High School

3 Tips for High School Happiness

high school happinessI believe in hard work, challenges and competition. I believe that nothing will happen if you aren’t truly willing to sacrifice time and energy. However, when your schedule is completely overwhelmed with homework and extracurricular activities, you’ve got yourself a problem.

Your grades are important, but so is your happiness. In fact, I did much better in school when I learned to allow myself to step outside its walls, metaphorically. Here are my three tips for achieving happiness:

1) Don’t prioritize studying, no matter what, over a good night’s sleep.

There is no reason to sacrifice seven hours of sleep to extra time to study because let’s be honest, if you need to stay up the night before the test to learn material, you probably won’t do much better on the exam than if you had just had a good night’s sleep. Also, this may sound silly, but never, ever go to sleep angry. Even if you’re having a fight with somebody or just mad in general, make sure to resolve it (at least in your head) before you go to bed. It’s extremely rare that I have bad nights of sleep and I truly believe that I’m a much happier person because of it.

2) One day a week should be dedicated purely for enjoying yourself.

Try to allocate a day’s worth of time each week to doing something you want to do. Whether it be hanging out with your friends, watching TV or being with family. Personally, I would always save Friday night and the entirety of Saturday to rest. Of course there are exceptions, such as AP exams and SATs, but overall I tried my best to keep that time free. My parents would often take my sisters and I on day trips to San Francisco. I had the chance to get to know and enjoy one of the greatest cities in the world, and now am forever able to navigate around major metropolitan areas.

3) Like what you do.

Don’t join the tennis team if you don’t like to play tennis. Don’t take APUSH or AP BIO if you aren’t interested in the subject material, and especially don’t hang out with people who don’t make you happy.

Your life isn’t just the things you can write down in an application or a resume. It’s so much more. You will be stressed in high school and you will have to work hard, but please take time to rest, recharge and do the things you love, not just what your school wants you to do. While my tips aren’t a foolproof recipe for happiness, they can help get you a step further towards self-fulfillment.

This is a guest post by Noa Livneh, a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area.

College Admission

College: You Have More Options Than You Realize

College Options It seems like every year the college application process is more competitive than the year before. Every year, it seems, someone on NPR is talking about how admit rates have reached an unprecedented low and how high school seniors are applying to more universities than ever. And every year, it seems to be treated like breaking news.

But this is news that anyone who has been through the college process in the last decade—parents and students alike—have long been aware of. In fact, if it weren’t for the extreme stress associated with such programs, current high school students would likely find the excessive research and thorough reports almost amusing… all they really needed to do to gather this information was have a conversation with a high school junior.

The moral of these news stories is that as more students aim toward a certain brand of success, that brand continues to grow increasingly difficult to attain. And with all this noise about the stiffening competition, high school students only grow more anxious and determined to be the crème de la crème.

However, many of us forget that there is more than one definition of success, even along the traditional path from high school to college.

So instead of setting your heart on any one school, or any one type of school, be open to other options. Because even though prestige is a nice perk, it’s not the be-all end-all when it comes to colleges.

Apart from the one-percent of schools that everyone seems to believe will be their golden ticket to living the American Dream, there are thousands of other ways to achieve your educational goals. Choosing the right college is about finding the school that fits you best, not about earning your spot on the most selective campus.

Instead of fantasizing about your dream school, realize that there are many campuses that can make you very happy, and serve as the first step in a long, fulfilling career.

Not to mention, your number one, can’t-live-without-it school may not be the wisest choice for your budget. Consider more affordable options, such as your state school, or even your local community college.

Less competitive colleges do not always correlate to a lower standard of education. Look into local liberal arts colleges—which are often less known, but not by any shortcomings in learning experience. Not to mention, schools like this can usually manage to maintain a low student to teacher ratio.

So broaden your horizons by expanding your list of options. A top tier education is not the only path toward living the life you want to live—there are plenty of other routes to get there. Remember that no matter which way you choose to go, achieving your goals is based much more on your hard work and dedication than on your alma mater.

College Admission

Tips for Making the Most of College Tours

College ToursWhether you’re just beginning the college application process or ending it, the pressure to visit future colleges is strong. While it may, at first glance, seem like both kinds of visits – prospective and admitted student – are the same, they can’t be more different from each other.

A prospective student’s college tour will most likely only consist of an actual physical tour of the campus by a tour guide. An admitted student tour will not only have a physical tour of the school but a full day filled with information panels and activities.

Since I have just recently completed my last prospective and admitted student tours, I would like to share some of my tips and ‘hacks’ that have helped me learn more about the campus and be able to take full advantage of my time at the schools.

Tips for Prospective Student Tours

As a prospective student, you unfortunately won’t get the same attention as an admitted student, yet there are still ways to get the most of out the college visit. Try to learn as much as you can about the school before you go. Whether it’s a flight or only a short drive away from you, coming with prior knowledge will help you make better judgements when evaluating the different campuses. I made sure to come to the school having already read its wikipedia page. Aside from that, I came with a list of questions that I could ask my tour guide.

Here are some possible, general questions you, a prospective student, can ask your tour guide:
1. Do you feel the size of the school affects your college experience and how?
2. How does the location of the school affect your college experience?
3. How safe is the campus? Is it an open or close campus?
4. What are some things that you would change about the campus?

Overall, a prospective college tour is mainly to give you an idea of what type of college you would like to attend. Make sure to visit at least two very different schools in order to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a college campus.

Tips for Admitted College Tour

As an admitted student, you now truly have the option of attending the school you are about to visit, so it’s extremely important that you come well-prepared. Before visiting Boston University, I got in contact with the editor-in-chief of the school paper and was able to arrange a meeting with the entire staff during my time there. So after I finished the six-hour-long sessions tours, I walked to the paper’s building and hung out with a bunch of the current students and was able to ask them questions about the campus and campus life.

While visiting USC, I met up with a friend who’s a current student there and we were able to walk around and she showed me so many things that the official tour did not. I was also able to attend a fun get-together of a bunch of of her friends and see what it was like to spend an average friday night at USC. Because I had already been admitted, it was important for me to ask questions that were much more in depth and could really separate the schools and help me narrow my choices.

Some questions I asked the students at both campuses were:
1. What kinds of internships have you done?
2. How accessible are those internships?
3. What are the different kinds of housing options?
4. Is a car a necessity?
5. How important is greek life to the school?

I know it can be a little overwhelming to start visiting colleges, whether you’re a prospective or an admitted student, but if you approach the visit as a tool, you’ll be able to make the most of it. Overall, college visits should get you excited about going to college, so don’t stress too much and enjoy the trips!

This is a guest post by Noa Livneh, a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area.