A Letter To The Graduating High School Seniors

A Letter To The Graduating High School Seniors

A letter of the things I wish I knew before I began college.

Dear Graduating High School Seniors,

After you walk across that stage in May and proudly receive your diploma, your life begins to change. You will probably experience the best and saddest summer of your existence as it all comes to a close.

There are a few pieces of advice I want to give to the incoming freshmen next year that I wish was shared with me before my first semester.

The first is to consider another's perspective. Looking at life from one view will create a closed, negative mindset that will lead them to no growth as a person. There are always two sides to every story, and spreading hate by glancing at the surface (and not what’s inside) is the worst thing someone can do. We are all in a new environment trying to survive together.

Talking negatively about others will not show who they are, but rather show the true character of yourself. Enter college bringing people up. When we live in a world that tears others down, be ready to be there to pick them up and help them move on. Take the time to get to know someone, because you will never know if you will become their person in this world. Quite possibly, they could become your person too.

Turn to others in times of need. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you cannot do this all on your own. Go see your professor when you need help, go call your parents when you’re stressed past your limits, and go to your friends when you need someone to hold. This world was never made to be conquered alone. There will be times where you don't want to admit you’re struggling, but I can assure you that it's alright to be open. They will understand sharing the pressures of this world. Don't be afraid that you’re all alone, because you’re not.

The best piece of advice I could give to you future college students is that things will get better. Putting so much pressure on yourself in the moment will be the way things simply are. I just want to remind you that, in the future years, the one quiz you didn't do so well on? It will mean nothing as long as you never stop applying yourself and working for your goals.

I can almost promise to you that those little things that made you stressed, or cry, will be a minor detail in your constantly changing life.

Set the highest goals you can. Look far into the future and the life you want to live, because it will motivate you to keep moving forward. College isn’t easy. There will be times you want to just give up and declare that it’s not worth it, but it is. This is the time where you discover who you are and what kind of life you want to live. Push yourself to be a better person than you were the day before. Walk out after these four years being able to say, “I made a difference."

You don’t have to change the world, but changing one’s life could change the world for them.

There is so much I wish I could tell you, but I'm still figuring it all out myself too. There is not a set path, and I still have the many years ahead of me to find my own. These next four years are a time for you to figure out the person you want to be. You direct that path you want to take.

Try out for different sports, sing your lungs out at the open mic night, make new friends, and do your best everyday. The time you spend here is actually the fastest four years of your life. It might not seem like it, but cherish every moment you can, because in the end, there are no second chances. Take them all now, and college will be the greatest time of your life.


Someone Who Has Been Through It

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I'm An Art Major, But I Hate My Art

It's a little harder than macaroni necklaces now.

I walk up to pin my homework on the drawing studio wall. As I fumble with the push pin while my fellow students scramble around me trying to find space for their own work, I notice the sheer amount of push pin holes in this wall. I wonder exactly how many students have put their work up in this room, whether they worked tirelessly all week on the piece or just put it together 45 minutes before class.

I wonder if they’ve felt the same as I do, unsatisfied with this week's work and hoping for better results next time.

I roll my eyes at myself for getting distracted and squeeze my piece in between two amazing drawings from my fellow classmates. I already see flaws I should’ve covered up in my piece. God, I think, the professor’s not going to be happy with me. Everyone else in this class is so great at what they do. I hoped for at least one person to be worse than me this week, but I’ve never felt like more of an amateur in my life.

There is a difference in hating your work or feeling like an amateur as a fine arts major rather than a math or science major. If you mess up an equation or experiment, the answer you wrote is wrong. There is no arguing over it, you just need to try again or get a point off your test.

In an art class, there is no "wrong," but there is "bad," and it is so easy to be bad.

Being told that you are incorrect is very different than having an awkward 20 seconds of “ehhh” while your professor tries to pick out something they can comment on without completely tearing the assignment to shreds. I’ve often said I’m an art major because I can’t do anything else, and while that is a (slight) exaggeration, feeling that your work is unsatisfactory in a creative field makes you feel like, for lack of better term, a total loser.

Even so, I believe that if you are the smartest person in the room, you should leave that room as fast as you can. The last thing I want to be is the best in the class because then I don’t have room to learn. I am in college to get a degree, but I am also here to learn and get better at my craft, and without struggling I would just be bored. Because of that, I am thankful for being upset with myself. I see too many fine arts majors think they are too good for critiques, and I never want to be like that.

I have so far to go, and I couldn’t be happier.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Dual-Enrollment Is WAY Better Than Taking Those AP Courses, For Several Reasons

Because colleges won't always accept your AP credits.

In high school, you probably had the option to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses — which are basically considered "college-level" courses. The hope is, if you pass your AP exam (with a certain score) at the end of the school year, you will not have to take that same class in college (i.e. AP English is equivalent to an English Composition course). Students tend to seem more marketable if they take AP classes in high school — sometimes multiple at a time. Honestly, it's not worth it and here's why.

I visited 22 colleges. Twenty-two. I was on a hunt for the perfect nursing program. During my junior year of high school, I wasn't doing well in a course, so my guidance counselor suggested dropping the course and enrolling in a local, community college course (this is called "dual enrollment"). I was VERY hesitant at first. I liked my friends in the class and didn't know how I felt about taking the course at a college. What if I didn't have a good professor? What if I hated the class? What if I didn't pass? Will I seem like a loser if I drop out of our class?

I gave it some thought and ended up dropping the course (which I was failing) and signed up for the community college class over the summer. It was about a twenty-minute commute, two days a week for three hours a day (sounds awful but it wasn't at all) over the summer.

The community-college class far exceeded my expectations. I loved it! The introductory course had a research component and required a research paper. The class surprised me because,

1. I ended up falling in love with the course and college,

2. I loved my professor (who wrote me a letter of recommendation), and

3. I earned an A and it boosted my GPA!

When colleges re-calculate your GPA during the admissions process, they count other college credits to be (usually) higher than any AP credit.

Here are some more MAJOR benefits to choosing dual-enrollment in high school:

1. You get the fundamentals of college down

You get an idea of how college works and what to expect after graduating high school. Dual enrollment tremendously prepares you for a four-year college.

2. You know which credits will be accepted by four-year colleges

Every college website has a transfer credit section. There's usually a link (on the institution's website) where you can type in the college you want to transfer credits to and it will give you a precise list of what WILL be accepted to the other institution. Many colleges claim they "may accept AP credits," but there's no guarantee. I saw so many friends of mine become infuriated when their college didn't accept the AP credits they promised they would. Every credit I took at the community college was accepted to my current university.

3. Better school schedule

You usually have a time-block in your high school schedule where you can leave high school during the day to go to the college to attend class or go to the library to study.

4. You get the basic classes out of the way

You don't have to take the basics everyone else takes freshman year of college (i.e. English composition I and II, intro to biology/chemistry/physics/communications, etc.). You can jump right into more upper-level courses (and potentially graduate early).

5. It will likely cost less than what you'll pay at a four-year institution

I've noticed course fees are MUCH less at community college. Also, many four-year colleges allow you to take up to 18 credits per semester (i.e. six, three-credit courses) but they still charge you for the maximum number of credits you can possibly take. Therefore, if you aren't taking all six classes...you're getting ripped off.

6. Nearly all college courses are one semester

AP classes are two semesters and often meet every day. Why overwork yourself for an entire year to POSSIBLY get AP credit?

7. College is structured better

You know your schedule from day one of class. I've never seen any AP teacher have a syllabus ready on the first day of class.

8. Your classes double-dip!

You're getting credit in both high school AND college for every course.

The only downfall to taking the college class was that I needed to pay for the course out-of-pocket. However, MANY community colleges have different financial aid for students. For example, the community college I attended gave any person of color a free college course if they were considered to be living in poverty (household income of around $30k or less per year). If you were adopted through the Department of Social Services or are Native American, you were also eligible for a tuition waiver. There are so many resources — you just need to do some research.

Cover Image Credit: 123rf

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