Monday, February 6, 2017

How to Choose Classes in High School: Rigor & Overloading

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When wondering what classes you should take in High School, you have to consider how hard all your classes are going to be. As important as grades are for college admissions, the difficulty of your course load is important as well.

According to NACAC’s (National Association for College Admission Counseling) annual State of College Admissions report, strength of curriculum, or how challenging a student’s course load is, is the second most important factor that colleges consider when evaluating applicants, behind grades in college prep courses.

I’ve put together 5 tips to remember when choosing classes. They are:
1.     Consider Rigor
2.     Shoot for What You Want
3.     Don’t Overload!
4.     Take Elective Classes That Interest You
5.     Don’t forget About Your Core Classes

When considering whether to take AP or Honors courses or just regular courses, it is important to remember what colleges and universities want to see. A rigorous course load speaks volumes about your character, including time management, study habits and more! Let me explain what I mean by rigor. Rigor in this case mean that that courses move at a certain, normally fast, pace. It may be how many assignments are due during the semester or it could be whether it prepares you for an AP test. Colleges like to see that you have challenged yourself in High School because that means that you are more prepared for a college course load. In your Freshman and Sophomore year make sure you are on track with your foreign language and setting yourself up for success in harder English, Math and Science courses your Junior and Senior year.

I totally understand that debate that happens when choosing classes: Do I sacrifice my GPA for harder Honors and AP classes? Or do I keep my GPA high by taking easier classes? I little tip from me to you, an ‘A’ in a regular class looks better than a ‘B’ in an Honors/AP class. I know it’s a little backwards, but it’s true!

Another tip is that you should definitely consider who the teacher is and the type of students that will be in the class with you. If you have a lazy or infamous teacher, then you may not learn or do that well in the class. If you have a lazy or disruptive group of fellow students in the class, then you may not pay attention and learn or you may even start to misbehave as well. But, the opposite is true as well! If you have a difficult but passionate teacher or a hardworking and dedicated group of fellow students, then you may have a better chance of succeeding and doing well in the class!

You have all the tools you need to successfully choose classes in High School! You got this!

One thing that I took away from High School is NOT to overload your classes! It is super easy to burn out on AP and Honors classes and then fall into Senioritis early. By overloading yourself, a lot of students don’t perform as well as they would have liked to, thus possibly feel that the classes that interest them, isn’t actually the direction they should go in. That’s just not true! You didn’t set yourself up for success. Learn from your mistake this semester and make a better decision next time, possibly only taking 1 Honors or AP class instead of 3…

When it comes to AP classes, another thing you guys should know is most college admissions committees will only consider a maximum 5 AP subjects, when reviewing your application.

Make sure you branch out and take elective classes that interest you as well. Colleges like well-rounded students and they like to see that you have branched out and challenged yourself. Just because you are a math and science person preparing yourself for an Engineering Degree, you can take electives that interest you, like photography, language or dance. I was in ASB for 3 years in high school and it taught me some great skills. I learned about organization in event planning and leadership when planning functions either on or off campus.

As important as creating a well-rounded, interesting student out of yourself, it is so crucial to focus on your Core Classes! Maintain your GPA by working hard and putting in the time necessary to be successful in your core classes. There is a reason you have to take Algebra, Chemistry and Language/Literature. These core subjects are some of the basics for you to build off for future High School Classes and especially College Courses. Sometimes when you are over-involved in sports, extra circulars, and fun elective classes, some of your core classes may take a backseat. Remember to keep your priorities in line! You may not even be able to play on your team if your GPA starts to slip. Keep focusing on your core classes and keeping your grades up and you’ll be eligible for all of your extras!

I know High School feels a little early to be figuring out what you want to be “when you grow up”. But your passions make themselves apparent when your taking classes. You may feel that Math and Science are your strong suit, so maybe Engineering or Pre-Med is your pathway. It would make sense to continue to take Honors and AP Math and Science courses in High School, instead of loading up on Literature, History and Language courses.

On the flip side, if English and Writing is what you are passionate about, there are careers out there for you too! Stick with your passions, continue to shoot for what you want, not what others think is the right path for you. You know what will make you happy and feel fulfilled, or stressed and angry. Make the right choice for you!

To go along with that, think about the things that make you happy. Do you like helping others? Do you like children or teaching others? Do you like animals? Do you like sports? Let those passions guide you! If you like helping others, maybe you could do volunteer work and look into counseling or foundation work. If you like children or teaching, maybe you could volunteer at a local elementary school and look into being a teacher. If you like animals, maybe you could volunteer at a vet’s office or shelter and look into being a vet. If you like sports, you could volunteer for the local little league or pop warner and look into maybe being a coach or an athletic trainer. You have so  many options!

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of what kind of classes you should be taking in High School. See you all soon!

Social Media and our smartphones

Social Media
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Hello everyone! If you don’t know I’m Courtney and today’s blog is about our relationship with our phones and social media.

Today’s world is a global village. Think about it, everyone is connected to one another in this huge network generated by the internet. Social media has provided this platform for us to talk to people and access information from countries away and sometimes it’s difficult for us to turn it off. Our parents have sometimes vilified our phones, staying it makes us like zombies: so disconnected and zoned out. Sometimes, I agree, most of the time, I don’t. This is just the way it is. So let’s figure out a way to use it safely. When I say safely, I mean for our physical and mental health.
1.     Always remember to consider the source when you see or read something on the internet or on social media. Yes, buzz feed and chive articles are interesting and relevant, but you shouldn’t be citing them for papers or sources.
2.     That also goes for social media conversations. There are a lot of trolls out there. Don’t take things personally that you see on the internet. Anonymity has made us too bold, disrespectful and incredibly un-empathetic of each other’s feelings. Remember that the next time you are about to post something or if you see something posted about you.
3.     At one point before bed, put your phone on silent and put it away in a drawer or something. We need to be able to relax in order to fall asleep and there were so many times my phone has prevented me from relaxing and kept me up for hours so I couldn’t fall asleep. We need sleep! Turn your phone on silent and put it away.
4.     In a similar sense, we need to consider our phones and social media in the battle of time management. I can’t tell you how many times, homework or studying took a backseat because I was too involved in Instagram or the new Snapchat filters or I lost myself down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest…. The hours spent, that could have been much better spent doing productive things, whether those be studying or chores. Learning how to manage your time, takes time J! So be patient and set yourself little goals like “If I finish my math homework and English essay, then I can lose myself in Pinterest for an hour before going to bed!... After I place it on silent and in a drawer…”

I hope this gives a little insight to creating a better relationship with your phone and social media! See ya next time!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Survey Winner Announced!!

The Winner of the Name The Blog Contest is...........

(Nora Ward... y'all)

Thank you so much to everyone who completed the survey! We received some awesome suggestions, so great job to everyone who helped!

Monday, October 10, 2016


Hello Everyone! Please fill out our survey to Name This Blog! The contest closes on October 25 and the winner will be announced November 1. The winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card!
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YouTube Video Link:
Thanks again and don't forget to have fun and be creative!

Middle VS High School

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Welcome to High School! Middle school was a great time with a lot of support and less responsibility. Now that you’re in High School, in a brand new environment, there are some important lessons to consider. I will be briefly going over the following topics:

·      Larger campus
·      Larger student body
·      Increased peer pressure
·      Non-existent support
·      Larger workload
·      Oldest to Youngest
·      Class choices
·      Decreased Parent involvement
·      Grades count
·      Sports!
·      More teachers

I found that in High School my counselor didn’t have time to advise me at all. She had too many students to help and for the most part, her time was taken up by misbehaving or failing students. She had no time for successful students who just needed assistance in choosing classes that could benefit me and my acceptance into a college of my choice and because of that lack of direction, my path through High School was jumbled and confusing.

It is tough to balance all of your classes plus sports, yearbook or ASB, music and art. For the first time, you are expected to be responsible and independent in regards to your schooling.

In middle school, there was more interaction between you and your few teachers and now that you’re in high school there is a lot less one-on-one interaction between you and your many teachers. Someone who might not be ready for all of the independence of high school can fall through the cracks!

Don’t let that happen to you! According to Weber, more kids fail 9th grade than any other grade. In middle school, you had a lot less choices for classes, they are pretty much pre-assigned based on what grade you are in. You don’t have a choice to play for a sports team and grades don’t count all that much. Now that you are in high school, all of that is different! There are new stresses new environments, schedules, expectations, teachers and classmates.

 You are expected to choose classes and electives that will work for you, but you have to keep in mind sports and other extracurricular activities. In addition to added stresses of balancing your schedule and time, grades matter! Getting good grades in 9th grade is crucial! You don’t have to take AP or Honors courses, just make sure your GPA is high, setting you up for success when you take harder classes later.

Now that sports and being part of a team are an option for class time or after school, balancing school and athletics can be a challenge. However, being a part of a team or involved in school spirit provides an aspect of social interaction that can give you a new identity! Making a new identity through school spirit can ease the transition into high school a little less painful.

Another difference between high school and middle school is the increase in peer pressure. Peer pressure doesn’t just have to be about alcohol and drugs; it can be about your clothing, your eating habits, cheating in class, and many more. My best advice is to use your parents as a resource.

Unfortunately, it is common for parent involvement to decrease after you get into High School. Parents may think that because you are older and “responsible High School students” that you don’t need their advice, support or assistance anymore. That is not true!  They can support you in regards to your class schedule, sports teams, friends or peer pressure. Parental involvement is a major factor in your success, so let them help you! Considering the lack of assistance from counselors, you need someone in your corner willing to support you in whatever way you need. Let that be your parents!

I hope I have highlighted to main differences between middle and high school and by shining a light on the challenges, you may be more prepared to face them! Our next blog will be about more in depth ways to maintain balance and study efficiently. Rock on!