January Q: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

myth

This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our January question is: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): The biggest misconception is that everyone drinks or parties and that a social stigma exists surrounding those who don’t go crazy; the party scene can be a lot more controlled and is definitely a choice.

Julie (U of MN – TC):  College will be easy. (It isn’t impossble! But it’s also hard work!)

Ariana (UMN Duluth):  That everyone likes to party and you have to drink otherwise it’s not a fun time. But now I think it’s the kind of people who you spend your time with… Get to know people that can have a good time all the time, without drinking.

Ellie (McGill):   That making friends will be difficult like it might have been in high school. Being in college gives so many opportunities to meet people, your friends will find you. Trust me.

4-year Universities vs. Community Colleges

 CC
By Alia

Let’s start by playing a little true or false.

1. Universities are big while community colleges are puny.

Answer: FALSE; there is such a thing as a small university and community colleges are plenty big.

2. You get a better education going to 4-year universities versus community colleges.

Answer: FALSE; you get equal education in my opinion (but some universities are picky and might not take credits from elsewhere).

3. Community colleges are for people who weren’t successful the first time around or are behind and need to play catch up.

Answer: FALSE; plenty of people go to community colleges – it’s easier on the wallet, not because they lack the ability to go somewhere else.

4. You need to be super rich or take out a student loan to afford college.

Answer: FALSE; you can get scholarships and grants (free money) to go to college and there are even programs like Power of You (POY) that pay for everything.

5. The system is corrupt and if I’m not the right color I won’t make it.

Answer: FALSE; anyone can make it and you’d be surprised how many people want to see you succeed.

Conclusion – Much of what you hear relating to who goes to community colleges and who goes to 4-year universities is false.

So what’s true?

The difference between going to a community college or university is where you plan to go and how you plan to get there.

Universities are great for their high reputations, they offer more classes, they offer high degrees.

Community colleges are for everyone, they are cheaper than universities, they can be the start or finish.

My advice to you, someone who is in high school right now, is go to a community college and then university if you so desire. Starting out at a big university could be everything you dreamed of, but more than likely you will have more debt. You might end up changing your major and realize you wasted not only your time, but a lot of someone else’s money.

If you want a path where you pay less and get more, I say take my advice. I say go somewhere where people come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages with all different backgrounds. I say go somewhere where you can get the same education for less hassle and less out of your pocket. I say go somewhere where you can stumble and get back up with little to no repercussions.

Take it or leave it, but that’s my advice.

When I was deciding where I wanted to go to college, my first choice was the U of M: Twin Cities Campus. I used to work there in the multicultural center in Appleby Hall. I got to learn the layout of the campus by giving tours to children in grades K-8.

I loved it there. I loved the art, I loved the science, I loved the tree full of shoes.

That long bridge was the coolest canvas every club had claim to. I felt alive every day I went to work there and sometimes it was a painful reminder being alive. I didn’t even want to look at other schools, that’s where I wanted to go, but the college and career center at my high school wouldn’t let me pick just one place. They said I needed to apply to at least three schools and I was so bummed, I didn’t care about anyplace else.

I finally gave in and “looked” at some other places. I didn’t want to leave the city, so that narrowed my search fast. I found the Arts Institute and Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) both were in the right place and offered majors I liked. Then I compared costs and saw something surprising – the tuition at MCTC was nowhere near the tuition for the other two options.

I thought, “well they must be so cheap for a reason,” and decided to check out what exactly they were lacking. I took a visit to the school and it didn’t take long before I heard about the Power Of You program. It also didn’t take long before I realized there was nothing missing. There were so many paths for me to take at MCTC for a fraction of the cost, excuse me, for no cost.

I was baffled.

I didn’t know you could go to college for free. The Power Of You program at MCTC took me in and I was surrounded by a group of hard working staff ready to pay for my tuition. All they asked was that I say “hello” every so often, go full-time, have a decent GPA, give back to the community and graduate from a Minneapolis high school.

My parents were sold, and even though I loved the U of M to death, I was too. I did my big exams in high school, sent out my applications, etc. Both the U of M and MCTC accepted me, but at the end of the day, I chose to go to MCTC after doing all my research on the two choices.

MCTC is everything I wanted in a college, even more so than the U of M was. I go to MCTC now as a full time student and I work for the school as a tutor helping other students. I have never been more at home on a campus, they have everything I want/need.

Best of all, I can still continue on to finish a 4-year degree at the U of M, if that’s what I decide to do, and I will have spent a lot less on earning credits my initial years out of high school!

It’s not really a secret, but I never liked school. I did well, but middle school and high school were not only zoos, they were claustrophobic to me. After seeing students trying to jump out of windows on the 3rd floor and dancing on tables and bullying left and right, I was so sick.

In middle school my bullying experiences weren’t from other students, they were from the dean. So you can see, I thought school was a joke. A very messed up joke. I wasn’t even proud of myself when I graduated. I thought college would be as lame if not MORE lame, but college has been awesome. It sometimes doesn’t even feel like school to me, I have too much fun.

Maybe you like school already, that’s cool. I just know too many of us go through it unhappy. I even mentioned before, I have depression. Why am I being so personal? Because I want you to hear my story and maybe it will help you.

My real point is don’t give up. Don’t give up even if things look bad and you feel gross. Don’t give up even if it seems you have no place to go, you always do. Like I’ve said, college isn’t for everyone, but what’s important is that anyone can go to college.

Whether you pick a community college or university, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re a step closer to your dreams and you aren’t being worn down. Make the healthy choice, make the smart choice.

I know you can succeed.

November Q: What do you miss most about being a High School student?

HS

This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our November question is: What do you miss most about being a High School student?

Julie (U of MN – TC): Being surrounded by a close group of friends.

Lydia (MCAD): The ability to miss a class if you are ill and being able to make it up the next day. There is a zero absence policy at MCAD.

Ariana (UMN Duluth): I miss not having to do so much work. And being debt free!

Alia (MCTC): What I miss most from high school is having a school locker. There are lockers at my college, but not everyone gets one and they are super small. I miss having a locker to put my stuff in.

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): The free time to do leisure activities; painting, working out, reading for pleasure etc.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): The thing I miss most about being a high school student is the amount of responsibility. Now that I am in college as an adult, I have many more responsibilities and sometimes it is too much.

A Guide to Cliff-Jumping: Handling Senior Year Stress

Senior-Struggles-2.jpg3_

by Avery

My senior year of high school felt like walking closer and closer to the edge of a cliff.

I pictured graduation as the point at which I would jump off, not to certain death or anything quite so drastic, but into a whole new world to learn to navigate, a huge gaping unknown. While I was terribly excited for the jump, the idea of losing the feeling of my feet on the ground I was so familiar with was a little stressful.

Senior year can be terrifying, super fun, super tense, exciting, or confusing. It can seem to take forever or whiz by scary-fast. Handling all of these feelings can be extremely hard, not to mention that if you plan on going to college, you will have an absurd number of details to keep track of.

The stress I experienced didn’t come from my schoolwork, but from logistics—the worry that I couldn’t “get it all done” in time. Myself being a pretty poorly-organized individual, I probably made these details harder to manage than they had to be. So, dear reader, please learn from my mistakes!

Senior year stress seems to come in two main phases:

First: Securing your parachute, getting snacks for the road, arranging transportation, quadruple checking your parachute…Sorry to bring back this cliff metaphor, but bear with me.

This is college/future-related stress. It’s when there are always more details creeping up on you. You’re busy as heck touring colleges, writing application essays, applying for scholarships, etc. This time requires a lot of decision making as well as hard work, which can be a lethal combination. Here are some suggestions for handling this death-by-details stress:

  1. Keep a calendar of your deadlines and requirements. At the beginning of each week, make goals of what you need to accomplish, and write out the specific steps necessary. Give every task a few extra days to account for slow “processing”.
  2. Keep track of who you need to talk to. Maybe it’s your counselor or teachers. Remember that these people are very busy around this time, and you may need to give them extra time to accomplish tasks like sending your transcript or writing letters of recommendation. Waiting for others (such as your counselor) can be one of the most stressful things about this time. But remember, once a task is out of your hands, you can’t do anything else about it, so just let it go. Chances are, there are better places to channel your energy than worrying whether or not your transcript has arrived at a college. (That said, it’s okay to send a follow-up email if the person has not responded within a reasonable amount of time – sometimes people need a reminder)
  3. Consider setting aside a few hours each week for “future planning”. What this means will differ for everyone. Maybe it entails sorting out your graduation requirements. Working on remedial coursework or online classes. Some folks are planning on working straight after high school, which may require less planning. Still, you can always polish up your resume or start the job hunt now.

Second: “Phase two stress”, as I’ll call it, is more like walking towards the edge of the cliff. It’s the time when you realize high school is ending soon. And life is about to change. You may be battling restlessness/“senioritis” (a lack of focus and extreme boredom at school) as well as a desire to cling to what you know. I guarantee that most of your peers are equally frazzled by this, so talk to them!

Oh yeah, and this is when you start receiving letters back from colleges if you’re going that route (maybe this is like picking out the specific ledge you’ll jump from… Maybe we can let this metaphor die). Be proud of every acceptance you get, you worked hard for that! Try to take rejections in stride, too, even though it may sting terribly. And remember, a rejection isn’t always about you, per se. Schools have to make quotas of certain demographic categories so try not to take a rejection too personally.

I think the best way of handling this stress is to spend time with people you care about. Take time to appreciate the good people in your life and take time for relaxing too. Try to put future-thoughts out of your mind for an hour each day. Your decision making abilities may improve after having a little time off.

So, yes, this is a bizarre and scary time, but all that being said, I really did enjoy much of my senior year. I had less homework, fewer classes, and more time to spend with my friends and family. After making the decision to take a gap year and deciding on my college, I was just so excited! Hopefully you can get excited, too.

As spring rolls around, breathe in that sweet scent of freedom…graduation is coming, and so is your senior summer, which might be one of the best times ever.

Just When You Thought You Could Relax

Just when you thought you could relax

by Guanani

Whew! The flustered, harried college application season is over at last. Schools have been listed, essays have been churned out, and the stressful frenzy has finally quieted. The weight is off your shoulders, and now you can enjoy the last semester of high school in peace.

“So, are you excited for college? Where are you going?” your aunt/friend’s parent/other well-meaning adult suddenly asks, shattering your pleasant illusion.

You’re not done yet, and a new anxiety sets in.

One year ago, I had no idea where I would be in seven months. I didn’t know how I felt about leaving home. I wanted to just focus on enjoying senior year. I didn’t feel like explaining myself over and over again to various acquaintances who were attempting to make small talk.

On many occasions I felt like ignoring these kinds of questions and not thinking about my academic future. Alas, that would be rude. So I gave half-hearted, generic answers like: “Well, I just finished applying, so I won’t know where I’ve been accepted until April…”

I became so annoyed by the prevalence of these questions that one night, at dinner, I asked my parents to completely stop asking me about college unless it was extremely important. They were good sports about it, even though they didn’t understand why talking about college bothered me so much. In retrospect, the repetitive questions not only aggravated my anxiety about waiting for acceptance or rejection but they were also a constant reminder of my uncertainty about the future in general.

To my past self I would say, “Worry not: admissions are way less of a big deal once you get there, and lots of cool stuff happens, and the future will still be scary but you’ll be so busy studying gas laws and biking across cities that you won’t notice as much.”

So take heart, waiting seniors. Put thoughts of admission and the ever-elusive future on the back burner, encourage your family to do the same, and grab your second semester by the horns. Go out of your way to enjoy all the fun things about high school (while still working hard in your classes, of course). Preemptively and aggressively begin non-college small talk with your relatives, if necessary.

The semester is yours, and you can deal with admission/rejection when you get there.

Filling out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

FAFSA Steps

by Lucillia

Thinking back to my senior year, the year when high school students must fill out the FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid), I procrastinated doing it. Besides regular schoolwork, college applications and scholarships, it felt like just another application that I honestly did not want to fill out. Anyways, as I have come to find out with most things, it was not that bad after I just did it. I think I filled it out in half an hour.

Completing the FAFSA is one of the most important steps on the path to college – whether that means technical school, community college, or a 4-year college or university. The way my old College Possible coach put it is that with the FAFSA, you are literally getting money for filling out your personal information.

Here are my tips for filling out the FAFSA:

  • MAKE SURE YOU FILL OUT THE FAFSA.
  • GET HELP! You want to make sure that you fill out the FAFSA correctly. There’s lots of help available. If you’re a Minneapolis Public Schools student, go straight to your Career & College Center, which has lots of great FAFSA workshops, resources and personal support. Or talk with one of your high school counselors.They’re there to help you!
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use fake sites like FAFSA.com. Make sure that you only use the ACTUAL FAFSA site at https://fafsa.ed.gov. The help tab on the home page, as well as the Frequently Asked Questions section, are really helpful.
  • FAFSA is absolutely free to fill out. You will know if you are on a fraud web site if it asks you for payment.
  • Carefully read everything. Directions are there for a reason! I know a woman who changed her last name, and because the FAFSA requires your birth name, everything got messed up, and basically she had to wait a whole year to go to school and fill out the application again the following year. YIKES!
  • You also have to fill out the FAFSA every year you are in school.
  • My coach sent me this YouTube link with videos about the basics and it was really helpful. Check it out!

Fill out that FAFSA — and good luck!

Summer Break: More Than Just A Time For Fun

summer

by Cara

There’s more to summer break than binge watching Netflix, going to the mall with friends, and staying up late just because you can. While the summer is a good time to relax, it’s also a great time to start planning ahead for the path you’ll take after high school. Making use of your summer break by taking part in programs will look great on college and scholarship applications.

Whether you want to get an early start on the college application process or explore your academic interests, there is a program for you. The programs I attended during the summer helped me decided what to study in college, and I also think they helped me stand out in my applications.

Below are three summer programs that I think are worth checking out. The best part is all of these programs are free, and one of them even pays its participants!

Questbridge College Prep Scholarship

The Questbrige College Prep Scholarship is not a traditional scholarship because you do not receive money to pay college expenses. Instead, it is a pathway to summer opportunities and getting a head start on the college application process for current juniors.

I didn’t apply to this when I was in high school but I know a lot about the application process because it’s similar to their senior year program for which I was a finalist. Seniors can apply for their National College Match program that helps high-achieving, low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to selective colleges such as Columbia, Stanford, and Yale.

Students selected as College Prep Scholars will receive free test prep, priority consideration to receive all-expense-paid college visits, early access to the National College Match application, and assistance from Questbridge to strengthen their National College Match application.

Scholars may also receive one or more of the following: full scholarships to college summer programs, an invitation to a college admissions conference, personalized college essay support, telementoring with college students, and/or Quest for Excellence Awards.

The application opens in February and will be due on March 25, 2015.

To be eligible, students must be juniors who are planning to apply to college during the fall of their senior year. They must also meet the citizenship requirement by being a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident, or international student attending high school in the United States.

Questbrige is looking for students who have shown outstanding academic ability despite any economic challenges their family has faced. Many College Prep Scholars come from households earning less than $60,000 annually for a family of four and have also experienced long-term economic hardship.

When looking at your application they look at academic achievement, financial need, and personal circumstances. To apply you need to submit a transcript, one recommendation from a core subject teacher, an essay and short answer questions, financial information, and any test score information if you have taken any of these tests: PSAT, SAT, PLAN, ACT, Subject Tests, IB, and AP.

Most students selected have an average GPA of 3.88, an ACT score of 27 or higher, and are in the top 10% of their class. One of the great aspects of this program is that they are willing to consider your personal circumstances, so don’t let a lower GPA, ACT score, and/or class rank stop you from applying.

Carleton Liberal Arts Experience: July 5-11, 2015

I did not attend this program, but I think it is a great opportunity for current sophomores, especially those interested in attending Carleton College or another small liberal arts college. Students spend the week living at Carleton and learning about liberal art education by taking courses in science, art, social sciences, and technology.

Workshops are also held to inform participants on topics such as ACT prep and the financial aid process. The program covers all costs including living in the residence halls and travel to the Carleton College campus.

To be eligible, students must plan to attend college after high school. They must also be of African American descent or have an interest in African American culture. The application requires students to answer seven short essay questions, submit a transcript with their freshman and sophomore year grades, and submit at least one letter of recommendation from an academic teacher.

The application is available now and is due on April 1, 2015.

GopherBusiness Program: July 17-25, 2015

This program is run by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Participants compete in a business case competition, take business classes, live in the dorms on campus for a week, and visit local businesses.

The business case competition involves a different local non-profit each year. The program is free and you even earn a stipend! If you attend the Carlson School after graduating from the program, you will also receive a scholarship.

From the program website, “each year, we select approximately 45 students to be a part of the GopherBusiness program. It’s a highly selective program. GopherBusiness applicants should be:

  • Current high school sophomores or juniors.
  • Interested in business, non-profit or organizational leadership.
  • From a diverse background; a future first-generation college student; from an economically disadvantaged background; students with disabilities; females; or students of LGBT and related identities.”

The ideal applicants for the program will have a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade point average, strong math and science coursework, and demonstrated leadership and involvement.

When I applied to the program, the application required a couple of essays, a list of activities I was involved in, and a form that my counselor needed to fill out.

The application for this summer’s program will open on February 6, 2015 and is due April 3, 2015.

Getting to live on a college campus for a week during the GopherBusiness camp really helped me feel prepared to leave for college this past fall. I met so many great people and I’m still in regular contact with my roommate and people from my competition group.

If you have any interest in studying business after high school, I highly recommend this program.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about applying to these programs!

Those Pesky High School Counselors

high school counselor images

by Alia

Today I want to talk about counselors, many of us avoid them like the plague.

Well guess what? Counselors may be hard to deal with at times, but their help is golden/key to your success. When you first start high school it’s okay to brush off your counselor(s) a bit, but in your second year you need to be on them about your requirements and dream classes.

If you leave your counselor unattended for more than a year they might totally mess you up. Counselors are the “order” people, their job is to keep you on track to graduate and help coordinate your schedule.

Ask yourself what classes you have to take to graduate.

All students have specific requirements, for example math, social studies, English, PE, health, and science. Make sure you have taken and passed those classes before the end of your senior year. Divide them up so you take an English, social studies, science and math class each year. Depending on your school you may not have to take a math or science class in your senior year, but colleges will think fondly of you and accuplacer tests will be easier if you do so.

The order in which you do PE and health classes usually doesn’t matter. I did both my PE and health requirements during my Junior and Senior year surrounded by crazy freshmen who would not take it seriously. Not all freshmen are wild and crazy, but many are.

When you’re a freshmen, you can go one of three ways with your schedule. You can 1) be proactive do everything you have to do so you don’t have to later; 2) wait and take a break from requirements and take what you want; or 3) you can do a mix of those two options.

It’s ideal to make a plan of schedules to come before going to your counselor. If you come to your counselor prepared with the knowledge of what you want to do and what you need to do, not only will you look smart and capable, but your counselor will take you more seriously. Having a concrete plan to follow versus picking classes at random could be the difference between graduating or not.

Here is an example of a schedule planning table

Year Social Studies Math/Other Science/Other English Other
Freshmen geography algebra 1 biology English 9 art & music
Sophomore world history geometry chemistry English 10 PE 1&2
Junior us history algebra 2 physics English 11 Health 1&2
Senior economics/

government

pre calc or elective IB/AP science class or elective English 12 Some other electives 

In no way does this example have to be your class schedule, but this example sheds some light on how to format a schedule plan to present to your counselor. It is always a good thing to take at least one IB/AP class throughout high school. It’s better to take more than one, but not everyone is cut out for that kind of extra work (also the tests aren’t easy).

Create some sort of relationship with your counselor; try to be “friends” (not like hang out or anything, but share some personal info and get to know them/let them get to know you). Having some contextual knowledge about you will help your counselor keep your values in mind and getting to know your counselor will help you know in what ways you can rely on them as a counselor.

Be careful when dealing with counselors, not all of them are on top of it. Think about if you were a counselor, would you be able to manage the success of hundreds of students? Counselors have a life too, they’re not always in the best condition to counsel.

If your counselor says you can substitute a class for PE 1 or 2, DO NOT DO IT!!! There is a special curriculum that is followed in PE classes that are not followed in similar classes. This special curriculum is what makes PE a graduation requirement. It’s like putting a student who has been playing guitar for 7 years in a piano class for students who have been playing piano for 7 years. The two classes may be similar, but they focus around two totally separate things. This may also apply to other classes that are required for graduation such as certain English and math classes, however, situations vary.

You can choose to take some classes online or through PSEO (in a college setting), before doing so you should talk with your counselor to see how this will fit in your schedule and if it is right for you. Not everyone has the work ethic to do classes online, I myself failed PE online and was rather embarrassed by it. PSEO is a great opportunity to not only learn at a college level, but see what taking college classes is like. The problem is the deadlines, make sure you tell your counselor you want to get in before the deadline runs out.

If you failed a required class in the past you should talk about it with your counselor so you can figure out how to make up the needed credits before you graduate. I know some students who didn’t get to graduate because they were a few credits short, make sure to check in with your counselor regularly to make sure you’re on track and record what they say (because they might change what they say later: warning). Perhaps have them email you or sign something to certify you are on track and not missing anything.

I know someone who checked in with his counselor regularly to make sure he could graduate on time (he was a senior). His counselor put him in appropriate classes to catch up on credits, he did all of his work and even bought his cap/gown for graduation.

On the day before the graduation ceremony he realized his name was not on the list of graduates, he went to his counselor to find out what was the problem and his counselor said he/she forgot to tell him he was still missing 3 credits despite everything. Don’t be a victim like my friend was, stay on top of your classes and manage your counselor.

To avoid such problems stay a step ahead. Know more than or as much as your counselor on your progress and what you need to do. Don’t rely solely on your counselor, get others involved in your success in case your counselor’s help fails or something happens to them during a time of need. Print out your transcript to help see what areas you have completed and what areas you still need to complete.

When you sign up for classes, your counselor usually has the last say. If you feel taking a certain class is important make sure to communicate that to your counselor so they know not to take if off of your list.

Depending on what classes you take first your senior year may be compact with little to no wiggle room. If you really like a class, but don’t have room for it in your schedule look into taking a related club (math = math club; debate = debate team; art = mural/art club; music = band/jazz combo; gym = a sport…etc.) Make sure you get done what needs to be done above all else. Don’t ignore your passions, but also don’t let them get in your way of graduating.

If you’re having trouble with a counselor (they keep changing their story or aren’t helping you), then go to the next highest official like the assistant principal or the principal. If the next highest official is unable to help talk to a dean or close teacher and maybe they can help or at least give you some advice (they’ve got experience). If no one in your school appears to be able to help you in your academic success, go to the school board or consider changing schools.

Graduating is important in the world today. Some don’t think it will amount to anything or they’re not graduation material, but that is not so. Everyone who goes to school and tries their best can graduate, sometimes it takes a year or two extra to do so, but everyone has the potential. Graduating or not could mean the difference between getting a nice job or even a job at all.

Life happens.

Some of us have jobs, family conflicts, life-changing dilemmas, children, sick family members, mental illnesses, relationship drama, biological deformities/differences, physical illnesses, bullies, and/or an unstable environment that often gets in the way of doing school work or being able to go to school. Don’t let these things get in the way; if need be take a break from school, but don’t give up on it.

Counselors can be great resources, be sure to use their advice and that your voice is being heard.

To set up an appointment with your counselor go to the main office and request to meet with him/her. If you don’t know who your counselor is, ask the person at the office desk if they can look it up for you or how you might find out.

Extra-Curriculars: The Opportunity of a Lifetime!

EXCTRA images

by Alia

Hello and welcome! My first two months in college have been a breeze and I want to take some time to talk about actions you can take while you’re in high school that will make the transition easier.

I want you all to take a moment and ask yourself what you’re truly passionate about. Is it sports, art, music, martial arts, dancing, lifting, cheering, anime, video games, acting, writing, singing, chess, world languages, LGBT, sculpting, helping others, math, science, history, reading…etc?

If you don’t know that’s fine too, I just want to encourage you to get yourself out there! Find a club or sport (in or outside of your school) that you love or think you could love if you tried it and get involved! I’d say 3+ clubs/sports while you’re in high school is ideal. Colleges love students who will add to their community; they love the bright and talented.

So what if you’re shy?

Find a club where you can sit in and watch, who knows, you might just fall in love.

So what if you think you don’t have any talents?

I think you’re looking at it wrong, if you don’t think you’re good at anything because everyone is good at something.

Either way, find your talent or make your talent. High school clubs/sports are a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sure there are clubs/sports in college, but there are things in high school that don’t happen in college like prom, yearbooks, etc. Join something while you’re in high school so you can expose yourself to awesome experiences and people you might not otherwise meet.

Throughout my high school experience I was involved in 2 martial arts, 1 sport, and around 8 or 9 clubs. You don’t have to do as much as I did, but I would encourage you to try because being involved in those activities were some of the greatest experiences of my young life. I met people who I’ll never forget and who I still see years later.

Sometimes in this world it’s not what you know, but who you know (remember that!). Joining clubs/sports can help you know what you want to do with your life, they can help open up horizons for you, and they can help you find yourself. Trial and error are good too, if you try out a club/sport and it’s not what you were looking for, well at least now you know that, right?

I tried out soccer because I love to play soccer, but my team was so much more competitive than me (I played for love of the game and not to win). I left my team with the knowledge that I’m not into overly competitive sports and I learned something about myself. Try out something and if it’s not for you that’s okay, but at least give it a try first.

You can do what you’re friends are doing or you can make your own path. Most of us go to high school and don’t know half of the people there when we start – clubs are a great way for freshmen to make new friends and become part of something.

When I started high school I only knew like 2-3 people at my school. I mentioned to someone that I liked anime and the next day some upperclassmen grabbed me during lunch, brought me to a table full of strangers and said “you are now one of us,” it was the anime club. I didn’t know how to react, but I joined them and made lots of friends in an instant.

Even if you’re not a freshman, clubs/sports are awesome opportunities to expand yourself and your social circle. You might even find yourself doing something you never thought you could/would do.

I have a friend named Bianca who was this shy girl with a lot of hidden talent, when she joined the soccer team she found something in herself she didn’t know was there and she later rose to the top. Now she’s also a brilliant artist who at first couldn’t see it in herself.

Never tell yourself that you can’t do something because you lack the “it” that makes it so other people can. You might be surprised what talents you haven’t found in yourself yet, being a teenager there’s plenty more for you to learn about yourself.

If there isn’t a club/sport at your school that you like, you can look elsewhere. I was part of Village Parks, a group that meets at park buildings and tries to connect with cultures all around the world. It had nothing to do with my high school, but it was an organized club that worked in the community. I also did martial arts that were not offered by my school, the point is to get out there.

Be yourself, be brave and be active.

Prove to me and colleges that you’re something to be reckoned with, that you’re just what we need in a certain area. The point is that everybody can get out there, but not everybody will. Be the somebody who does/did rather than the somebody who could have. Look inside and let what’s in there free.

“A dream is what you want to do, but still haven’t pursued” -Aesop Rock.

Find yourself and be yourself through clubs/sports. You are capable.