Advice to Rising High School Seniors from Molly of Gracefully Gingham

     Today’s Back to School post is something a little different and I’m really excited about it!  I’ve asked my good friend Molly from the blog Gracefully Gingham, a rising freshman in college, to guest post on the blog today and share some advice for all of you who may be rising high school seniors (like me!).  She’s sharing some awesome words of wisdom and I can’t wait for you to read her post below!  If you’re interested in reading my other Back to School posts from this year and/or years past you can find them here!  Enjoy!

     Faith reached out to me a while back asking me to write a guest post on her blog and I immediately jumped on the offer!  I have been reading Faith’s blog since way before I started my own!  My name is Molly and I am the girl behind the blog Gracefully Gingham and Instagram @gracefullygingham.  I post about fashion and lifestyle and I absolutely love it!  I am a recent high school graduate so today I am going to share some advice to seniors.  I hope you find this post helpful!

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  1. Take time to enjoy the little moments you normally take for granted. – Walking through your high school hallways, waking up each morning in your bed at home, and hanging out with all your best friends from high school.  Before you know it all of these experiences are going to turn into memories and you won’t relive them again, and if you do they will never be the same.  I don’t want this to come across as being depressing because the transition from high school to college is super exciting but it is important to remember all those little details about high school as much as possible.
  2. Start the college decision process as early as possible! – When I started looking at schools I had no clue where I wanted to go and it was so stressful.  I constantly felt like I was running out of time.  My first piece of advice would be to relax.  You have plenty of time and I promise everything will work out!
  3. Trust yourself. – I found that throughout my college decision process so many people would always ask me what my plans were and when I started talking they always told me their opinion.  While this was helpful because I took the opinions of the people who mattered most to me into consideration when making my list, some people may try to convince you to do something that you may not want.  Trust yourself and follow your heart.  You know whats best for you!
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. – Everyone’s experience is going to be completely different so don’t feel discouraged if people start receiving scholarships and acceptance letters and you still haven’t.  Everything will work out!
  5. Have fun! – Try not to take a break from the pressure of college stuff and just enjoy your senior year!

I hope you found this post helpful! If you have any questions about senior year please feel free to message me at any time! I would love to chat!

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10 Habits of a Successful High School Junior

     As a rising senior, I can tell you from the other side of junior year that everything’s going to be alright, but I know that’s hard to believe when you’re going into a year that everyone has told you will be the hardest!  Today’s post is going to give you a few habits I think will benefit you in this tough year.  This isn’t to say you can’t be successful without living by these suggestions, but they certainly will help!  I’m not even going to pretend I did all of these things, a lot of them I’m picking up from my brilliant friends who thrived throughout our junior year.  This is my third post in this year’s Back to School series, so if you’d like to read “My Advice for High School Juniors”, “Back to School Lookbook 2018”, or my other Back to School posts from years past, you can check them out here!  Enjoy!

  1. Read your Bible everyday. – If you’re a Christian, I’d say this is absolutely essential.  Nothing puts you in the right mindset or brings you closer to God than spending a little time everyday in His word!  This quiet time could be as little as ten minutes in which you read a devotional or maybe you’ll read a chapter of the Bible each day!  There’s no right way to go about reading the Bible, the important thing is just that you do it.  If you’re intimidated by cracking open a book so big and old, I wrote a blog post all about how I go about reading the Bible last year and you can check it out here (that said I’ve also taken on a couple devotionals since posting that)!  I for one have definitely noticed that days in which I read the Bible tend to be ones that I’m kinder and more patient with others and also have a much more positive outlook.
  2. Do a little SAT (or ACT) practice everyday. – This is likely going to be the year you take the SAT and/or the ACT, so be sure you’re preparing yourself for them!  Signing up for the test then waiting until the week of to attempt to study won’t be much help, but getting a tutor isn’t always necessary either!  I’d recommend using Kahn Academy or the big College Board SAT book to practice for the test a little bit everyday.  Completing one reading passage with a set of questions or five math problems each day won’t take long at all but will help you slowly master the content!
  3. Make your bed every morning. – I understand the state of mind that “no one is going to see it anyways,” but for me, at the end of a long day when I walk back into my room to an unmade bed it’s just another bad mark on my day.  Coming home to a crisp, made bed makes me feel like at least one part of my life is in order and gives me a desire to continue to be productive in the hours immediately after school.
  4. Do short workouts daily. – Outside of lacrosse practice, this is definitely not a habit I developed but I sure wish I had!  Exercising a little everyday will not only keep you in shape, but will also help you relieve that junior year stress!
  5. Keep up with Fast Track to a 5 or Crash Course AP review books. – If your teachers give you these AP exam prep books early on (or if you just decide to buy them at Barnes & Noble at the start of the year), keep up with them from unit to unit!  I really wish I had done this because I feel like I would’ve performed better on unit tests and retained the information throughout the year as opposed to doing fine on the tests then forgetting the material until it was time to cram for the AP exam.
  6. Pick out your outfits on Sunday night. – This one goes for any grade or age, but checking the weather and your agenda for the week then picking out your outfits before the week begins is so smart.  Doing this most likely won’t take longer than an hour and will prevent you from stressing over choosing good outfits when you should be doing your schoolwork later in the week.
  7. Stay involved in things you actually care about. – I know this year might seem all about impressing colleges, but don’t lose sight of your favorite things because you’re too wrapped up in running to be the president of a club you aren’t even interested in.  If you really love writing you should get involved in yearbook, the school paper, or creative writing, not Envirothon!  Not only will dedicating too much of your time to things you don’t truly care about feel boring and exhausting, colleges will also see right through it when your extracurriculars have nothing to do with the interests you talk about in your application.  Definitely do take on as many extracurriculars as you think you can handle, but make sure you genuinely care about them!
  8. Go to bed as early as you can. – Here’s another I wish I would’ve done but didn’t!  The best way to set yourself up for success all year is to get a fair amount of rest!  I know firsthand that it can be hard to get in bed on time when you have as much homework as the average junior does, but a night of solid rest is so worth mastering those time management skills!  Getting eight (or close to eight) hours of sleep each night will help you stay focused (and awake) in class, alert and at the top of your game in sports practice, and healthy!
  9. Clean your room every weekend. – This one goes with number three; having a clean, put together room (your home base!) at the start of each week will reduce the intensity of mess-induced stress (okay maybe I’m the only one that deals with that…Whenever my room is messy I legitimately stress about it and get distracted from everything else until it gets cleaned) and give you a cleaner, less distracting workspace to get your homework done in!
  10. Set a nightly routine. – The friends I have that rarely (if ever) stay up past midnight doing homework are the friends I have that keep a pretty regular after school schedule.  Decide on how much “break” time you’re going to give yourself when you get home (maybe half an hour to grab a snack or watch an episode of your favorite show) then do your homework and take care of your other evening responsibilities!  I can’t tell you how to make your schedule because obviously everyone has different obligations, dinner times, etc. but you get the point!

Thanks for reading!  I hope you’re able to develop a few of these helpful habits for yourself!

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Back to School Lookbook 2018

     One of my favorite (and most consistent) posts to write since I began blogging is the back to school lookbook.  It’s seriously so wild to see how the time has flown; the first time I wrote this post I was about to be a freshman and I start senior year next week!  See my back to school lookbooks of years past here, here, and here, it’s crazy to see how my style has evolved!  I’ve always loved sharing these fun looks that can easily be recreated because I know firsthand that it can be hard to come up with fresh outfits for the new school year.  This is my second post in this year’s Back to School series, be sure to check out my last post (and all of my Back to School posts from previous years) here.  Let’s get into the post!

A Tank and a Cardigan

     If you’re looking for a cute but casual look this back to school season and you live somewhere that you wouldn’t be absolutely miserable in a cardigan right now (or your school is just always cold), this one is for you!  Add a light cardigan like this fun off-white one from Old Navy (currently on sale and under $40 – my favorite cardigan I’ve ever owned!) to a fun but not dress code tank with some layered jewelry, jeans, and sandals for a put together late summer look.

tank (similar) // cardigan // jeans // sandals (similar) // hoop earrings // choker // key necklace (similar) // watch // MantraBand // cross bracelet // personalized beaded bracelet // rose gold ring // gold stacked rings

White with Denim

 

 

 

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     This look is slightly more dressed up and is extremely similar to what I’m planning on wearing to school the first day of my senior year!  I love embroidered white tops like this one because they’re super versatile but the embroidered details make them girly and fun.  Pair it with a denim skirt and a pair of sandals for a nice and simple ensemble.  If you want to spice it up, add some fun jewelry like this colorful Beadz by Reese choker!

top (similar) // skirt // sandals // earrings // choker (direct message Reese to order this choker!) // key necklace (similar) // watch // MantraBand // cross bracelet // personalized beaded bracelet // rose gold ring // gold stacked rings

Casual with Stripes and Rips

     Last but not least, this look is easy to throw on, comfortable, but also stylish!  A basic tee – whether it be crewneck or v-neck, solid or striped – a pair of ripped jeans (regardless of color as long as they don’t clash with the shirt!), and Birkenstocks make for an easy go-to outfit for this back to school season.  Accessorize with some fun earrings or a long necklace to take the look from basic to chic.  Transition this look into fall and even winter by adding a cardigan or jean jacket and trading out the sandals for a pair of slip on sneakers!

tee // green jeans (similar) // sandals // earrings (similar) // choker (direct message Reese to order this choker!) // key necklace (similar) // watch // MantraBand // cross bracelet // personalized beaded bracelet // rose gold ring // gold stacked rings

Thanks for reading!  I hope these ensembles have given you some inspiration for your own back to school looks!

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My blog contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn commission from your purchase of the products mentioned.

My Advice for High School Juniors

     Somehow summer has flown by once again and it’s already August, which means it’s time for Back to School posts!  Back to School posts are always some of my favorite posts to write, I love sharing advice and inspiration for a fresh start in the new school year!  Read my Back to School posts from years past here.  Each year I write something along the lines of “My Advice for…” or “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before…” in regards to the grade I just completed, and today I’m sharing my advice for high school juniors!  It’s no secret that junior year is one of the hardest, and today I’m sharing some things that will hopefully help you out in this intimidating year!  I also have a post called “10 Habits of a Successful High School Junior” scheduled for August 22nd so if you’re a junior and think you could use all the wisdom you can get be sure to come back!  Without further adieu, let’s get into the post!

  1. Go into the school year with a positive mindset. – I’m sure you’ve heard the most terrible horror stories about junior year, but like the wise Hannah Montana once sang, “life is what you make it.”  If you go into junior year dreading it and assuming it’s as bad as people say, you’re going to get off on the wrong foot with your teachers, then it might actually be the worst.  It’s all about perspective!  This year is important and will be challenging but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be all that bad.
  2. Know that your identity isn’t in your grades. – While junior year isn’t necessarily the worst, there’s a good chance that you’ll create a pretty overwhelming schedule for yourself between academic courses you believe your college of choice will notice and extracurriculars both that you want said college to see and that you’re genuinely interested in.  The times that I noticed myself and friends truly drowning in the stresses and struggles of the year were the times in which we found our identities solely in our academics.  If you forget that the best part about you is that your being is a collage of great qualities and interests and you begin to find your worth completely dependent on your GPA or AP U.S. History grade, your self esteem and happiness will fluctuate with the numbers.
  3. Actually do your homework. – Whether you’ve done it every single night of your school career so far or rarely open a textbook at home, this is the year to make sure you’re doing your homework.  Homework is often the only assignment you can guarantee a good grade on and no matter how little the grade counts, every little decimal point contributes to your average so it’s important that it’s always the best grade it can be.  Even if your teachers don’t check homework, it’s always important to do the assignments because homework is where you find out if you really know the material or not and from there you can ask for help with specific topics.
  4. Remember that boys are not everything. – For whatever reason, I feel like a lot of girls’ desperation for attention from guys rises dramatically junior year.  Maybe it’s the need for a distraction from all the AP work or validation somewhere else when the academics get tougher.  There’s obviously nothing wrong with having a boyfriend and I can’t tell you how to live your romantic life, but please remember that boys are not everything and you aren’t defined by any guy’s opinion of you.
  5. Surround yourself with people you actually want to be like. – This piece of advice goes for all of high school and even all of life.  It’s so important to remember that whether you like it or not, the people you hang around are going to contribute to your character and personal behavior.  This could be as simple as picking up some odd phrases they use or as significant as beginning illegal drug use.  To stay safe, make sure the people you spend the most time around are people you’d like to be like!  Over the past year or so I’ve begun to hang out with girls who’s character I genuinely like because I know if they rub off on me I’d be pretty happy about it.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this advice helpful!  Have an awesome junior year, I’m praying for you!

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Achievement Report on My Goals from the 2017-2018 School Year

     In September of the 2017-2018 school year (my junior year), I included a post about my goals for the year in my back to school series (read that post here).  I updated y’all on my progress with those goals before going back for second semester in January (read that post here) and today I’m giving you a final report!  When I wrote the original post I intended to write this followup within a week after finishing the year, but seeing as a couple of my goals revolved around AP exam scores, which aren’t released until July (while I was on Work Crew), I had to wait until after Work Crew to write this.  I hope you like seeing my accomplishments this year, posting the goals for y’all to see at the beginning of the year was a great way to hold myself accountable!  The original goals are in italics under their categories and my end of year responses follow each one in plain print.  Enjoy!

Academic Goals

  1. Complete the school year with all A’s and B’s. – I did it!  A couple of my B’s were lower than I would’ve liked them to be but overall I’m pretty proud of my work!
  2. Be somewhat successful in AP Environmental Science (Science isn’t really my best subject.  It’s not that I’m really bad at it, I just typically don’t perform as well in that subject as I do in my other classes). – I finished with a B in AP Environmental Science and got a 4 on the AP exam, so I’d say I was pretty successful!
  3. Get a 100 on a test. – As far as I can recall I didn’t receive a 100 on a test, but I had several A’s and even had a 99 on an essay!
  4. Make 4’s and 5’s on my three AP exams at the end of the year. – I received all 4’s on my AP exams!

Athletic Goals

  1. Attend as many preseason lacrosse practices as possible. – I attended all of the preseason lacrosse practices and conditioning workouts offered!
  2. Work out more. – I’m not going to lie, this was a goal I didn’t really fulfill.  I didn’t prioritize my fitness amidst the craziness of junior year, good thing I play a sport to stay in shape!
  3. Play more in lacrosse games than I did last year. – I played a little bit more in games than I did last year but not a ton.
  4. Make the varsity lacrosse team again. – I did make the varsity lacrosse team again this year!
  5. Score a goal during a varsity lacrosse game. – This year my coach switched me to defense, so this goal was a little more impractical than I expected it to be and I didn’t achieve it.

Spiritual Goals

  1. Make lots of new middle school friends as a WyldLife leader. – I loved leading Wyldlife this year and I’m so glad I decided to be a leader!  My two trips to camp with my eighth grade were two of my greatest YoungLife camp experiences.  I’m excited to continue leading this coming school year!
  2. Go to YoungLife club every week that I possibly can. – I don’t think I missed a single YoungLife club this year!
  3. Feel refreshed after fall weekend at Windy Gap (a YoungLife camp in North Carolina). – This trip to Windy Gap was the best yet (read my Windy Gap travel diary here) and I’m so sad this fall’s trip will be my last!
  4. Read the Bible daily. – I didn’t really pick up the Bible much first semester but I did an awesome job with this throughout second semester as y’all saw in my “Bible Time” Instagram stories!
  5. Pray more often. – I definitely started praying more throughout junior year but since YoungLife Work Crew in July I’ve begun praying all the time.
  6. Use my devotional daily. – Sadly I didn’t use a devotional at all in my junior year, but I’ve begun using a couple this summer after Work Crew!
  7. Go to winter weekend with Wyldlife campers as a leader. – I had the greatest time on winter weekend with my Wyldlife girls at Carolina Point!  I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to go with them not only to winter weekend but also to summer camp (read my post about winter weekend here and my post about summer camp here)!
  8. Apply for a session of YoungLife Work Crew. – I applied and was accepted to be a part of YoungLife Work Crew at Saranac Village second session and let me tell you, it was the best month ever.

Social Goals

  1. Make five new friends (or at least acquaintances). – I definitely made more than five new friends junior year between the yearbook staff, my prom group, and lacrosse season.
  2. Do something really fun one weekend with a friend(s). – I attended Music Midtown (read the recap post here) in September with a couple of my friends and also went to Charleston with my two best friends in January (read the travel diary here)!

Blog Goals

  1. Post at least twice a week every week. – This goal wasn’t reached due to a couple busy weeks and a blogging and social media hiatus from mid-April to mid-May as I focused on AP exams!
  2. Reach 20,000 total site views for 2017. – This goal was reached and surpassed, thanks to you all!
  3. Collaborate with a big brand. – I collaborated with lots of small brands and spent another whole year as a Jadelynn Brooke high school ambassador, but didn’t collaborate with another big brand.
  4. Host at least three giveaways. – I reached my goal and hosted three!

Thanks for reading!  I definitely recommend making yourself a list of goals like this at the start of the 2018-2019 school year!  Would you like to see me do this again?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Prom Prep 2018; Picking a Dress

     As early as it may sound, prom season is upon us.  Although my school’s prom isn’t until late April, the “promposals” began as early as mid-February here and several of my friends ordered their dresses before Christmas break!  Today I’m beginning what will be a short series on the blog throughout the spring leading up to my own prom; “Prom Prep.”  As I prepare for my first prom, I’m going to be sharing my tips for dress shopping, hairstyle choosing, jewelry selecting, etc. in this series and taking you along on what I’m sure will be one of the most stressful and fun parts of my junior year.  I hope y’all love this series!  This first installment is all about picking the perfect dress, enjoy!

My Experience

     Despite eyeing prom dresses since my babysitters showed me photos of theirs when I was in elementary school, finding the right dress was pretty difficult for me.  I guess it’s kind of like how you see a million things you want all year but can never think of anything to ask for when Christmas rolls around.  I had a vague idea of what I wanted at the beginning of junior year; something elegant but trendy (the last thing I want is for my future children to look at my prom photos the way I look at my mom’s with the ginormous ruffled flowers on her shoulder), simple but pretty (big, sparkly dresses aren’t very popular where I live, the girls typically stick to long gowns with simple details and minimal flare), $250 or less, long, and preferably grey or blush pink.  I was pretty openminded to all necklines as long as the dress had some type of straps.

     By fall I had come to the conclusion that my pale, pinkish skin tone was too close to blush pink to pull off a dress in the hue and narrowed my searches down to grey.  I also originally thought my fairly flat chested self would be able to pull off a plunging neckline, but big eyes from my stepmother upon showing her a moderately low v-neck dress turned me the other way.

     In January, I was looking for something grey yet eye catching, but was having practically no luck.  After shopping for a sweater on ASOS, I thought I’d give their bridesmaids dresses section a shot.  I ended up finding a $103 pretty one shoulder number in a blush pink color called “mink” that appeared to have more of a greyish undertone, meaning it had potential to not make me look naked (that obviously wouldn’t be good).  I ordered it in two sizes (which I highly recommend doing if you’re ordering online!) and one of them fit just right.  I’ve decided on this one and I’m so excited about it!  See the dress below and shop it here.

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Where to Shop Online

     If you’re having trouble finding a prom dress due to lack of stores near you, definitely consider some online options!  I didn’t even go into a store and still found a great dress at an awesome price point!  I ultimately decided ASOS would be a good place to purchase my dress because the sweater I got there proved to be good quality (therefore it’s a reliable retailer) and I knew from conversations that most of the reasonably priced, large selection websites like Lulu’s and PromGirl would be the first websites everyone at my school would go to in search of their own prom dress.  If your school isn’t as Lulu’s obsessed (personally I just didn’t want a dress with such a large risk of being on someone else at prom), definitely check their website out, there are a ton of adorable prom dresses at really good price points!  PromGirl, Red Dress Boutique, Show Me Your MuMu, and Nordstrom Rack are also great online options!  If you have a higher budget, BCBG Max Azria and Free People also sell some beautiful gowns.  I’ve pictured and linked a few of my favorite prom dresses below!

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1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

My Tips

  1. Have some ideas of what you want, but don’t hold yourself to your vision if you find something completely different that you really like. – Having a few color ideas can be really helpful when filtering website searches filled with tens of pages of prom dresses.  That being said, I thought I would definitely end up with a grey dress this year, and had I stuck to that I wouldn’t have found the dress that I now have and love so much!
  2. If you’re ordering your dress online, order it in multiple sizes and make sure you can return it. – Ordering my dress in two sizes in the first place was definitely one of the smartest decisions I’ve made so far in the prom process.  Ordering two sizes at once not only prevented me from having to return a dress and blindly choose another size, but also allowed me to compare the pros and cons of each size.  One of my dresses wouldn’t zip up the last inch, while the other might hang a little lower on the strapless side.  I know the last thing you want is to send one dress back just to find that its replacement is hardly different (or inducing the opposite problem) from the one you had before.
  3. Keep the type of dresses people in your area wear in mind. – While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with standing out, personally (as I’m sure holds true for plenty of you too I’m sure), walking into prom in a bedazzled dress unlike the simple jewel-toned frocks of my peers is one of the last things I want to happen.  Even if this is your first year going to prom (I know at my school only juniors and seniors/the dates of juniors and seniors are allowed to attend), look through some the past prom Instagram posts of upperclassmen or recent graduates from your school so you have an idea of what people in your area typically wear to prom.  Length, fluffiness, and sparkle are all likely to be factors your student body has a pretty clear stance on and you should investigate!
  4. Don’t shop where all your friends are shopping! – If it seems like everyone is getting their prom dress from a certain store or website, purchasing a dress at the popular location drastically increases your chances of showing up to prom in the same dress as everyone else.  This might not sound like the worst thing to you, but to me it sounds like a breeding ground for comparison (both in my head and by my peers) and the last thing I want to do on this fun night is feel like I don’t look as good in my dress as someone else does.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this post helps you in your prom dress shopping!  Stay tuned for more prom related posts in the next few weeks!

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