Friday, January 23, 2015

Advice for High School Seniors

Hey everyone!
As my Winter break comes to an end and my Keurig usage hops into full swing once again, I just wanted to say hello to all of the prospective Macaulay at Hunter students on the page!

Recently, I was asked by my high school to speak at their annual Alumni Day, where both old alumni come back to speak as professionals and their work experience and recent alumni attending college or graduate/professional school come back to speak about their college experience. Because so many of you high school seniors are scoping out the MacBlog, I just wanted to offer some advice and things I've learned in my first semester as a college student:

  • First things first, don't forget to enjoy your senior year! Time with your classmates is winding down, and senioritis is kicking into full swing as you enter your second term. Spend time with people that you love and take lots of pictures. Write letters to your favorite teachers before you leave about how much of a difference that they've made in your life. Tell your friends in their yearbooks about just how much you're going to miss them sitting behind you in your dreaded Calc class. Have a dope prom and afterprom, you deserve it. Congrats for getting through high school and all of your accomplishments!
  • After Senior year, you will lose some friends -- and that's completely okay. People change and grow apart, and it's simply a fact of life. In high school, many people focus on popularity, who they know, and count their self-worth by the amount of Instagram likes that they receive. As I matured a bit and entered college, I've learned that it's definitely better to have a few tight knots than a hundreds of loose ends.
  • Have an open mindset. Personally, as a high school senior, I applied to mainly 0-6 Pharmacy programs, dead-set on going to a Pharmacy school, with only a few schools -- including Macaulay at Hunter -- as exceptions. I went to Macaulay at Hunter because it not only provided me with irreplaceable opportunities, but it didn't lock me into a major. I wanted to be open to explore other career options. I had cold feet, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've found interest in several different fields, such as Urban Studies, Sociology, Economics, and Community Health, all of which I wouldn't have thought of myself being interested in as a senior. Be open to new things, even if you definitely think that you know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life. And yes, I am still Pre-Health, even though I've found interest in other fields.
  • Try things out! Volunteer, shadow, or try to find an internship in a field that you're interested in. Don't think that these things are restricted to college students. I really wish I did this in high school.
  • Challenge yourself and compete with yourself to be the best version that you can be. 
  • Don't forget to utilize the resources that your high school has. For example, my high school's Alumni Association is large and well-funded, and I found a shadowing opportunity through it recently by just contacting the Alumni Director and telling her what I was looking for in shadowing.
  • When applying to and deciding on colleges as a senior, keep in mind your future plans -- including graduate school and professional school. One of my friends who also attends Macaulay at Hunter told me that her cousin is $800,000 in debt after completing both her Undergraduate and Graduate degrees. I don't think you want to be that person, and if given the opportunity to attend a program like Macaulay, jump on it.
  • In a program as rigorous as Macaulay, take school and your GPA seriously. I wholly support indulging in senioritis while it lasts, but just be aware of the workload that you're going to have when entering college. Don't think that because you took hard classes in high school, you can continue to slack off. You'll definitely be in for a rude awakening upon entering college.
  • Surround yourself with people who are just as motivated as you are. You will build off of each other's momentum.
  • Don't compare yourself to other people. Just because something works for another person -- in terms of study habits, finding experience and outside opportunities, etc. -- it may not work for you. Input may not always equal output, and you have to learn how to be okay with that. Just because you know one person who doesn't have to study at all to get an A in the class, doesn't mean the same method will work for you. Don't even try it.
  • Although grades are important, they definitely aren't everything. Trust me. This is coming from someone who ended high school with a 98.75 GPA. Networking, gaining experience in your desired field, and building up your resume are just as important. Don't sweat if you got an B+ instead of the A you wanted in a class.
  • (This is kinda tangential but...) Speaking as a Macaulay at Hunter student specifically, I have become so grateful that I live in a single dorm with no roommates. As I caught up with friends from other colleges, I've heard some good things, and I've heard some horror stories. Regardless, dorming WILL teach you lots about independence and how to live without your parents and home-cooked meals all the time.
  • Because college is an investment, you should spend it doing things that you enjoy, stepping out of your box, and finding things that you're passionate about. Read: Don't invest your time into something that's not important to you. You'll thank yourself. 
  • When you get to college, enjoy it while you can. It'll be a journey, and as stressful as it sounds, don't forget to have some fun. At one of the days of Orientation Week in August 2014,  Macaulay at Hunter provided a breakfast for us before joining the other Macaulay campuses for a workshop. One of the alumni speakers said something I definitely agree with, "It's okay to stay up a little later on Sunday because you were doing other worthwhile things on Friday and Saturday night. Live a little. You only get these four years once." 


    As a freshman, I'm following this same exact advice I'm giving you. Although I've survived a semester, I still have a long way to go, and I'm constantly reminding myself of these things. 

    Finally, congratulations to you high school seniors for making it this far. The Macaulay Honors College is extremely competitive, and just the fact that you applied to (or, if you are a junior or underclassman, are considering applying to) Macaulay at Hunter means that you have some great tricks up your sleeve and lots for the world to offer. 

    I wish you all the best of luck.

    - Katherine V., Class of 2018

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Mistaken Love Letters, Effort, and an Improved Edward Cullen

    Dear god, this is my third post in 2 weeks. Have I no life? The answer to that question is yes. I have none. I'm about to be a second-semester senior in exactly 9 days (my 40-day break is ending. I am so sad) and I am terrified. Since the school year started I've been crossing my fingers, saying "hopefully" and things like "that's the plan," and praying that the year just goes smoothly. I'm almost there, and yet, I just want to get across the finish line.

    I've noticed that as the years go by, I'm becoming a lot less devoted to my school work. School is all I do, though, so it's a shame that I feel I'm not putting 100% effort into it. My relatives still groan at me for carrying around my textbooks with me to social events, but at this point they're just for a peaceful psychological state of mind. I used to be so on top of everything! Effort was my best friend! But now, I'm a week away from a huge pharm test that I am genuinely cowering from, but I have bizarrely chosen TO NOT STUDY YET. I am avoiding it even more than I avoid MRSA, Victoria's Secret, vacuuming and threading my upper lip. And I really avoid those things!

    I think the root of the problem is that I'm going to need to be on top of my nursing game this semester, and it's going to require a last burst of effort. Also I have to figure out the Nursing yearbook. This is serious stuff. This is people's lives and a license. And also people's senior pictures (this is debatably the scarier thing to handle). And since I have an inherent terror of being serious and doing serious things, it's a little scary. I'm proving to be terrible at dealing with scary things! For example, Battle Royale is scary so I just wimped out on watching it! Even though I loved the book!
    But I can't wimp out here, so I'm procrastinating instead.
    Scarlett O'Hara was a master procrastinator ("I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy." "I'll think about it tomorrow, when I can stand it." "...Tomorrow is another day!" Girl was in love with the concept of tomorrow!), but she still worked hard and like, probably got Rhett back in the end. If she could succeed so can I!

    Anyway, senioritis creeps up on everyone, but I hope it goes away, because I have more schooling to go to get to where I want to be. Prospective freshmen reading this: I hope my drudgery hasn't scared you. You shall be fine, and work really hard up until your senior year, at least. I pat myself on the back every now and then thinking of all the papers and projects I did in college. Tip I would give you though: limit what social media you can. I think adding up the hours I spent on fb, etc, in college would be a shameful, horrendous amount of time that I'm sure I could've used to learn another language.

    This week, whenever I was on the subway or watching a patient sleep, I wrote notes and thoughts on scraps of paper to occupy the time. Then I promptly dropped one. Now, I know what you're thinking: Cute guy finds it, reads the note, finds it hilariously entertaining, enjoys my writing, connects to my soul, etc etc, we fall madly in love (I realize I'm vaguely describing part of the plot to The Sky is Everywhere) and get to tell the cutest, most original anecdote of our serendipitous meeting for the rest of our lives. Alas, I am not living the life of a rom-com, no matter how many I've watched this week. The housekeeping staff member who found it thought it was a love-letter (It was not, despite my convincing flowery handwriting. I don't think she believed me, though, because she grinned at me and said it was a pity she hadn't had her reading glasses) and the nurse who found it said, "It was a little strange. I was concerned." I was actually wildly embarrassed and am hoping I get floated around because I can't go back to this unit right now. (Whatever, nurse! Sorry for you that you don't appreciate my creative exercises in dialogue-writing and possibly useful notes on the sounds of snoring!)

    Update on the gym: I went twice this week with my brother. Turns out I'm bad at working and gymming, but progress is progress, and I went like 4 times last week. So I'm pretty sure that covers me for like, a month. At least, it should. Today I had a great workout anyway because I tried to hack into the ice cream container before letting it defrost. It took me about 3 minutes, and I ended up with 2 scoops (a good thing, in retrospect, as it was late and I did not need that much sugar) and sore upper body muscles after digging fruitlessly into the ice cream.

    Lastly, and obviously most importantly, things I've watched:
    -Breaking Dawn Part 2 : My sister and I have waited years to finally sit down and heckle this movie as it deserves, but it turned out being the best of the bunch and we actually enjoyed it. R-Pat looked his best, and acted well (once they took out the "Oh Bella. I am so angsty that I cannot function unless I hover around you solemnly all the time and use every moment to declare love for you in a forced American accent," and "Jacob! You dog. Come let us snarl at each other!" lines, he was nice to watch. Calm, relaxed, and sweet, he took away all the comedy in these films by acting normally).  Kristen Stewart breathed and stuff and said Edward's name like, a little bit less than usual! Charlie's character/actor are easily the best in the series.
    -Hart of Dixie : this is all I want my life to be. I'm halfway there, she's from NY and moves south, I'm from NY and could move south
    -Legend of Korra: awesome, awesome show. It totally is all about inner growth and maturation. Subversive ending indeed.

    Here are two lovely poems I read this week (ugh, ok, I got them from Untold instead of being cool and just having my own awesome poetry collection)
    Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die. 
    - Mary Elizabeth Frye

    and

    Warm summer sun shine kindly here
    Warm south wind blow kindly here
    Still and always burns your light
    Good night, dear heart, good night, good night. 
    -Robert Richardson, adapted by Mark Twain, I think, and found in the book Unmade

  • Friday, January 16, 2015

    Interviews and Paddington

    Hi, everyone!

    I checked the blog's stats, and we've had an exponential growth in views because of the Macaulay interviews that happened this past week (and will continue till the end of the month). I hope all of you are finding the blog helpful in getting to know this great program and its students, and I encourage you all to read a variety of posts while checking us out. Read the first posts from 2009 or look at finals weeks posts (which tend to have great tips on how to manage life during a stressful time) or just click on a random year and month and read over our descriptions of classes and trips and introspections (and the photos of yummy food like in Erica's post below!). Feel free to ask questions, and leave comments. :)

    Danielle Haley wrote an awesome post about Macaulay interviews last year, and it has received a huge number of hits this week. She offers a number of helpful tips so definitely make sure to read it.

    Danielle was comprehensive so I won't give you a whole new list of things, but here are a few things that I think are helpful to keep in mind.

    - Take deep breaths as you're walking to the interview table to calm your mind and to relax your tongue so you don't speak too quickly or stumble over your words.

    - Don't eat right before the interview. This avoids the whole stinky breath/cracker stuck in your teeth issue. :p But do make sure to grab something after your interview. You've earned it! Plus, Macaulay always orders yummy things.

    - Smile! It puts everyone at ease and makes you look like you're happy to be there.

    - Make eye contact. A sign that you're not intimidated.

    - Make the interviewer remember you for the right reasons. Share something unique about yourself. It doesn't have to be anything out of this world. Just something that will stand out in the interview as a cool fact about you.

    - Lean in, and look interested.

    - Shake hands when you greet them and when you say good-bye.

    If you had the chance to do your interview already, I hope it went well, and if you're still waiting to do yours, I wish you the best of luck!

    What have I been up to? I went to see Paddington with my mom today. haha We both love bears so it was a fun couple of hours.

    Downton Abbey has been back for a couple of weeks now, and the characters (and their clothes) are as fabulous as ever!

    Less than 2 weeks till my last semester of college begins. Ahh! I hope to make it a memorable one.

    S.

    Quote of the Week

    “Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone.”

    ~ Alexander Graham Bell