Five Ways to Have the Best Academic Year Ever


As summer vacation begins to come to a close and Back to School time is slowly approaching us. I’ve decided to compose a list of 5 tips on how to take this school by its horns (metaphorically, of course) and ride off into the sunset of academic success.

Tip #1: Start Getting Mentally in Shape

In between your busy summer schedule, make sure to set time aside for remedial practice of your core subjects, such as math and science, this will help you retain vital information that you may forget during your summer break and kept your brain active and functioning.

Begin to take advantage of the world around you, there are plenty resources for math, science, English and social studies on the internet, such as Khan Academy, which allows you to learn just about anything for free online, you can even download their mobile app for quick and easy learning on the go. Love Khan Academy?, but not into watching long videos? Try Cool Math where there are thousands of math games at your fingertips, where you can play video games, learn math and have fun, all at the same time, it’s a win-win situation.

If you're taking a language next school year and you want a head start, or you're already learning one and you want more practice? Try out Duolingo, and easy way to learn and practice any language you want. They have a mobile app you can download and the program is very interactive and easy to use, not only can you learn how to speak a new language, but you can also learn how to write it simultaneously.

Tip #2: Finish Any Summer Assignments or Homework That Are Due the First Week of School

Everyone knows that daunting feeling you get when you have a deadline, also the stress and anxiety that comes with it. Sometimes it just feels like school is the dark cloud, putting a damper on your summer fun and it's incredibly easy to push any academic responsibility to the back of your mind and put it off till the last minute, we’ve all done it at some point, so there's no shaming. Luckily for you there is a simple and easy way to avoid procrastinating…. JUST DON’T PROCRASTINATE.  I won't talk much about it here, but I will address it later on in the article.

By completing all your assignments as soon as possible, it allows you to focus more on the fun plans you have with your family and friends. Also, while you're having a stress free summer, your friends won't be so lucky, because they've decided to hold on and do it during the end of summer .

Tip #3: Create a List of Goals

Creating a list of short term and long term goals for this school year is a great way to motivate you to do your best in school and it also helps you to get a clear target to focus and work towards.

If your goal is to maintain all A’s you have to put in the work, if your goal is to get an A or B in a particular class you struggle in you must be willing to push yourself. That's just what it comes down to, you must have that kind of mentality. In life, nothing will ever be given to you, you must earn it and when you do the rewards will be worthwhile.

A’s are a great goal to aim for and you should always push yourself, but if you are having a hard time achieving them, that doesn't make you any less of a person or student. I can't stress it enough, GRADES AREN'T EVERYTHING, a number cannot and does not define you or predict your success in life, only you can. That's why you should always strive to do your best because your best is and will always be enough. You are your own dictator of your future.

“The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them. " -Michelle Obama

Tip #4: Start Setting Your Priorities

We all know that high school can be a place where you make some of the best memories, such as going to football games with your friends, getting invited to parties, meeting tons new people and also a place to get an education, but let's not get carried away.

Don't get me wrong, high school will be one of the best experience you’ll ever have, but all of that won't matter unless you have priorities set in place. That means you knowing what matters in your life and what doesn't and as an inexperienced, impressionable teen that can be crucial to your academic success.

High school can sometimes feel like a juggling act, as you try balancing extracurricular activities, academics, jobs, friends and family, all at the same time. You can sometimes feel burnt out at the end of the day. That's why prioritizing can help you keep focused on what matters and what you can afford to compromise. No two persons are alike, that's why not everyone’s priorities align.

Sometimes finding what matters to you can be difficult because you might have friends who want to go out on a Sunday night, but you know you have a test to study for the next day. But by knowing your priorities, it can help you make the right and best decision for yourself.


I will be the first person to raise my hand when it comes to suffering from the blow of procrastination. I can't tell you how many times I've been caught up in its web. That's why my last and final tip to you is that when you get any kind of assignment (homework, class work, project, essay, etc.) start working on them ASAP. I'm not saying go crazy and complete it all in one day, but strategically break your workload into chunks to refrain from overwhelming yourself with a swarm of deadlines and assignments.

It's time to start holding yourself accountable.This is just something you must teach yourself to do because it is a vital skill you will use for no matter what in your life.

The amount of pressure that has been put on this generation regarding academic success has reached new heights and no matter if you're a freshman in high school or senior in college, school can be stressful on everybody. But, before your first day, just take a moment to breathe and remember you've got this. Good luck!




The Summer Senior Slump: Getting Ready for Senioritis and the College Application Process


Defining the Slump

The day I am writing this article is the day that I had my first interview for an internship. The day I am writing this article is the day I had a summer meeting for a club that I am an officer for. The day I am writing this article is the day that I truly sat myself down and thought to myself, the summer is almost over, and I have no idea what I am doing with my life. Yes, it is quite melodramatic and cliche for a seventeen year old high school senior like me to say, but I don’t think any other group of words could sum up what most high school seniors feel the summer before consecutive months of worry lines and sleepless nights.

Recognizing the Slump

I woke up this morning earlier and more alert than most. Today was a big day for me and it required a different mindset than most of my summer morning yawns. I needed my mind focused on current events, political awareness, my future endeavors - this list could go on about what I thought the people at the internship I was getting interviewed for wanted to hear. I should have realized sooner that my own personal interests and qualities are the main reason why I would get hired as an intern in the first place.

Before going to the interview, I met up with my fellow club officers at our high school to discuss possible events and opportunities for our club this school year. Our discussion quickly took a different turn, and soon enough we were discussing our worries and stresses about newly released AP test scores, last minute SAT testing, and of course, the he-who-shall-not-be-named of incoming high school seniors. College applications. I didn’t realize, that until that moment when I heard my classmates spill out their college related confessions, that time was not slowing down. In other words, I needed to get my act together, and fast.

Attacking the Slump

On my way back home from the meeting and getting ready for my interview at 12:20 PM, my mind was juggling between the “could be’s” and the “what if’s”. What if I don’t improve my SAT score by the time applications roll around? Could I actually get into a good college with my mediocre transcript? Instead of coming to my senses that moment when I was stressing out, it is only dawning upon me while I am writing this article that instead of thinking, I should be doing. I have my fair share of regrets and I have always thought about doing something I will not regret, but when will the time come when I actually do it? If you’re reading this, you probably find yourself in a slump, feeling regretful, but not actually doing something about it. This new and last school year is not even starting yet, but the weight of responsibilities and worries are already bringing us down. What we need to do is stop concerning ourselves with the “if’s” and “but’s” of our worries, and start focusing our mindsets on kicking our senior year in the butt - in the best way possible.


No, I don’t mean the exercise where you sit still and let small chants run out of your mouth, but hey you could do that too if you want. By meditating, I mean do whatever you can to not stress (yet). The first thing you should do before taking on the grind of getting out of this slump is to take a significant amount of time to relax and not worry. Let your mind think thoughtfully, and not angrily, on your mistakes you might have made in the past school years. Reminisce on the enjoyable moments, but recognize your regrets. The first step of tackling a problem is finding and recognizing the root of it.

Although you may be hard on yourself for your mistakes, take this time to also think about any dreams or wishes you have always had. I am a firm believer of second chances and the ‘it’s never too late’ mentality. Have any long or short term goals in your mind? Never lose sight of them and write them down, you could seize the day at any moment. Taking this time to recognize and organize all your thoughts will make it easier once you actually start doing something about them.


Now that you have mentally assorted all the things you have been meaning and wanting to do, it’s time to get those phalanges and femurs moving. Get excited! This next step is the part that requires the most optimism, patience, but most of all open mindedness and fun. Bust out your computer, or any other device that gives you access to Google, and your favorite snacks, because the next amount of hours or days will be your creative research period.

After establishing your mistakes and goals, you need to find a way to tackle them. Need to retake a science class? Find out if your school offers summer courses, or if you can find a college nearby that allows you to take a class for credit. Want to start finding out different career paths? Research related volunteer work that fits your ideal job, or any internship opportunities nearby. Use this time to actually start taking action on what you want to do with your life. The great thing about this step is that it does not even have to be boring or impulsive. Let your creativity flow during this research period and really focus on finding what screams at you and makes you want to drop everything and do it at that moment.


So you figured out you want to stop being lazy and found some stuff that actually interests you. Now what? After narrowing down your options and choices, here comes the hard part. It is time to actually do it. Interviews, workshops, and applications may be rolling like an avalanche towards you, and it may be stressful and take a toll on your brain. You need to readjust your mindset out of summer lazy mode, and flip the switch to summer productive mode. The key words to this step are practice makes better, not perfect. This is the time for you to get better.

Get better at presenting yourself, get better at a certain field of study, get better at a particular hobby or interest. There is no need to be perfect at anything yet, because that will come later. The point of getting out of this slump during the summer is to improve and prepare you for the school year, when the even harder parts make an appearance. Perfect is an overrated term and state of being in the first place, and overrated is definitely boring. Remember what I said earlier? This is a time to have fun and be creative, there is no room for being boring.


Congratulations! You don’t have everything figured out yet, but you are one step ahead of accomplishing what you initially set your mind on doing. This last step is even vaguer than the previous ones. After focusing your time on isolating your problems and goals, to celebrate may mean differently to each person. You could celebrate by actually throwing a party and using the summer’s heat and your swimming pool to practical use. Or celebrating may mean landing the job or internship you wanted, and actually enjoying yourself doing something new and exciting.

This is the time to do things for yourself, because once August or September rolls around, school will be creeping up on you again. Whichever way of celebrating you take on, you should be proud of yourself for stepping up to the plate, and batting out your problems or goals that have always been following you around. It takes one to talk about their dreams, but it takes an even greater one to do something about them.

During the Slump, and Afterwards

Some of you may be wondering, what happened with that internship? Even if you are not that curious, I will tell you anyways because it is a prime example of the steps I just listed to you. I found out about the internship through one of my closest friends, and it only took a matter of two days to research, apply, and take on my worst fear - getting interviewed. I spent the past two days researching about the internship position and the campaign I was hoping to work for. I had practically all of my older cousins review my resume and do trial interviews with me. I had the general information about this campaign down, and I knew my resume was at its best presentation, even if the only other time I actually touched it was freshman year in our required business class.

Whilst driving in the car to my interview, I already knew I wouldn’t arrive at the recommended time of 15 minutes prior. Additionally, I forgot my cover letter and I wore heels that I could barely walk in. I parked in the parking lot of the campaign headquarters by 12:18, and I walked through the glass doors by 12:20. The office was pretty barren, with groups of desks in one corner and campaign posters in the other. The people were dressed casually, and my internship coordinator could pass as my sister. I was standing in the middle of the open office in a thick black blazer and uncomfortable heels. I could tell you how the interview went, and how I felt afterwards. But I could also tell you that the day I’m writing this paragraph is the day after my interview. The day I’m writing this paragraph is the day I started my internship. The day I’m writing this paragraph is the day my boss recognized me for my superb phone duties, and how I went over the average number of phone calls on my first day (which is a pretty big deal). I wore jeans to the internship today and ate pizza while making survey phone calls. I defined the Slump, but am still yet to conquering it. Cheers, anyone?



Of SAT Scores and Self-Worth: Realizing Your Value When the Pressure is On


“This is it. I might as well just kiss my dreams goodbye and say hello to community college, because with these scores, it looks like that’s where I’m headed.”

Those words are verbatim from what one of my close friends told me in an emotional phone call back in May, when scores for the March 2016 administration of the SAT were released. She was absolutely devastated because her scores were not where she wanted them to be, and had overanalyzed everything that could have gone wrong: her nerves distracting her during the test, fallible study methods, and even the incessant ticking of the clock that had been hung on the back wall of the classroom.

Her statements to me, albeit on the dramatic side, are similar to the panicky thoughts that a lot of rising seniors, including myself, are having as the new school year quickly approaches. With the notion of not being good enough for colleges when it comes to standardized testing constantly looming over students’ heads, it is easy to see why so many get caught up in and are discouraged by their scores.


Headfirst Into the Abyss

It is the case for many students to feel as though they have been suddenly thrown into the real world without a parachute during their final two years of high school. I remember having a breakdown near the end of my junior year regarding my own future as I signed up for standardized testing, feeling like I wasn’t adequately prepared for the heavy expectations of the future.

We are taught that standardized test scores are the foundation of a college application and that if they are not satisfactory, our chances of getting into the university that we desire go down exponentially. Our parents shell out the hefty fees for the SAT and ACT and we walk into our testing rooms on the assigned dates with the frightening idea that our futures are dependent on a mere few hours full of scribbling inside of small bubbles and reading passages that we will later joke about on social media in order to ease our stress.

When scores are finally sent out after a nail-biting period of time, students are sent into a frenzy and adolescents pace the floors of their bedrooms in panic. The fact that so many of us are petrified of checking our scores in fear that our aspirations will crumble in front of their eyes is heartbreaking, for we should not believe that simple numbers on a computer screen dictate the rest of our lives.

We do not have to allow ourselves to be hindered by outrageous expectations. We have the power to set standards for ourselves and be comfortable with who we are, not who we are not.

The Value of Valuing Yourself

There is a saying that goes, “It is not what you are that holds you back, it is what you think you are not.”  I love the way that Maimuna Abdi Yussuf puts it in her article, Dear Rafiki, You Are Not Your SAT Score, in which she states that nothing is really what it appears to be and that everything is what you make of it, meaning that you should not take your scores at face-value and should instead use them as merely a catalyst that will propel you into your future that will mean so much more in the long run than what you made on your SAT.  I reiterated this to my anxious friend, and asked for her to remember everything that she has accomplished over the duration of her high school career; when she finished her list (and boy, was it long), she was wiping away her stress-induced tears and reaffirming the validity of her dreams.

I am writing this to tell you, whether you are an upcoming freshman just beginning to get your feet wet in the depths of high school or a senior feeling like you are about to drown, that your standardized test scores do not define you as a person. As human beings, we are sums of many parts, and as students, we have a lot more to put on college applications than our scores on a couple of cumulative tests.

The journey to realize your self-worth can be a hard one, especially when us students are being pitted against each other all the time when it comes to things like class rankings and test scores, but it is necessary to go down that path because it is ultimately up to you to make the decision of whether you will allow your test scores to represent you as a whole or not.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin your quest for self-worth:

1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

It’s an old mantra, but an important step in realizing your self-worth is becoming aware that when you are not satisfied with something, you have the ability to change that. Even if you refuse to allow your test scores to define you as a person, it is important to know that you are in complete control of how you handle them. Be proactive. Skip the nervous breakdown and sign up for the next scheduled test. Find study methods that work for you. Make a study schedule and stick to it. It truly is simple; as long as you pace yourself and work hard, the results will come. Don’t focus on the scores that you didn’t get; concentrate on those you did instead, for you made them yourself with your own hard work and effort and you should be proud of them no matter what.

2. Don’t take the bait of others.

Many students are of the Type-A personality: ambitious, competitive, and aggressive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the problems come when they need constant validation, like that one friend in your English class who always turns to you and asks what you made on the most recent test when they know that they completely aced it and that you struggled with it a bit. People like these are always trying to find ways to fuel the rat race that exists in all schools, but you have the ability to keep yourself out of it. Know that your standards may not match up with theirs, and that it is completely possible that what they think is horrible may be perfectly adequate to you. As long as you are happy with your scores and the progress that you are making, what they think should not matter to you. If they ask you how you did on your standardized tests, you have the right to keep the actual numbers to yourself and tell them that you are satisfied with what you made instead.

3. Remember everything else that you can bring to the table.

Let’s face it: anybody can be in the top ten of their class or make above a 30 on the ACT. In order to truly value yourself, you have to keep what makes you unique in mind. For example, you may not have the highest test scores, but you’re the surefire editor of you school’s popular newspaper, or maybe you’re a piano virtuoso behind the scenes. Colleges do not only look at your scores, but at your extracurriculars as well. They want to know if you can contribute something extra to the school and that you aren’t just another intelligent student who is going to graduate with nothing to provide them with except another brain. If you are a well-rounded student, you don’t necessarily have to have the best test scores or fall in the top five percent of your class; you just have to be aware of your assets and use them to your advantage by putting as much emphasis on them as you can. Colleges don’t look for perfect students because there would be no reason for them to further their educations if they were on that level. They instead search for students with unique perspectives and experiences who can further the minds of the people around them.

tumblr_o52urptpSA1ut1kpfo1_1280Whenever you are in doubt of yourself, recall this advice and the fact that standardized tests do not measure your worth as a human being. You are so much more than the answers that you bubble in inside of a testing room. As long as you try your best, it is impossible for you to be labeled as a disappointment. You have so much more to contribute to the world, and as long as you are determined and assert yourself, you are definitely bound to make changes in it.