to study before a test, and avoiding certain types of people are all decisions made due to past experience. We believe the color yellow is not flattering for our skin tone because we read it in a magazine, we study before a test to avoid a failing grade, and we choose not to befriend dishonest people so that we don’t get hurt. Regardless of how big or small the belief – it is formed by past experience. However, some of these beliefs will alter as we learn and grow. This is a good thing. Being open to new challenges provides a chance for a new perspective.

    As a result, being uncertain is the best way to unlock change and growth.

    Do not be afraid to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, for this is how truth is uncovered – through exploration. So when you are feeling down about not knowing exactly which direction to go, accept that some of the steps you have taken thus far have been incorrect. Although this feeling is initially terrifying, it begins to dissolve as soon as you take the first step into the unknown. Because before you know it, you will find yourself happier and more engaged with life.

  • Lifestyle

    Things to Consider When Dying Your Hair or Getting a Tattoo

    Things to Consider When Dying Your Hair or Getting a Tattoo

    Are you thinking about dying your hair a fun and exciting color? Is there a tattoo that you’re just dying to get? Just stop for a moment and consider your options. You’re probably young and hear adults telling you to wait until you’re older all the time. There may be some wisdom in that.

    I’m not here to tell you how to live your life, I am only here to give you some advice. When I was in high school there was this adorable tattoo that I wanted to drape across my collarbone. It was a myriad of water colors and had a quote by one of my favorite authors at the time. It seemed brilliant. I was determined to save my money and get it.

    Then came the realization that you had to be eighteen or older to get a tattoo. Or you could have adult approval. My parents were definitely not the type to give approval for a permanent marking on my body. They barely let me get my ears pierced at thirteen.

    Please, please, please do not try to deceive a tattoo artist or go to someone who is willing to do the job without parental consent. This is completely dangerous and illegal. Most tattoo artists will be able to tell right away if you’re lying, so you’re really only going to embarrass yourself. And if they don’t realize, then they are doing something illegal without knowing. You could be ruining both of your lives.

    To be honest, a tattoo artist that would tattoo you even with adult consent is either desperate for money or is sketchy. I have a decent number of friends that are or have been tattoo artists, so my advice does not come from a place of ignorance.

    Consider how a few years from now you may not even be into the same things you are now. I am grateful that I didn’t get the tattoo I originally wanted. It would have cost a lot of money and have been a lot to maintain. I wasn’t even responsible enough to maintain my cartilage piercings my senior year in high school. Each person is different, though.

    If you feel completely confident that in two or three years you will not regret your decision, then at least wait until you can legally get the artwork done by yourself. When you start making life decisions on your own like paying bills, choosing colleges, etc. you will be much more prepared to decide what goes on your body.

    Choosing a hair color is a little different. Your hair color can change as often as every six-eight weeks if you want. The advice I have for this is be aware of the chemicals you are putting on your head. I have been dying my hair since I was a senior in high school, so it has been several years. Sometimes I look back and regret my color choices, but anyone can regret hairstyle decisions from young ages. Thankfully, hair color is not permanent. But it can cause permanent damage if not done responsibly.

    If you bleach your hair, try to only do it every so many years. It is not safe to put such harsh chemicals in your hair. It is killing the strands and lasts for a long time. You can still have fun colors in your hair without bleaching it. Also, do not bleach your own head. Watch enough Youtube videos to see how disastrous that turns out. It’s hard to see all the places on your own head and you are not licensed to know all the downsides to it.

    Seek professional assistance when bleaching. Coloring your own hair can be done, but it is always a plus to have additional help. Try getting someone to help you your first few times or go have it colored professionally. It can be expensive to have someone do it for you, but sometimes it’s worth it.

    For additional advice on dying your hair or getting tattoos while young, check out the following links:

    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/hair/a38165/how-young-is-too-young-to-color-hair/

    https://www.instyle.com/news/temporary-hair-color-tips-guide

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hair-dye-types-treatment-tips_n_4193049

    https://www.aftertheplayground.com/7-things-teen-needs-know-getting-tattoo/

  • Photography

    Welcome to the College Life

    Welcome to the College Life

    To All Middle School and High School Girls:

     

    I want you all to know, as a black woman who is in her third year of college, that higher education is nothing to fear. I know it is easy to think that the more that you continue to grow in your education, the worse it becomes and that is not true. The amount of diversity and the amount of girl power that you can find in these institutions can be quite freeing and quite liberating. There is finally a chance to be able to define your life in your own terms, without anyone stopping you. You will finally learn how great you are.

    Often times, as women, we are socialized to depend on how we look to speak for who we are and that is not true. There are many intelligent women among us and in these sacred, educated spaces. Here, you have the ability to deconstruct those stigmas and be who you have always dreamt of being. If you are able to create this type of space at an even younger age then that is amazing in itself because you have an earlier start to see what it is that you are in this world. Through this, you can help other women or other girls your age to feel comfortable in who they are.

    Sometimes it is hard. The workload can be stubborn and it may feel as if you aren’t going to move far from where you are. This is not true either. The opportunities the world has for us is truly endless. I often look to my ancestors, like Lorraine Hansberry and Zora Neale Hurston, who dedicated their lives to the liberation of all people through their writing and allow them to build my confidence. I think that it is okay, during times like those (when it can be tough on the mind to deal with) to reach out and look to other women that have paved the way for us. Doing this, has helped me to be grateful for the things that I have in the moment and has allowed me to believe that anything is possible.

    Do not forget your dreams and aspirations on this journey and do not begin to start on this quest when you are a senior in high school. You are never too young or too old to make a detailed plan on these kinds of things. The younger you are, the better it is to see what you want and to build an in depth career plan off of it. Make yourself proud.

    Do as much research on your own as you can and do not let anyone steer you away from what you feel is yours. Study for the ACT early. Make a list of schools that you could see yourself being at in the next few years. Be confident in those choices and allow it to radiate. Do not give your power away to anyone else and keep a humble head because the choices are limitless.

  • Articles

    College Advice to Incoming High School Freshmen

    College Advice to Incoming High School Freshmen

    by GirlSpring intern Makayla Smith

    Being more prepared for college, ahead of my senior year of high school, would have helped a great deal if there were the proper resources there to guide me. Waiting until the last minute to become serious about topics concerning college was one of my biggest regrets. Unfortunately, I had to learn a lot of tips and tricks on my own. Below are a few suggestions I have listed would want you all to consider, even if the idea of college does not affect you right now.

    If your school offers dual enrollment, take those courses instead of wasting time in AP classes. The credits in dual enrollment courses are more likely to roll over, unlike the dice being rolled over on a chance of probably not getting the college credit during AP testing.

    Start taking the ACT when you are in the 9th or 10th grade. Do not wait until your senior year of high school to do so. This will be a huge burden on your shoulders especially since getting scholarships on the federal level is becoming a bit harder. It is important to have a high ACT score so that you can qualify for a good, hefty scholarship that will help you with tuition (at the least).

    Make a list of schools that you are interested in. Be confident in the schools that you have chosen. Look into the majors that they offer and make a choice around that. Look into the student diversity. Look into the scholarships the school has to offer, and the opportunities that could span from it after completing your degree. If it is something that you have personally gravitated towards, then take a tour of the school.

    In an article from www.grownandflown.com, they encourage students to “keep an open mind.” I agree with this because now that you are having to include elements such as finances, independence, and education it is important to keep a well versed amount of colleges and other opportunities open. There are many different ways to be successful so do not limit yourself to just one or two schools. Your parents are not tagging along with you for this experience, so work on catering this avenue to you and yourself only and build your happiness up from it.

    Become close with some of your teachers now. Improve those bonds and make sure to add some insight on class discussions and in academic performance. This is important since teachers write letters of recommendation and could spearhead you into an arena that you could have only imagined, beforehand. This boosts your chances of getting into the school of your choice.

    Most importantly, be confident. Keeping a positive mindset, throughout this process, is just as important as making sure your grades are in alignment with your ACT scores. Make sure that the support system you have encourages you to stay on the right path. And even if your support system is yourself, understand that you are not alone in that experience and that you are tougher because of it.

  • Articles

    How to Prepare for the ACT

    How to Prepare for the ACT

    The ACT can be a pretty nerve racking test to take if you have never taken it before. Thankfully, it is nothing to fear with the proper preparation and time management. Below are a few ideas to consider when registering for the ACT and taking the time out of your day to make sure you are as ready and as confident as you can be in making a high score:

    Registering for the ACT requires creating an account through the ACT website. The next thing to pop up will deal with choosing a specific location or testing center. When choosing the day in which you want to take the test, make sure that it is “atleast three months in advance”, according to blog.prepscholar.com.

    Begin to become comfortable with the format of the ACT. Familiarize yourself with the times given for each section (English, Math, Science, and Reading). Doing this will make it easier when navigating the test and could potentially heighten the ACT score that you are given in the end. ACT prep books can be a big help in showing you what could be on the test, the tests format, and the test answers in the back of the book.

    It is important to make note of the sections that you are not as strong in, in order to guarantee yourself a higher score. Because the test happens over a long period of time, you do not want to waste time on questions that could have been done in a smaller interval. Additionally, as seen in blog.prepscholar.com, you’ll “want to establish a baseline of your own skills. The most important component of this is identifying your weaknesses, so you can target them in your prep.”

    Think of a specific score that you are aiming for and stick to it! Create a study schedule that balances and encourages time management. Practice this while doing practice tests for the ACT that are offered online and focus on deeply analyzing what was right about certain answers and what was wrong about others.

    Although it can be hard to stay motivated with a test that depends heavily on your future, it is important that you prioritize these kinds of thoughts with positive thinking/ affirmations. Allow other people to hold you accountable when you fall on your own end. Make sure to get as much rest as possible. Make sure that you are eating a well balanced meal. Make sure that you have the proper number 2 pencils and the proper type of calculator to bring along with you.

    Most importantly, do not hesitate to ask for help during this time. There are private tutors that are hired to work one on one with these types of things. Check to see if your school offers ACT Prep classes or ACT assistance. Try asking close friends if they would want to dedicate a day to studying for this with you so that you won’t feel alone.

    Keep all of these reminders in your head and in no time, the ACT will be the test that you conquer.