Tag Archives: tips

College Search Series: Ranking Schools

**This is the second post in the College Search Series.  The first post can be found here.**

Researching colleges is time consuming, tedious, and stressful; however, when you know what you are passionate about and what your ideal school is like, it can be quite fun. To start, after you have filled out your college questionnaire, look at it closely. First, rank which parts of the college questionnaire are most to least important to you. Is diversity at the top? Internships? Athletics?  What’s at the bottom? Dorms? Facilities? Once you’ve figured this out, take out those college guides I mentioned in the last post. If you do not have access to those, just use the tips that these books give you and look for similarities in the books that you own. Continue reading

College Search Series: Finding a College that Fits You

College is a major turning point in our lives; a journey which helps us to further discover who we are and what we want to do in the world. There is so much thought, work, and careful decision making that goes into picking the best school for you. Being a junior in high school myself, I am learning these steps as I move along in the process. Based on my knowledge and experiences, I will provide you with a series of tips that will help you to find the school of your dreams.

Phase 1: (Better) Figuring out Who you Are, What you Want in a School, and What you Want to Pursue

Before you even start the whole process, I just want to be clear that nobody can tell you what you want better than you can. Therefore, as you experience the entire college process, make decisions based on your own judgments of your experiences and of the information that you learn.

The first thing that I recommend doing (and one of the first things that I did) before you choose a school is to fill out a “profile” of yourself to see what fits you. Answer the following questions about yourself, and the more specific you are, the better:

  • What are your favorite classes and why?
  • What are your least favorite classes and why?
  • What general area of study do you see yourself going into? (Liberal Arts, Sciences, Mathematics, etc.)
  • What major or career do you want to pursue? (You do not have to answer this right away)
  • What state or region would you want your school to be located in? (Northwest, Midwest, South, Atlantic States, etc.)
  • What atmosphere would you want your school to be located in? (City, suburban, town, rural, etc.)
  • What are the three most important things to you in a school?
  • What is your ideal school size? (This can be a specific number or a general term, such as “5,000” or “mid-size”
  • Is there a person who has been influential to you in your life? How so?
  • How would you describe yourself? How would your friends describe you?
  • What have you done for community service?
  • What have you done for extracurricular activities?
  • How have you spent your summers?

Once you have filled out this questionnaire about yourself, you will have a better sense of what you are looking for in a school. I also would like to point out that college counselors are excellent resources as well if you have them, and take their advice as needed.

The process for choosing a major will also help you figure out what you are good at and what you want, and this is vital to the college experience because these skills are necessary to shaping what you want to do and who you want to become. If you are like me, then you choose a major before picking a school; this path is not for everyone, but it is perfect for me because I am very goal oriented and driven; I have a particular field that I want to pursue and am using college as a resource and as access to that field.  If you are the type that would rather pick the school first and then figure out what programs it has to offer, that is great too; do whatever suits you best. If you want to pick the schools based on your major, but perhaps don’t have a major in mind (but want to choose one), here are the things that I did in order to choose a major:

I thought about the things that I am good at because that will make my job much easier and ultimately more successful. Then, I thought about the things that I am passionate about. Next, I used the College Board Book of Majors 2009 (there is a 2011 version available at the library) to help me figure out what major would best suit me. The book tells you about what people tend to gravitate toward that major, what skills you need to have to pursue the major, what the overall major is like, what courses you take in the major, what jobs you can get from that major, inside word on the study of the major, and other majors you might like based on the major you are currently looking at. If you have ideas about what you are good at and what you want, it will be easier to use the book to help you get a more specific idea about what major will fit you.

Keep in mind that this first decision about the major is just a starting point; majors often change throughout the college experience. Though I am 99 percent sure that the major that I chose is what I want to do because the major encompasses my strengths and deep passions, I have not experienced it yet, so I have an open mind to changing majors if I decide that I want to in the future. However, knowing what I am good at and what I am passionate about gives me a better idea about the other majors that I might pursue because I can choose those majors based on my different desires and needs. I can also choose based on what worked and did not work from the previous major that I chose. Hopefully, you can do the same thing with your experience.

I highly encourage you to take a moment to discover different facets about who you are and what you want if you have not done so yet. It is vital to picking a school that fits you, not molding yourself to fit a particular school.  Once you better figure out who you are and what you want, then comes the next step: the research. I will talk about this in my next blog post, so make sure to check back. Good luck, and have lots of fun! Enjoy!

Meagan, Teen Advisory Group
Northeast Branch

Homework Help: Time Management

Do you ever find yourself scribbling out an assignment at the last minute? Maybe you procrastinated the night before and fell asleep in front of the TV. Perhaps you even forgot that there was an assignment in the first place. Either way, you might need some help managing your time so that you can finish that assignment long before it is due. Here are our tips on keeping your schedule in order:

Emma’s Tips
• Balance Your Activities – If you find yourself caught up in the confusion of school, extracurricular activities, and time with friends, take some time to examine everything that you are doing. Perhaps you are spending too much time with your friends every night and, as a result, the quality of your schoolwork is slipping. The key to this is balance. Make sure to divide your time between work and play, so that you do your best in everything.
• Plan Ahead – Set aside a few minutes at the beginning of each week to go over your schedule. Figure out the days that assignments are due and the nights that you are busy. Make sure that you have plenty of time to finish your homework, while still doing everything fun that you want. If you struggle with procrastination, set some specific time aside every night to chip away at that ever-growing pile of homework. If you separate certain assignments into manageable chunks every night, they do not seem quite as daunting, and you can still finish them before they are due by planning ahead.

Callan’s Tips

• Make Lists – Okay, so this is coming from a compulsive list-maker, but really – lists can help you plan your time better. Every night, check over your planner and see what’s due the next couple of days. Then make a check list of everything you need to get done that night, and as you finish each task, check it off your list (it really gives you a boost of satisfaction). You can do the same with long-term projects that require lots of steps, or even with typical everyday tasks. Making lists also ensures that you’ll never forget anything.
• Give Yourself a Break – It’s important to set aside time for homework every night, whether it is right when you get home or later in the evening, but always remember to allow yourself breaks. If you know you have a few hours of work ahead of you, make a plan to take a ten or fifteen minute break every hour. Or you can plan your work so that you get half done, take a break for dinner, a TV show, etc., then finish the other half. However you do it, make sure your break is worthwhile. Grab a snack, check Facebook, or text a friend. Just make sure that when break time is up, you get back to work immediately and don’t get behind on time.

Even the best of students can struggle with planning their time and avoiding procrastination, so remember that beating yourself up about it won’t help. Instead, take a moment to sit down, make a plan that you know you can follow, and then stick to it. If you don’t get everything done that night, make another plan about when you’ll finish. Following these types of time management tips will help you stay on top of school while still keeping your life in balance.

Post by Callan and Emma M., teen bloggers

Homework Help: What's Your Learning Style?

It has been shown that there are three main learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile.

            Visual learners remember things best when they can take notes, read, or look at pictures and diagrams. They like to work alone quietly. They are also good at remembering faces, but not names. They like to learn by drawing a map, making an outline, using flashcards, watching a video, or highlighting information.

            Auditory learners like to read aloud, talk in class, work in groups, or listen to lectures. They are good at remembering names and explaining concepts to others. They are often good with foreign languages. They remember things best when they can hear them, as in a video, discussion, or lecture.

            Kinesthetic (also known as tactile) learners like to be hands-on. They like learning through experience. They enjoy labs, role-playing exercises, and field trips. They don’t like sitting still for very long, and will often take breaks when studying. They learn best by building models, using flashcards, or playing games.

            Knowing your learning style is a key factor in being successful, especially in school. Do you always have trouble studying for tests? Well, maybe you’re using the wrong method – if you’re an auditory learner, taking notes may not be as helpful as having a group discussion.

Want to find out what your learning style is? There are lots of free tests on the web that will tell you. Here’s a good one that only takes a couple minutes.

Post by Emma M. and Callan, teen bloggers

Homework Help: School Supplies


School supply shopping can become fairly monotonous from year to year. While trying to stock up on paper and pencils, you find yourself drowning in markers of every color, neon duct tape, and the latest must-have bejeweled locker accessories. Sound familiar? Instead of purchasing the exact same supplies this year, try getting the following useful things to supplement your binder.

  •  White Out – Let’s face it. Everyone makes mistakes. If you just so happen to make a mistake while writing in pen, white out is an invaluable tool that can help you avoid a paper filled with scribbles and mistakes.
  • PostIts – These small sticky notes are my absolute favorite school supply. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can use them for everything from writing yourself a reminder about a homework assignment to marking some pages in a book. Post-Its are a key tool in organization, both in the classroom and out.
  • Mini Stapler – Imagine this: You are in class, all ready to turn in your final paper of the year, but the teacher doesn’t have a stapler! What do you do? You pull out your trusty mini stapler and finish your paper with style. These staplers come in handy at the most crucial moments, and even have optional colored designs and staples.
  • Sharpie – Nothing comes in handy like a nice, black Sharpie. This pen can be used in thousands of different situations, from last-minute presentations to cleverly outlined maps. You never know when you might need a Sharpie, and all the different colors make them extremely fun to shop for!
  • DoubleSided Tape/Rubber Cement – Though these two products are fairly different, they can be used to accomplish some of the same tasks. Move over, glue stick! Both the tape and the cement can stick papers and projects together and keep them together. They actually keep components stuck together (unlike some glue sticks), and they can make whatever you use them for look infinitely neater without visible tape or glue marks.
  • Three Hole Punch – This is a lifesaver when your teacher hands out sheets that s/he has neglected to punch holes in. All you have to do is take out your three hole punch (most can clip straight into your binder) and suddenly you have a paper with holes that fits right into your organized binder.


When you go supply shopping this year, remember these must-have picks that might be slightly different from what you usually get. Peruse the animal-shaped rubber bands if you must, but remember what will be useful when you need it the most in school.

Post by Callanand Emma M., teen bloggers

Homework Help: Organization

Nothing can ruin a day like a dropped binder in the middle of class, especially when all the papers inside said binder scatter every which way upon hitting the floor. With a touch of organization, the papers can all stay inside the binder and the whole mess can be avoided. We have several tips for tidying up and getting organized that can simplify your life and make you a better student in general.

Emma’s Tips

  • Clean Your Space! – Whether it is a bedroom or just a desk, putting things away can instantly make the area much more maneuverable. Assign a place to everything you put away so that you can easily find it again. Make sure to periodically clean out your drawers, closet, etc. and give away/throw away the things that you do not need. They take up a lot of unnecessary space. Afterwards, you will be surprised what a difference is made by having a clear surface to work on – or even a clear floor to walk on!
  • Keep the Binder in Order – Throughout the school year, binders have a tendency to slowly decay into piles of crumpled paper, dried up pens, and eraser-less pencils. To avoid this mess, be sure to periodically purge your binder of unneeded worksheets and supplies. Place old schoolwork in a file folder in your room to keep for finals. Keep your binder well-stocked with working pencils and pens. Put all of your supplies in easily accessible pockets. Hole punch everything. Even if you only clean out your binder once every quarter, you can still keep it lighter and neater.
  • Use a Homework Planner – Most schools provide planners for students to keep track of their assignments. These are amazing tools that are not to be neglected! Whenever your teacher gives out homework, write the due date in your planner and check it every night. You can even write down other events, such as sport practices, concerts, etc. This way, you can plan out when to do your assignments so that they do not get in the way of any other activities.


’s Tips

  • Color-Code – As silly or juvenile as it might sound, color-coding is one of the easiest ways to keep work from all your classes organized. Pick one color for each class, then make sure that your binder, notebook, divider, or folder for that class all match that color. Also, if you tend to use note cards, mark them with the color of the class they are from.
  • Take Organized Notes – Everyone has their own style of taking notes. Whether you like highlighting, outlines, Cornell notes, or your own inventive style, to keep your notes organized, always make sure your style is consistent. If taking notes on loose-leaf paper, ALWAYS write a heading that includes your name, the date, the topic, and the class or teacher. If you prefer notebooks, start off by leaving room for a table of contents, and head each page similarly (always include the date and topic) so you can find what you’re looking for without having to leaf through every page of your notebook.
  • Get Ready The Night Before – You may have heard this one before, but believe me, it really does work. Getting your backpack or bag ready each night before you go to bed can save you a lot of trouble the next morning, especially if you’re the type that sleeps in till the last minute. Make sure your homework, lunch, supplies, etc. are ready to go, already packed and ready for tomorrow. After all, everyone knows how awful it is to get to school and realize you’ve forgotten that paper you just spent hours working on last night.


We know it’s a lot of work to stay organized throughout the school year as work piles up around you, but if you follow these simple tips, you will always be one step ahead and far from disorganized!

Post by Emma M. and , teen bloggers

Survival Tips for the Stranded Traveler

Eyjafjallajokull. Yes. Eyjafjallajokull. That is the name of volcano which caused the ongoing flying nightmare for transatlantic and European travelers because of the impenetrable ash cloud .  The cloud has left thousands of travelers stranded in airports for an indefinite amount of time.  I was recently stranded in New York for a mere 24 hours which was absolutely horrible. I simply can’t imagine what the people who have been stranded for days have gone through.  As a tribute to them, I have compiled a short list of tips for the traveler stranded in the airport.

  1. Stay positive – I know, I know – so cliché, but your negative attitude won’t make the plane arrive any faster
  2. Stay sane – being stranded can be surprisingly detrimental to one’s psyche, do a sudoku or better yet, read a mystery about sudoku!
  3. Make friends – chances are there are plenty of other travelers in your same boat, (well plane technically) so try to make friends with someone since you’ll be stuck with these people for a while
  4. Play a game – don’t rely on that crossword to keep you occupied the whole time – make a scavenger hunt, or play hide-and-seek in the airport
  5. Look on the bright side – now that you’re stuck at some destination, you can spend even more time in wherever you are; go out and see the sites – take a day trip to the city or go to a museum to pass the time

Now hopefully, you’ll never be at the mercy of some ash cloud-belching, 16-lettered, Icelandic volcano which is keeping you trapped in some airport. But, if you are, hopefully you’ll survive using these tips.

— Patrick, 17, Teen Center Advisor