Dear High School Seniors, Before Your Last Semester Starts

Dear High School Seniors, Before Your Last Semester Starts

Applying to college is hard. You'll get through it.

Dear Seniors,

I know how you feel because one year ago, I was in the same spot as you.

If you were anything like me, you did not want to talk about your application process, the schools you were applying to, your scores, and wanted to avoid acceptance and rejection letters as much as possible.

While everyone is probably checking their emails or mailboxes to check for their acceptance letters, you’re probably avoiding opening your email or mailbox as much as possible.

I know that the majority of your first semester was spent staring at your common application and supplements- attempting to revise every sentence, proofreading for errors, and making sure your essay fits the word count. After all, every word in this essay determines your future.

Every other student and adult is probably asking you the same questions: where you’re applying, how far you are on apps, what major you’re applying to — and then you’ll hear everything about their application process or their kid’s. And nothing kills your more than that. I personally was not proud of my grades and felt so insecure talking about what my plans were, and equally hated hearing about it.

Applying to a select amount of colleges is definitely stressful, but the worst part is the actual wait. After hitting the submit button, your future is left in the hands of picky and selective people who comprise the decisions committee. After all, they want the best for their school and you don’t know if that is you or not. As you wait, you think about your life at college — wearing college gear, going to the library, the dorms. You even think about how you’re going to announce your college on social media. The wait feels like forever until you receive a letter from a college.

This can go one of two ways:

The more desirable is reading “Congratulations! I am pleased to inform you of your admission at....” The first acceptance letter puts you at ease, knowing that there is a spot for you somewhere.

The other is reading “I regret to inform you...”

I get it. Rejection hurts. Whether it was from your dream school or not, you will still wonder why you were not good enough. Why would you apply to this school if you didn’t think you were good enough? You may feel as if you are less competent compare to those around you who did get into the university you most desired. You may get waitlisted and wonder if it is even worth your time to consider this school.

The environment I grew up in, especially my high school, made me believe that if I did not go to a college that was ranked in the top ten percent of the nation, I was going to be set behind those who did and not be successful. However, in my past few months at university, I have truly learned that your institution will never define you or your capabilities. Regardless of where you go to college, you are the one in control of using your education and applying it in order to build a successful future for yourself. It is all up to you to use your resources and take advantage of opportunities presented to you.

I never in a million years would have thought I would be at Baylor University as a business major. And I will tell you one thing, I do not regret my decision one bit. Of course, there were other schools in my mind and at the time I wish I applied to other schools. Now that I am here, I am happy with my decision because of all the people I have met and the experiences I have been able to be a part of. So many people asked me where Baylor was and so many adults asked me why I didn’t choose to stay at a UC or somewhere local. I never really had an answer but I am glad I was given the opportunity to venture out of my hometown and grow as a person in such little time.

Do not get beat yourself up over one college because going to college is an accomplishment in itself. Enjoy the last moments of high school because I assure you that you will miss it. Wherever you end up, I promise you will be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Shachi Deshmukh

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I'll Gladly Spread Myself Thin In The Name Of Community Service

The real reason it's important to do community service in college.

I sigh as I go through the mental checklist of planning four events in three weeks—organizing multiple vouchers to purchase supplies, signing up collaborating organizations and various performance groups, confirming room bookings and equipment setup, ordering food to be catered, and arranging keynote speeches. The strain of multiple deadlines for the March 2 College Event for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), the Spring Carnival event for Stony Brook DCI, and the UNICEF Unity Talent Show is starting to wear me thin, and I catch myself losing sleep as I try desperately to meet everyone’s expectations.

I sigh again as I realize that maybe, this time I have bitten off more than I can chew. Is all this stress even worth it?

Anyone who has been an e-board member for an undergraduate student organization here at Stony Brook knows the struggle of trying to expand the influence of their organization on a campus widely accredited to academic excellence year-round. A common theme of “I have midterms tonight, sorry, I can’t make it to the event” pervades throughout the spring semester from midway through February, and group collaborations constantly being rescheduled due to the rigor of our academic curriculum is just one of the many challenges that e-board members have to face, alongside balancing our GPAs and maintaining some semblance of a social life.

In my case, being on e-board for three organizations (Treasurer of SB UNICEF Campus Initiative, VP of Community Service for NSCS, and Fundraising Chair for the newly-founded National Society of Leadership and Success-NSLS) comes with a lot of meetings and tasks to complete simultaneously. Countless hours are devoted towards furthering the goals of these various organizations, alongside attempting to balance my upper division biology classes.

In many cases, the burden of these various endeavors is the source of constant tension between myself and my family, as I explain to mom yet again that I have another e-board meeting or event tonight and I’ll be home late.

I worry sometimes that in my efforts to make my mark as an e-board member of the Stony Brook community, I’m drifting away from the only constant I’ve ever known. I worry that every opportunity I lose to interact with my younger siblings is one that I will never get back and that they will grow up without me there to guide them despite living under the same roof as them.

But back to the matter at hand—what’s it all for?

It’s for the people who are afflicted with a disease that UNICEF helps to provide relief for across the globe. It’s for the families that are besieged by poverty and famine that relief organizations such as DCI and Public Health Brigades help to supply with vital funds and materials to help. It’s for the children whose parents are suffering from cancer that Camp Kesem puts its efforts towards during their summer programs.

It’s for the homeless who need them the most that the Muslim Student Organization (MSA) organizes care packages of food, water, and hygienic supplies on their Midnight Run each semester. The value of community service is not the pursuit of self-gratification—rather, it is the understanding that we have the power to make a positive impact in the lives of those who need it.

As I busy myself with the work, I smile. Despite all the stress, it’s absolutely worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Adeel Azim

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Having A Job During College Is A Good Thing, Even If You Don't Need it

Mostly, do it because it's fun.

Even if you don't need to because you can afford college, it is fun to have a campus job. Not only do you gain valuable work experience but you also understand how it feels to be independent while having a job. I do not need to take a job because my parents pay my whole tuition but that doesn't mean I can't help them and myself out.

It is hard for students who can't afford college and the facilities I do not need to think twice about because I am privileged and every day, I'm thankful for that. I recently applied for a campus job in the restaurants UCLA provides to the students and I got it. I haven't started yet but I am really excited to.

A friend of mine asked why I am taking a job if I don't necessarily need the money. Even if I don't need the money, every penny counts to help my parents. Also, equally importantly, I will be able to spend the money I earned without having the guilt of spending my parents' that constantly following me around. I will buy the things that make me happy with the money I earned from my hard work and that will make all the difference.

Having a job in college also makes you understand the expectations of the workplace that you are going to join fulltime after you graduate. Getting a job before that allows you to understand how to understand and navigate workplace culture. Graduating and plunging into the workplace without having an idea of it is going to be overwhelming.

Having a job as a college student allows you to make mistakes and mend them, something you will not be able to do when you get out of college. Right now, as a college student, you have a leeway you will never have in another time period of your life. You are able to make mistakes and learn from them, and there won't be drastic consequences to your mistakes.

Also, getting a job in your college is not hard because you don't necessarily need to have prior work experience, just a friendly demeanor and a willingness to work hard.

Getting a job also looks really good on your resume as employers understand that you are able to handle the college course load and a job simultaneously. It shows how responsible you can be and how well you can manage your time.

Basically, as Sylvia Mathews Burwell says "Job training empowers people to realize their dreams and improve their lives."

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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