ACT preparation/tips

By: Maggie Alarcon

The ACT test is a standardized test used for college admissions. The ACT is required to be taken your Junior year of high school. Your ACT score is a key component of your college applications.

The purpose of the ACT test is to measure your high school readiness for college. College admissions officers will review your test scores, alongside with your high school GPA, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers, extracurricular activities and personal essays.

The higher you score on the ACT, the more options for attending, and paying for, college will be available to you.

There are four sections on the ACT that you have to complete: English, Reading, Math, Science and an optional 40 minute writing test. The ACT takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, and if you do the writing test it’s about 4 hours.

I hope these tips below are helpful!

1. Get an ACT book
Having resources where you can study from is really helpful. Having the book to take places to study is helpful as well, and helps you work efficiently. Spending time reviewing and answering answers from the book helps you understand the format of the test. Also, it gives you a better understanding of what type of problems there will be on the test for each section.

2. Plan a reasonable study schedule
Set aside time for ACT practice and study.
Study for at least 3 hours a week or more. If it’s getting closer to your test day, then I recommend reviewing more. Get in the habit of studying too, so you can get used to the test and work on your test taking speed.

3. Do some timed practice to check in on your pacing
It is important that you have enough time to complete all the questions. I recommend you use a timer to time yourself in each section. Also, practice what was more challenging and took more time.

4. Take a couple of practice tests before the real one
It helps give you an idea of what the real test will look like. Taking a practice test gives you an idea of how well you would do, and the results will let you know what to work on more. Taking a practice test also helps you improve on your speed when taking the real test and the more practice the better.

5. Practice on the subjects that you struggle the most with and you know you’re not that good at
If you know you are not good at math or English, study more on those sections. Getting better before the test will help you improve on your worst subject and knowledge, but also your grade on the test. Look into more resources for those subjects as well.

6. Tutoring
Find options that work for you like tutoring. Getting help from someone else helps so much, having a one-on-one session is a good way to study, especially if you don’t understand something you can talk to them and ask them to clarify. It’s a more efficient way to get your studying done without getting stuck and not knowing what to do or study. You will be prepared for when the test starts and understand what you have to do.

Should you make a New Year’s resolution?

By Maddie Baggenstoss, Claire Ramadan, and Daniela Fernandez 

The New Year, a time for resolutions that will swirl down the drain by late February. What was once sparked by confetti and noisemakers is most likely destined to later crumble under cheesecake and binge watching. Whether it’s to workout, to eat healthy, or be a kinder person, the fun ends by January 3rd when we begin to miss our old vices. Will the destructive cycle of forgotten New Year’s Resolutions ever end?

Although New Year’s Resolutions can seem like a productive and achievable idea, many don’t often realize the cons that come with it.

One thing that many people don’t realize is that they will most likely end up quitting something cold turkey; sugar, smoking, drinking, etc. It takes about 21 days to start a new habit, which by then, most people stop their New Year’s resolutions.

Although ceasing bad habits abruptly is a method of improving, lots of people struggle with it. This is because many have the possibility to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can affect mood, productivity, and energy levels among other things.

When trying something new, or quitting something old, it is almost always best to ease into new habits slowly; or at least not that quickly. Choosing to make a huge change in your life can be very overwhelming, and huge changes don’t happen overnight.

Many people will attempt to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, but the truth is that they are often way too much way to fast. For example, you may decide you will workout everyday beginning on January first. That’s a big goal, and we’re sure you could do it. Or you could start by working out a few times a week, and build up to it everyday. You may be more likely to reach your goal if you start small and stick with it rather than diving right in, and then quitting after a week.

The real question is: Should I make a New Year’s resolution? Ultimately, whether or not you want to make a New Year’s resolution is completely up to you. If you are able to set goals and stick with them, no problem, then this may be just another excuse for you to make a positive change to your life.

Even if you’re not so sure you can give up that amazing slice of pie that easily, we still encourage you to try. You don’t have to eat a perfect diet of fruits and vegetables right away. No step towards your goal is too small.

Whatever your goal is, do your best to get to achieve it. Get there at your own pace. What do you have to lose?

Pets as gifts

Pets aren’t always just fun and games, you have to feed it, take care of it, and maybe even potty train. That’s why if you got a pet for the holidays, I urge you to take care of it.

Pets require attention, love, and lots of work. Don’t give someone a pet if they won’t take care of it.

Also, if you received a pet, make sure you do proper research on how to take care of your new pet. For example, many rabbits end up in homes with poor conditions around Easter due to people adopting them without knowing how to take care of them.

Some pets also need special requirements that take time to prepare; for example, to adopt a bearded dragon you have to make sure your tank is at the proper temperature, so don’t spring a new pet on someone randomly.

Don’t gift a pet to someone who is usually busy, as pets need to be taken care of, and make sure you don’t gift someone a pet who is low on money who won’t be able to properly afford their pet.

While the number of returned gift pets has gone down, it is still something that should be thought about and not a sudden decision.

Does this person want a pet? Can this person properly take care of the pet? Are two questions you should ask before gifting a pet to someone.

But regardless, whenever a holiday comes around, I hope you have a great one!

Mid-quarter advice

By: Maggie Alarcon

Finals are around the corner, so you should take this chance that it’s only a bit past mid-quarter to catch up on any missing work and give it your best. Try to take this time as an opportunity to talk to your teachers about your grades if you haven’t already. Or even arrange a time with your teachers to do makeups for a test, projects etc.

I highly recommend to communicate with those around you more, it doesn’t always have just be your teacher, to get the help you need in any class that you don’t understand or need more guidance in. Check if there’s any tutoring sessions going on in school. Another way you can improve your grades during mid-quarter is asking your friends for help as well.

If you are having a test coming up, or any big project that is happening soon, make sure to stay focused and study really hard to do well, or to bring your grades up, especially if they are not looking the best. Study at least an hour or two.

Speak up also, and ask for help if that’s better for you. Don’t just stay quiet and wait until the last minute to try to get help from your teachers. Not all will help you out last minute.

Summer school is not very fun, and I suggest you get to work and don’t procrastinate and leave work to do at the last minute. It will just get harder if you do, and it will become a habit.

Lastly, another good idea that I can suggest is asking an adult, or someone you know you can count on, to check on you and your process being made, like your grades, and to keep pushing you to keep going and motivate you.

I hope these suggestions were helpful!

10 tips to help with college

Are you nervous for college? Worried about getting lost, or even off track? Here are ten useful tips to keep you on track and organized in your college years!

1. Go to all orientations. There are a lot of campus tours, even though they might be boring, you should go to all of them. The faster you learn your way around campus, the better you’ll feel, and the better prepared you’ll be when you have to get around campus.

2. Get to know your roommate and others in your residence hall. The people you live with, most of whom you are going through similar experiences and emotions, are your main safety net.

3. Get organized. In high school, the teachers tended to lead you through all of your homework and due dates. In college, the professors post the assignments, often for the entire semester, and expect you to be prepared. Buy an organizer, use an app, or get a big wall calendar, whatever it takes for you to know when assignments are due.

4. Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done. Try to avoid as many distractions as possible.

5. Go to class. It may be tempting to sleep in when you have to get up early. Avoid the temptation. Besides learning the material by attending classes, you’ll also receive vital information from the professors about what to expect on tests, changes in due dates, and more.

6. Become an expert on course requirements and due dates. Professors spend hours and hours preparing course syllabi and calendars so that you will know exactly what is expected of you, and when. One of the lamest excuses a student can give a professor: “I didn’t know it was due today.”

7. Meet with your professors. There are only upsides to getting to know your professors, especially if later in the semester you run into some issues. Professors schedule office hours for the purpose of meeting with students, take advantage of that time.

8. Get to know your academic adviser. This is the person who will help you with course conflicts, adding or dropping courses, scheduling of classes for future semesters, and deciding on majors and minors. This person is a key resource for you, and should be the person you turn to with any academic issues or conflicts. And don’t be afraid of requesting another adviser if you don’t click with the one first assigned to you.

9. Seek a balance. College life is a mixture of social and academic happenings. Don’t tip the balance too far in either direction. Plan it out so you can manage both at a good balance that works for you.

10. Get involved on campus. A big problem for a lot of new students is a combination of homesickness and a feeling of not quite belonging. Consider joining a group, student organization, club, sorority/fraternity, or sports team. You’ll make new friends, learn new skills, and feel more connected to your school.

How to apply to colleges on CommonApp

Are you stressed about applying to college, or you just don’t know to? Here is some information on how to apply through CommonApp. To get to the the website, use this link:

If you’re a senior in high school, you can connect your Naviance account with CommonApp. To do this, you log into Naviance and CommonApp. Once you’re on Naviance, click on the “Colleges I’m applying to.” There should be a red tab across the screen that says, “Connect to CommonApp.” With the connection betweein Naviance and CommonApp, it’ll make applying easier.

Once you have gotten your account ready and logged in, there will be five different gray tabs across the top of the page. Click on the one that says, “Common App.” There will be information that you need to fill out, and they are really easy, simple steps.

Some questions may require you to get information from your counselor if you don’t have them yourself. For example, they ask for your ACT or other test scores. You can either put them in yourself or have your counselor email it to the college you’re applying for.

Once you have completed each section, there will be a green check mark by the section name marking that you have completed it. At the end of filling out your information, they will give you an option to write your college essay or upload it from google docs, depending on which is easier for you. Some colleges may or may not require an essay to be written, but having one available is always good.

After doing everything on the “Common App” tab, you can go on the “College Search” tab and start looking for colleges. If you find one that you want to apply to, or are interested in, you can add it to your college list. Adding it to your college list will make the school name appear on the “My Colleges” tab.

Clicking on the college will take you to the application form, and there you will put in the information that is needed. Applying should be easy now, and if you missed any part of the application to the college, they will send you an email informing you which part is missing.

The fall deadline for rolling admission, for the 2019 school year, is on 7/28/19, and the spring deadline is on 1/02/19, so if you’re still applying, be sure to apply before the deadlines.


5 tips to prevent you from getting sick

It’s that time of year, the flu is spreading and I bet you don’t want it. Here are some tips to help you prevent getting sick this year.

Wash your hands

“No matter what line of work you’re in, if you come in contact with people who are contagious, you have to wash your hands over and over,” says Alan Pocinki, MD. Pocinki practices internal medicine at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC.

It sounds so simple, but soap and water are the constant companions of doctors and nurses. To completely get rid of viruses from your skin, you need to scrub hard for 20 seconds or more. A good way to time yourself is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while scrubbing the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. It doesn’t matter if the water’s hot or cold — the very act of scrubbing will physically remove the germs.

Keep your surroundings clean
Arlington, VA, massage therapist Amanda Long asks clients to stay home if they feel bad. But to be safe, she sanitizes doorknobs and light switches between sessions. It’s a practice she swears by.

“My hyper-vigilance has paid off,” Long says. “I was sick more often when I worked in an office, where people pawed into shared candy dishes and generally just mingled in a crowded space without much attention to germs. Now that I don’t have sick days, I don’t get paid if I don’t work. And I know my job is to heal, not pass on a cold or the flu.”

Avoid getting close to sick people
Don’t shake their hands or get too close where they can cough on you, because chances are you could get sick from that.

Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
If you can’t get alcohol-based hand sanitizers just use soap and water. Sanitizer can kill cold and flu germs quicker and it’s more efficient.

Keep up a healthy lifestyle
“It’s important to look after your own health,” says Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist in Lexington, KY. “Do all the things we all should be doing on a daily basis anyway,” Hoven says. “Get adequate rest — which people underestimate — get good nutrition, don’t smoke, and keep your allergies controlled, because if they’re out of control, then your upper respiratory tree is already inflamed, which sets it up to more easily acquire a virus.”

What to do if you are failing

Everybody has been at that point where they have been in a class where they weren’r doing so well. It can be a discouraging, and can really put you down. I know that I have been in a position like this before, and it sucks. Here are some tips that helped me get through my struggles, and helped me pass a class with a decent grade.

Participate in class. I know that everyone has experieced that moment when a teacher has called on you and you didn’t know the answer. You can avoid all that if you just participate. That can be in a number of different ways. I know it can be very tempting to talk with your friends or use your phone, but keeping away those distractions will help you stay more focused. Taking notes and focusing on the teacher is already showing that you are participating and this will also help you stay focused and on top of what you are learning.

Always take notes. Sometimes, it can be a hassle writing down everything the teacher is writing down, and it can take up a lot of time, and taking a picture seems easier, but it is proven that writing down those notes will help you understand the material better. I know that when I take notes, going back and looking at what I wrote is a lot better than a slide show. You can make it fun by adding color to your notes so it’s more appealing to you when looking back at them.

Always study! I know that studying can be boring but studying is a really helpful tool. Without practicing what you are learning, you won’t be able to know the material as well as someone who did study. Instead of looking at a page full of notes, you can create flashcards to help you understand it more. You can even study with a friend as long as you know you guys won’t distract each other.

Talk to your teacher. Talking with your teacher will help you figure out what you need to do in order to pass at the end of the day. They are the ones that will help you the most in making sure you get the materials you need to pass the class. Talking with them will help you figure out what your next step will be.

How to end writer’s block

It happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your thoughts have turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you have nothing to do about it.

Read this article if you need ways to overcome writer’s block!

Go for a walk

Going for a walk will help your brain to take a break from thinking, and it will relax you. Going for a walk will also help with your creatively, for nature is so complex and will help you think about things to write about by simply looking at the world around you.

Change your environment

Maybe move from a closed room to a more open room, it really will change your mood. By moving somewhere else to write it could give you different ideas from looking at the things around you.

Brainstorm ideas with bullet points

This will help you to get rid of the mad ideas, by crossing them off. This will also help you to really think and hopefully give you something good to write about.

Create a routine

Many famous writers have daily routines to summon the Muse. This will help your train of thoughts flow.

Call an old friend

Calling an old friend could bring back so many memories, that you’ve lost, that could be things to write something about.

Listen to music

Listening to music is really effective because its so creative. This could get your mind flowing and you could maybe even write about a certain song.

How to destress from college applications

It’s that time of year where senior’s are the busiest with college applications. This is the time when you get to apply to those schools you have been dreaming to get into, and it can be exciting but, it is a long process and can get very stressful. We have to remind ourselves that we need to take some time for ourselves to destress a little. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Take breaks. After working for several of hours, you can get tired and you’re most likely not understanding what your reading. It’s good to take breaks because you can have that time to just destress and step away from the computer screen. This is a time when you can really just close your eyes and really focus on your breathing.

Be yourself. I know that when writing college essays, it can be be hard because you want to write a good college essay, but sometimes, students write college essays that they think colleges want to hear. A lot of the times, they just want to get to know you and that’s why it’s important to be yourself when writing these essays. They want to hear what you went through  and how it made you the person you are today, and you just need to remember that.

Ask for help. Sometimes, you can be in over your head and you don’t think you’re doing things right. It can be helpful to have one look over things for you just to make sure you’re on the right track. This can be beneficial to you because you can get feedback and notes and can make changes before you hit that submit button.