Dear FAFSA, Please Do Better

Dear FAFSA, Please Do Better

Please understand that not all families are exactly the same.
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Did you know that fewer than half of children in the U.S. live in “traditional” nuclear families? If you work for the FAFSA, then that answer is no.

If you are a college student, you know the pains of filing for financial aid every. single. year. I just recently had to fill out my FAFSA again for next school year, and it was not a pretty experience.

Let’s start with the fact that my mom passed away this past summer. It’s very hard to be required to think of this in financial terms, but the FAFSA makes you do this. I had to file as an “independent” student this year. This means that I would not be required to provide parental information. But I was not approved, therefore delaying and possibly eliminating my financial aid I need for school.

This is because the FAFSA does not understand the concept of having anything other than a “normal” mother-father-child family.

They assume every single college student has this type of family. On the FAFSA you can only put your mother or father as your provider, so other caretakers such as grandparents or stepparents do not count. This makes it almost impossible to understand how to fill it out if you don’t fit in this category.

Just because my family does not qualify as this, I am being punished by having my financial aid unapproved.

Also, the people of FAFSA think parents' entire income goes straight toward their children’s college fund as if they don’t have bills to pay, food to buy, or health problems to take care of. They also ignore the fact that some parents are uninvolved in their child’s life and therefore do not even help them pay for their college. Many students I know struggle to pay for college on their own and owe thousands of dollars in loans because of this.

So FAFSA, please get it together. Please understand not all families are exactly the same. Is this really too much to ask for?
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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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How I Escaped My Hoarding Tendencies

I was once a hoarder.

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Up until my third year of college, I kept everything. I had notes, homework, and tests from all of my classes starting in kindergarten, all the way until my college years. My walls were filled with photos, art, birthday and thank-you cards, plane and movie tickets, receipts, and even interesting shopping bags I'd collected over the years. Drawers were stuffed with random pieces of toys with which I felt strong emotional connections. I still kept clothes from elementary school that I certainly could not wear anymore, but for some reason felt that I needed to keep.

Despite being a hoarder, I was still quite organized. My room, usually messy, was relatively well-organized. However, during college, something for me changed. I was suddenly annoyed with all of the things I had kept over the years, and wanted a clean slate. I tore everything down from my walls, pulled out all the clothes in my closet, and decided to start over.

This whole adventure of me decluttering my room took three full days, dozens of trash bags full of items to donate, and so much excess emotional garbage. When I was finally finished, I felt so much emotional relief. While I really enjoyed sifting through every piece of paper that I had written, every exam I had taken, every toy and card that had been gifted to me, and all the clothes that no longer fit me, I was happy to finally be finished. My head hurt from the nostalgia, but I slept incredibly well that night.

Since then, I've learned how to live on a minimal amount of stuff. My room is usually tidy and I've found cleaning and organizing to be addicting and cathartic. I now keep only things with which I have strong emotional connections, like the bracelet my now-deceased grandmother gave me and the farewell letters written by my friends before I moved away for graduate school.

With fewer concrete memorabilia stowed away, I can cherish the memories that mean the most to me and focus on identifying the memories happening in the present that I want to remember forever.

Tidying up also helped me achieve a lot of my career goals in life. I don't think this success would have been possible if I had been disorganized and distracted by the past that cluttered my room.

With all of that said, I still have a long ways to go in terms of tidying my life. My work life is definitely not as organized as my home life. My desk and computer files are not organized in the best way, but I hope to implement my personal life philosophy into my work life in the future. My social and familial life are also quite disorganized. After moving to a new city, I found the initial socializing to be overwhelming and struggled to prioritize the people I wanted to spend time with. However, I am slowly working to improve this balance of my social and familial life.

While I am still on this journey, I wanted to share the impact that decluttering has had on my so far and hope that this would inspire you to identify things you can declutter in your own life.

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