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.