Saturday, October 15, 2011

My First College Birthday!

This past month I celebrated my first birthday away from home. To be honest, I was not that homesick or nostalgic (probably because I was so busy with school work that I didn't have time to think about it much). My friends knew when my birthday was because there is a calendar on our hall where everyone marks their birthdays.

My school had a long weekend, so Rebecca and I spent a night at Abby's home. We went to the mall to experience normal society (being on campus is so much different from living in the "real" world). During lunch, Rebecca sneakily told the waitress that it was my birthday so we got free ice cream! She also made me an adorable heart shaped birthday badge.

The next night was my actual birthday. We went into town to have ice cream, which you can see in the video.

Thank you to my friends for making this birthday a happy celebration!


Friday, October 14, 2011

How to (not) Survive College Exams

Today I finished my first round of college exams! It feels like my brain was force-fed encyclopedia pages while being squished by an angry elephant. But I did (not) survive. Here are some tips I learned over the past two weeks that you will (not) want to take to heart:

  1. Don't plan ahead. This one should be pretty obvious. This works best if you do not use a schedule, planner, journal, diary, what have you. The goal is to memorize your schedule and everything you have to do and when it is due. You will probably forget a lot of things, but that's okay because it means you're trying hard.
  2. Don't even look at the study guides or practice exams. What are you, a whiny five year old? Study guides are for sissies! Just glance at your notes - after all, you have a photographic memory and know all this crap anyway.
  3. Don't go to office hours. Just don't. This is where people go to be intimidated by the organized students. If you do happen to wander in (totally by accident), never ever be prepared with questions.
  4. Study alone. This will help you get into the mindset of the lone student who stays up all night cramming for her exams while listening to songs such as this and this
  5. Slack off in courses that don't have exams. You'll totally have the energy to tackle double the amount of school work after. 
  6. Eat lots of sugar. Sugar is your friend. It helps you focus. So break out the gay bacon strips and munch away!
Good luck!

Er, you don't even need luck if you follow these tips.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Day in My Life - 5

Need to prepare better for lab lecture... Went to Chinese tutorial (on time this week! Phew!). Studied in the student center for the first time, but it was a bit too warm for my liking. Al + Chinese classmates and I prepared the skit next week. Afterword, Al, one of the classmates, and I talked for a while about our high school experiences. Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. I might try fasting.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day in My Life - 4

I got an A on my Chinese exam! YAAAY! I studied in the science senter for about three and a half hours. Got a lot done, but still more work to do. In neuroscience class, my professor made an inside joke from office hours about me asking too many questions. Afer class, I had dinner with some friends. El tried to convince me to go sky diving with him. No thanks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Day in My Life - 3

Next week our Chinese class will be performing skits in small groups. I'm in a group with Al plus two other students. I took care of laundry and cleaned, which was badly needed. I'm feeling stressed out about chem. Due to studying for the neuroscience and Chinese exams, I am a bit behind. I will try to catch up this week.

Later on I had dinner with Abby and skyped with a couple friends from home who are also in college now. They are doing well.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Day in My Life - 2

First Chinese test went well! I finished early. After the test I went to the science building to study for neuroscience exam with a couple friends from class. Then I went to my chemistry professor's office hours. I try to go once a week. After his office hours, I went to my neuroscience professor's office hours with Al, Ann, and the two friends I was studying with. We peppered him with questions. His practice exams had a lot of typos and some of the questions were tricky. Then Al and I did some last minute review for the exam. Al is going to China next semester.

A half hour before the test I convinced Al to take a break. I was very tired, I nearly fell down the stairs! Despite this the neuroscience exam went extremely well. I think I got a good grade.

My day ended well - I watched Seven Samurai for film class. The film was fantastic. Then I talked with my grandmother.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Day in My Life - 1

Today Al suggested after Chinese class that we study for our neuroscience exam. We agreed to meet up after the review session. Ann joined us at the library. Al and Ann are juniors. Unfortunately the review session wasn't terribly helpful, but studying with Al and Ann was.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Hey high schoolers and fellow college friends!

The blog is live once more!  And I have a special announcement to make....

Over the summer I worked on creating a new "How to Apply to College Series" - this time more exciting and accessible by the general public. All the videos I have made so far are live!

(Be sure to watch on the youtube page, otherwise the annotations, which are key to experiencing the full power of this choose you own adventure series, will not appear.)

The videos are in the format of a "choose your own adventure" series. At the end of each video, I will give you a list of options and you click on the one you want to take. This way you can easily choose which videos you want to watch based on your own interests and needs.

A word of warning: not all videos are complete. I will try to complete them as soon as possible, but college life is rather busy (more about that soon!).

Please enjoy what I have posted in the meantime and if you like it, share with your friends!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Selecting College Courses

This morning I finally finished selecting which courses I will take this fall semester. Registration at my college is rather odd. It opens for a week in early July, closes, and then opened again today. I'm not sure why this is, but it is a bit inconvenient.

I am taking courses in the following subjects: chemistry, neuroscience, Chinese, and philosophy. Choosing courses was daunting at first, but now that I am done, the process makes more sense. I recommend using an excel sheet to plot out your classes so it's easier to see if there are any time conflicts. At first I tried to do it in my head, but needless to say that did not work so well!

I need to take a chemistry course in order to fulfill a prerequisite for the sciences. I'm still not entirely sure if I will create my own major in cognitive science or double major in neuroscience and philosophy, but I wanted to leave my options open. If I choose to go into science, I'll need chemistry. Best to get it out of the way earlier than later.

I signed up for the neuroscience course because I have a genuine interest in the subject. 

For a while, I was not sure whether or not I continue with Chinese (which I studied for three years in high school) or switch to Hebrew. Because of my interest in business, I decided to continue Chinese since it will probably be more useful than Hebrew. Plus I can always pick up Hebrew in the future.

The philosophy course is partly for fun, partly for my potential major. I am very excited to take philosophy and I heard wonderful remarks about the professor from current students.


California Video!

To vlog or not to vlog...

I have not made a video in a while! For a while, I was working on my "How to Apply to College" series - the new, shiny one that may not be published. (See why here.) I want to get back into making regular videos. I'm thinking about making a "College Countdown" series since I will be leaving for college soon!

This morning I spent quite a bit of time converting video projects to Quicktime files and transferring those files onto my external harddrive. I also discovered that I had not uploaded a video from my California trip. You can view it below. It contains some footage from prom!

Yesterday, my good friend "L" and I went to the mall. We walked around, browsed stores, ate lunch, and talked. L is going into her third year at college. I appreciate all of the wisdom and advice she shares with me. 


Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Big Decision - Goals for College

One lesson I learned from high school is that you should always have goals to give you direction. In high school, I floundered. I didn't know what I wanted and I felt to burning desire to work hard and make my dreams come true. I don't blame myself for this lack of motivation. Being young, I needed time to develop and grow.

But now I have grown and I'm ready to take things seriously. When I listen or read about people who are successful, I never hear them say "Oh, I didn't know what I wanted to do... so I just kinda did everything half-baked and this ended up working out." I have never heard that. Successful people know what they want and they figure out how to get it.

Over the past few weeks, I developed a clear sense of what I want and a basic outline of how I will achieve my goals. These goals are not set in stone. I'm willing to change them. But I need to enter college with a sense of what I am working toward.

So here are my goals for college.

  1. Earn straight As.
  2. Do research.
  3. Be a leader, in community service projects and/or research.
  4. Earn a score in the upper 700s on the GMAT.
  5. Get into business school - Stanford's program is my dream school right now.
  6. Write and publish a book about my time in college.
I'll break these goals down.

Earn straight As.

This one is fairly obvious. My GPA burned me during the undergrad admissions process. This will not happen again.

Do research.

For the field I am interested in (cognitive science), research is a must. I already have a potential "in" with a professor at college. I plan on meeting her and introducing myself with the intention of working in her lab.

Be a leader.

I am always trying to lead and not follow. I would like to take this a step further, through community service projects and/or research. This is also key for getting into business school.

Earn a high GMAT score.

While I did relatively well on the standardized testing for undergrad, I want to do even better for grad school. I purchased a GMAT prep book and I'll be preparing for the next few years until I take the test. 

Get into a top business school.

My dream is to start my own company. Going to business school would help in my preparation. Right now, I want to go to Stanford's MBA program. They recently revised their curriculum to make it more international and it's a good program for entrepreneurs. Also, after being on the East Coast for undergrad, I would like to branch out and go to the West Coast for grad school.

I plan on appying as a graduating senior. Stanford's program includes the option of deffering for one to three years (as long as you work during that time). I may take some time off to work. This all depends on how things pan out during undergrad.

Write a book about my college experience.

This one will be tons of fun. The book will be about my experience in college. I keep a journal (and this blog, obviously) from which I will craft a coherent narrative. Hopefully I will publish the book as well!


The Opportunity

I'm not going to comment about how long it has been since I last posted, because I don't want to sound like one of those pretentious bloggers that is "OH SO GUILTY" about not posting. That's not me. Nope. Not at all.

I'm won't make up any lame excuses, either. Like how I got my wisdom teeth extracted and how I have been packing for college etc, etc, etc. Lame, lame, lame llama.

Instead, I'll be a good blogger and just WRITE about what has happend to me the past month.

First, I have been trying to figure out what I will do with this blog and vlog. There is an amazing opportunity ("The Opportunity") that will probably work out and if it does, I will not be posting a series on how to apply to college. I apologize to my viewers who were looking forward to this, but unfortunately that's how it goes. However, The Opportunity involves college applications, so as soon as I'm able to divulge, I will.

I decided that I want to make my channel/blog fun, exciting, and helpful, but at the same time it needs to be professional. I need to keep long term investments in mind, and having a channel that divulges information about zits, sexy fruits, and silly stuff probably won't help me.

The past month I worked up to a major decision. I want this major decision to have a post of it's own, so bear with me...

More to come!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Advising Fellow, Choosing Classes

More updates!

On July 1st, my fellow (an older student who advises younger students) emailed me to introduce himself! He is going into business, which is perfect because I'm considering going to business school after college. I peppered him with questions about registering for classes, languages, and best places to study.

The past few days (mostly today, though) I have been corresponding with various professors and academic advisors. Choosing classes is daunting, but I finally decided to stick with my cognitive science/philosophy bent. I emailed a philosophy teacher and got the prerequisite for an ethics course waived because of my unusually large high school philosophy background. YAY! Also, I emailed the instructor for honors chemistry labs to figure out if there is an advantage to doing the lab on a specific weekday. There isn't. So I'll probably sign up for the Tuesday lab, since most of my classes are on a MWTh schedule.

I'm currently reading the book 300 A+ Students, which contains compiled tips on how to conduct your academic life in order to receive an A+. Some students recommend talking to the professor about if it is possible to earn an A+, how to earn it, etc. I emailed the chemistry professor with a bunch of questions to get more information. I will probably do the same for all my other teachers.

So, this upcoming semester I will take a philosophy course, chemistry, a university writing seminar, and a language. I'm still trying to decide between Hebrew and Chinese...

Hope your summer is going well!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Academic Advising Services

The past couple weeks has been exciting. I'm beginning to receive the specifics of what my life college will be like.

I know who my academic advisor is - he sent numerous emails (though not from his personal address, which I find a bit odd) regarding various topics, such as AP credit, balancing classes, etc. In the email is a hotline number for academic advising services. I called this past week to ask about whether I should take Chemistry 11a or 15a (regular or honors). In the past, I took chemistry two times - once in middle school and once in high school. I also took calculus through AP Calc C. So I felt I'm pretty well-equipped to handle honors chemistry, but I wanted to clarify and also find out if I need to take a placement test.

The person who answered the phone told me to sign up for 11a because that is what most students do. Also, the guidelines for placements tests are confusing. It ends up I don't need to take a placement test. After I was done with the phone call, I decided to email one of the chemistry professors and ask for his opinion. I don't completely trust the advising hotline, because I read that there is a mixture of professors and students who answer calls. My guess is more students than professors. So, the chemistry professor recommended that I sign up for honors chemistry. Also, there are about 30 students in honors, versus 200 in regular chemistry, so that's a nice bonus.

I also found out who is my faculty advisor. I have yet to contact this person, who is in the psychology department, but I should soon.

Finally, I discovered that I made it into my first choice for the Writing Seminar. I will be taking a comedy class!

More to come!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Past few days have been CRAZY. Packing like a mad dog, filming, in general getting-ready-ness for graduation. I will be blogging and vlogging a ton during my graduation, so stay tuned for many posts. There may be a slight delay since this weekend will be crazy busy, but I want to let everyone know that lots of fun is arriving!


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Guess who has two thumbs and a driver's license?


So much has unfolded the past week and a half. I finished high school. Can you believe it? This pipsqueak, done with HIGH SCHOOL??!! Well, it is true. I took my last final on Monday.

I also went through yet another right of passage - my driver's test. I'm surprised I passed, to be honest. My instructor basically parallel parked for me. I hit the curb, but I wasn't too worried because I knew how to straighten out, but then he started saying "Go forward a little, turn your wheel to the left, go back ok keep going" etc. I think he gave me full marks for parallel parking, too! He said it's because I was driving a truck (it was my mom's SUV), but I think it's because I charmed him. It was 103 degrees. He asked if I had air conditioning, which I do, and he said, "I have to wear long pants and heavy boots... oh the things I do for my job."

I said, "Well, I appreciate it!"

He said, "I like you. You're respectful. I like respectful, responsible young adults. Thank you for that."

There you go, folks. How to pass your driver's test. ;)

Originally, I was going to get my wisdom teeth extracted (all four) on Friday, but the more my mom and I thought about it, the more we realized it was a bad idea since graduation is next weekend. If I have complications, let's just say it won't be pretty. So we're rescheduling for July. YAY!

I'm giving a speech at grad, which I'm currently writing. I'm trying not to make it too preachy. I've got some funny jokes, but also a good, heartfelt important message. I'll get my dad to record it and I'll post a video.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to Apply to College: EXTRA - Common App Tips

This video goes well with my third How to Apply to College video:

Another tip that I thought of (AFTER I made the video... sheesh) is that you can put your resume in the Additional Information section. Also, if you need to explain something (like a grade that dropped), include that in the same PDF as your resume. I tried to be fancy and create one of those PDFs that saves as one document but actually contains two - don't bother with that, it doesn't work.

I hope you found this format more fun/interesting than my previous videos. I'm trying to make it shorter and more entertaining. Let me know if you have any questions!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

How to Apply to College: Step 3 - The Common Application

Now that you know how to find your passions and choose which colleges you will apply to, it's time to start looking at the actual application.

In this video I provide an overview of the Common Application. For all you juniors out there, now is a good time to read the entire application so you know what to expect when you fill it out. For sophomores and freshman, take a little time to look it over. It's important to note that there are twelve spaces in the Extracurricular Activities and Work Experience section at your disposal. If you want to be a competitive applicant, it's best to be able to fill in all twelve spaces. So think about what you are doing now and how you can maximize your chance of getting into your dream school.

Originally, I was going to have a section in the video about when to start filling out the app and bugs, errors, and ways to work the system, but the video was too long. So I'll probably publish an "Extra" with that footage.

Comment with questions/feedback!Subscribe!Like!Share!

Also, hope you like the new background! If you watch the video on youtube (versus in blogger) you can see the nifty annotations ;)


Macbook Pro!!!

Guess who has two thumbs and a Macbook Pro? THIS GIRL!!

This happened way too fast.

So Friday I go to a local university where I'm taking Intro to Psych to review an exam. Then, mom and I go to the bookstore to look at a deal on Mac products. It's a good enough deal that mom says we'll talk it over with dad and if he agrees, I'll get my first Mac the day after!

Well, he agreed and today mom and I went back to the university. I got a 13" Macbook Pro 2.7 gigahertz with a $100 student discount. I also received a printer and Apple TV for FREE. I got $50 off of Apple Care. Next week I'll get Microsoft Office for Mac, which is about $60 off. YAY saving money!

So far I love my macbook (which is shall now be known as "Pimento"). Pimento and I are becoming good chums. Poor  Tex (my puttering old Dell desktop) is probably feeling a bit left out, but don't worry - her memory will be erased soon ;)

The goal is for Pimento to last me through at least four years of undergrad. Let's hope she pulls through!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

University of Wisconsin-Madison Visit!

Finally, the long awaited University of Wisconsin-Madison post!

My dad and I drove to Madison on Monday. On the way we stopped at a restaurant/shop (big sign that said "CHEESE" was visible from the highway... common theme for the rest of our visit) and Dad bought some mead. No idea why - I think he thought it was something else.

I noticed lots of sign for CHEESE and porn, which I thought was interesting. Cheese I get - Wisconsin and their happy cows. But porn? I guess Wisconsinians need something to do after they admire their cows and eat cheese. ;)

(Hey, no offense to my Wisconsin friends. I love you and I know you love me, which is why I make fun of you. Yeah.)

When we arrived at Madison, what became immediately apparent was (a) the large number of Mexican restaurants and (b) the capital. All streets lead to the capital! All hail the capital! It's pretty cute, actually. The capital is in the middle and surrounding it are restaurants and shops.

We stayed at the Hyatt Place, which I highly recommend. The rooms had an interesting set up. The sleeping area was slightly separated from the lounging/studying/eating area, which had a mini fridge. The closet was in an odd place, though. Tucked away and not very accessible. But the pool was nice! Nothing like a dip after a long car ride. I finally used my Kodak Playsport underwater and it worked very well. Only downside was that the microphone quality goes way down because of the water. But after it dries its works fine. Dad has trouble getting into the water, hence the antics which actually went on for a couple minutes but don't worry, I edited most of it out.

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. We both had spaghetti and meatballs. SO MUCH SPAGHETTI. By the time I felt full it looked like I barely ate anything. Of course, Dad ate it all and I was so stressed out. I thought he would pop.

Monday morning we had a complementary breakfast  and took a complementary shuttle to the campus. We sneaked into an earlier info session/tour. The guy leading the info session was nice. At first I thought it was odd that he should lead it, since he kept talking about all these great things (sports, clubs, etc) and then he said he never tried any of them. But maybe he was trying to get across that there are many different types of students at the school.

Then we went on the tour. Oh, the tour. It was nearly 2 hours and FREEZING COLD. I was not dressed properly. SO COLD. And wet. Our tour guide was very upbeat despite the weather and she managed to keep us indoors enough so that it was bearable. Guess what? They have a CHEESE museum on campus... oh the hilarity. I wish we could have visited.

The campus architecture is interesting, much more diverse and pleasing than the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I like the campus itself. It's all in one place, while the U of M is spread out over three locations.

The classes for the first 1-2 years are big. 100-400 students, plus discussions led by TAs. I don't like big classes, so that's one main reason why I'm not going. In terms of academics, I think the school is fairly impressive. There is plenty of research going on and once you get into advanced courses, the class size goes way down.

I think the University of Wisconsin has a greater reputation on the East Coast than the University of Minnesota. I heard a history professor at the U of M explain that 60 or so years ago the U of W let in more Jews than the U of M and he thinks the connection/preference still lingers. There is a large Jewish population at the U of W (5000+ students).

After the freezing cold tour, our guide gave us coupons for their homemade ice cream shop (thanks but no thanks!). Dad and I left via the Badger Cab, which carries multiple passengers. We think our cab driver has rotting gums because every time he talked, our cab got stinkier and stinkier! It smelled so bad. Almost lost my appetite....  but not quite.

For lunch we went to the Old Fashioned. I ordered my first hamburger in over SEVEN YEARS! (I recently became un-vegetarian.) It was good. Overall the food in Madison is good, but as they say good is the enemy of great. Certainly nothing compared to Boston food... drool.

After eating lunch Dad and I headed home. I drove for the first 2-3 hours. It was so scary. The weather was awful. Snow, rain, sleet, ice, high speed winds, massive lightening bolts half a mile away. The road was very slippery and every time a truck rolled past it kicked up gobs of icy slush. But it was a good experience. I need to drive more.

Hope you enjoyed this summary of my visit to Madison. Please comment with any questions!


Friday, May 6, 2011


I finally decided where I am going to college!! I sent the deposit on the 28th and set up my account. My school email is actually through gmail! Pretty cool!

I'm very excited and I wish that August would be here already!!!

Also, I (read: my mom made me) volunteered to give a speech at graduation... I wanted to talk about how much high school sucks no matter what but once you get through it it seems worthwhile... ;) Grad speeches are supposed to be more uplifting, I think. Anyway, something else to write beside my senior thesis!

x Olive x

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vicious Brandeis Hawk!

Ahhh! It's been way too long! Hi everyone!!

Here's a quick video of extra footage I got while in Boston and Brandeis with my dad. Check out the hawk devouring the squirrel!

More to come later. Stay tuned!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Brandeis Admitted Students Day!!

Wow, I had such a great time! Here are more details that I didn't talk about in the video.

I made a list of specific questions before I went to the event. Here are the questions and the what I found out.
  • How easy is it to travel to Boston? Is the BranVan reliable? 
    • It's pretty easy to travel to Boston. There are other shuttles available because the BranVan, being student run, is often unreliable. Also, there are so many methods of public transportation (trains, buses) that it's usually never an issue. There is a train stop literally next-door to the campus that is easy to walk to. 
  • Is there a pharmacy near-by?
    • There is a Walgreens located in walking distance.
  • Do the dorms smell like drugs? Are drugs an issue?
    • No. Drugs are there if you want them, mostly unnoticeable if you don't.
  • As a non-Orthodox Jew, will I feel socially isolated or pressured?
    • No, Judaism is there if you want it and there is no pressure to be any certain way, whether religious, sexual, etc.
  • Will the cafeteria be able to accommodate my food allergies?
    • Yes, they do not use nuts or sunflower.
Overall, I love Brandeis. It's at the top of my list right now. Soon I will visit University of Wisconsin, but it will have to really impress me to change my mind...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Apply to College - Step 2: Find Your College

Welcome to step two! I will begin this post with a list of resources, since I was unable to list them in the video (ran out of time).

  • College website: Always read as much as you can on the college website. Take the time to read everything thoroughly and make notes about aspects of the school you like or don't like.
  • CollegeBoard: This site is a great resources for finding basic information about a school. They have a College Matchmaker, where you can input certain criteria and the site will show a list of colleges that match that criteria. It's not perfect - I recommend playing around with it until you get a decent-looking list. (For example, if you check "Orchestra," it eliminates a lot of colleges that do have an orchestra.) Also, if you create an account you can save your list and return to it later. Also, some of the information is out-of-date, so be sure to double-check with the school's website.
  • CollegeConfidential: This site is a gold mine for information about colleges. It can get overwhelming, though. I used CollegeConfidential primarily for their College Search, which is great when used in tandem with College Matchmaker, and their famous/infamous forums. The forums are fantastic for finding out the "secrets" of colleges. Often students at the college will answer questions. Definitely use this resource, but take it with a grain of salt. Remember that opinions are opinions and people often have hang ups that you do not.
  • College Prowler: I treat Prowler as a fun site. It has student reviews and grades various aspects of the school.
  • theUrocks Youtube Channel: This channel is pure entertainment. They have video clips about various aspects of a certain college that are fun to watch. (Though the statistics are a bit outdated.) This is a great way to see what the campus and dorms look like. 
  • I also recommend buying or browsing through a book that has a complete list of colleges. I used CollegeBoard's 2011 College Handbook. 
  • Talk to people! Alumni, current students, prospective students. Ask them how they chose their college. People are often the best resource.
I will add more resources as I find/think of others.

Now for topics discussed in the video.

What will the college offer me?
  • Academics: This is where it's handy to have an idea of what you're interested in studying. If you are interested in graphic design, do a google search for "top undergrad graphic design schools" (or programs, colleges, universities). If you don't know what you're interested in studying, then pick a school that offers a wide range of courses and majors.
  • Social life: Often people who are academically intense neglect this, but social life is just as important as academic life. Some factors to consider:
    • Location: Do you love busy cities or prefer quiet walks? Check the school's location and its proximity to nearby cities.
    • Size: There are advantages and disadvantages to large or small schools. If you want to blend in and not receive as much individual attention, it's probably best to go to a large school. Smaller schools tend to have smaller classes, which means you can't get away with not doing the reading before class.
    • Greek life: Do you want it, can you live with it? 
    • Single-sex/coed: I personally found single-sex schools very unattractive. (No boys in college? What's the point of going anyway??!!) But keep in mind that often single-sex schools will have a relationship with one or several colleges that have those of the opposite sex. Also keep in mind that many all-girl schools have a strong lesbian-culture. If you're not into that, it might be socially isolating.
  • Other factors
    • Cost: Don't apply to a college just because you cannot afford the tuition! You might get needs based aid. Also apply for scholarships to get merit-based aid as well. There are a lot of random scholarships out there.
    • Diversity: Some colleges have a higher percentage of ethnic minorities, such as Historically Black Colleges.
    • Housing: Do you want to live on/off campus? Do the majority of upperclassmen live off campus and are you OK with that?
    • Religion: many colleges have a religious affiliation. 
    • Post-college life: Be sure to research how the graduates fare when finding employment or going to graduate school.
Admission Criteria
  • Reach school: These are the most competitive schools with an acceptance rate of 30% or less. No matter how stellar of an applicant you are, it will be a reach. 
  • Likely: These are schools that fit your range of statistics (GPA, test scores) and have a higher acceptance rate, but admission is not a given.
  • Safety: These schools accept a majority (or close to it) of applicants. Remember that many safeties are no longer safe, so be sure to apply to more than one.
Types of Colleges
  • Public/private, Liberal Arts, University, Community College, Vocational-Technical and Career College, Special Interest College
  • Ivy League: The Ivy League is an athletic conference of eight private higher education institutions. The list is: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. Often these schools are associated with prestige and elitism. My opinion is that it's great to aim for these schools, but nothing is a sure bet. Remember that just because they are "name brand" schools, they may not be the right fit for you. I know a guy who was accepted into MIT (not an Ivy, but a top tier and very well-known school) but decided to go to the University of Minnesota because he found the environment at MIT too competitive.
Please comment with questions! Good luck!


Friday, April 8, 2011

This Weekend: Brandeis Admitted Students Day

This weekend I'm going to Brandeis University's Admitted Students Day! I will be taking some videos of the event, so when I get back I will put them together and tell all of you what that experience is like.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Summer of Anticipation

Being in limbo between high school and college must be a strange feeling. You're almost independent, but you're still at home. Lately I have been thinking about what I will do with the last few months before I leave home.

First of all, my situation is a little different. Because I go to an online high school (OHS), I don't have many local friends. OHS holds summer sessions, but as a graduate I will not be attending. Nor will I be traveling or going to any camps. So, I essentially have a long stretch of time to kill before college starts.

Now I am very good at killing time. But I don't want to senselessly kill time, I want it to have some meaning.

Here are some things I plan to do during the summer:

  • About a month ago, I applied for a job at a local bookstore. I didn't get the job (they don't hire high schoolers), but I will probably work for Kumon, a math/reading center.
Shoe Company
  • If this ends up working out, I'll post more about it later. I decorate canvas shoes for fun and want to turn it into profit!
Social Media
  • Obviously! I will keep updating as much as possible.
Science Articles & Videos
  • I'm helping out a couple friends who have a science-for-kids/educators website. I'll be writing articles and potentially making videos of do-it-at-home science projects.
Getting Ready...
  • Getting rid of old toys, writing packing lists, buying supplies, etc.
Seeing Friends
  • Hopefully, I can connect with local friends at least a couple times before I leave.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Apply to College - Step 1: Find Your Passions

Applying to college is all about marketing yourself. You need to tell your life story in a way that is compelling and memorable. One important aspect of this are your passions.

A passion is an area of strong interest that you are excited about and want to explore in depth. This can be anything - puppets, astronomy, acting, mathematics, cooking, video games... the list goes on. It's important to identify your passions so you can effectively develop and market them.

This information will be the most beneficial for those of you in 10th grade and under. The younger you are, the better. However, if you are a junior or senior, don't worry! This video will help you learn how to market yourself.

About a week ago, I sat down with my brother and helped him figure out what his passions are and how he will develop them in a way that is most beneficial for applying to college. Here is what I did.

1) Write down your extra curricular activities.
2) Write down a list of your interests. This is unlimited - it can be anything you're working on or thinking about.
3) Pick your top 2-4 interests.
4) Figure out what you are already doing to pursue them and how you can develop them further.

I'll illustrate #4 with what my brother did.

Brother's Interest Pathways

Art & Video Games (Primary Focus)
  • Goal: Develop original video game in 1 year (March 2012)
  • Your roles:
    • Conceptual designer - animation, "programming art," creating your world & characters
    • Marketer - get the game to sell
      • Website
      • Reach out to gaming commentator community
  • Suggestions from Olive:
    • Create timeline with broad & specific goals
    • Don't take on too many extra curricular activities! Leave enough time to focus on your game.
Piano (Primary Focus)
  • Goal: Perform & win competitions, volunteer
    • Continue path you are on (winning competitions, scholarships, receiving honors, performing)
    • Volunteer at nursing home
My brother did have a secondary focus (Movie Making), but I told him to drop this in order to have time to work on his two primary focuses.

I emphasized to him the importance of knowing how to communicate what you are doing. Instead of saying "I'm an artist for a game" say "I'm the conceptual designer for my original game." Instead of "I'm selling a game" say "I'm the CEO of a company that is selling my game." Do you see the difference?

I hope this helps!


New Series: How to Apply to College!

Over the past year, I learned so much about colleges and apply to colleges that I want to share it with all of you. In this series of videos, I will explain what steps you need to take to apply to colleges. All of this is based on my experience, hence the disclaimer. Over time, I predict that the process will change, so be sure to always do your own research!

Kodak Playsport for cheaps?!

A few days ago I ordered a Kodak Playsport pocket video camera from Ebay. Recently I fell in love with Ebay after making quite a profit on an old American Girl Doll. (more about what to do with childhood toys later!) I have wanted my own video camera for at least a year now. I will confess, I am a huge fan of the Shaytards and was inspired by them to do my own vlogging. Because I plan on doing "real life" videos (versus me just talking to the camera about various subjects), I figured a portable camera would come in handy. Initially I wanted a Flipcam, since that's what the Shaytards use, but my brother recommended I look into other cameras.

I like the Kodak Playsport better mainly because it is waterproof and has an SD card slot, which means I can increase the amount of footage. I bought it on Ebay for about $118, it's normally 150 or 160. Besides, I didn't have to pay shipping. The seller (Beach Camera) looked pretty reliable and it should come sometime this week.

The only disadvantage is that it might not be able to stand up on its own like the Flipcam... Overall it's not as convenient, but I think the customization and waterproofing will make it worthwhile.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My College Application Experience in a Nutshell (a very small one)

Hi! My name is Olive. This blog is dedicated entirely to my college experience.

Let me tell you about myself. I am currently a high school senior. I go to an online high school (OHS) that is based in California and has students from around the world. So this means I attend classes in a virtual classroom, equipped with webcams, text chat, and a white board. OHS has been an amazing experience. It was certainly not the easy route, both academically and socially. Nonetheless, I don't think I could have grown intellectually in the way I did through any other school.

In the video I talk about my college application experience. I'll fill you in on more detail.

Both of my parents went to college, so for as long as I can remember going to college was a given. My parents wanted the best for me, so I heard a lot about the Ivy League growing up. In high school, I was not the most motivated student. I got by with As and Bs, which is good, especially given the rigor of my high school. I was for the most part a solid student who struggled with the work load. I did not have my act together to the extent of some of my peers (one went to MIT a year early). I think I am a late bloomer since things didn't click until senior year.

Back to junior year. First semester was great - I got straight As. Then something happened second semester. I think I was burned out. Unfortunately I got behind in my school work, barely staying afloat and turning in assignments days after the due date. My parents eventually found out, but by then it was too late. My grades slipped, mostly from As to Bs.

Summer before senior year I begin working on college applications. I still wanted to aim for top tier schools. I applied to 10 schools total, mostly very competitive. I did a phenomenal job with my applications. I'm not trying to brag, but I composed fantastic essays and put things together very well, with the support of family and friends. Unfortunately, I was rejected from six schools, waitlisted at one,  and accepted into three (the least competitive of the bunch).

Despite knowing the odds were against me, I was devastated. I went through a crisis. My mind raced back over the past four years. It was agonizing. I wished so badly that I knew then what I know now! But what is done is done. My parents helped me get through all of the rejections. Right now I am focusing on the schools I did get into. Over the next few weeks I will be visiting all schools and will eventually make my choice. I am extremely excited about my future. I want all students who went through a similar experience to know that things happen for a reason. If my grades hadn't dropped junior year, I would not be the student I am today - prepared for college knowing what it takes to work hard.

So please stick around for the ride! The goal of my videos and blog is to provide support and entertainment for those going through or have gone through the college process.