4 HS Senior Year Resources For The Stressed Fam Out There

4 HS Senior Year Resources For The Stressed Fam Out There

To my fellow overwhelmed seniors: here are some apps that will help you survive senior year.
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You’re a senior this year. Maybe you’re excited about graduation. Maybe you’re suffering from early-onset senioritis. Or maybe you’re like me, and you just feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want to do anything. Whatever it is you’re feeling, it doesn’t change the fact that senior year is happening. What you can control, though, is how you get through your senior year. This is likely the most important year of your life so far. If you’ve flubbed the past three years, well... maybe try a little bit harder this year. After all, for most of us, the next step is college.

If you’re struggling, you’re in luck! Here are some websites and apps that will hopefully help you out now or in the near future, focusing on key ideas to keep you grounded senior year. Get ready for lots of pictures.


1. Procrastination is a problem.

First and foremost is an issue that plagues the average high schooler: procrastination. Procrastination has always been an issue for me. You can probably relate. Over the past three years, however, I’ve built a little collection of things that help me get (and stay) on track.

Here are four that have helped me stay on top of things!

Cold Turkey Writer

Cold Turkey Writer is a simple computer application that only allows you to do one thing: write. You can set it to how many words you want to write, or how long you want to work, and that's it. It’ll give you a blank document to write on. A progress bar at the top of the screen will tell you how far through your goal you’ve made it. Though the application doesn’t really have any sort of formatting, it’s great for getting something down that you can work off of later.

Forest

Forest is a cute little productivity mobile app that rewards you with coins and a cute little garden. Do you hate the thought of murdering that cute little tree up there? If so, this app is for you!

Every time you open an app that’s not on your whitelist in the middle of a timed session, you kill a tree, and you’re left with the dried husk of what used to be an adorable plant. You are free to open apps on your whitelist without endangering your tree, so it’s a good way of categorizing your important applications and the distracting ones. Plus, you get to create a cute little forest!

Habitica

Habitica is definitely my favorite app on this list. Available as a mobile app, a website and Chrome extension, this program is a fun way of “gamifying” your to-do list and earning virtual rewards for getting things done.

And here we see ZombieMerlin (me!) with her pet cactus in the upper left.

Anyways, every time you check off a task, either something on your To-Do list or a daily task, you earn coins that you can use to buy quests, armor and other rewards. You can hatch adorable pets with hatching potions, chat in the tavern, take on challenges and go on quests with your party. Habitica is honestly one of my favorite things ever, and I hope it can help you out as much as it has me.

StayFocusd

StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that helps you do exactly what it says: stay focused. You let it know what websites you find distracting, and it’ll count down on a timer whenever you’re on one of them. I personally allow myself 30 minutes of distracting time a day. After that, whenever I try to go on a time-wasting site, I’ll get this redirected to a screen that asks, "Shouldn't you be working?"

Again. Pretty simple, but it works wonders for getting me on track (even if it gets pretty annoying sometimes).


2. School those tests!

Most people can probably agree that testing is pretty annoying and stressful, especially when you don’t know the material. The internet, however, is a vast and wonderful place, so here are four sites to help you out.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy has saved me more times than I can count. The 93 I got in Pre-Calculus last year can definitely attest to that. It covers pretty much any school subject you can think of and then some. Whether you’re looking to understand the quadratic formula or study the intricacies of a circuit, Khan Academy has got your back. You can also hook up your CollegeBoard account to study for the SAT, learn to code in a fun and easy way and watch lessons from Pixar employees about how they create movies.

Plus, whenever you get frustrated in math, you can do what I do and tackle some kindergarten and first-grade math, and then cackle at how smart you are. It does wonders for the self-esteem.

AP Worldipedia

APWorldipedia is for the brave few willing to put themselves through the torture that is AP World History (no offense, Mrs. Leonard). This guy goes through almost all the key concepts in excruciating detail. He’s probably a big reason for the five I got on this AP exam. (Again, no offense Mrs. Leonard.)

Symbolab

Symbolab is an amazing calculator for solving that one homework problem you can't figure out. You'll be hard pressed to find another calculator that can help you solve matrices and chemistry equations. Not only does it give you the answer, but it also has a step-by-step breakdown of how the calculator arrived at the solution.

ACTUp and SATUp are great apps to help you review for those annoying standardized tests. You can take practice tests, hammer down on your weak areas and work steadily towards the score that you’re aiming for.

Pro tip: Try to take the SAT or ACT as soon as you can, if you haven't already. It'll save you a ton of headache later in the year. To my underclassmen reading this: take one as soon as you feel ready! I took an ACT in the spring of my sophomore year, and I'd be lying if I didn't say it's made my life a whole lot easier.


3. The Dreaded “C” Word

College. There, I said it. A good majority of us don’t like thinking about it, but for most it’s inevitable. The pressure to get into a good college, to get scholarships, to fill your resumé up with activities so you can impress college admissions officers... I feel you. I really do. That’s why I’m sharing these links with you.

College Info Geek

College Info Geek, AKA Thomas Frank is my favorite guy who I’ve never met. His entire website, blogs, podcasts and all is dedicated to making you a better student. I’ve been subscribed to him for years, and I still haven’t explored his entire website, but he’s worth looking at. Maybe you want to build a personal website. Maybe you need help staying motivated. Maybe you’re just looking for some good ol’ mental fodder.

Also, just look at that face. Look at it. He's adorable.

College Essay Guy

College Essay Guy is another great site. As his name may suggest, his specialty is college admissions essays. Any question you have about college essays, he's the man for you.

Unigo Scholarships

Unigo and the CollegeBoard’s Big Future Scholarship Search

are great places to find scholarships. I like Unigo for its weird scholarships, like the Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship or the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest, but it also has plenty of other scholarship categories such as merit-based, athletic and minority. The CollegeBoard’s scholarships tend to be a little more what you’d expect from a scholarship database, but I highly recommend looking into it.


4. Take a second and breathe...

With all the stress of school and extracurriculars and college, sometimes you get so overwhelmed that you nearly drive yourself to the point of breaking. That’s when you need a mental health day.

I’ve had more than my fair share of stress-related breakdowns, all because I’m a workaholic who has a tendency to forget to stop and take care of myself. Don’t do that. Not only is it awful for your body, but it also takes away from the experience of high school.

High school is supposed to be fun! I’ve often heard it described as “the best four years of your life,” and even though I’m not out of high school yet, I think I agree. Don’t get so caught up in academics that you forget to be a teenager. Take a break for two minutes. Hang out with your friends. Go to random websites. Go to a party or two. Marathon "Supernatural." Whatever it is that you do to relax, do it. As long as you make it an exception and not a rule, it’s perfectly fine.

With that, I leave you with my final link. If you ever feel overwhelmed, hop on over to that post. You’re stronger than you think.

Cover Image Credit: Claire Lin

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To All Incoming Freshmen, When You Get To College, Please Don't Be THAT Freshman

I am pretty sure we all know who I'm talking about.

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As we are all counting down the days to return to campus, students are looking forward to meeting new people and reuniting with old friends. And then, there is the freshman.

We have all been there. The eagerness and excitement have been slowly building up through months of summer vacation, all waiting for this moment. I understand the anxiousness, enthusiasm, and insecurities. The opportunity to meet new people and explore a new area is very intriguing. But let's be real, you are here to make memories and get an education. So here are a few pieces of advice from a former college freshman.

1. Don't be that freshman who follows their significant other to college

This is the boy or girl who simply can not think for themselves. The 17-year-old puts their own personal goals and interests aside to sacrifice for a six-month high school relationship. This will more than likely end at an end of semester transfer after the relationship has been tested for a month or two in college life. So if you want to really enjoy your freshman year, make your own decisions and do what is best for you.

2. Don't be that freshman who lets their parents pick their major

"You are not going to school just to waste my money."

This is a statement you might have heard from your parents. As true as it might seem, this is definitely not a good way to start your college years. If you are not majoring in something you can see yourself doing, you are wasting your time. You can major in biology, go to medical school, and make the best grades. But if deep down you don't want to be a doctor, you will NOT end up being a good doctor. When it comes to picking your major, you really have to follow your heart.

3. Don't be that freshman who gets overwhelmed with the first taste of freedom

Yes. It is all very exciting. You don't have a curfew, you don't have rules, you don't have anyone constantly nagging you, but let's not get carried away. Don't be the freshman who gets a tattoo on the first night of living on your own. Don't be the freshman who tries to drink every liquor behind the bar. Don't be the freshman who gets caught up being someone that they aren't. My best advice would be to take things slow.

4. Don't be that freshman who starts school isolated in a relationship

I'm not telling you not to date anyone during your freshman year. I am saying to not cut yourself off from the rest of the world while you date someone. Your first year on campus is such an amazing opportunity to meet people, but people are constantly eager to start dating someone and then only spend time with that person.

Be the freshman who can manage time between friends and relationships.

5. Don't be that freshman who can't handle things on their own

It is your first year on your own. Yes, you still need help from your parents. But at this point, they should not be ordering your textbooks or buying your parking pass. If you need something for a club or for class, YOU should handle it. If you're having roommate problems, YOU should handle it, not your parents. This is the real world and college is a great time for you to start building up to be the person you want to be in the future, but you can't successfully do that if your parents still deal with every minor inconvenience for you.

6. Don't be that freshman who only talks to their high school friends

I know your high school was probably amazing, and you probably had the coolest people go there. However, I believe that college is a great time to be on your own and experience new things. Meeting new people and going to new places will allow you to grow into a more mature person. There is a way to balance meeting new friends and maintaining friendships with childhood friends, and I am sure you will find that balance.

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8 Mistakes Auburn Freshmen Always Make, Without Fail

You do NOT want to be guilty of #6.

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With the summer coming to a close, the anxiety of incoming freshmen heightens. You wonder if you've bought enough stuff for your dorm, you worry that you won't have enough room to fit all the things you bought for your dorm, and there's always that thought in the back of your head, wondering if you'll be "freshmeat" to the upperclassmen all over again. While they might not look down on you as much as they did in high school, here are a few mistakes you need to know to avoid making yourself look like a total noob.

1. Only studying 1-2 days prior to a test.

We're all guilty of this one. The first test of freshman year is always a slap to the face because freshmen aren't accustomed to the vigorous studying that has to come before a test. They think, "I usually studied the night before a test in high school and did just fine, so if I start studying two days before a test I should be good." Nope. Professors know that freshmen don't prepare enough for their first test, but that doesn't mean they make it any easier. Use it as a learning experience to figure out what study habits work best for you (obviously not this one).

2. Doing laundry on Sundays.

Ahhh, Sundays, the day everyone collectively decides to get their crap together. The library is packed, Starbucks is sold out of venti cups, and freshmen migrate to the laundry rooms. It's annoying enough to have to break a $20 just to get quarters for the washing machine, but nothing is more frustrating than finding all the washers full with damp clothes, ready to be dried with no one around to pick them up. My best advice is to do laundry on Saturday morning when everyone's asleep till noon recovering from the night before.

3. Bringing every single thing on those online packing lists.

Universities don't release packing lists for a reason, because everything on those lists is basically useless after the first month. You're not gonna keep up with filling your Brita water filter, you'll probably just end up buying water bottles at the C-store. You'll most likely only use your mini ironing board once until you realize its pointless since everyone wears their clothes wrinkly anyway. Figure out the things you use on a daily basis at home, and only bring the necessities.

4. Going home every weekend.

This might seem tempting, especially after the homesickness kicks in, but you can never fully adjust to college if you're spending every weekend with your parents. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with seeing your parents while in college, just limit the contact to once or twice a month in order to make friends and feel comfortable being away from home.

5. Never utilizing the library until finals week.

The library is basically my home now, but nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find a table during finals week because they're all filled with freshmen trying to cram a semesters worth of information in a week. The library is always there, 24-7, but people forget how useful it is until the last week of the semester. Work as hard as you work for finals week every time you have a test. It'll make the stress of finals week a little less since you'll already have a grade you're comfortable with and won't be killing yourself for an A on the final in order to pass the class.

6. Wearing your favorite shoes to a frat party/downtown.

Even if you're wearing the cutest dress known to man that goes with nothing but your OTBTs, you're gonna have to sacrifice the outfit and switch out those wedges for converse if you want your shoes to survive. Between drinks getting spilled and people stepping on your feet, you're gonna be saying goodbye to the $125 you spent on those shoes. Bring an old pair of converse or vans with you to college that you wouldn't mind getting a little dirty.

7. Only studying with friends.

Studying with your friends sounds like a good idea until you find yourself gossiping and watching youtube videos, getting nothing productive done. Lots of freshmen are scared to go to the library alone but don't be. A good 90% of people there are studying alone, and you'll get waaay more done this way, giving you time to hang with your friends after.

8. Not going to the UPC events.

Welcome week is when UPC throws the biggest events of the year, such as Paradise on the Plains, Aubie Fest, and the Gameday Experience. These events are held to welcome you to campus, so take advantage of all the free things they have to offer! Free food, free games, and most importantly, free T-shirts. Don't miss out on these events because you're nervous to go to things alone (like I was), this is a perfect opportunity to make friends and get to know the campus a little better.

Freshman year is a rollercoaster, but hopefully knowing these few things to avoid will make it a little easier. Good luck and welcome to Auburn!

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