Why You Should Retake Your SATs as a High School Senior

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Congratulations! You’ve made it to your senior year of high school. With less an a year left until college you have a lot to look forward to. In addition to completing college applications, it is time to review your SAT exam scores. Even if you spent junior year studying night and day for the exam, you must be honest with yourself about your scores. Are you satisfied with them? If not, it’s never too late to turn it around! Retaking your SAT senior year can actually be a great way to boost scores and improve your chances of getting into your preferred school.

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1.   Improve Your Score from Experience

Here are some shocking numbers you may not know: according to the College Board, the makers of the SAT, 55% of test takers improved their scores when retaking it their senior year! Even more surprising is that the lower your score is, the higher your chance at improving when you take it your second time around!

Your first SAT test will most likely knock you out on your feet, even with the best study skills preparing you. It’s long, there’s distractions, and you never know what kind of questions you will get. But the second time around, you have experience on your side. You know what your day will be like from the moment you walk through the testing doors until you put your pencil down. You may also understand the questions better and be able to use hindsight to see where you went wrong. With experience on your side, you’re sure to improve.

2.   Less Pressure

Junior year is a big year for most students. College is starting to become a reality, buoyed by campus tours, meetings, and big tests that can determine your future. From parents to guidance counselors, you probably felt the college crush from the first day of classes.

When a student takes the SAT more than one time, colleges only see the amount of times you took the test and the specific test score that the student selects. In fact, you can pretend a previous test never happened. And if you happened to do worse, you can always just submit your junior year score. No harm, no foul.

3.   Prepare Smarter

Though experience plays a massive role in improving your scores, nothing beats preparation. Many juniors begin their test prep a few months out to the testing date, which gives them plenty of time to study. But as a senior, it’s different. As long as you submit your scores by the college’s application deadline, you have additional time to make your flashcards or find a good study partner.

4.   Narrow Down Your Schools

Unsure of which colleges you are planning to apply to? Many seniors make their final decisions based off the tools they have: their GPA, and their SAT scores. While you cannot make huge changes to your GPA in a short period of time, you can improve your test scores. In return, you can decide which schools will be a good fit for your academic talents.

How High School Seniors Can Work Smarter

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In today’s society, most teenagers have a larger problem with understudying than overstudying–most, but not necessarily all. Although not knowing the material is going to hurt your grade, reviewing the material so much that it starts to run together is just as bad.  There’s nothing worse than sitting down to take a test and having your mind become as blank as the sheet sits in front of you .

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Besides the ordinary schoolwork, there are quite a few aspects of our lives that we tend to overemphasize and worry about. Practice does make perfect, but that doesn’t mean you should practice kicking the ball until you break your toe, and if you sing a song one thousand times over, you’ll be so hoarse that you won’t be capable of singing in front of a live audience.

If you want to maintain your high average, healthy body, soprano voice, and–quite frankly–your sanity, it’s important that you learn the difference between hard work and smart work. Hard work is a vital aspect of smart work, but the difference between the two is the end product:  a happy you, or a stressed and overworked you.  I know the outlook that I’d prefer.

Hard work is studying until twelve AM;  smart work is studying just as hard, but only until 9 PM.  Part of being a smart worker is realizing that if you can’t find time to complete every single item on your to-do-list, it isn’t the end of the world.
Tomorrow is a wholly new day, and if you’re well rested, you’ll be prepared to tackle that list–and even more smart work.

–Tori A. from Prep For A Day

How do you attempt to work “smart” instead of “hard”?

3 Books High School Seniors Need To Read

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Picture yourself in the first semester of your senior year of high school, and you’re already planning for the inevitable: college. You’re thrilled about this new chapter in your life, and yet you’re also a little anxious about all of the unknowns that go along with attending school.  Seeking to calm your nerves?  Flip through these books to answer any of the questions you have about life in college.

1. The Freshman 50 by Carly A. Heitlinger

In this short read, Heitlinger compiles a list of what she wishes she had known, what she did know, and what she is glad she didn’t know about her freshman year of college. With advice on everything from textbook prices to off-campus dining, this book is the perfect survival guide for any prospective college student.

2. How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport

If you’re especially worried about balancing studying and a social life, this is the book to read.  Newport gives his perspective on smart studying, a technique which not only guarantees a stellar GPA, but also allows enough free time to enjoy being a young adult!

3. The Best Four Years by Adam Shepard

Written by a man who pursued the true “American Dream,” this book is one-half advice guide, one-half inspirational story.  Shepard shares his own college experience (which was funded by a mere $25) and the tips he employed to make it one of the most memorable experiences of his life.

–Tori A. from Prep For A Day

6 Ways to Prepare for College Applications

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You may have just started your senior year, but college is calling! Early admissions begin in the early fall, so there is no time to waste in getting yourself ready for application season. Here are six things you need to prepare for when applying to college.

1.   Ask for Recommendations

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Recommendations from the people who know you personally are a must for almost every college application. While you may want to wait to see if there is a special recommendation form provided by your school, you should begin to ask if the person would be willing to do it. Pick your recommenders by those you would consider a mentor (think teachers, managers, coaches, or spiritual leaders). Stay away from family (even if you worked with them at school or a sport) or someone who only knew you for a year or less.

2.   Clear Up Your Grades

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Did you receive a grade you do not agree with? Now is the time to ensure that it is fixed. Colleges will ask for your transcripts and any incomplete or low grade could knock you out of a competitive spot. Contact your counselor or the teacher of the class ASAP to discuss any current grades.

3.   Make a Mock Resume

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Each resume will have a standard set of questions divided into grades, accomplishments, achievements, and outside work. While you most likely will not submit a real resume, you should create one that you can use when you apply. For example, have an honors list that includes all of the awards or nominations. Make another category with any jobs or volunteer experiences. Having this all handy, along with details such as dates, places, and names, can help you cut back on time.

4.   Save Up for Fees

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Colleges will most likely ask you to pay at least some fee to apply to their school. These prices often range from $30-150. This is to weed out the serious applicants from those just wanting to say they applied. These fees can add up fast, especially if you plan to send in many applications. If you plan to apply for five universities, try to save up at least $350-500. If you come from a low-income family, you may be able to apply for a fee waiver. Check online or call an application counselor for more information.

5.   Prepare a Portfolio

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Those students planning to major in fine arts (such as performance, dance, theater, or art) will be required to submit a portfolio with their work. A portfolio may range from pictures of your latest creations, demonstrations of your basic techniques, or audition tapes. Ask your teacher or coach to help you create one that best demonstrates your talent.

6.   Improve Your Writing

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The personal essay portion of an application strikes fear in student’s hearts. The expectations for essays vary – some schools will require just a quick paragraph, while others will ask you for a lengthy response. These essay subjects are often listed online so you can prepare early. If writing is not your forte, start working on them now and seek out an English teacher or an editor to help you compose the best draft possible.

Starting early is the best way to stay on track with your college applications. With your fees saved, your resume ready to go, and essays out of draft form, you can go into your senior year confident that you’re set for the application season to come.

How are you preparing for college applications? Let us know in the comments!

Easy Ways to Stay Organized During the School Year

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High school has been back in session for a few weeks now! With that entails the workload starting to pick up and schedules  becoming busier by the day! As you move deeper into the school year, it becomes difficult to stay organized and on top of things while your agenda is hectic. Here are some tips to get and stay organized!

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Have a Place for Everything

Whether this means keeping all of your pens into a cute pencil pouch or leaving all of your textbooks on your desk, have a specific spot for everything so you always know where to find it!

Use an Agenda

My Lilly Pulitzer agenda definitely keeps my life together during the school year. Agendas are so helpful in keeping up with test dates, project deadlines, meetings, dinners with friends, the list goes on and on! These handy items are only effective if you use them consistently, so be sure to write things down in your agenda!

Find a system that works for you

I have found that using two binders for all of my classes works for me. Does that work for everyone? Definitely not! Find what system works for you (whether it is binders, notebooks, folders, color-coding, etc.) and stick with it!

Put things in the right place

This means putting your History paper in the History portion of your binder not just thrown into your bag! This helps you know exactly where everything is and so it is cleaner!

Clean out your bag and desk-space regularly

I know that when things get busy, the last thing you want to do is clean up your mess. Pretend panic, cleaning up every so often makes sure that everything is in it’s right spot and that you can find it! Also, I find it so much easier to work in a clean space!

How to Prepare for College during Senior Year of High School

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You made it! After three years of high school, you’re finally a senior. While you may be busy planning your prom attire or working out your senior class trip, you should also begin thinking about your plans for when you graduate. If you’ve got heading to a university in mind, the following seven steps will prepare you for college during your senior year of high school.

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1.   Finalize Your Application List

Before you apply, be sure you have narrowed down your list. With some schools costing as much as $200 to apply, you’ll want to be specific and not just apply to anywhere and everywhere. Your best bet is to take a look at your grades and test scores then compare the averages at each school lists for its most recent freshman class. Make columns with “safety,” “dream,” and “reach.” Schools that you have better than average scores and grades go into safety, dream includes those you would fit well in, and reach are those you really want to go but are unsure of if you can get in. Then, apply for at least one in each column.

2.   Make a Backup Plan

Let’s say the worst happens and you do not get into your dream school. It may hurt to think about, but you need to have a backup plan. This could include going to a community college, taking an offer from a “safety” school, or even working for a year until you’re ready to try again. Whatever it is, make sure your path keeps your dreams and goals in mind.

3.   Get Your Financial Aid in Order

The time to apply for scholarships is now. There are many local, state, and national scholarships that begin the process of awarding in the fall and winter as students get accepted. If you will need assistance in paying for school, do not delay or you may miss out on free money for school. In addition, all students should prepare to fill out the FAFSA forms. Most families fill this out with their taxes.

4.   Consider Pre-College Classes

You may not be an enrolled college student yet, but you can get some of your pre-req’s out of the way by taking college courses at your local community or junior college. An advisor at this school can walk you through which ones are the most transferable (meaning they will count towards your transcript). In addition, you should consider taking AP (advanced placement) courses and the tests that will also transfer to many schools.

5.   Setup a LinkedIn Page

You are probably already on Facebook and have been posting all of your senior year pics on Instagram, but have you checked out LinkedIn? Seniors in high school should consider setting up a professional profile in preparation for college. Even if you have little work experience, start talking about your clubs, classes, leadership positions, and even upload documents such as high ranked papers or your favorite artwork.

6.   Keep Working

Senioritis isn’t a real disease, but it’s common enough you should avoid it like the plague. Just because you have made it to your final year of school doesn’t mean you can take the next school year to slack off. Now is the time to work your butt off to maintain your great scores or to make up for past grades. Colleges will ask for your transcript at the end of the year, and some will take into consideration the work you did. Failing, dropping courses, or even getting in trouble with teachers can mean a loss of scholarships, financial aid, or even your spot in a program.

7.   Talk to Your Parents

It may seem like a chore, but it is honestly essential to be in constant communication with your parents throughout this time. While where you go to school will be up to you, your parents will want to be there for you when you open up acceptance letters and send off your first tuition payment. Let them give you advice or get excited for your big milestones. This time next year, their baby will be a full-fledged college student, and that’s equally scary for them as it is for you.

High School to College Transition Tips

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Now that high school is over and you have your diploma in-hand, it’s time to move on to the next phase in your life: college. While you might be tempted to see your college as merely a bigger version of high school, you’ll quickly find that your old beliefs about school, learning, and even relationships are completely different in the college atmosphere. By knowing the ways that college is different from high school, you can adapt and succeed despite the changes.

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1.   Freedom

Every morning in college, you are presented with a choice: go to class, or slack off. The freedom is simply amazing: there are no parents insisting you get out of bed, no one stopping you from eating ice cream for dinner, no detention for failing to do homework. You will now have the ability to make your own decisions.

But this freedom comes with great responsibility in the form of consequences. If you don’t get out of bed, you miss class; if you eat ice cream for dinner, you’ll probably have a stomachache later; if you don’t do your homework, you may get an ‘F.’ It’s essential to exercise your freedom with a measure of restraint, or you will face consequences down the road.

2.   Scheduling

One semester, you may have 8am classes, while the next, you may be signed up for all night courses. Each college has a different set of rules regarding class scheduling, so it is important to understand what to expect and how it may change from time to time.

Another great thing about college? No hallway bell! Your classes may end early or stay late depending on your professor. It’s best when you are scheduling courses to plan ahead for both a little padded extra time and travel time to get to and from your classes.

3.   Teachers

You’re not in high school anymore, so don’t expect your instructors and professors to treat you like a high school student. Teachers in college expect you to be on time with homework completed. They will not hold your hand or allow excuses (even ones you might think acceptable) for missed assignments.

While the rules may be stricter, college teachers usually provide many opportunities to connect outside of class for additional assistance. Most professors offer office hours or host study groups. In addition, Teaching Assistants (usually upperclassmen or graduate students) often step into the teaching role by planning lessons, grading papers, or running after-hours help sessions.

4.   Classes

Unlike high school, where you likely had only a handful of class choices, college offers you an almost endless buffet of courses to meet your interests and goals. Every school is different, but most will require you to take a set of standard courses (such as math, social studies, and history) on top of your major coursework.

In addition, your school of study will then give you options of what you can take to fulfill their specialty requirements. If you decide to pursue a minor or double-major, you may be able to take a wide variety of subject area classes, such as a modern dance, human anatomy, and even classes on popular music, books, and film.

5.   Extracurricular

As in high school, extracurriculars can help when it comes to your applications. This time, the applications aren’t just to school, however—they’re often to jobs. Many college-level clubs are career-oriented and tailor-made to your major, making them valuable sources of networking.

You may also have the chance to pledge a sorority, fraternity, or educational fraternity. Whatever you pick, ensure that you have the time to devote to it.

6.   Friendships and Family

When you move away from home, staying in touch with family and friends can be a huge hurdle. You may want to exercise your freedom and communicate less while parents may try the opposite by insisting on consistent contact. Not having the safety net of seeing each other every day may strain the relationship. Remember that you moving away or living on campus is hard on all sides. In addition, don’t be afraid to pursue new relationships. College is a time to form new friendships, meet new people and discover who you are in the process.

Transitioning from high school to college can be extremely exciting. However, many high school students have no idea what to expect when they pick up their schedules and textbooks. By coming in with an idea of the differences, you can avoid the culture shock and embrace life as a university student.

How have you realized high school is different from college? If you’re a freshman, what do you anticipate as being different? Let us know!

Getting Ready for a New Year in High School

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Hi, my name is Katie and I blog over at Chic in Carolina! This is my first time guest posting here at Our Campus Media so I wanted to share with y’all a little bit about myself before diving into my post!

  • I am a high school junior
  • As you can probably guess from my blog name, I am a proud resident of North Carolina and I love living in the South
  • I would definitely define my personal style as preppy and classy. My favorite places to shop are Lilly Pulitzer, J. Crew, Tory Burch, the Gap, Vineyard Vines, and Loft
  • When I’m not blogging, you can probably find me hanging out with my friends and family, baking, shopping, at school, or catching up on my favorites with Netflix!

On another note, I can’t believe that it is already mid-August. August is kind of a sad month for me because it marks the end of the summer. Not to mention there is so much to do to get ready for the upcoming school year (my first day is next Wednesday- which I kind of don’t want to believe!) Today, I am going to share with y’all my tips for taking advantage of the last few days of summer and getting ready for the upcoming school year!

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Shop for School Supplies

Slightly obvious, but very necessary. A lot of stores by me run out of supplies quickly so buying them earlier allows you to get exactly what you need for the new school year!

Finish Summer Reading (or other Summer Work)

This summer, I had to read three separate books for my English class and I know that once I return to school, they will be apart of my first few assignments! Do yourself a favor and start off on a good foot for the new year by finishing all of your summer work!

Buy your Textbooks

Another thing that the saying “the sooner the better” applies to! Textbook prices typically go up as school starts so buy your books ASAP (and so you have them on the first day of class!)

Enjoy some “Me” Time

The school year tends to get pretty busy, so I will be sure to make time with chilling out by myself (watching Netflix, doing my nails, baking, etc.) before I have to deal with a hectic schedule! I find having some “me” time helps with stress as well!

Sort through your Fall Clothes

I store my clothes by season (my summer clothes are currently in my closet while my winter clothes are in storage bins) and during transitions seasons, I try on all of my clothes for the next season. Doing this helps realize what is too short, too stretched out, too small, too large. By doing this, you can optimize your closet space! This way you’ll take inventory and save up for what essentials you need!

Organize your Room

I don’t know about y’all but I need my room to be neat and organized to be productive. During the school year, it can get so busy that my room becomes a mess of laundry and school work. Cleaning your room ensures your room will be organized at least for the first bit of the school year! I also try to clean out my desks and bookshelves so they are ready to roll during the year!

Enjoy the Last Few Days of Summer

Last but not least, enjoy the last few days of summer vacation. Head to the pool, local ice cream place, or your favorite summer spot to take advantage of these last few days of summer! Or, enjoy the last few days of sleeping in every day!

What are your tips for getting ready for a new school year? Let me know in the comments!

Your Summer To-Do List Before Going to College

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Your cap and gown are ordered. Your acceptance letter to your dream school is in your hand. With all the stress of high school done and a summer to adjust to the major life changes about to hit you, you may be left wondering, what’s next? If you are unsure where to start, here is a to-do list of how to prepare for your final summer at home before college.

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1.   Say Your Goodbyes

While you may be staying local for your college, your friends may not. The months leading up to the start of school should be spent enjoying the company of your high school friends. Plan a party, take a road trip, or explore each one’s new campus. It will bring you closer together while giving you some last moments to enjoy their company before you officially enroll in courses.

2.   Get Your Records in Order

Your records and IDs are an essential part of college. Most schools have a special day or week in which freshman can gather to get all of this done, including registering for courses, taking pictures for your photo ID, and meeting with your official advisor. Skipping these days put you behind the pack or may mean missing out on dorm room picks, first choices of classes, or getting your meal plan set up.

3.   Learn Some Life Skills

Your mom isn’t wrong when she says that she will not be around to do your laundry! If you are lacking a basic “home” skill such as washing your own clothing, cooking simple meals, or prioritizing your time, be sure to sit down with people who have the know-how to learn from their expertise. You’ll appreciate the education when it’s time to do your first load of laundry.

4.   Start Shopping for your Dorm Room

Preparing to move into the dorm rooms can be intimidating. While some schools provide you with a comprehensive packing list, others may leave you blind about what is essential and what is not. Research your future dorm room’s setup and shop from there, making sure to grab enough appropriate bedding, linens, and classroom supplies.

5.   Refresh on Tough Classes

With your course schedule set up and ready to go, you may be struggling to remember what you learned in Calculus 101 or the basics from that American History class from freshman year. No need to be scared if you’re feeling behind the pack. Remedial or review community college courses are a great way to ensure that you are on track to great grades and ensures confidence in the new classroom.

6.   Relax and Enjoy!

Soon you’ll be transitioning from high school student to college undergrad. That alone can be stressful enough for many students. Make the most of your days relaxing and enjoying your freedom while you still can. Stress free time off is the perfect solution to any pre-college nerves that may be building up before you leave home.

What are your thoughts as you prepare to graduate high school and jump into the college world? Have you experienced this before? What kind of advice do you have to new undergrads?

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