Archives for posts with tag: college

I’m really ashamed to say that my senioritis carried over from my ability to do schoolwork to my motivation to blog—it is not something to take lightly.  I remember being that 9th grader who looked down on all the seniors who slept in my film class.  Repeatedly not showing up to class was absolutely unacceptable.  Neglecting homework and test-prep was out of the question.

Now that most of my friends and I know where we’ll be going to college next year, though, I get all of that.  The urge to just use certain classes as a nap time is almost unbearable, the temptation of skipping boring classes to take a drive around our wonderful Los Angeles is almost irresistible, and the itch to just spend a day googling college life and watching netflix instead of doing homework is incredibly hard to ignore.

I’m not even kidding, it’s terrifying

This year has gone by so quickly, and while it’s sad to think that I’ll have to part with my closest friends in just a few months, I’m ready to move on.  Our minds are elsewhere, and we are—or at least I am—so done with high school.  

I think it’s time for me to reflect on my experience the college application process now that it’s all over and done with.  My first choice school when I first started applying to schools was Wellesley College, my mom’s and her two sisters’ alma mater.  It is a truly beautiful and almost idyllic women’s liberal arts college located about 40 minutes away from Boston.  I was really pretty excited to go there and experience the joys of not having to dress up for class to impress guys and forging strong relationships with other intelligent, ambitious young women.  

But alas, money is a thing and it would seem my fate is tied to Los Angeles, where I will be attending the University of Southern California as a presidential scholar.  USC is about as different a school from Wellesley as it can get: it’s a large (and very co-ed) research university in Los Angeles with a pretty big party/football culture.  I’m still getting used to that.  I was honestly pretty bummed out that I couldn’t go to Wellesley at first, but I’ve really warmed up to USC and am looking forward to attending in the fall.

Disclaimer: I still have no idea of which direction in which my career will be headed.

The downside is that 5 of my closest friends are headed out to Boston—4 are going to Tufts and 1 is going to Boston University.  Back when I’d first gotten into Wellesley, we all excitedly made plans to meet up with each other every week and chill in each others’ dorms.  It breaks my heart to think that I will no longer be joining them.

But the truth is that I’ll make new friends anyway.  High school is almost over and I will cherish the friends I made for a long, long time, but I’m pumped to get out there and make new ones.

tl;dr—for all of you high school juniors out there:

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and for everyone else:

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lol my dad’s going to hate this (he thinks the Trojan family is cultish…and it kind of is)

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Now that I’m almost two months into my second semester of senior year, I have to wonder where on earth the time went.  Even though the college application process seemed to drag out for ages, I feel like senior year has gone by so quickly.  Suddenly, it feels like I have to get really serious about my future.

A lot of my classmates know what they want to study—my friends on the robotics team all seem to want to go into engineering, whereas I have other friends who want to pursue acting and plenty who want to become doctors.  For me, it seems a little too early to be making major life choices like that, but I guess that’s what our college applications asked of us.  I felt hesitant about checking “undecided” when asked about my major of choice, probably because there’s no way I can narrow down my options to just one field of study at this point in time.

When I was really little, I wanted to be a novelist.  It seems kind of like a dream right now, though; I’ll bet it’s hard to make money as a wannabe writer.  My dad’s encouraged me to look into screenwriting because it’s a hell of a lot more lucrative than novel writing, but I’m not sure right now.  Writing is always something I’ll be able to keep up with as a hobby, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to throw all of my energy into making a career out of it.

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Image courtesy of http://themaladjustedlife.blogspot.com/

My short experience on the school robotics team has really pushed me to look into engineering and the sciences—so far, computer science seems like something I’d enjoy doing (once I get past all of the math prerequisites that come with pursuing a degree in compsci).  Game design seems like a pretty lucrative practice, though I’m not sure what steps to take in order to get there.

And then there’s always the possibility of going into the medical field.  For someone like me, having the option of majoring in something like English and still be able to go to medical school seems like a good deal…it’s really just a matter of how much I can see myself becoming a doctor of any sort in the future.

Basically, my life can go in any direction right now.  Someone once called me a “Jill of all trades”, but I’m definitely feeling that “master of none” part more than anything right now.  While I like the idea of being able to explore all kinds of different fields, being around people who seem so sure of what they want to do makes me feel anxious.  I almost feel like I have to know what I want to do with my life right now, even if only to catch up to my peers.

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Eating obscene amounts of food and surfing Tumblr is the answer.  Drawing from mystiquecomies.deviantart.com

How did you all decide what you wanted to do?

I know I’m not the only high school senior feeling the pressure right now.  Over the past few months, I have seen several of my classmates break down in tears over the stress of having ridiculous numbers of college applications to complete on top of the responsibilities that come with school.  I’ve accidentally walked in on girls crying to their teachers, begging for extensions on assignments.  It’s not pretty.

It’s hard to stay sane during this process, especially when all of my classmates are constantly telling me about how stressed they are and how much work they have.  A part of me wants to comfort my friends and wrap them up in cuddles and shield them from the horrors of the college application process.  The other part of me wants them to calm down and keep their feelings to themselves.  I think we all feel a smidgeon of resentment towards each other when it comes to college apps.

And I realize now how scary it is that we feel this way: these are the friends we’ve known and loved for years, and yet the pressure to attend good colleges and get good jobs is so crushing that it turns us against each other.  Even though we’re not supposed to think of the process as a gigantic competition, we can’t help but feel like our closest friends are also our greatest enemies.  Ideally, it’d be nice to get into the same schools, but what if we don’t?  What if my friends are accepted to a school I want to attend and I get rejected?

Welcome to the mind of the high school senior.

The application deadline for merit scholarship consideration at 3 of the schools on my list was December 1st—the last day of my Thanksgiving break.  My parents took me and my sister up to the mountains to stay in a cozy lodge for the break, and stay in the cozy lodge I did.  I stepped out of the lodge only for food (so much comfort food—I’m talking pounds here—was consumed) and water; the rest of my time was spent working on my college essays.  Thankfully, I managed to get all of those applications in on time without suffering too much emotional trauma.

Still, I’ve definitely had my fair share of emotional meltdowns within the past few weeks.  My college list is way too long right now.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that I put a bunch of schools on my list that I have no intentions of attending even if I do get in.  That’s what our college counselors tell us to put on our lists: a number of safety schools.

That said, our college counselors tell us to include match schools and reach schools on our lists as well, and while I like most of the schools that fall into these categories, I’m not sure how practical it is for me to apply to all of them (colleges charge us a pretty penny for giving us the pleasure of filling out and submitting applications.  Isn’t that lovely?).  I know the whole point of applying to reach schools is to get an idea of what kinds of schools I can get into.  Maybe some top institution will, by some off chance, make a miraculous mistake and accept me; who knows?  The truth of the matter is, there are some schools to which I am applying that are ridiculous reach schools.  They are way over my head.  I’m 5’2″; say a regular reach school is 6’0″.  These schools are 9’0″.  That far over my head.  The sad part is that I want to attend them—I wouldn’t be applying if I didn’t—but as I write the supplemental essays required for these schools, my mind does a time skip and I can see myself coming home one afternoon in April to multiple letters of rejection.

Throwback to some of my earlier days as a blogger, back when I was still on Xanga: I was not the best student.  My parents had high hopes for me.  Society had high expectations of me.  I had high expectations of my self—high and irrational.  When I started my blog in 8th grade, I thought that my grades would define who I was.  I wanted to be the superstar student so many of my Asian-American classmates were, but my lack of organization skills and emotional turmoil prevented that from happening.  I genuinely believed that my failure to conform to the stereotype of Asians as being high-achieving students, math geniuses, and piano prodigies was an indication that I would be a failure later on in life.  Fortunately, I had a enough of a sense of humor (self-deprecating as it may have been) to laugh about it: thus, Below the Asian Standards was born.

Over the years, through writing my blog and just stumbling through high school, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the embodiment of a stereotype in order to be comfortable with myself.  But trust me, now that I’m filling out college apps, I sure do wish I had that “Asian”-level GPA.

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I was tempted to try this.  Image from Sparknotes.

To address the question I posed at the beginning of this post: what if my friends get into schools that reject me?  I would be happy for my friends, of course.  We’re all going to end up going somewhere or doing something.  The vagueness isn’t exactly reassuring, but I think it’s important for us to remember how we’re all going to find our way eventually.  This too shall pass.

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who followed my blog since the last time I posted!  Leaving Xanga was probably a good choice on my part; everyone here is so nice!

And now to the meat of the post: women’s colleges.

Ever since I was old enough to understand, my mom has repeatedly told me how much she wants me to go to Wellesley College, her alma mater—and even then, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to go to a women’s college.  I’d always listened to all the good things she had to say about the school and nodded absently, thinking that there was no way I’d ever be interested in going to an all girls’ school.  And a school my mother went to.  Gross.

But over the summer, I visited Wellesley and two other women’s colleges in Massachusetts: Smith and Mount Holyoke.  It turns out that I really like them all, in large part because there’s a certain sense of community that women’s colleges seem to share.  As something of a reticent student (but an outgoing girl outside the classroom), I have some difficulty expressing my thoughts in class.  In most of my classes, guys get the most attention because they put themselves out there and like to be competitive—I’d even argue that they get attention because they goof off and behave obnoxiously in class.  Meanwhile, self-conscious girls like myself tend to keep quiet until called upon, for fear of saying something wrong.  This is a problem for me, but it’s also something that I’ve been trying to overcome.  I’ve started to understand the appeal of being in an environment where girls can talk amongst girls and work together.  Studies show that boys and girls learn differently, after all: read about the differences here.

Of course, when I tell people I’m thinking about applying to a women’s college, some of them stare at me with an expression somewhere between horror and pity.  “But girls are so catty!” and “Watch out—you might turn into a lesbian,” and “That’s like living in a convent!” are some of the responses I get.  Obviously, women’s colleges aren’t for everyone.

In any case, I can talk all I want about Wellesley and women’s colleges in general, but I’ve yet to actually be accepted into any of them.  There’s also the issue of the weather.  Honestly, I think it’s “too cold” as soon as the temperature drops below 70 degrees.

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This might be a problem.

Hey everyone!  The last couple of months have been all kinds of crazy—I went to visit colleges on the East Coast with my school (during the bombing incident), failed a math test (solid 56%), and got my driver’s license (after failing the test the first time).  Like I said, all kinds of crazy.

But the real crazy is all of the standardized tests that I’ve had to take.  The start of this month marked the beginning of testing season, and for those of us who are taking AP classes…testing season is tough.  I took the SAT this past Saturday, the AP Environmental Science exam on Monday, the AP Calculus exam on Wednesday, and the AP English Literature exam on Thursday.  It’s not even over yet!  I still have my AP U.S. History exam this coming Wednesday.  Joy.  

The worst part about taking APs is this: you never know how well you did on any one section of the test.  I know that AP scores are supposed to indicate how well you understand the material, but I’d like to know how much of the material I didn’t understand, too.  That’s one part of it, anyway.  The other part is that I would really like to see my scores on some of my essays because I actually think I did well on them.  I wrote a great essay for my AP Literature exam, and it’ll never get to see the light of day…That poor little masterpiece…

And unless you want to obtain college credits to skip a year, do the scores even really matter?  In some of my AP classes, I feel like I’ve been learning how to take the AP exam rather than learning the material.  

Now, don’t misunderstand me here—I’m pretty good at taking standardized tests, so I’m not complaining.  But when it all boils down to it, is getting a good score on the AP exam really worth taking the class at all?  It’s a lot of work!  Can getting a 5 on the AP exam fill the gaping hole that AP classes leaves in your social life?

Just something for y’all to think about.  

BTAS

Every weekday at 7a.m., I – very grouchily – get dressed and munch on cereal, when I’d really rather be sleeping.  Why, you might ask?  I have to go to school!  At noon, rather than enjoy a delicious lunch with my friends, I hole up in the library, studying…for school.  When I get back home, I spend hours working on my homework that’s due the next day.  Sometimes, I stay awake until the early hours of the morning, frantically trying to study for that darned test that I forgot about or finish that essay.  

Even when I’m not at school, I’m surrounded by it: with all of my tests, assignments, and projects, I’m constantly swimming in a pool of school.  Almost constantly.  But when I’m not physically working on something school-related, I’m definitely thinking about something school-related.  This is junior year!  I have no time to be thinking about a social life!

…Well, I guess that isn’t entirely true.  I do have a lot of work, but it’s really important to find a balance between spending time with friends and doing work.  I think I would go completely insane if all I did was work, work, work.  But with my junior year coming to a close, I’m actually really worried about college.  My grades aren’t anything to be proud of, I don’t play a sport, and I’m really not involved in any clubs……

At this point, I think my parents have almost given up on me.  When your Asian mother starts telling you, “You can always go to community college!” – there’s something seriously wrong.   She might be okay with that, but I’m not.  I’m not!  Never!

And that’s the most pathetic part: I’ve set some really high standards for myself, and now that I’m struggling to meet them, I get very easily discouraged.  I guess “below the Asian standards” goes without saying at this point (I’ve been below the Asian standards for as long as I can remember now); the real issue now is that I’m below my own standards.  I have to work super hard!

On the up side of things, spring break is approaching, which means I’ll have plenty of time to……study.  

Joy…

#BTAS

One of the things I find interesting is intelligence. Today, I was sitting in a small room with a group of friends, when – I can’t quite remember the context – one of the guys announced proudly, “I’m the smartest person in this room!” I kindly asked, “And what makes you say that?” To which he responded, “My GPA is definitely higher than yours. It’s a 4.35.” And then he gloated about his decidedly ‘superior’ intellect.

The thing is, GPA doesn’t really mean much. Sure, GPA is mega important when applying to colleges (it makes life easier for admissions directors), but it’s far from being an accurate representation of one’s intelligence. Smart people don’t always get the highest grades, and a lot of the people who do get the highest grades probably aren’t as intelligent as some of their lesser-performing peers.

Here’s my point: the only thing GPA really measures is one’s ability to get a good GPA. So you have a 4.35 GPA. I applaud you for being good at getting teachers to like you and turning in homework and studying for tests and all the things that contribute to your ridiculously high GPA. Does it make you more intelligent than everyone else? Not necessarily. There is no way to describe a person’s intelligence with words, let alone numbers. Your GPA? It’s just a number. You may go to Harvard, and being able to tell people you got your college education at Harvard is pretty impressive – but what matters isn’t where you got your education. It’s what you do with it.

I feel like I should be extremely happy that I have very little homework to do this weekend, but I’m not. This is really the first time in a while that I’m not stressing over homework, but now that I’m not, I’m stressing over the fact that I have nothing to do with myself. I quit playing piano two years ago, I quit playing basketball last year, and I’m involved in absolutely no school clubs or groups or anything. The only thing I’m doing outside of school (and irrationally worrying my butt off about it) is playing cello–and I’m not even that good.

Tenth grade is almost over, and the last major accomplishment of mine occurred in eighth grade: the science fair. This is sad, because while I may have been 2nd place in the county science fair, I didn’t even rank in the state fair. So. Sucks to be me.

Then there’s the pressure! I should not be feeling this much pressure! Sure, I’m taking AP Calculus and AP European History and Honors everything else, but that’s not where the pressure is coming from. The pressure comes as a result of my personal tendency to compare myself with my sister. These days, it’s been so hard for me to please my parents and so easy for my sister to do so. She can screw up and be endlessly annoying, but because she is so perfect when it comes to everything else, my parents are willing to let it slide. I live with the enemy, and it comes in the form of my little sister. My basketball-playing, track-running, guitar-playing, crafts-making, straight-A-earning little angel of a sister. Not fair, mom and dad. Not. Fair.

And lately, I just have not been performing. I really haven’t. I have been putting much less effort into my schoolwork and have consequently been getting into more frequent arguments with my parents. My mom even likes to tell me that I should “face reality” and not worry about “getting into top colleges.” She is convinced that I am going to go to a community college. This used to be a joke my parents would use to scare me into working harder; now it isn’t a joke. Now it’s what they think is real. Not that there’s anything wrong with community colleges, but my parents’ expectations of me were once so high that they would tell me that I could get into Berkeley or Stanford or Harvard, and to have to bar lowered so much–well, it certainly doesn’t feel good. At all.

Bad as it feels, though, that’s what’s happening, and it’s really forcing me to rethink my ambitions. Looking at my achievements over the past two years, I realize that they might be right and I really might have no choice other than to go to a community college; I have not done anything notable. I may have maintained my grades, but I haven’t done anything else.

I let this get to me more than anyone can imagine. I freak out about it a lot. I’ve discovered that my capacity to tolerate pressure is minuscule. I’ve always been pretty bad at managing stress, but add all the pressures of college and my overall future, I have emotional meltdowns. Not the kind where I’ll be throwing shit around the house and screaming at everyone and tearing my hair out, but the kind where I’ll just start crying. God, I’m such a wuss.

Let it be known that my parents do read my blog, so I will likely have to deal with lectures and possibly even psychotherapy after they read this.

And when I go back to school on monday, I have to put on the “nerdy-genius-Asian girl” act so that people don’t start making fun of me for being un-Asian and whatnot.

Such is my life.

~Hedgehog

My mom told me about how shallow my last post made me seem, and I apologize. A lot of people don’t understand my sarcastic sense of humor, which is perfectly understandable because I tend to overdo it. Just to clarify, I am friends with all sorts of people. It really doesn’t matter how awesome or boring their lives are, so long as they’re not jerkfaces. The point of the post was really just for me to complain about how uneventful my life has felt the past few weeks.

Today, instead of dwelling on how boring my life is right now, I’m going to begin detailing the less depressing tidbits of my life, starting from the present and working backwards to middle school. I hope doing so will provide insight into the convoluted way in which my mind works.

I spent yesterday with my good friend Ali. I love spending time with her; because I don’t see her very often these days, I jump on every opportunity to bask in her genius rays. My mom thinks I idolize her a little bit too much–again, this is just her not understanding my sarcastic humor. I love all my friends and I will always speak of them very highly, but it’s not like I worship them or anything. I don’t build a shrine to each one of them and pray to them by candlelight every night. I promise.

One of the things that made my decision to leave my old school (which I had attended from 7th-9th grade) for my new school easier is that some of my best friends were leaving, too.  Ethan, the super-crazy-amazing-awesome-random-funny-weird-gross artistic genius, was ditching us for boarding school.  The rest of us who were not going to boarding school tried to make the most of the few months time we had left to spend with him, but we had all secretly demoted him to “boarding school snob” in our minds.

And Ali–brilliant, witty Ali–Ali was leaving, too.  But she was not going to boarding school.  She was going to college.  As a 10th grader, of course.

While I miss all of my old friends terribly, I don’t feel like I’m standing in the shadow of my brilliant friends anymore. With my 7th-9th grade friends, I looked like an idiot whenever I did anything that fell short of their expectations. Now it’s back to how it was before I met them: I just look like an idiot all the time.

I’m hoping to stop making my old friends the focus of my posts and start telling actual stories about how much of an idiot I can actually be, because trust me, I can be a total idiot.

Cheerio!
~hedgehog