Browsing Tag:

school

  • Health, School

    Sleep and Your Body

    girl sleeping

    Everyone likes to joke about and compare how little they sleep. To some, it’s a matter of pride. 

    I sleep 3-4 hours a night just so I can manage my workload. ”

    However, what people don’t realize is that preventing your body from getting the rest it needs has severe long-term effects and hampers your performance on a day-to-day basis. Not sleeping enough can result in memory loss, lack of alertness, and mood swings, affecting your work and personal relationships.

    Teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep. Speaking from personal experience, I’m lucky if I even get half that amount. On average, we tend to get 7-8 hours of sleep. This is due to a multitude of reasons. After puberty begins, your biological clock shifts about two hours. For example, an individual who would go to sleep at 9:00 PM will now have trouble sleeping until 11:00. Though this is true and does affect younger teenagers in middle school, growing academic pressures involving grades, extracurriculars, obligations, and relationships also take a chunk out of your rest.

    What many teenagers and adults don’t realize is that the less they sleep, the more their sleep debt grows. Your body can very much feel that it’s not getting enough sleep. Your body summons sleep in two ways: by sending more adenosine (a neurotransmitter) around your body, and by sending signals from your circadian clock.

     Adenosine  can be considered a cellular  by-product and is produced and released into the bloodstream when [cells] use energy. It’s taken up to the receptors that govern wakefulness in the basal forebrain, acting as a slow buffer, minimizing your ability to be attentive and remember things. When there’s a lot of adenosine, you start to feel drowsy. (The way caffeine works is by blocking adenosine receptors in your brain, essentially numbing you to its effects.) 

    The circadian clock regulates all of your bodily functions. When it comes to sleep, it causes the human body to feel very sleepy between 12:00-6:00 AM, and a little extra sleepy between 2:00-4:00 PM.

    A study at the University of Chicago found that after having volunteers sleep four hours a night for six nights, volunteers developed higher blood pressure and larger amounts of the hormone cortisol. They also produced less antibodies and signs of insulin resistance, a precursor to type-2 diabetes. After sleeping the amount they needed to, they reversed all of these effects. Another study from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School found that after having volunteers sleep for either 8, 6, or 4 hours a night for two weeks, and a fourth group of volunteers who didn’t sleep for three days, the groups that had slept 4-6 hours a night didn’t perform much better than the one that hadn’t slept for 72 hours. 

    The hours add up. Speaking from personal experience, during the spring semester, I averaged 2-5 hours of sleep. Every night. The moment summer began, I began sleeping inordinate amounts. Before this year, my circadian clock wouldn’t let me sleep past 7:30. Now, if I don’t use an alarm to wake up, my body won’t let me wake up until 10:00-11:00. The first week of summer? I slept 8-14 hours a night. I physically can’t sleep the way I used to. My body needs its sleep. Likewise, your body will react to you not sleeping well and you’ll have more difficulty performing daily tasks. Guard your sleep. 

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, School

    Should You Take An AP Class?

    As a senior in high school looking back at my younger self, I realize just how lost I used to be and feel. I am the oldest child in my family, and I didn’t have someone to show me the ropes of high school. I did not know which teachers were best, didn’t know which classes to avoid, and I was terrified of taking an AP class. When I was a freshman, there were no AP options in my curriculum. However, as class selection started for my sophomore year, that’s all the school-related talk became about. My friends would ask if I was taking any AP’s and if I was, which ones? How many? Why those? Did I want college credit, or did I just like the challenge? Honestly? I had no idea. I was just signing up for what looked good to take. Now, I want to break down how to assess whether or not to take an AP class.

    First, think about if you are good at the subject you want to go AP in. If you’re looking into taking AP chemistry but made Cs and Bs in regular chemistry, it might not be the choice for you. You will want to take AP courses in classes that you will already find engaging and interesting to study. The Collegeboard suggests studying 8 hours a week for each AP class you sign up for. So, if you don’t like the subject you are taking, it will be very hard to keep up and stay on track. 

    Second, think about what you might want to study in college. If you are looking into studying philosophy or history, make sure you take AP History and AP English courses. That will let the colleges you are looking into know what you’re interested in, and that you are a driven, hardworking student. 

    Third, assess your own time management/school abilities. AP courses come with a lot of homework and if you do not have the time or ability to keep up with the course work, it probably is not for you. AP courses are good to have on your transcript, but not if you got low grades because you couldn’t keep up. Challenge yourself, but do not overwork yourself; it will lead to academic burnout. 

    Finally, think about if you want to take the class in the first place. I know lots of people that signed up for AP courses because their friends were taking it, or because they felt pressured into it. If you do not want to take the class and all that it asks of you, don’t! It will be a hassle all year to try and keep up if you do not find it engaging or interesting. 

    I hope this helps! And just remember, most importantly, to take care of yourself above academics. It can be easy to over prioritize school, but when it becomes unhealthy, make sure to take a break and relax.

  • Articles, Fashion, GirlSpring.com, School

    Gender Bias and Dress Codes

    gender bias

    Opinion: How Dress Codes Generate Sexism

    Throughout high school, I was always so confused about the seemingly biased standards of dress set by the administration. Yoga pants were out of the question. Skirts and shorts had to be equivalent to the length of your arms. Razor-back tanks and spaghetti straps were seen as scandalous and must at least be covered by a cardigan. Bra straps were deemed as “provocative” and “distracting”. Girls with long limbs and developed features were the main targets for teachers of authority to pull into an office and tell them to go home or change.

     

     

    Maybe it is because I grew up predominantly in the South, a traditionally more conservative region of the nation, but I have been made well aware that girls are different than boys my entire life. Especially by women of authority.

     

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the South and its people. It is my home and I have deep-set roots in Alabama that tend to always bring me back no matter where I go. 

     

    But I am a part of a new generation of American women. So, I intend to be treated equally wherever I live, and therefore have been bucking the system ever since my mother allowed me to dress myself.

     

     
    But problematic dress codes are present in almost all areas of the country.

     

     

    Now, I understand the idea of looking presentable. Bad hygiene and body parts hanging out are obviously not welcomed in an educational or professional environment. However, standards regarding tightness of clothing and the presence of girls’ shoulders is a bit excessive in my opinion.

     

    Teaching girls at a young age that they should be hyper aware of how they dress in order to not distract the boys perpetuates sexism.

     

     

    Here’s why:

     

     

     

     

    What confuses me about the entire phenomenon of female-directed dress codes is the fact that a majority of the figures enforcing these rules are female. Women make up about 77% of the teaching force in the U.S. according to a national survey made in 2017. Nine out of ten teachers are female in primary schools, where dress codes start becoming stricter. What are these women teaching young girls about themselves?

     

    I remember learning early on that boys are held to different standards. Boys would tease me or push me in elementary school and I would come running to a teacher. My tears would be met with “oh they’re just being boys” or “they probably have a crush on you” or “maybe leave them alone”. I was taught early on that the boys being mean to me was my fault.

     

     
    I was provoking them to act that way.

     

    As the years rolled by and I started high school, my breasts and butt grew along with my height. Teachers began to pull me in their offices whenever they caught me wearing yoga pants under a t-shirt or if my shirt straps were not four fingers in width. Skirts that were perfectly fine for other girls to wear were not okay for me because the tips of my fingers reached four inches shy of my knees.

     

    I will never forget one particular instance in high school when I was wearing a pair of Nike shorts that were perfectly long with a large t-shirt during exam week. I was walking to my French exam with a group of my friends. They were wearing the same type of athletic shorts as me. 

     

    The Dean emerged from her office and called only my name out of the group. I told her that I was sorry for breaking the dress code and that I was leaving school right after the exam. She went into her office closet and emerged with a pair of huge, bulky ski pants and told me to put them on with a smirk on her face. I reluctantly agreed, arriving ten minutes late to my exam with everyone laughing at me. After that, I could not even focus on taking the test because I was shaking from the tears welling up in my eyes.

     

     
    That’s just messed up. 
     

     

    I started to question the system every time I got called in for a minor dress code violation. Why are leggings banned but skinny jeans are allowed? Why do you not consider how long my arms are? Why are my shoulders not okay? Why do the boys never get dress coded?

     

    Keep in mind it was, and still is, the style for young men in the South to wear fishing shorts to school every day. I’m talking shorts are at least a third of an arm length too short in reference to most school dress codes. I have never heard of a male peer getting dress coded on the account of showing too much skin.

     

     

    Your clothes are bringing attention to yourself. We don’t want boys getting distracted. You could make the male teachers uncomfortable.

     

    When girls are given this particular “reasoning” it brings about a sense of shame. It counteracts the progress that society has made towards equality. Establishing rules about how much skin is being shown on a female’s chest, shoulders and legs sexualizes these body parts even more. Not only does this teach young girls that sexual harassment is self-inflicted, but it also conveys a message to boys that females deserve to be disrespected if they are not meeting certain standards. 

     

     

    These gender-biased dress standards are subliminally teaching young boys that there is no accountability for inappropriate behavior. Why are we not teaching children to be respectful of one another instead of initiating sexist values?

     

     

    Some schools across the nation have started making changes to their dress codes, including Evanston Township High School in Illinois. They went from banning leggings, shorts, short skirts, and spaghetti straps to allowing them in 2017. As well as training teachers to use neutral language while reprimanding students for a violation. However, many schools around the country are still holding onto strict dress codes for females. 

     

    One could argue that dress codes prepare students for a working environment, but at the same time it is better to teach kids when and where to dress appropriately. Yes, schools are meant for educational purposes, but students are already facing an overwhelming amount of social and academic pressures. Therefore, they deserve to feel comfortable in such a stressful environment during such a transitional stage in life.

     

     

     

    We should all have learned by now that nothing is more distracting to a teenager than being worried about what others think of you.
  • Articles

    Creating a Work Space to Increase Productivity

    work space productivity

    Often, the environment you are working in can have a big impact on how productive you are. Over the years, I have learned that a quiet space with natural light and limited social media is optimal for me, whether it comes to getting school work done or studying for exams. However, each individual is different, and people have various preferences when it comes to limiting distractions and staying focused.

    Here, I have outlined several common elements that make up individuals’ study/work environments. Keep in mind that a workspace should be where you get work done, but also where you feel relaxed and can think freely. I urge you to read on, and if something seems like it might work for you, try it out! A productive environment is composed of several factors, so put together the aspects that work for you.

    Desk:

    I think this is the most important part of a workspace! Although it may be more comfortable to do work on the couch or in bed, studies have shown that people are more productive when they sit at a desk to complete their work. If you don’t already use a desk, I would highly recommend getting one and using it regularly. You will be amazed at how much more attentive and focused you will be on your work.

    Sufficient Natural Light:

    Studies have shown that health and productivity go hand-in-hand. When exposed to natural light, individuals experience better sleep, receive more vitamin D, and tend to have more energy during the day. Therefore, it makes sense that they are able to be productive! My recommendation is to create a study space near large windows so you get the most out of the natural light during the day time. Also, go outside and study when you can! Getting some air is helpful for feeling fresh and can help you focus on getting your work done!

    Place for Electronic Devices:

    If you’re like me, it’s really difficult for you to get any work done when your phone is around you. I would recommend finding a different place for this, and any other distraction, while you work. For example, I frequently use my laptop to complete assignments, and since I don’t use it to check social media, I keep it on my desk when I work. On the other hand, I put my other electronic devices in a space in the corner of my room. That way, I don’t feel tempted to constantly keep checking them. I would recommend finding a place for electronic devices if you’re like me and get easily distracted.

    Music/No Music:

    I personally prefer working in a quiet environment and cannot focus when there are noises around me, including music. However, I have many friends who find it easier to concentrate in louder spaces or when there is music playing. I think this is mainly personal preference, so implement what works best for you into your space.

    Or if you like sound, but can’t have music playing try white noise!

    Plants and Other Decorations:

    Some individuals like to decorate their workspace with things they like. Think plants, inspirational quotes, and other types of decor. Items like pictures, mementos, or other significant objects can also be helpful to have.

    Water/Snacks:

    I always have a water bottle with me when I’m trying to get work done. Staying hydrated is very important! Water helps with cognitive processes, so it’s really no wonder that people are more productive when they are hydrated. If you can eat while you work (and still be productive!), having snacks at your workspace may be helpful.

    Desk lamp:

    We all have days when we have to work on things late into the night, and it’s sometimes easier to see if you have a desk lamp. I’ve heard this is pretty common, so if you don’t already have a desk lamp and think brighter lighting over your desk may be helpful, consider buying one!

    Basic Office Supplies Easily Accessible:

    Having items like writing utensils, erasers, tape, and a stapler easily accessible in your workspace can come in handy. Most of us use these supplies on a regular basis when we’re trying to get school work (or other work) done, so it always saves time to have them at hand when working. Using bins to organize these items can be helpful as well.

    Fan/Heater:

    Although most individuals have a heating/cooling system in their house, it may sometimes feel more comfortable to work in a particular temperature. I prefer to work in a cool room, so using the fan is always very helpful during the summertime. It is key to feel comfortable in your workspace, so finding a temperature that you work best in is very helpful.

    Space to Get Up and Walk Around:

    Taking breaks is also very important and is known to increase productivity. It’s good to have room to stretch/walk around a little in your work environment. If you don’t have much space available to you, I would recommend making an effort to leave your workspace to go outside every once in a while. This can help clear your mind and will allow you to return to your task feeling more refreshed, allowing you to be more productive in the long run.

    If you loved these tips, check out this one on how to be more productive!

  • Articles, Fashion, GirlSpring.com, School

    School Dress Codes

    school dress code

    How do you dress for class when the latest fashion trends are crop tops and leggings? When sitting through eight plus hours of lessons, the last thing you want to do is worry about what you look like. Yet with strict school dress codes for young girls, the pressure is on.

    Why is it fair that your ability to learn is determined by how long your skirt is?

    I was once sent to the principle’s office because my shirt was considered inappropriate. The principle took one look at my shirt and asked what the problem was. I had to explain that the teacher didn’t agree with the words printed on it. The shirt sported lyrics from a popular song at the time and were in no way derogatory, unless you believe the words “I’m only going to break you heart” should be banned.

    It is ridiculous the obstacles that females must jump through just to stay at school all day. If the public-school systems weighed our education over our appearances, we would surely have a better chance with our studies.

    The rules for measurement are based on how long or short your appendages are. The inability to wear clothes that are more suited for warmer climates is almost a punishment. Not to mention the amount of time and money that goes into finding “school-appropriate” clothing.

    You spend the whole summer wearing the things that feel comfortable on your body and make sense for the climate. Then you start back to school with a closet full of useless clothing.

    It might be a little different if classes started later in August or even after Labor Day like some colleges, but when school starts in the middle of the Summer season, shorts are inevitable.

    Here are some tips to survive this school year’s dress code:

    • Only buy ten items. Try to make the items interchangeable outfits. Finding plain clothing and adding accessories can help.
    • Find one store that has almost everything you need. Mine is Torrid. There are always clearance items and the clothing fits my body well. Not to mention, accessories and shoes come in abundance.
    • If you buy articles of clothing that would be considered revealing, wear leggings/colored pantyhose underneath. Or you can buy a cover-over (a cardigan, sweater, jacket, etc.).
    • Keep a spare T-shirt or pair of pants in your locker or backpack in case of wardrobe violation. This helps avoid the humiliation of having to wear gym clothes/lost-in-found clothes or having to go home for the rest of the day.
    • You may not be able to wear a crop top by itself, but turtlenecks, tank tops, and t shirts can be placed underneath one to make a cute statement.
    • You probably can’t wear leggings by themselves. Sweat pants, joggers, and other not-form-fitting workout pants can be comfortable to wear. Also, jeggings are not technically leggings, but can fit and feel just the same.

    Try reading over your school’s dress code to figure out what you can and can’t get away with. Some schools differ from others, which means yours might not have as strict of rules or it might be more strict than neighboring schools.

    Part of getting back to school ready is having your closet ready to go! Get ready with this video on how to polish your wardrobe. 

  • 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.”