Tag Archives: high school

Rejected? How to Deal

It’s that time of year again. Ambiguity is in the air, marked by anticipation or simply by pure dread. For high school seniors, college acceptances and rejections are in the mail, and spirits are either high or low. (Some say it’s a cruel joke to send out acceptance letters on April Fool’s)

For college seniors and recent graduates, job offers are sealed and finalized. After countless interviews, some of you are finally getting that golden letter of acceptance. Time to party away the rest of senior year. (Oh wait, you mean you didn’t already do that for spring break?)

For those whose plans didn’t quite work out, it’s easy to get swept away by a tide of self-doubt in these times. But whether you were rejected from your first choice university, or from your dream job, keep in mind the following: rejections don’t define your self-worth.

Of course, general bread-and-butter advice often doesn’t heal the wound fast enough. So, weary reader, browse through the list and find the one that pertains most closely to your current situation. Then sit back, and hopefully you’ll feel somewhat better by the end.

  1. All of your friends got into the Ivy League/top-tier schools/schools with huge scholarships and you didn’t? Not only do you have to deal with your friends’ exuberant “I got into Harvard!” bursts, but they’ll inevitably ask you afterward, “So where did you get in?” Ignoring them only leads to more probing, and you know they’ll just post the same thing on Facebook/Twitter. You’ll either feel completely embarrassed that you didn’t get into as good a school, or you’ll feel angry and frustrated. Jack got a full ride? But he wasn’t even as good as me in AP Lit!

    The key is to not compare your abilities to those of your friends. Admissions look through the applicant pool to fill quotas, and by quotas I mean “to achieve a diverse incoming class.” If 50% of the incoming class are already mathematicians, they’re going to give more lenience to an aspiring art historian in the next round, all else equal. College acceptances truly have a degree of luck involved.

    Getting rejected doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less smart or less capable than your friends are. Everyone has different strengths, and comparing Jack’s math prowess to your literary prowess is an unfair comparison. Think about it: nobody ever says, Psh, Shakespeare was nowhere as mathematically gifted as Newton was. Shakespeare is clearly not a valuable person. Nor do people look down at those who attend non-elite universities. (And those who do are douchebags who are completely not worth your time in the first place)

  2. You just got your 5th (or more) job or internship rejection.

    The economy is grim out there. Well, it’s slowly started to pick back up again, but it’s still pretty difficult for job seekers.If you’ve truly given each interview all your best (that means you rigorously prepared, researched the company, and practiced), then don’t mourn. Most of the time, it just wasn’t a good fit. I had been rejected from a company that I could tell, right from the beginning of the interview, was not right for me. The employees were grim and the place resembled a prison chamber. A prison chamber with glass doors and bowls of fruit, but still.

    Other times, it’s just luck. Randomness. The interviewer might’ve not liked a tiny bit of what you’d said, and that was enough to tip the scales in someone else’s favor. Do not take things personally.

    Always keep an open mind and keep in touch with the HR at the companies you’ve interviewed for. I’ve had surprise emails drop in my inbox months after the rejection that told me of new opportunities I was qualified for. Burning bridges rarely helps anyone.

  3. I don’t know where I’m headed in the next month/6 months/year. You’ve suddenly realized you don’t know what you’re doing with your life. That’s pretty common, especially amongst mid-20-year-olds.

    Volunteer for a year. PeaceCorps if you want to travel overseas. AmeriCorps if you’d rather stay in the US. CityYear is a good option if you’re interested in teaching and working with kids. Or you can just take a year off and travel. See the world. There’s so much in the world worth living for, but first we must see those wonders. You’re only young once. (No, don’t say YOLO, please)

You will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours, so enjoy the view. –Michael York

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I’m a COOL teacher, right Regina?

In the notorious movie Mean Girls, one of the main characters’ mom tries desperately to be chic and trendy like her teenage daughter. The mom dresses in pink sweatsuits and serves the girls martinis. She then says,

I just want you to know: if you ever need anything, don’t be shy, okay? There are no rules in the house. I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom. Right, Regina?

(To which her daughter  Regina responds, “Please stop talking.”)

In high school, I had a teacher who was eerily similar to this mom–except nowhere as cheery and happy-go-lucky. But they both shared that longing wish of being “in” with the cool kids.

Let’s call her Ms. Q.

Ms. Q taught physics. From day 1, I could tell something was off. Ms. Q never smiled. She greeted everyone with her mouth in a flat line. She also liked to deadpan…except I’m pretty sure deadpans are supposed to be funny, and hers were not the definition of funny.

You’re thinking, Okay, so what? There are serious teachers everywhere. Doesn’t mean she’s incompetent. And how is she like Regina’s mom from Mean Girls?? Hold your horses.

As the semester crawled by, we noticed Ms. Q’s strange quirks. One, she had a strange sense of humor. Apparently raising your eyebrow at students while they’re talking makes you intimidating . . . and thereby gains you respect from other students. Ms. Q knew she was the authority of the classroom, and she kept that power astonishingly well by being blunt and forthright.  She wasn’t afraid to insult a student in front of everyone. She’d regularly pick on this one football player who wasn’t that good at physics, telling him to “shut up” and calling him “wow, what an idiot!” The scary part is, everyone else either thought it was funny or were too afraid to speak out. I guess it helped that the football player was humble and played along, but seriously?

Two, Ms. Q played favorites to her advantage. If you’re an outspoken, well-liked student, she’ll find ways to compliment you in front of the class multiple times a week. If you take the time to chat with her regularly, she’ll automatically see you as a friend, assigning you as her unofficial BFF. When the class is working on some problems, she’ll come by your desk and make a show of striking up conversation about the latest movies or hit songs, ignoring the students right next to you. She’ll also add you on Facebook, which I thought was one of those ‘grey areas’ in school policies . . .

Add everything together, and soon you have a class of students who are

1) intimidated by Ms. Q because they don’t ever want to be ostracized by her and treated like the football player was, and

2) eager to please Ms. Q and feeling flattered when she singles them out as someone she favors.

It’s common psychology. Say you have a ratings game and assign each of your acquaintances a number from 1 to 10 based on how cool you think they are. The ones with the highest numbers become flattered and endorse the system, whereas the ones with the lower numbers become less self-confident and are afraid to speak out.

Okay, okay, so how is she a bad TEACHER then? Aside from all the favoritism and intimidation, she still teaches the material well, right?

Um, no. By the time she’s established the boundaries of the class (i.e. which students are her favorites and which students are to be ostracized), she’ll keep those boundaries for the rest of the year. One morning, a friend of mine went into her classroom before school for some help with a physics problem. Ms. Q was there with several of her favorites. She glared at my friend with that same flat expression she’s had since the beginning of the year, and told him she was too busy at the moment and to come back later.

Was she busy? Ms. Q went right back to having a conversation about cats with her favorites, while sipping a cup of Starbucks mocha.

Another time, I tried to show her a design of a T-shirt I made for the class, and she rebuffed me in front of the entire class. The story goes like this:

It was tradition for AP classes to make class T-shirts, and so I came up with a design. My friends had all loved it and encouraged me to show Ms. Q in class. I walked up, asked her if she’d like to see my design, and held my paper out for her to see . . . to which she held her hands up, looked away, and said, “I’m not responsible for these.”

Note I was standing literally 7.5 inches from her, and the paper was right under her crooked nose. She could’ve glanced at the design and told me she didn’t like it. She could’ve just taken the paper, took one cursory look, and handed it back. Instead, she refused to look and told me to show it to *insert name of Favorite Student #2,* whom she told me was “the T-Shirt Design Coordinator.”

Later, I spoke to that student, who gave me a surprised look and said, “Wait, I’m the T-Shirt Design Coordinator? What’s that?” Turns out Ms. Q made up the title on the spot to avoid looking at my design.

Yeah, thanks a lot, Ms. Q. You’re truly a role model, that you are.

4 years later, I see that Ms. Q has added all my high school classmates on Facebook and is still bribing students for Starbucks gift cards. I think now’s the time to say, if I were to choose between Regina’s mom and Ms. Q, well, that’s a no-brainer.

Accepting: Losing the Election

If you live in the US, the upcoming presidential election is a pretty big deal. Whether you’re a die-hard Republican or a Obama fan (or economist who doesn’t care who wins as long as the recession fixes itself), elections are exciting events.

But while everyone congratulates the winner after results are posted, does anyone take notice of the … well, loser? To realize that at least half of the country doesn’t support you has to be somewhat shattering to your self-esteem.

In high school, I made the mistake of running for Vice President of Beta Club. So, this is how the election process in our happy little club is run:

1. Student submits official statement saying he/she is running for:

  • President (whose name appears at the top of fliers)
  • Vice President (who’s actually responsible for everything)
  • Secretary (who “takes notes” at meetings. Notice the quotation marks.)
  • Treasurer (who collects dues at the beginning of the year and then is deemed useless)
  • Parliamentarian (who announces when each meeting is over…yeah, no comment.)

2. Student makes a 30-second speech at the next meeting in front of 94 members waiting impatiently for the meeting to be over.

3. Everyone votes on a piece of paper.

4. Results are posted the next day.

5. Winners get hearty congratulations. Losers disappear into… oblivion.

As a natural introvert, I did not like the prospect of delivering a speech in front of 15 and 16-year-old, easily bored adolescents. I’m sweating in my seat, waiting for my turn to speak. Suddenly the words jumbled inside my mind. Am I running for VP or Treasurer again?

My perfect speech would have went something like, “I am responsible, dedicated, and dependable. You can trust me to handle every detail.” You know, something cheesy and cliched. Instead, I stuttered out my name, mentioned some jumbo about “being trustworthy with money,” and ended with “If you want the best, vote for the last!” (Because I was the last person to deliver my speech. Yeah… I don’t think my fellow students caught that reference.)

To be honest, high school elections are basically popularity contests. If you have a giant circle of friends and are generally likable, then nobody cares if your speech comprised only three words: “Vote for me.”

Needless to say, I lost. It was embarrassing since only two of us ran for VP, so I knew more than half the room didn’t vote for me. I know I shouldn’t have taken it personally, but boy, was my self-esteem shattered. The fact that my opponent’s friends all flocked around her like mockingbirds and saying things like, “Ha! I knew you’d win” and “Was there any doubt?” didn’t help much.

But in the end, we can trust fate to put us on the right path. Not winning an election isn’t the end of the world. Hey, at least you had the guts and commitment to run in the first place. Not a lot of people are willing to put themselves in the middle of the auditorium to try to convince the public that he or she is a good candidate.

Besides, think about past elections where you had to place a vote. The school board, student council, sports committee, art club… Afterwards, did you make a big deal about whoever lost? Did you think to yourself, “Oh man, Xavier is clearly a better person overall than Jane because he won and she lost!”

For Better or For Worse

So I was Facebook stalking my old classmates from high school. For all you Facebook users, you should dig into your profile history and read some of the status updates you wrote 3 years ago. Seriously, just read them.

I know right? That was my reaction too.

Anyway, people are always like Absence makes the heart grow fonder or Out of sight, out of mind. But I have a new saying: Absence makes the heart grow fonder but the mind stays absent, so once you really see the picture, your mind goes “Uh, wow, I’ve been off track.” (I realize this quote will never make it to Google’s top searches, but hey, I can dream)

Basically, a lot of classmates have changed significantly after they’ve left for college. I mean, yeah, it’s a time of growth and self-discovering. But it’s pretty amusing seeing photos of the quiet physics kid hungover in the middle of a karaoke bar. Or a bunch of class flirts who recently pledged a no-dating, sorority-only thing.

The biggest surprise, however, was the Facebook Wall of my last crush. He’s never dated anyone in his life (no, it’s not creepy I keep tabs on this kind of stuff), and I’ve never thought him to be the flirty type. He is also not one of those guys who go, “Yo, check out that chick’s booty.” In fact, he’s kind of the conservative, bookish type (hence my crush for him in the first place). But he’s become friends with this girl who

  • Posts half-nude cover photos on her profile
  • Posts photos of thongs with suggestive writings
  • Currently has a profile picture of her chest area to just below her nose, so nobody can see her face (which I thought was the point of Facebook, hur hur)

Anyway, it seems they’re becoming good pals. I can’t see most of their Wall conversations, but they’ve been having some good exchanges going on.

Well, to each his own, I guess.

List of High School Activities for the Clueless

Hey high school readers. It’s been a while since I updated anything in the high school category. Remember how I promised to give high school advice and tips? Well, first lesson you should know: promises are easily broken.

 

Anyway, to stop feeling semi-guilty, I’ve compiled a list of high school activities I would recommend to any kid.

(The bolded ones are ones I’ve personally had experience with. Yes, it looks like a handful, but remember I was one of those kids whose life revolved around academics.)

  1. Beta ClubLots of volunteering. Depending on your school, the club provides you with weekly opportunities to “GET INVOLVED” in the neighborhood. 
  2. National Honor SocietyAn A-plus version of Beta Club for the…A-plus students. Lots of volunteering, but the end result is worth it when you’re wearing that NHS stole on your graduation gown.
  3. Science Olympiad. For those who are adept in chemistry, physics, and biology. If you enjoy studying for something other than a class test and want a chance at a gold medal and fame, well, go right ahead.
  4. Math TeamMath lovers, we haven’t forgotten you. Enjoy math so much you’d give away your weekends to compete in a tournament 90 miles away? The Math Team is no joke.
  5. Debate Team. Well, I can tell you that ad hominem attacks do not work here.
  6. National Art Honor SocietyDon’t let the “Honor Society” part intimidate you. If you’ve got at least a B average, you’re in (in most schools). Just make sure you like some aspect of art, though. 
  7. Mu Alpha ThetaThe math club for less competitive students than those of the Math Team. You’ll end up tutoring students in geometry, algebra, etc. Make sure to have lots of patience and bring a giant eraser.
  8. SAVE/SADD (Students Against Violence Everywhere/ Students Against Drunk Driving). Like making awareness posters and warning classmates with little common sense? You’re in the right spot.
  9. TSA (Technology Student Association). For those aspiring architects and future engineers. You’ll be putting in a lot of after school hours building a model replica of anything from the Taj Mahal to a hospital wing.
  10. Language Clubs (French Club, Spanish Club, etc.). You really don’t do much except eat together at a restaurant Friday nights. Oh, and occasionally watch movies. It’s a “culturally creative” atmosphere.

Resume Padding 101

The problem with the world today  the academic world today is that everyone emphasizes resumes.

Find an internship, volunteer, join 5-6 clubs… all so your resume can look handy dandy and ready for that Big Boss.

(Wait? What is the Big Boss, you ask? Big Boss = the ultimate goal. Whether it’s the top law school, business school, med school, finance company, bank, or a humble office in Kansas, it’s your life dream, aka the reason you’re doing all this resume padding in the first place.)

Let me recall an anecdote from college last semester. A girl from the class of 2014 started this economics/political science organization. It was to promote global awareness on society through student written articles. It was to gather students and unite them in a common cause.

Long story short, it’s a tiny, crappier version of Times magazine. (Well, not necessarily crappier. 97% of the articles are probably from Times. Edited to 300 words, of course.)

 

Anyway, at the first few meetings, you could tell right away the girl was not doing this to “promote a economically aware campus.” No, it was more like, I have 2 years left of college and I haven’t done anything. How do I stack against the competition?? Oh wait, I’ll start a club. Not just any club, a club involving ECONOMICS and POLITICAL THEORY. Totally a winner.

 

To this day, the only thing the girl has done is

  • email everyone on campus to “contribute an article TODAY!”
  • add editor-in-chief and founder to her resume

 

It’d be wrong to bash on just one person. I mean, come on, I’m sure a lot of students these days are guilty of resume padding, too. In high school, if I gained a dollar each time I heard someone say they joined a club because “it looks good to colleges,” I’d be rolling in… well, only a little over $34, but still.

The point is, resume padding is shallow. Look at Bill Gates–I’m sure he didn’t throw himself into random organizations just to pad his resume. Nope, he stuck with his one passion (computers) and now look at him. Or look at that teenage pianist who went on to play at Carnegie Hall. I can bet she didn’t waste her time joining extraneous activities she didn’t even like.

 

Each of us has a talent. Use it instead of branding ourselves with Times New Roman, size 12 on a sheet of paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of the Subjects: Literary Analysis vs Scientific Writing

I’ve been a humanities person my entire high school career. I loved art, music, English… Oh, AP Lang and AP Lit. While some of my classmates struggled with literary analysis and essays, I swung through them breezily. It was easy! Forget guidelines and rubrics the teachers handed out. I didn’t need any of them.

For analyzing literature, all you had to do was follow the Rule of Thumb:

  1. Find the main point of the passage/story
  2. Write about it
  3. Quote necessary sentences from the passage/story as supporting evidence
  4. Make up facts and feelings. Lots and lots of dreamlike logic. “This paragraph provokes a sense of  gratitude as the reader sees Hamlet stepping boldly forward to reclaim his rightful place. It appeals to the reader’s pathos, for a lost identity is not something easily given…”

Now, introducing: science.

Technical writing.

I never took an AP science course in high school (unless you count AP Physics B, which is not really science. I mean, okay, physics is science, but I view it as math. Before anyone argues, math and science are completely different. Yes. Yes? Good.)

Yet first year of college, in the middle of walking back from the library, I had an epiphany: I want to go pre-med.

Honestly, I never saw myself as a doctor. The only chemistry course I’ve taken was the one in tenth grade, and afterwards–hasta la vista, barium. But somehow, I began to find science interesting. Analyzing literature? Not so much.

Scientific writing is very different from the writing I am used to. No more quoting. Instead, you should paraphrase. No fruity adjectives to fluff the sentence. No stretching the point.

Oh, and you know how in literary analysis, teachers (and professors) want you to surprise the reader and keep the reader hanging? (A good technique in English writing, because honestly, who else is going to give a crap about your subjective views on the anarchism of Shakespeare? *ahem* Anyways…)

Well, none of that. In science writing, this is the formula:
  1. Brief introduction and results in the shortest amount of words possible but still exceptionally clear so the reader understands.
  2. Go progressively from generalized ideas to specific.
  3. Recap the general idea.
  4. Why? What? How?
  5. Provide succinct evidence from other research papers.
  6. Recap the general idea.

Needless to say, I’m having a hard time seeing 5 word sentences on my paper. And not adding something like, “The variation of  photosynthesis rate reminds us of the many wonderful plants in our world, each contributing a unique factor to the ecosystem in the circle of life much like the honeybee in the sunflower field.”