Browsing Tag:

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!

  • Books

    What’s on Your Book Shelf?

    What’s on Your Book Shelf?

    by GirlSpring intern Sarah Vice

    You may be exhausted from all the in-class readings that your teachers assign, but do you still take the time to read for pleasure? There are scientific studies that support the idea that reading for pleasure leads to higher reading levels. This also improves test taking abilities when a reading comprehension test is in question. If you have not taken the ACT yet, or exit exams for the school you are in, then there is still time to prepare. It does not all have to be literature books and academic journals. Try reading a fiction novel, a comic book, a murder/mystery novel, or something that might peak your interest.

    In turn, reading for pleasure can give you a boost in confidence to follow your dreams. It not only benefits your reading abilities, it also dips into your personal life. Some of my favorite book authors in middle school were James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer. Patterson always had a unique selection of stories to follow, one being completely different from the next. I would get so into the stories that I would finish one book in less than eight hours and be onto the next one.

    In high school, I became more interested in authors such as Sarah J. Maas, Suzanne Collins, and Becca Fitzpatrick. The stories were more for my age and delved deeper into the science fiction/fantasy genre. The leads in my favorite books were always female, and they gave me the courage to want to fight for what I believed in. The authors themselves had me pursuing a writing career of my own. I liked to look at the author’s biographies on the backs of each book and envision that I could some day achieve the same goals.

    Find an author or main character that gives you purpose. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes, then imagine what they would do if they were in yours. The kind of power it gives you to run free with your imagination is incredible. And while you are enjoying an entertaining story, with possible new role models, you’re improving your reading comprehension.

    If you are not into reading anything other than what is school designated, then check out these book recommendations and see if they might interest you:

    • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
    • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
    • The Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson
    • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
    • Matched by Ally Condie

    Here is also a link to a description of how reading can affect your reading comprehension as well as your personal life:

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-02-pleasure-life.html

  • Stress

    Six Ways to Avoid Stress This Semester

    Six Ways to Avoid Stress This Semester

    1. Make good use of your planner

    Schools typically issue a planner to their students at the beginning of the school year, but there are tons of cute and affordable planner options if you would like to have one more custom to your needs. It’s been proven that writing things down helps you remember them, and often times seeing everything you have to do written out together can help you visualize how much time you have to spend working on different projects throughout the week. I personally have 4 different places to write things down: a pocket-sized daily planner with hourly slots to help plan out busy days (TJ Maxx), a dry-erase calendar (Amazon.com), an un-dated weekly planner that stands up on my desk (also TJ Maxx) and a weekly to-do list notepad that I use for non-school and work related tasks (TJ Maxx as well). This way, if I think I’m forgetting a deadline, I probably have it written down in at least one place.

     

    Shop planners here:

    https://www.amazon.com/Time-Management-Manual-Planner-millimeters/dp/B07CWG2W8Y?keywords=planners&qid=1536629515&sr=8-3&ref=sr_1_3

     

    https://www.target.com/p/2018-19-academic-smoky-planner-8-5-x-11-ashley-g/-/A-53718426?preselect=53334116#lnk=sametab

     

    https://tjmaxx.tjx.com/store/jump/product/Jaguar-Organization-Kit/1000364623?colorId=NS1155377&pos=1:20&Ntt=planner

     

    1. Plan for big deadlines ahead of time

    Do you have a paper due the Monday after a weekend lacrosse tournament? Or a group project the same week as a final exam? As soon as you know big due dates, work schedules, sporting events, and family plans, it helps to write them down in one place so that you don’t surprise yourself at the last minute when you realize you have to finish writing out an essay in the car on the way home from a visit to grandma’s. Maybe use one of those cute planners you’ve bought? Just an idea.

     

    1. Give yourself plenty of time

    As someone who is the kween of procrastination, I have to finish my assignments as far ahead of time as I can manage so that I’m not scrambling to scrape them together fifteen minutes before class starts. In high school, I would take a nap immediately after school and not even touch my backpack until 6:00 am before school the next day. I would have to set five consecutive alarms every 15 minutes starting at 5:00 am in order to get myself out of bed and get my backpack out of my car where it had been since I left school the day before. (But at least I got that hour and a half nap in, right?) I’ve found it a lot easier on the body and brain to knock things out while you’ve got time, even if it means going right to the library after class. Even if your brain conks out every ten minutes or you end up spending too much time scrolling through Instagram, at least you’ve gotten started.

     

    1. Have a good balance

    Don’t get me wrong, school is important. But this doesn’t mean you have to spend every Friday and Saturday night studying. It’s just as unhealthy to isolate yourself from you’re friends because you’re worried about making an A on every assignment as it is to neglect your schoolwork. Exercise is also super important to feel good and be healthy, whether that’s going outside and walking the dog every day or participating in sports. In my experience, it’s always been best to listen to the body and do what feels right. If you spend every moment that you’re with your friends worrying about when you’re going to finish your math homework, it’s alright to decline to hang out every so often. If you’re late to soccer practice every day because you don’t get out of work until fifteen minutes before it starts, consider taking a few hours out of your work schedule. If you’re not sure whether to cut down on something that’s taking up a big chunk of your time, try to focus on how you feel during and after that activity. Is it worth it for you? Would you be happier doing something else? Keep in mind, you can do anything but not everything.

     

    1. Go to class

    It sounds easy enough, but even at your least attentive, you’ll retain more than you would if you weren’t there. The more time you miss, the more time you spend catching up. Sitting through one more presentation may seem impossible, but you’re truly just setting yourself up for more stress in the future. While you’re there, try to take the best notes you can. Even if you’re completely zoned out, at least you’ll have some key words and phrases written down that you can work out later. Focusing for so many hours is difficult, but half the battle is simply showing up.

     

    1. Make sure it’s not more than stress

    Since childhood, my panic, agitation, and constant fatigue were attributed to “stress.” It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when I went to my doctor and told him I thought I might have an anxiety disorder. Three years later, I can’t imagine functioning without the treatment I started receiving and I will always wonder if middle and high school would have been a bit more bearable if I had been diagnosed earlier.

     

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated the majority of the time to a point where it affects your day to day life, it may be something more than just a busy schedule. Schools provide guidance counselors as a resource for students, and that resource is meant to be utilized. It can be extremely difficult to confront mental illnesses like anxiety or depression, but reaching out and asking for help from a counselor or family physician is much easier than continuing to struggle every day.

  • GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle

    Music and the Brain: How it Can Help Memory and Learning

    Music and the Brain

    Have you ever heard a song so well-written that the lyrics put you in a trance? Does this trance lead to a moment of peace? According to song scientific studies, music can alter brain functions, which can lead to better memory, auditory processing, and learning ability (See https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/student-lifestyle/how-does-music-affect-your-brain ). Maybe that one song by Ariana Grande helped get you through studying for your exam last week. Or a classical Yo-Yo Ma piece may have helped you calm down enough to get some rest. Try branching out of your comfort zone when it comes to music and see what helps you feel more stimulated. A heavy metal band might just be what you need to avoid another caffeinated beverage, or a country ballad might help motivate you to love yourself more.

    The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right music to make you feel good. Here are some of my favorite bands and artists to check out:

    • Troye Sivan
    • The Cab
    • Florida-Georgia Line
    • Demi Lovato
    • Little Mix
    • Paramore
    • The Aces
    • Red
    • Icon for Hire
    • Hozier
    • Marianas Trench

     

    Grab a healthy snack (some fruit, carrots, granola bars, etc.), your text book and paper for notes, and a good soundtrack. If you get into a groove where you spend so many hours a day studying and have the bonus of listening to some of your favorite bands, then you might just find your activity levels and grades rising.

    Some helpful tips for securing a good playlist:

    1. Shop around a little bit. Find the music site that works best for you and your budget. If free music is what you are into, then check out premade stations based on your favorite artists (Pandora, Spotify, Youtube).
    2. Mix up your sounds by creating more than one playlist. You can easily make one mixed station but making several sub-playlists will help in the long run, because sometimes you’re just in the mood for one type of music.
    3. Ask for sound recommendations from friends. Someone might be into a band that you’ve never heard of before, so asking opens more doors.
    4. Sometimes cheesy songs bop. Get out of the mindset that something can’t be good just because someone that everyone else likes sings it or because it has a catchy hook. Repetition helps with memory, so sing that song and try to make a jingle for your notes.
    5. Just have fun!
  • 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:

  • Lifestyle

    Coping with Short-Lived Poverty

    Coping with Short-Lived Poverty

    To this day, I refuse to eat spaghetti in any form. When boxes of noodles are 2 for a dollar and the pasta sauce is only 95 cents, you just have to suck it up. I remember my mom would jokingly ask us what we wanted for dinner at night, and before we could even say anything she was halfway finished with cooking another pot of noodles. Sometimes she would switch it up and we would have four canned vegetables and maybe some mashed potatoes.

    Though the food situation was not ideal, it was manageable. The real problem came with needing clothes, school supplies, and wanting to do extracurricular activities. Our household income was only a thousand dollars more than what the state considered to be in need of free lunches and EBT cards. At the time I prayed for that to be the case because I was so embarrassed that I would have the lunch lady say aloud how poor I was every time she rang up my food. But as I get older, I understand that it would have been better for my parents and for me had we been offered those assists.

    When you are used to one life style and then quickly have to adjust to a new one it’s never easy. I ended up taking on two after school jobs and an internship to help pay for the things I wanted most, and then did without the things that were not so important. I joined my school’s Show Choir and was able to make the $60 monthly payments by doing fundraisers. I won every fundraiser that my group did, because I knew that I had to in order to stay in it. If you can’t find a job or don’t have the ability to fund-raise properly, then seek out sponsors. I asked a local restaurant to sponsor me and my softball team throughout school, and never had to worry about paying for equipment. When I wanted to go out of town with my friends, or even just go to the movies, I did odd jobs like gardening for my neighbors or cleaning some friends’ houses.

    If you are embarrassed of your situation, just consider that maybe you are not alone. Only one of my friends in high school knew how bad my situation was, and the rest were completely oblivious. It always made me wonder how many of them were just as good at hiding it.

    If you are worried about working and keeping up with your grades, then don’t seek an official job. Most part-time employers will work with your schedule, but sometimes you may need to look into less obvious work. I worked events on the weekends for companies that paid $20 an hour. I had little experience and was making a killing. I will add some links to those jobs down below if anyone is interested. The pay comes every 1-2 months, so make sure not to count on living paycheck to paycheck unless you work a ton of events back to back. Check with your local football or baseball stadium, sometimes the catering companies are hiring 15 and up to work weekends. Starting pay is typically pretty good and the work is not hard.

    Always make sure to ask a parent of guardian before starting a new job, because they deserve a say in what you are doing. If you are 15 years-old, then you will need a work permit that is approved by a legal guardian and your school. If you have a shopping addiction, then try working for a retail store that you like so that you can get that 15% or more discount.

    You should not be embarrassed to have a job while in school. It looks great on resumes, and lets future employers know that you can handle multiple tasks at once. If you pantry looks anything like mine did when I was in high school, you might want to consider the above suggestions.

    Links to employment:

  • Articles

    Back To School – Women’s Education

    Back To School – Women’s Education

    In honor of back to school, I thought it would be nice to put things in the overall big picture of women’s education.

    See, education for women is actually pretty new, if you take a look at history. And even today it isn’t universal. We still have women campaigning for the right to an education in their country, such as Malala Yousafszi. Unfortunately, we don’t always get the names of the wonderful women from years past who fought for our right to learn. So, get ready for some fantastic women who helped fight for women’s education in the U.S. who mostly go below the radar.

    First up, we have Patsy Mink. When Mink was unable to go to law school and unable to get a job (both on the basis for being a woman), she dove into politics and worked hard and long for Title IX. After Title IX passed, opportunities in education opened up to millions of women in the United States.

    Fun Fact Patsy Mink was the first woman of color elected to Congress.

    Secondly, there’s Fanny Jackson Coppin. After Coppin was freed from slavery, she became one of the first women of color to earn a college degree. She then worked for 40 years as a principal at the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia. As the Civil War came to an end, Coppin made it her life’s goal and mission to education many former slaves that were migrating to the north. Her work was some of the very beginning in the fight for equal education.

    Last, but definitely not least, is the Catholic Nuns. Catholic Nuns, through their education programs, moved millions of poor immigrants into the middle class. They were (and are still considered to be) the educators of the marginalized. They pushed women towards higher education, ran a nationwide system of schools, and had an overall enormous impact on education in the United States.

     

    Thanks to these people, women’s education has really taken off, and we have the opportunities today that wouldn’t have even been a dream 100 years ago. Clearly, this is not the end of the list. So many women have helped campaign for women’s education worldwide; too many people to name. So, keep these women in mind as you collect your books and pack your bag. Equal education has come a long way, we sure have a lot to be grateful for!

     

    Want to read more about people that helped women’s education ? –

    Women’s History Month: These Female Trailblazers Changed American Education For You and Your Kids. Do You Know Their Names?