5 Ways to Make Your Senior Year Easier

     I know that the thought of doing any type of Back to School post right now seems absolutely ridiculous given that this school year isn’t even out for most high schoolers yet, but in advising some of my friends who are current high school juniors on how to set themselves up for a smooth senior year, I realized this post needed to happen now because there’s so much you can do before this school year is even out to make your senior year so much less stressful.  Today I’m sharing five ways to make your senior year easier, especially if you’re planning to go to college in following year.  My hope is that these bits of my own experience will set you up not only for a year of success but also ample opportunities to actually soak in all of your lasts.  Enjoy!

  1. Write your basic college application essay while you’re still in an academic mindset. – This time last year, right after my AP English Language & Composition exam, my AP English teacher told us that if we wanted to write our college application essay in response to the Common Application’s (you’ll see my refer to the Common Application as “Common App” throughout this post because that’s how most applying students refer to them, just a heads up) prompts then, she would review it for us and give us extra credit for it.  Many of my peers passed on the opportunity because hey, it was the end of the year and we were done.  My teacher made a good point that we wouldn’t want to write the essay over the summer and by the time August or September rolled around and we began applying to colleges, our writing abilities would have deteriorated a bit in comparison to what they were at the end of a year in AP English.  I promise you that this fall every English teacher you’ve ever had will be flooded with college application essays to review as “favors” for past or current students, but if you write it now and have your current teacher proofread it for you he/she’ll be able to take more time looking at it and will recognize and respect your drive to get it done this early!  Even if your teacher isn’t offering you extra credit to write the essay now, I can’t stress enough how nice it is to have this essay out of the way before the summer even begins.  What a relief of stress!  The prompts are here, if you’re interested.  They’re keeping the prompts the same as last year and I think several of them were great options and allowed for a lot of flexibility for every individual with varying interests and strengths.  I wrote for prompt #1, any guesses on what my special interest that my application would’ve been incomplete without?
  2. Start your Common App now. – After my English teacher opened up my mind to writing my Common App essay early, I realized I was also able to complete much of my actaul Common App on my own in May.  I will say, there is a lot you might not know how to answer on your own without a parent, but there’s also a lot of basic information (i.e. all of your high school courses, your GPA, and your extracurriculars) that you’re completely capable of self-reporting in your abundant free time following AP exams.  Getting as much as you can done now will deduct hours from the amount of time you spend on college applications in the late summer and fall.
  3. Brainstorm a list of colleges you’re remotely interested in. – I plan to do another post later on going in depth on how I’d recommend you go about formulating this list and narrowing down to a decision, but for now let me just say it’s really important for you to have some idea of where you want to go.  Find schools that have programs for what you’re interested then think about whether you want to get out of state or stay in state (also consider which option is practical for you financially), go to a small school or big school, live in a big city or college town, etc.  Just make a list!  I promise it’s not that hard, the list can be as long or as short as you want it to be and you can narrow it down later.
  4. Start talking to your parents about touring colleges this summer. – I cannot stress this enough, you cannot pick a college without touring it.  I was 100% set on a school for two entire years of high school, but after touring it I realized it just wasn’t for me.  Then I toured my backup school and realized it was way too big, even though I thought I’d love a big school in a big city.  Baylor wasn’t even a school I was genuinely interested in before I toured it, it was just on my list of possibilities, but as I was touring I realized it was my dream school.  Talk to your parents about making trips to tour at least some of the schools you’re interested in this summer so you can avoid missing days of AP classes and stressing over whether or not your “dream school” is actually what you wanted when this fall rolls around.
  5. Curate your resume. – One optional thing that has the potentially to really impress colleges is a resume.  While the thought of creating your own resume as a high schooler might sound incredibly intimidating, I promise you it’s not as hard as it sounds, especially if you get started now with plenty of time to ask parents, college-aged friends, and other mentors for help.  Here’s an example I found on Pinterest that’s super similar to the one I used as a model for mine last year!

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this advice helpful!  I hope you have a great end to your junior year!  I’m so excited for what the eventful year to come has in store for all of you rising seniors!  Be on the lookout for more senior year and college decision advice posts to come!

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I Know Where I’m Going!

     Of all the posts I’ve ever published, today’s might just be the most exciting.  As most of you already know, I’m currently a senior in high school, which means it’s about time for me to pick a college.  I love having a plan and knowing things in advance, so I’ve been waiting for this moment since freshman year.  I actually got accepted to the school I’ll be attending on October 31st, but I wanted to wait to share until I had paid my deposit and come up with the perfect way to tell y’all.  That “perfect way,” (if there is such a thing) is taking place tonight, as I’m publishing this post I’m also announcing where I’ll be attending college on Instagram livestream (follow me on Instagram @apocketfuloffaith if you don’t already so you don’t miss other fun updates and opportunities to provide input!).  I’m so sorry for the disconnect between us lately, it’s just been so hard to put up content while holding off on sharing something so important to me right now.  Alright, enough waiting, let’s talk about where I’m going to college!

     I currently live in South Carolina, but I was born in Texas, where my parents are from and all of my extended family still resides.  That said, I’ve returned to Texas every summer since moving when I was four to visit family and explore.  I’ve always known I’d want to go back to Texas for college, so I actually didn’t even apply to any in-state schools.  Through process of elimination based on availability of my major (journalism), city setting (I wanted a town with an identity outside of the school and plenty of things to do), and proximity to my extended family (I wanted to be within a couple hours from them since I’d be so far from my immediate family), I narrowed my schools of interest list down to Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, and Trinity University.

     I visited three of these schools; SMU, Baylor, and UT, and what they say about the importance of visiting is absolutely true.  The school’s website, however appealing and pretty, will never generate the same feeling as asking current students for directions and connecting with a tour guide.  I would also definitely recommend visiting during the school year, because interaction with current students is really the best way to tell if you could actually see yourself there.  I always thought I wanted to be in a big city, and that a large campus or student size wouldn’t bother me, but I was wrong.  While visiting I quickly learned that I wanted a medium-sized school with a defined campus (one that you couldn’t just wander onto from the city).

     Another factor in my decision, which I didn’t anticipate beforehand, was how badly I yearned for a school where Christian community would be easy to find.  I’m super involved in YoungLife here in South Carolina, and after being on YoungLife Work Crew at Saranac Village this summer (read my post about that amazing month here) I realized that community is really important in keeping my faith strong.  At the end of one specific college tour, after I expressed my heart being torn between schools, my tour guide said, knowing I was involved in YoungLife from a previous conversation, “I know you’ll end up where you belong, where God wants you.”  That’s the kind of friend I want in college, and that, along with the other incredible experiences I had on campus that day, is why I chose my school.

     I’m going to Baylor University!  Between the stunning campus, fostered Christian community, Dr. Pepper Hour, the bear habitat (where they nurture two adorable American Black Bears on campus!), the oldest Homecoming Tradition in American history, and running the Baylor Line, I left campus the day of my tour knowing I didn’t want to go anywhere else.  I couldn’t be more ecstatic to spend the next four years in Waco, TX and I can’t wait to take y’all along with me (as I’m currently planning to continue blogging in college).  As a matter of fact, my current career plan has stemmed from my love for blogging.  I will be majoring in journalism and minoring in apparel merchandising in hopes of pursuing my dream of writing for a major fashion magazine like Vogue!

Thank you for all of your support over the past four years of high school!  More college and Baylor-related posts are coming soon.  Thanks for reading and sic ’em bears!

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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 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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