College Life

3 College Mistakes to Avoid

college tipsLife has a pretty steep learning curve. And while everyone likes to note that we learn the most from our mistakes, it’s pretty great when we get to learn from someone else’s before we make them ourselves. So, for your sake, here are three big things I got wrong my freshman year of college, along with two things that I got right.

1. Grades do matter. In high school, life revolves around grades. It feels like even one B+ can destroy your chance of admittance to your dream school (though that legend is pure myth). So, though I like to think that when I started college, I was still burned out from high school academics, it’s possible that I was just lazy.

Whatever my reasoning was, I had convinced myself that my grades didn’t matter. But the fact of the matter is, that’s just not true. While a high GPA is not the be-all and end-all that it seems to be in high school, you’ll need a decent GPA to be admitted to grad school. Your GPA may also weigh into your first job, so don’t slack off.

2. Your courses are more than just lectures. Sure, going to lecture every day is important—but that’s the bare minimum. And doing the bare minimum does not make you studious nor earn you a good grade, even if only half the class shows up. During my freshman year, I often felt like going to class was good enough.

But your university offers all kinds of resources: from office hours to tutoring, from research libraries to online hubs. Take advantage of these opportunities and maximize your education (and tuition dollars!).

3. Try new things. I find that I often put myself in a box, or more commonly (and harmfully), exclude myself from boxes. For instance, I’m not particularly outdoorsy and would therefore exclude myself from the “outdoors person” category. Thus, I’d bar myself from all outdoors clubs and activities.

If I could do my freshman year over again, I would try out different clubs and participate in various activities. Passion doesn’t just arise from nothing; it needs some sort of seed to grow from.

4. Partying is overrated. American college students have a global reputation for their wild parties and alcohol abuse. As a total goodie-two-shoes with a bunch of nerdy (but fun!) friends, I didn’t consume a single drink during my freshman year of college. Instead, I had a lot of innocent fun, and none of those wonderful memories are blurred by alcohol.

5. Invest in friendships. As much as academics matter, I still think that my college friendships are the most valuable asset I gained in college. Not only are your college friends a networking goldmine, but there’s a good chance that at least a few of them will become important people in your life.

I spent my freshman year giggling with my roommates and enjoying lengthy dinners with my floormates. And though some of that time was likely the result of my procrastination, I don’t regret one second of it. So although the focus of your schooling should be school, don’t just lock yourself up in a room to study… make sure to meet people and spend time with your new friends.

College Life

Best Apps for College

college apps Whether we want to admit it or not, our cell phones are a huge part of our lives. We use them to communicate, share, entertain, play and even pay for things. There are so many applications available at our fingertips that enable us to do whatever we want. We can split bills more easily and find coursework, all two touches away.

I’ve researched and compiled a list of some of the best apps for college or high school students looking to find a technological answer to the many inconveniences of school.

1. BenchPrep
This app is mainly for students looking into graduate school. It provides an abundance of study material for exams such as the LSATs, GMATs and MCATs. The study materials include flashcards, practice questions and more than 600 study questions.

2. Dragon Dictation
Feel like sometimes whatever is in your head just can’t be written down properly? Dragon Dictation uses advanced voice recognition software that will record whatever you say and transform it to text. This app is extremely useful in order to get main ideas out and an overall great asset to have during a time-crunch.

3. Mint
As students, our perception of money can often be very naive considering most of us don’t make our own. Mint allows you to keep track of your spending, big or small, so that you can make sure you stay on budget (you have a budget, right?).

4. Venmo
Possibly the best app for going out with friends, Venmo allows you to split your bill with multiple people without the hassle of using multiple credit cards or cash. Once you connect your bank account with this app, it will allow you to send money to another user’s account without any trouble.

5. F.lux
F.lux is a computer app that will change the colors of your monitor according the level of brightness in the room you’re in. According to the application, the computer’s monitor is designed to be extremely bright, almost resembling daylight, yet when we use the computer at night (or in a darker room), its brightness level is harmful to our health and sleep patterns. By using this app, you not only become more productive, you can also get a better night’s sleep.

6. iStudies Pro
This app keeps track of all your deadlines, exams and grades across all your Mac devices; all you need to do is input your schedule into the application.

7. Quizlet
Possibly one of the better known apps for studying, this app allows you to create digital flashcards either on the computer or on your phone. Not only does it save paper, it allows you put down as much information as you want onto the card. It lets you star the cards you don’t remember, print them out in different layouts and it will even read them out loud to you. I used this app throughout almost all of high school and I will definitely use it in college.

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

College Admission

Finding Your Passion

Finding your passionAs high schools students around the country gear up for another year of course requirements and standardized testing, another generation of upperclassmen prepares to weather the soul-sucking college process.

When you’re buried alive under a heaping pile of personal statements, test scores and GPA-talk, it can be easy to lose yourself. Ironically so, actually, considering every college wants to hear about your passion. But when you’re playing the college admittance game, who really has time for passion?

The truth is, no matter how many piano concertos you can perform, no matter how many hours of research you’ve done or how many walls you beautified on your volunteer trip in South America, these numbers mean little if you’re doing it for the sake of the college application.

On the other hand, passion doesn’t come naturally, either. Rather, you have to dig deep and work hard to find out what it is that drives you. An 18-year-old with a defined passion is a rare commodity, and can hardly be expected. Finding your passion takes effort, patience, and most importantly, time.

You won’t find your passion doing everything, but you won’t find it doing nothing. You should be wary of overcompensating for apathy, but you shouldn’t expect you passion to fall into your lap as you vegetate in front of Netflix.

Try new things. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t, but either way you probably won’t feel an unyielding love for it from the get-go. Don’t waste your time, though. Although it’s hard to love anything (or anyone, for that matter) from day one, if you absolutely loathe something, it’s probably not your thing. Cut your losses, move on, and let it fade into a distant memory.

Give it time. You may try a new activity about which you feel generally positive, but not in love with. Stick it out and see where it goes. Passion often grows from an experience— who you meet, what you do, and where you are in life. Allow yourself enough time to nurture this part of yourself.

Don’t stretch yourself too thin. If you’re testing out ten new activities at once, you won’t be able to fall in love with anything. Focus your energy on a few particularly interesting activities, giving yourself the time to learn and enjoy them.

Instead of striving to add new lines to your resume, use your free time to do what you love. You shouldn’t project a well-defined and fully developed passion if you don’t have one. Instead, spend time on yourself, find out what you truly love, and enter college ready to foster a budding interest. And eventually, it may blossom into your true life passion.