44 Reasons To Finish The Semester Strong

44 Reasons To Finish The Semester Strong

Because, yes, it is that point of the semester.

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It's the part of the semester when pencils are missing, notebooks are worn out, and students just need breaks. It is the part where break seems so close, yet the list of things to accomplish before break seems never ending. But fear not, the end is in sight and it is important to keep your eyes on the prize. Here is a list of my top 44 reasons to finish the semester off strong.

1. Christmas... duh 

2. Family time

3. Break is so so so soon

4. The "heck yeah I did that" feeling

5. It will in fact in end, soon

6. Thanksgiving obviously comes first

7. ... so lots of yummy food

8. Black Friday

9. Homecomings

10. Meeting up with your high school besties

11. The appetizers before Thanksgiving dinner... the best part

12. Snow

13. Sledding

14. Vacation

15. Puppies.. in the snow

16. Puppies.. just in general.. they exist and that is enough

17. New Year's Eve

18. All of the cute holiday outfits

19. ANNND all of the yummy holiday food

20. The cringey let amazing Lifetime Christmas movies

21. ... That you watch all day

22. Getting snowed in

23. Hot chocolate

24. Warm clothes

25. Sweaters, sweaters, and more sweaters

26. Skiing and snowboarding

27. All of those home cooked meals

28. Finding the perfect presents

29. Or making the cutest DIY presents from the heart 

30. Decorating for the holidays

31. Picking out the perfect Christmas tree

32. Making gingerbread houses

33. Making Christmas cookies in the comfort of you own kitchen

34. All the Christmas lights

35. ... and just decorating in general 

36. The stores look so pretty at Christmas time

37. NYC Christmas time trips

38. Secret Santa

39. The REAL Santa

40. Making Christmas cards

41. ... And looking at all of the Christmas cards from relatives you haven't seen in a while

42. Ice skating.. for the ones coordinated enough 

43. Christmas music.. that is all 

44. You got this

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To My Little Sister, As She's Choosing A College To Call Home

There is no right answer, but the one that aligns closely with your heart. There's no secret to choosing. It's all just you. Believe in your choice.

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Recently, my little sister has been applying to colleges. It's hard not to put my two cents in on the place I envision where her next four years would be. I know though that ultimately the decision is one that she must make for herself because, in the end, the experience is all her own. So to my sister choosing a college, this one is for you.

Dear Sis,

I envy the position you're in right now. You quite literally have the world at your fingertips and the ability to choose your destination of happiness for the next four years.

College isn't like high school. You see, high school wasn't a choice. It was part of the plan that came with where you lived and so are the people that go there with you. College is so much different. You are gifted with the presence of so many different individuals from many different cities, states and sometimes even countries. They all made a choice like you. One different from high school. One that allowed them the freedom to be where they are.

Four years in college is like a really long movie. There are ups and downs and definitely some climaxes, but even though the movie says it's going to be long, once you get to the end you can't help but want to replay.

Find a college that's worth the replay.

Find a place that speaks to who you are and who you eventually want to become. In four years, your entire life will change. You will realize your self-worth. The worth that no high school boy or award could give you.

You will make meaningful friendships that aren't strengthened by rumors and drama, but by support and adventure. You will seek to travel. You will find comfort in being alone to find yourself. You will find comfort being with others that will help you find you. College is like a growth spurt on steroids. You change so much in four years you have to wonder why it took so long to learn everything you knew before.

As a senior in college now, I only hope you find what I did. A place that I love that loves me back. I hope you find somewhere that gives meaning to the life you live now and your future aspirations. I hope you find somewhere with the best library to study for the hard exams. I hope you meet the friends that you deserve to have.

I found that all in a place I call home. Home is where your heart lies. It's not where I went or where you think you need to be. Home is where the comfort of leaving a life you knew seems easier because you know you will be in a place for YOU.

After four years, I can't help but cry. Not because I had a bad experience, but because I fell in love with a place that I got to choose. I fell in love with life as I hope you do too. The world is at your fingertips and I hope you make the next four years a world worth being part of and just remember home isn't about the house you grow up in. Home is about the love and laughter that bind people together.

We will always share one home already, but now it's time you choose a home for yourself.

I found mine. I know you will find yours. Don't sweat it.

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Having A Learning Disability Doesn't Make You Different

We all learn in different and unique ways that make us who we are.

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Having a learning disability does not make you any less than students who don't have one. It does not define you, but it shows how strong of a person you are. I have ADD, and because of my ADD, I also have anxiety. My anxiety is not severe, but it is definitely there. It took me a few years to realize that my learning disability does not mean I'm not as smart as everyone else or I can't succeed as much as other "normal" students. However, there were many things that made me feel less than everyone who did not have a learning disability.

I can list many, but I'll only point out a few. In high school I had accommodations to take tests in a different room so I could get extra time. I also had the option for the teacher to give me notes from our classes. Well, my teachers loved to make it very known to other students that I had these accommodations. I remember before every test they would literally call my name out in front of everyone to tell me I had to go my different room. My teachers would even hand me the separate notes they had made for me in front of everyone and talk about it like no one else was around. I know, this all might not sound like a big deal, but at that time, it made me feel very different and like an outsider.

Another situation that upset me was taking the ACT. I am an absolutely horrible test taker. I really don't know what it is but I have and probably never will be good at taking tests! I have no shame for being that way, but it definitely has made school harder for me. With that being said, taking a giant, timed test that was ALSO an important factor for getting into college was the worst thing for me. Seriously, I think my first ACT score was like an 18. I took two more after that and when my score wasn't getting much higher, I realized I needed extra time. So, I was very lucky and was able to get extra time on the test and my score improved the next time I took it. My score on that test made me so happy and proud of myself. I took the test a few more times to see if I could get my score higher, but after SIX times (yes…six!), I realized that it wasn't going to happen.

The point of that story about my ACT score was because even though I was able to achieve a score that I was happy with and proud of, hearing about my friends/other peoples scores made me feel like I was dumb. I mean, there I was, not being able to get over a score in the 20s in 6 hours and other people were getting a 34 or a 35 in 3 hours. It made me feel like I was so much less than everyone else.

I still feel this way at times too, like this one time when I spent 2 weeks studying for a huge exam and I was so proud of myself for getting such an amazing grade. Then, my roommate told me she got an even higher score than me, but she only studied for 2 days. I was like, "Oh. Well what am I doing wrong". However, when I think about it, I didn't do anything wrong! We just learn in different ways, I need more time to study for tests and she doesn't need that time, and that is perfectly okay. Well, after many years of going through things like this, I want to tell you, if you have a learning disability, you are just the same as everyone else, if not, even more cool!! Seriously. School is hard enough, and having a learning disability doesn't make it any easier. Taking a test and even paying attention in a college lecture hall with 300+ people and having anxiety or ADHD is probably the worst thing I have experienced at college. However, I overcame this with help from the school and doing what was best for me, like sitting up close in class, studying every day, and finding accommodations.

Yes, accommodations are extremely helpful, but it's not like I wanted to have them. I didn't want to have ADD or anxiety from my medication, I didn't choose it. But I do have it, and I am accepting of it. It has shaped who I am today and has made me a stronger and more motivated person than I think I ever would have been.

Yes, it comes with challenges, but that should never make you feel less than anyone, ever. There are also so many things you can do to help your mind. Write down your notes, don't take them on a computer, exercise often, use a planner, take many breaks in between homework and studying, hangout with friends but also appreciate alone time, listen to A LOT of music, and just take deep breaths whenever you feel stressed.

You, me, and everyone else with a learning disability, or any disability at all, are so strong and unique in our own ways. We may have our struggles and differences from other people, but that does not make us different. It makes us even more determined, even more hardworking, and we should be proud of ourselves every single day for being able to go through this. Everyone learns and does things differently, so never feel ashamed for having to do a little more than everyone else. Really, who cares about everyone else's test scores, studying abilities, or even ACT scores! Focus on yourself and only yourself. You are so smart and are able to succeed at anything you put your mind to, with or without a learning disability. Don't let it stop you from achieving your dreams or goals, let it push you to be the best person you can be.

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