Category Archives: College

You Should READ More!

It’s summer time!! With no school work or studying for the next few months, you finally have plenty of time to have fun and do the things you really want to do. You can go outside and play ball with some friends, play video games, make crafts, draw pictures, watch movies, catch up on all your TV shows, sleep in….

But when’s the last time you picked up a book and spent some time READING?

A lot of kids unfortunately think that reading is “uncool.” Only nerds read. Or they think, I have to read so much during the school year, why would I want to read more than I have to? Or, reading is too much work. It’s way easier and more relaxing to just lay out on the couch and turn on the TV.

There are tons of reasons why you should put down the controller, or turn off the TV, and pick up a book. Here are some examples:

  • Reading makes you smarter. Really, it does. Reading the words on page after page, thinking through what’s going on in the story, and using your imagination to visualize it all exercises your brain. Reading a story takes a lot more effort and brain power than mindlessly watching something on TV, or scrolling through Facebook posts.
  • Reading expands your vocabulary. You’ll most likely run into words that you don’t know the meaning of, and have to look them up. And/or you’ll read a lot of big, long words that a lot of people don’t really use in everyday conversations.
  • Reading reduces stress. And it’s so relaxing! Books are such a great escape from the real world… no matter what’s going on in your life, you can pick up your book, block out everything else, and get lost in the story. You can get completely emotionally invested in a fantasy world. 
  • You can learn from books. Sure, you can learn from TV shows and movies, too. Books can teach you about different cultures, different lifestyles, different types of people, and all kinds of stuff.
  • Reading improves concentration. Obviously… you need to be focused in order to read something, especially for such long periods of time.
  • Reading improves your imagination. Again, you need to visualize the place, the people, and everything that’s going on!
  • Reading develops empathy. When you do become so emotionally invested in a story, you can feel the emotions the characters are feeling, and/or imagine how you would feel if you were there, too.
  • Reading can help you become a better writer. If you read a lot of different people’s writing, you can learn different writing styles and see different ways of wording things.
  • Reading helps develop your cognitive skills, and can even prevent neurological diseases, like dementia.
  • Reading will help you do better in school, and prepare for college (because of your better writing skills, better concentration, expanded vocabulary, etc.)

Having a good hobby like reading can also help you stay out of trouble. What do teens often do when they’re bored? They can get mixed up in some not so cool stuff. 

There’s still a lot of summer left, go down to the book store or library and pick yourself up a few good books!!

 

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Be Stress Free!

stress

With school coming to an end and all your final projects, papers, presentations, and exams just around the corner, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work you need to get done. You are excited about the small amount of time left until summer, but at the same time you’re nervous because it feels like there is not enough time to get everything done. Panic sets in and stress begins to creep into your life. You feel tense, and your sleeping patterns may be way off.

Do not let stress take hold of your life these last few weeks of school. Instead, defeat the stress and have a smoother ending to your school year. How? Don’t worry. We’ve got your back with some easy tips for you to follow to be stress-less:

1) Dance it out

There is nothing like getting up out of your seat, turning up your favorite tunes, and shaking off the stress by dancing. Just stand up, and take a few moments to let it all out. Not only is it fun, but it also helps you relieve some of the tension that has built up in your muscles and it helps clear your mind. And if you are by yourself, you can dance as goofy as you want! If you’re with friends, turn it into a dance party!

 

2) Go for a walk

Summer is getting closer, and that means more sunny days are ahead. Go take a walk in the sunshine and warm weather. Don’t rush, but relax and take your time. Look at your surroundings, breathe in the clean air, listen to the sounds, and just pay attention to the little things and enjoy them. Don’t get so busy that you don’t notice the beauty in the little things in life.

3) Talk about it

Time to call your BFF or go to someone you trust and VENT. Sometimes that is all we need to see clearly through the cluttered mess that our lives turn into. Talk to someone and share what is stressing you out. Sometimes talking through things with someone helps you realize something you didn’t see before, and you get an outside perspective from someone else. Sometimes, all you need are words of encouragement and someone who can tell you, “You can do this!” So, don’t just sit there. Turn to someone and get your stress off your chest.

4) Breathe

Take a few deep breaths in and out. When you are stressed, your breathing pattern actually changes as part of a “fight or flight” mode. Controlling your breathing helps you relieve some of the stress you have built up. Why do you think breathing is such a key component in yoga?

5) Go to bed earlier

You are not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by staying up late into the night. Not only does less sleep have the potential to increase stress, it also lowers your performance level. High stress and bad performance is not a good combination. If it can wait another day, it can wait another day. Getting a good nights sleep will help your stress and help you be more efficient during your day as well.

6) Focus on what you can control

Sometimes we put so much on ourselves and some of those things are just out of our control. Make notes of the things you do have control over and write them down in a “to-do” list. Do not carry more than you need to.

7) Reminiscence about good times/laugh

Sometimes, when I have been working on homework and projects for a long time, I’ll take a break and go through my Facebook pictures. I’ll look through some old memories and good times with friends and family, and it brings a smile to my face. It helps to ease my mind and settle my thoughts. You can also watch some funny videos. Make sure to leave room for laughter in your day. It’s a good reminder that all is well and life is good.

8) Ask for a hug

I don’t know about you, but I love hugs. Friends will ask me how I am doing and I will sometimes respond with, “I just need a hug.” There is no better feeling than a tight hug from a close friend to help squeeze out some of the stress and remind me that I am loved and cared about.

9) Look for opportunities in life’s challenges

When we are presented with a challenge, like a paper or test, we tend to look at the negative side. “This paper is so long!” or “This test is going to be so hard!” We focus so much on the negative that we fail to see the positive in the work that we are doing. Why not make a list of the opportunities and good things you get out of the assignments you have?

10) Smile

Why smile? Because at the end of the day, everything will be okay and you will get through this. You have done it before and you can do it again. So, smile and remember you can do this and you are close to the finish line. Finish strong and stress-less.

How to Write a Resume!

 

Need a job? On top of job applications, many companies prefer applicants to give them a resume. Sometimes they only want resumes and don’t even give out applications. First off, don’t be scared of writing a resume if you’ve never made one before. It may seem intimidating at first, but having one can greatly impact your chance of getting that job you want.

You may be thinking that you can’t build a resume because you have never had any “real” work experience. That is not true. Whether you realize it or not, you actually have a lot you can put on your resume!

A resume is basically all of your skills and experience written out neatly in a list for employers to easily and quickly look over. So, start with just making a list. By writing a list, you will have all the information you need to build a resume right in front of you. Then all you need to do is format it. (Don’t worry, I’ll help you with this step later.)

List your name and contact information, like your address, phone number and email. Then list your education. Write the name of your high school and your year of graduation, even if you haven’t graduated yet. For example, list “Class of 2015.” This shows the person looking at your application that you are working towards graduating from high school, which is an important and valuable accomplishment in the job world. If you have any college experience, even if only one term, write that down too.

Next, list your achievements and any awards you’ve gotten. If you’re proud of your high GPA, write it down! If you’ve made honor roll, or gotten any other award at school, write that down, too.

Then list your work and volunteer service. Did you have a summer job last year? Did you mow your neighbor’s lawn on a regular basis? Did you babysit your siblings or neighbor kids? Were you part of a club in high school that did projects around school? Have you volunteered anywhere? Write it down. All of these things are important because it shows the employer that you have valuable experience and skills.

Next, write down any skills you have that would be important to have at the job. Are your responsible? A hard worker? Are you able to use PC’s an/or Mac’s well? Do you get along well with other people? Are you outgoing? Are you organized? Write any thing like these that apply to you. These gives the employer an idea of who you are as a person.

The last part of your list should include all of your activities. Did you play a sport in high school? Are you in the band, choir, or orchestra? Did you win any awards in any of these activities? Write it all down.

Whew.

That took a while. But now you have everything you need for your resume! YAY!!

Now, before you start to build your own, look at some sample resumes so you can get an idea of what one should look like. Google is a great resource. Here is a link to another website with lots of different examples.

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/sampleresume1/a/high-school-resume-examples.htm

 

Here is a sample resume for someone with little or no work experience:

 

 FirstName LastName

6 Pine Street, Arlington, VA 12333
home: 555.555.5555
cell: 566.486.2222
email: phjones@vacapp.com

Education 

Arlington High School, Arlington, Virginia
2002 – 2006

Experience

Pet Sitter
2004 – Present
• Provide pet sitting services including dog walking, feeding and yard care.

Child Care
2002 – Present
• Provide child care for several families after school, weekends and during school vacations.

Achievements
• National Honor Society: 2004, 2005, 2006
• Academic Honor Roll: 2002 – 2006

Volunteer Experience

• Big Brother / Big Sisters
• Arlington Literacy Program
• Run for Life

Interests / Activities

• Member of Arlington High School Tennis Team
• Girl Scout
• Piano

Computer Skills

• Proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and Internet

 

Once you feel comfortable with the format, begin building your own. At the top center of your resume, list your contact information. Make sure you don’t use a “silly” email that you made back in middle or elementary school. If you need, make a new account on gmail (for free!!) that uses a more professional looking email. For example, use a combination of your name, initials, and birthdate/graduation year. Lets pretend your name is “John Smith” and you were born in 1996 and you are graduating this spring (2014). Here are some possibilities:

  • jsmith2014@gmail.com
  • johnsmith1996@gmail.com
  • jsmith1996@gmail.com

After you list your contact information, continue entering information from your list into the format you chose to use. Generally, you should begin with your education history, then your work/volunteer experience, then positive qualities and skills, and finish up with activities such as sports or music.

Print your resume on white or light cream paper using size 11 or 12 point font. Do not use a fancy font, a simple Times New Roman or similar font is all you need. Any other font can be hard to read and distracting, not to mention look unprofessional, and might even discourage someone from hiring you.

Before you submit your resume, PROOFREAD it! Think you already proofread? Proofread again. And then have someone else look at it. After they have looked at it, bring it to someone else. You want your resume to be 100% error-free. TRUST ME.

Congratulations! You now have a resume!

As time goes on, keep your resume up to date with new education, work, or volunteer experience. This way, you will always have it on hand for when you need it!

Good luck!

 

Rock Your Next Interview!

 

Ever have an interview? Did you get awkward, tense and ridiculously nervous? Well, you are not alone. Being interviewed is scary stuff.  It is literally being subjected to complete judgement on everything you say and do.  Still, no matter how much they suck, we all have to go through one at some point or another, whether it be applying for a job, student leadership, a scholarship, or any other position.  Since it can’t be escaped, you might as well learn to do it well.  Here are some tips that will help you to rock your next interview and hopefully calm your nerves:

  • Be yourself. Employers want to hire people that they will enjoy working with, so they genuinely want to get you know you. Be funny, interesting, confident, honest. Just be you. Don’t try to be somebody else, or something you’re not.
  • Be prepared. Think of some potential questions you might be asked before the interview, so you’ll be more prepared and you won’t have to think of everything on the spot. Most employers ask things like: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why should you be hired? Why do you want to work here?
  • Do your research. Look into the company you’re applying to. Make sure you know their mission statement and values if they have them. Recall a good experience you had with the company and bring that up. They want to know that you really do want to work there.
  • Know what they are looking for. If you’re applying for a job that requires a lot of interaction with others, then present yourself as a people person. If it is a labor job, show that you’re a hard worker.
  • Be confident and relaxed. Show them how awesome you are. Don’t be shy, go ahead and brag and talk about all the things you’re good at! After all, if you don’t think you’ll be hired, why should they even consider you? And, don’t talk in circles. Get right to the point and if you don’t have anything else important to add, just stop there.

Again, everyone gets at least a little nervous during interviews, and employers understand that. But really, just be straight up with them. You just need to tell them about yourself and why you want that job. No biggie… so just chill!

Studying 101

Do you sometimes have a hard time studying for big tests, and getting big projects done on time? Is it hard for you to concentrate and study for long periods of time? The truth is, everyone is different, and you need to learn how YOU study the best if you want to start doing better in school. Here are several tips that will help you figure out the best way for you to study:

  • Get organized. Keep all your syllabuses from each class, and write down all your papers, tests, and projects in a calendar. This will help you know ahead of time when things are going to be do, instead of waiting until the last minute when your teacher finally mentions it in class. You’ll be able to begin working and studying well in advance.
  • Plan out projects. See how long each step will take you, so you have enough time to complete the whole thing. Sometimes if you don’t plan things out ahead of time, they’ll end up taking you a lot longer than you expected and you may run out of time.
  • Determine what time of day you are most alert. If you’re a morning person, wake up a little earlier to do homework and study. If you’re a night owl, do it at night.
  • Figure out what distracts you the most. If you find yourself going on Facebook every time you write a paper, it might be a good idea to turn off the internet; or if you need the internet, don’t go on Facebook even “just for a minute.” If people distract you, make sure you study alone. Avoid whatever distracts you so you can get more done.
  • If you study in a group, make sure to study with people who are serious about the test or project. Sometimes people get distracted and start talking too much, or showing each other things on the internet. You’ll never get anything done if your group doesn’t focus. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say “Sorry, but I really need to work on this.”
  • Prioritize if you have multiple tests and projects. Determine which ones are a bigger percent of your grade, which ones will probably take you the longest, and which subjects you’re not as good at. Get those done first.
  • Listen to music if it helps. Some people get too distracted by music, but for some people, music makes studying not so boring and it keeps them awake. Try it out and see if it helps you.
  • Don’t do all your studying or work for your project in one night, space it out. If you cram, you won’t learn or remember as much. If you try to bust out a big paper or project in one evening, you won’t do such a good job. Give yourself time to work on it for shorter periods of time for several days.
  • Take breaks. If you are studying or working on something for a really long time, take breaks. You don’t have to sit there and work for several hours straight. You’ll get burnt out, and eventually you’ll stop retaining information. It’s okay to take a quick 10-15 minute break to check Facebook, talk to a friend, and just relax. You’ll feel recharged and be able to focus again even with just a short break.
  • Eat snacks. Sometimes you just need more energy to keep you going and focused. Eat something healthy, though… like fruits and veggies, crackers, yogurt, or a granola bar.
  • Study in the right place. People study better in different places. Some people prefer to sit in a coffee shop with a friend while they work, some people feel more motivated in the library where it’s quiet, others like staying in their room at home. See what works for you.
  • Make sure you understand the information and you aren’t just memorizing it. There’s no sense in learning about something if you don’t actually understand it. Memorizing definitions and answers to questions won’t do you any good. Besides, what if it’s worded differently on the test? If you aren’t getting something, ask your teacher or someone in your class, or look it up in your book or online.
  • Have someone quiz you. If you want to make sure you’re ready for the test, you’ll have to study in a way that you won’t be able to see all the answers. So have a friend or parent ask you some questions and see how you do, before you’re really getting tested on it.
  • Make flashcards. Flashcards are a great tool for studying. Writing down information on the cards will help you remember a lot, and you can use them to quiz yourself.
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before your test. Pulling all-nighters will never do you any good. You don’t want to be sleepy and groggy while you’re taking a big test… you need to be awake, alert, and focused. Make sure you eat a good, healthy meal beforehand, too.

Whether you’re in middle school, high school, or college, you need to do well in school! And you need to learn how you study the best so you can succeed and get good grades. Hopefully some of these tips are helpful for you!