To Incoming Freshmen From A Rising Junior: You Are Not Special

To Incoming Freshmen From A Rising Junior: You Are Not Special

The assumption we are special is our first mistake.
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As my final weeks of my junior year of college slowly conclude, I cannot stop but wonder how I got here. How did I push through all these years of school? Who should I thank? As a senior in high school, college seemed to be this awesome thing where you can have a great time and still get an education without being in the shadows of your parents all the time. It seemed liberating almost. It seemed like I would finally get a chance at the world. I would make new friends while still keeping the ones I had from high school in my memory.

I saw college as this thing which was given, not which was achieved. As I was finishing up high school, my guidance counselor was famous for constantly telling us seniors what to do and how to do it regarding applying for schools. It almost seemed like we didn't have a choice. I mean...we did. It just seemed like we would be without opportunity if we didn't apply. I had friends applying to colleges left and right, almost bragging about how many they applied for, making it seem like that had some type of correlation with intellect. Those who got into their school with a full ride were praised, honored, and even had huge celebrations. Graduation parties would only tenfold that sensation. It seemed all like a very welcoming departure of our comfort zone. As nervous as I was of heading to my school of choice, I was still excited.

It has almost been four years now, and I cannot help but notice the common ground all of us college students have now. We now find ourselves burying our heads with books, pulling all-nighters, and leading sometimes reclusive life styles. School has overwhelmed us at this point, and it almost makes the whole celebration thing a little naïve. Now we are approaching our endgame, our conclusion of our education ( for most people). Now we have to start worrying about what lays ahead of us. Now we need to start worrying about somehow making all of this time seem like it was worthwhile in the end. We suddenly have this epiphany of "Wait, college was suppose to be fun and special...why the fuck can't I find a job that aligns with my education?" We tend to, as students, not really think about the possible consequences of not getting our way. When things go wrong, we might freak out. High school does not train us for that. High school prepared us for the biggest assumption in our education; we are something special.

The truth is, we students aren't special at all. We are not some fire burning in a dark tunnel. We are the leaves in the tunnel that nobody really pays attention to unless they makes a noise. We are constantly told that we are somehow special for making the choice of getting a higher education, and high schools love sitting on their pedestals of students who pursue higher education. The thing many of those high schools refrain from disclosing is the percentage of students that actually follow through with their endeavours. Cool. 90 percent of your graduating classes graduate. Now what percentage out of that succeed in college? I am sure it is well below the aforementioned percentage.

Now I know this is a huge depressing idea that I am sure many high school/college students might be reading, but it needs to be said. When we see someone whose gone through his or her education and cannot find a job, their student loans constantly robbing their pockets, what comes to mind? Do you view the individual as being cheated by the system and given the short end of the stick? Or do you see someone who is to blame for their own failures? Often times it is a mix of both, but the reality is no one is given anything in life. Not money, not a house, not a car, and most certainly not an education. I believe that is what should be taught in our high schools in this day and age of high competition. We should be taught that our dreams are not confirmed at the sight of college, but by pushing through to the finish line and coming out on top. How that is done is up to the individual. If there was one way to put this whole article into a phrase, it would be this.

Siphoning every high school student through the same college worm hole telling them "College is the only way to go!" and assuming good will come of that is ethicaly wrong, and a detriment to the coming generation of educators.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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It's Time For You High Schoolers To Invest Your Time Into Your Careers

It may seem too early to specialize, but there will be a point where it's too late.

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If you're in high school, odds are you're approached by friends, family and more family about your plans after. For many of us, this can mean college. From convincing a college to admit you to convincing them to foot your entire tuition bill, you need to be marketable.

You should start with writing out your resume. Write it specifically oriented towards your career path. My resume, for example, is music themed. If you are anything like younger me, you might have a couple things that fit. I had marching band, concert band, honor band. But the majority might be things you signed up for to round yourself out.

A candidate too well rounded is directionless.

My participation in science club was fun, I will admit. But it didn't do much for me. It didn't teach me leadership, nor cooperation nor did it help with my career path.

High school is a lot more limited a time to both express and market yourself than you might think. Before I knew it, I was sitting in my junior year without much to my musical name.

If you have an extra curricular that you participate in because you enjoy it, you don't have to drop it. If you have developed as a person or as a leader, then it might even be something you can include in your list.

I just want to caution people from getting into the same situation I was in. I spent the first three years essentially of high school to feel out different areas, and this was too much time.

Productive uses of your after school time should be things you talk about when you say what sets you apart from other students in your field. And yes, this means you have to utilize tools outside of your school offerings most of the time.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing my participation in Atlanta CV (professional drum corps in DCA), high school marching band and marching band leadership, MAYWE (Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, an auditioned honor band), GYSO (Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra), AYWS (Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony), Youth Bands of Atlanta, county honor band, jazz band, twice state applicant for Governor's Honors Program Music, JanFest music at UGA, the Academy of Science, Research and Medicine (Biotechnology certification and science fair), math bowl and HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

When I go to apply for college and for musical internships, I plan on listing the most relevant activities as well as the ones I've chosen to regardless stick with. Relevant activities in regard to my music major include honor ensembles and marching activities.

My most applicable activities for music include marching bands. I am a contracted baritone marcher of Atlanta CV Drum and Bugle Corps as well as trombone marcher and two year Trombone/Baritone Section Leader for the Pride of Paulding marching band. These show relevancy because these organizations provide rapport as well as the marching activity in itself shows another level of musical capability.

My honor ensembles are relevant likewise because they show higher musical skill and provide some legitimacy to your path. I have been involved in Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, county honor band, jazz band and I was also a Two-Time State Applicant to the Governor's Honors Program.

I plan to also be with the Symphony of the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Youth Wind Ensemble, Youth Bands of Atlanta and JanFest at UGA. Auditions are coming up for each of these and I hope to be considered for membership. These would round out my music application by showing versatility (via orchestra along with wind ensembles) and more time dedication. Both universities and employers value this level of hard work.

Of course, even I on my soapbox have some activities I've stuck with despite it not being directly related to music. Despite this, you can make them relevant by touting your experience with it. I've been an officer and competitor for our chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals despite not going into healthcare and I've been certified in Biotechnology through my school The Academy of Science, Research and Medicine despite not going into STEM.

My experiences in biotechnology and healthcare have provided me a round academic experience, more high rigor classes and leadership opportunities. I was co-treasurer of our HOSA chapter and my Magnet school gave me access to more AP classes and the biotechnology classes. Anything can be useful, but the extent is determined by its relevancy.

The vast majority of my activities are both outside of the school and directly related to my career path. Activities such as these can make any student automatically more competitive than an equally academically-standing student.

Finding these activities involve a combination of involving teachers and mentors in your career field as well as self research. Luckily for me, I was able to fairly quickly compile a list of Honor Bands to audition for due to the abundance in the area. My directors also named a few. Most areas should have something at least tangentially-related to your specialization.

Some opportunities require knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. For example, my involvement in one of my most valuable activity assets, Atlanta CV, was a result of knowing a guy that knew a guy that knew about an opening for the right instrument halfway through spring training.

What I hope readers gain from my story is to start early. I've found myself struggling to meet the market's standards in the last year of high school immediately before applying for college. Specializing would have been more effective a tad bit longer term and I hope others take my heed.

Moving on from high school can be an intimidating process. It's hard to find the right college, and even harder to convince them they want you. Harder still is convincing them to pay for your education. But all this can be made easier by specializing and becoming marketable.

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