An Open Letter To High School Seniors

An Open Letter To High School Seniors

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Dear High School Seniors,

At this point in your life, you have been in school for a little over 12 years. You're probably saying that you're sick of seeing the same people every day and just want to pack up your whole room and head off to college. Well, all I have to say is, slow down. Although you might not realize it now, your memories of high school are going to be some of the best memories of your life. You think that you want to leave and be done with it, but trust me, you're going to take back those words.

It's now the beginning of November. You probably just experienced your last Homecoming of high school and played your last home game of the fall season. This is when you start to realize that your months of high school are ending. You realize that the group of guys or girls that you've run with, defended, played with, and bonded with since a very young age will not be out there on the field with you next year. During your senior night, you probably cry for the first time (or you sob hysterically, like I did) and it finally hits you that this is all coming to an end. You also start to realize that you might never play this sport again.

All I have to tell you is to enjoy every second of your last few moments on these sports teams, and take in the sound of the crowd cheering you on. College sports are exciting and thrilling, but they're a lot more time consuming than high school. You won't appreciate the memories you have made on this team until you see the team playing without you next year.

At this time, you're also probably stressing about college applications. If you stay on top of this and submit everything early, it really won't be stressful. Apply to the places that you can see yourself living and learning for the next four years of your life. Don't listen to your parents telling you to go to their alma mater or your guidance counselor telling you that your dream school might be too far of a stretch. Apply to as many or as few places as you would like. You won't find the perfect school without following your heart, as cheesy as that sounds.

Enjoy every single moment spent with your best friends. I cannot promise you that you will not grow apart when you are hundreds of miles away from each other, but I can promise you that you will never forget them. So, order in an unnecessary amount of pizza to feast on together, watch "High School Musical" (I suggest "High School Musical 3," it will get the waterworks flowing) and have sleepovers instead of going to parties. These next few months are going to fly by, and you're going to wish you had more late-night talks with the people who have been by your side since you were young.

If your parents are like mine, they're probably starting to get nervous and anxious about you leaving them. When they ask you how your day at school was, don't just say, "It was fine." Tell them about that test you think you failed, the disgusting lunch you ate, or about the kid you accidentally tripped in the hallway. They don't just ask you how your day was for no reason. They want to talk to you because they realize that you probably won't call them every day next year (and that kills them). Put the phone down at dinner and have a real conversation with them. You won't realize how much you'll miss them until you're over three hours away from them and you can't just hug mom when you need her.

Before you know it, it will be your turn to walk across the stage and accept your diploma. You'll realize that, for the first time in over 10 years, you'll have to make new friends. Even if you hate high school right now and can't wait to get out, one day you'll realize that you should have appreciated it more. College brings you one step closer to the real world, so stop rushing through your senior year.

Don't get me wrong: College will bring you some of the best years of your life, but appreciate your hometown, friends, and family more than ever right now.

My last words of wisdom: Have fun and enjoy it. You are only in high school once. Appreciate your teachers letting you hand in your homework three weeks late. Be grateful that you know everyone in your grades name, because come next year, you will most likely not know a single soul. Mend the friendship you broke in 8th grade over some stupid boy. Don't worry about what people think about you. If you want to go to school "sweat pants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on," go for it. Talk to the cute boy in the back of your AP calculus class. Take in your last few moments on that field. Go to every school event possible. Laugh a lot. Have fun. Love your senior class and take in every single moment.

Sincerely,

A College Student

Cover Image Credit: Teen

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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I Asked Phi Theta Kappans For Their Favorite Membership Benefits And These Were The Top 19

Leadership, scholarship, service and fellowship are the hallmarks of Phi Theta Kappa, but there's so much more.

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Phi Theta Kappa is the international honor society of two-year colleges. I could go on about the benefits I've gained from being a member, but why take just one person's word?

I decided to ask other Phi Theta Kappans for their favorite membership benefits — and let me tell you, if the responses don't make you want to become involved in Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), I don't know what will.

Here are the top 19 PTK membership benefits according to PTK members themselves!

1. Everyone is welcome

Alexis Kornacki

"It's a breath of fresh air — Quirky is our right of passage." — Dante Flewelling

"A feeling of belonging. The welcome is beautiful and honest!" — Dante Flewelling

"[The] sense of community" — Tamara Miles

2. Fellowship

Dr. Mitch Stimers

"I joined for the fellowship of successful friends and advisors — this is my motivation." — Serena Clarkson

3. Scholarships

Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society

"The abundance of scholarships." — Zachary Stites

"As a parent, the scholarships were fantastic!" — Norman and Suzanna Session

"Rewards for hard work." — Kristen Crane

"Scholarships are opportunities that have opened limitless doors for me to access education." — Héber Bibang

4. Resume enhancement

Alpha Zeta Kappa Chapter

"You get skills from 5-star Competitive Edge to help you in life as well as in school." — Breanna Hobbick

5. Service

Evea Morrow

"Leadership and community service opportunities are by far the most rewarding parts of being in PTK." — Sarah Elizabeth Vargas

6. Opportunity

Dr. Mitch Stimers

"Opportunity is one of the greatest benefits Phi Theta Kappa provides for its members." — Jason Hanson

"It's a great opportunity for people to join and be able to experience the opportunities available when joining PTK." — Breanna Hobbick

"New opportunities that can come towards one's way that are unimaginable." — Peggy Wunderlich

7. Support

Tammy Johnson Fuentez

"The people who you meet throughout your time in PTK become family and we support each other." — Breanna Hobbick

"[There's] strength of combined talents." — Tamara Miles

8. New adventures

Chey Huston-McCrea

"With PTK you are able to broaden your knowledge and experience new adventures." — Breanna Hobbick

9. Friends

Alexis Kornacki

"Everyone who is in it wants to strive for success and make a difference." — Zachary Stites

"I'd definitely say the friendships formed and connections made. About two weeks ago I was laid off from my job that I've worked four years at because they are temporarily out of business. In that time, my PTK advisor helped spread my name around campus and she actively helped me look for a new job. If that's not friendship, then what is?" — Kaitlyn Drollinger

"[One of] the great rewards I have enjoyed from PTK is the diverse friendship community one makes." — Héber Bibang

10. Family

JaelAnn Hoover

"The family you create when you join." — Zachary Stites

"Inheriting an extended family who supports one another to succeed." — Peggy Wunderlich

"The people who you meet throughout your time in PTK become family and we support each other." — Breanna Hobbick

"The bond with my fellow Phi Theta Kappans forms a family." — Nicole Day

11. Leadership

Tammy Johnson Fuentez

"For me, the opportunity to serve as an officer on different levels is what makes PTK stand out. While the society needs officers at regional and international levels, it also needs the individual chapters to be successful to stay strong.

"By serving as a chapter officer, I was able to serve my chapter and feel like a welcomed member of the family even though I only serve on the local level." — Jared Homishak

12. Networking

Tammy Johnson Fuentez

"Networking opportunities." — Peggy Wunderlich

"Social connectivity of like-minded people." — Dante Flewelling

"I feel like PTK, in a sense, has to do with networking." — Jacob Head

13. Travel

Rebekah Morris

"Don't forget about traveling opportunities: visiting new places or places you haven't seen in years is amazing!" — Jared Homishak

14. Discounts

Caitlin Haddan

"My Bank of America debit and credit card discounts on purchases and cash back on purchases like Starbucks. They also donate 1% of your purchase back to PTK!" — Lesa Gibbs McCanick

Check out this page for other discounts that PTK members receive!

15. Advisors

Tammy Johnson Fuentez

"[One of] the great rewards I have enjoyed from PTK are our supportive advisors." — Héber Bibang

16. Self-discovery

Amanda Karpinski

"PTK is a platform that helps you discover what's inside of you. The process it takes to get to this goal shapes you to become a better and a positive individual." — OB Demian

17. Honesty

Evea Morrow

"Just to be a more transparent world that is seeking more truth from all people. That is what a good civic organization does." — Mike Ceranic

18. Respect

Lynn Tincher-Ladner

"There's a lot of love and respect for one another in this organization." — Nicole Day

19. The experience as a whole

Alpha Sigma Zeta Chapter

"I would say the experience as a whole. I made new friends, traveled to new places and learned how to be a leader. I may not have applied for as many scholarships as others would, but I've learned a lot and still am." — Jacob Head

Even if you don't meet the GPA requirements or aren't a college student, you can still become involved in PTK. Find a chapter near you and ask how you can become involved!

Note: responses have been edited for length/clarity.

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