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!

Screen Shot 2018-08-08 at 12.13.06 PM

5 Essentials for a Smooth School Year

     As a junior in high school, I think I’ve finally found a few things that help me not only get through the school year, but get through it successfully.  In today’s Back to School post, I’m sharing five essentials for a smooth school year!  These are items I practically live by during the school year and would definitely recommend to anyone looking to become more organized or productive this year.  This is the eighth blog post in my Back to School series this year, so be sure to check out the rest here if you like what you read.  Enjoy!

#1: A Planner

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 11.07.41 PM.png 173048_974.png 104508_D1.png

     Planners have been absolute lifesavers for me.  I’m currently using my fifth one and I love it so so much.  I use my agenda to jot down homework assignments, remind myself of due dates, schedule blog posts, make plans to hang out with friends, mark volunteering dates, and more.  I actually wrote a whole post on how I organize my agenda, read it here!  I used to use Lilly Pulitzer agendas, which are amazing, but I now use a Kate Spade agenda simply because I currently like the simple design better than Lilly’s brightly printed pages.  I’ve also heard really good things about the Day Designer agendas, which help you map out basically every hour of your day.

#2: A Quizlet Account

kV2dz-o.jpg

     I would have failed tons of vocabulary quizzes and Spanish tests had I not discovered the Quizlet program as a seventh grader!  This free website and app allows you to create digital flashcards (complete with pictures and diagrams) and offers a variety of ways to study the terms and definitions.  My personal favorite method of quickly memorizing vocabulary words is to create a Quizlet set and play “Write.”  I also love how this website has its own app, so if you’re on a car trip, waiting for a friend, eating a snack, or doing literally anything else with a smart phone in your hand you can study!  I still love old fashioned flash cards, but you can’t lose a term in a Quizlet set like you can accidentally lose one flash card.  Sign up for Quizlet here!

#3: A Homework Folder

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 10.50.34 PM.png

     Up until this year I refused to keep paper assignments anywhere aside from the respective class’ binder.  This method required me to go home with a completely full backpack and an armful of books and binders everyday, and I was tired of it.  This year I decided to try out a magnetic closure envelope folder and I’ve loved keeping all of my homework in it!  It’s super convenient and since it’s so thin it easily fits into the laptop sleeve in my backpack along with my laptop.  Mine is a really pretty rose gold folder from Office Depot and I was unable to find it online, but I found a similar folder in a neat iridescent white color on Office Depot’s website!  Find it here.

#4: Highlighters

1193201.png

     I was never much of a highlighter type of gal (mostly because I often end up highlighting half the page) until this school year.  My AP U.S. History teacher constantly assigns readings to highlight for homework and I’ve found that searching for the important pieces of a reading to highlight as you skim the text is a much more productive method of getting through a reading assignment than being bored and thinking about something else as you read every last word (what I used to do).  My favorite highlighters are nothing fancy, just the bigger Sharpie chisel tip highlighters.  Find them online here!

#5: Sticky Notes

s0976591_sc7.png s0921952_sc7.png s0707939_sc7.png

     Sticky notes are something I rarely used for anything besides doodling until I got to high school but boy have they been helpful since!  I use sticky notes to stick on my wall to remind myself of assignments (then I take sticky notes off the wall as I finish each task, super motivating!), to stick on my mirror to remind me to bring things to school, to stick on textbook pages so I remember the information is important, and the list goes on.  You’re probably well aware that the Post-it brand makes a variety of sticky note shapes and sizes, you can find my favorite options pictured and linked above!  I love the little flags for marking pages in my agenda and AP workbooks, the regular size for sticking memos around my room, and the 3in x 3in squares for writing notes in my novels for AP Language!

Thanks for reading!  I know most of these items are things you might already use, but hopefully this post has given you ideas on different ways to use them for more productivity!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.53.30 PM

25 Motivational Quotes for the School Year

    Until the end of September, Tuesdays are Back to School post days, so I bet you can’t guess what today’s post is (haha)!  If you’ve missed any of my other Back to School posts this year (I’ve already written six excluding this one), you can find them all, as well as my Back to School posts from previous years, here!  Today’s post is a list I’ve compiled of twenty-five motivational quotes that I take to heart and think will inspire you this school year!  I’ve wanted to write a post like this for quite some time and I’m so glad I finally got around to it.  Enjoy!

1. “She believed she could, so she did.” – R.S. Grey

2. “One day or day one. You decide.” – Unknown

3. “She remembered who she was and the game changed.” – Lalah Delia

4. “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

5. “Mistakes are proof that you are trying.” – Unknown

6. “Everything is hard before it’s easy.” – J.W. Von Goethe

7. “Fortune favors the bold.” – Virgil

8. “Reach for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

9. “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” – Unknown

10. “Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod

11. “Whatever you are, be a good one.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

12. “Good things come to those who hustle.” – Unknown

13. “Opportunities don’t always just happen, you have to create them.” – Chinese Proverb

14. “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.” – Kobi Yamada

15. “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” – Unknown

16. “Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan

17. “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” – Kobi Yamada

18. “When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better.  You accept criticism and listen.” – Jennifer Lee

19. “Stop watering dead flowers, give life to new blooms.” – Unknown

20. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

21. “Work hard in silence.  Let your success be the noise.” – Frank Ocean

22. “Life is always rocky when you’re a gem.” – Unknown

23. “Love the life you have while you create the life of your dreams.  Don’t think you have to choose one over the other.” – Hal Elrod

24. “Follow your dreams.  They know the way.” – Kobi Yamada

25. “You didn’t wake up today to be mediocre.” – Unknown

Thanks for reading!  I hope you stay inspired this school year!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.53.30 PM

My Goals for the 2017-2018 School Year

     Happy Tuesday!  Today, as I have been every Tuesday since the beginning of August, I’m sharing another Back to School post!  If you haven’t read my other Back to School posts, you can read them all, from this year and years’ past, here!  This post is all about my goals for this school year, my junior year of high school; academically, athletically, spiritually, socially, and for my blog.  I personally find making goals to be very beneficial because even if they aren’t accomplished, they give me something to work towards.  Posting them here will somewhat hold me accountable for them, so I’ll try to share my progress after first semester and at the end of the school year!  I hope reading my goals will inspire you to come up with a few for yourself.  Enjoy!

Academic Goals

  1. Complete the school year with all A’s and B’s.
  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).
  3. Get a 100 on a test.
  4. Make 4’s and 5’s on my three AP exams at the end of the year.

Athletic Goals

  1. Attend as many preseason lacrosse practices as possible.
  2. Work out more.
  3. Play more in lacrosse games than I did last year.
  4. Make the varsity lacrosse team again.
  5. Score a goal during a varsity lacrosse game.

Spiritual Goals

  1. Make lots of new middle school friends as a Wyldlife leader.
  2. Go to YoungLife club every week that I possibly can.
  3. Feel refreshed after fall weekend at Windy Gap (a YoungLife camp in North Carolina).
  4. Read the Bible daily.
  5. Pray more often.
  6. Use my devotional daily.
  7. Go to winter weekend with Wyldlife campers as a leader.
  8. Apply for a session of YoungLife Work Crew.

Social Goals

  1. Make five new friends (or at least acquaintances).
  2. Do something really fun one weekend with a friend(s).

Blog Goals

  1. Post at least twice a week every week.
  2. Reach 20,000 total site views for 2017.
  3. Collaborate with a big brand.
  4. Host at least three giveaways.

Thanks for reading!  If my post inspires you to write your own blog post about your goals for the school year, I’d love it if you’d link my blog so I’ll get notified and can go check it out!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.53.30 PM

My High School Survival Guide

     It seemed like every time I did a livestream (follow my Instagram here) this summer I’d get a request to write a blog post along the lines of “How to Overcome Fears Going into High School” or “How to Make Friends in High School.”  So, today that’s exactly what I’m doing!  I guess you could say this post is sort of a survival guide for the beginning of high school.  If you’re a freshman in high school or just a high school student in general, I think this post might help you out a little!  I know I was all kinds of scared starting my freshman year of high school (I was nervous starting my junior year too though, who am I kidding), and I want to do everything I can to help prevent you from feeling the same way.  I’ve divided the post into a few general topics that I felt should be touched on.  If you’re interested in reading my other Back to School posts, find them all here!  I’m posting a new Back to School post every Tuesday through the end of September, so be sure to come back next Tuesday for another.  Without further adieu, let’s get started!

Balancing School and Social Life

     I was really stressed going into high school that my classes would all be insanely hard.  I’m not going to lie, some of them are, but freshman year wasn’t especially difficult and it’s a really good transition year from middle school to high school.  Work hard freshman year because it won’t be that easy to make that good of grades later on (hear me now, believe me later).  However, don’t drown yourself in your studies.  Like I said, it’ll be harder to make good grades later, so take advantage of the free time you still have and participate in all the high school events you can.  Freshman year I was in the choir, helped build my class’ homecoming float (our town has a parade and each class has a themed float constructed by that class), went to a ton of our home football games, participated in a few school clubs, was involved in YoungLife, supported my friends in their sport’s events, and played lacrosse all while keeping As and Bs.  Juggling extracurriculars with academics can be challenging at times, but if you love everything you’re participating in it’s so worth it!

Making Friends

     If your school system is like mine, there are a few middle schools that feed into the high school you’re going to.  I was lucky in that the middle school I attended was the largest of the three that fed into my high school, but I still had several kids I didn’t recognize in each of my classes.  The easiest way to make friends is to be friendly.  I know it sounds dumb, but smiling at people in the halls and when you make eye contact in class, complimenting peers on their clothes, hair, and/or makeup, and being willing to lend a pencil to your classmate will make you appear a lot more approachable.  If you seem more approachable, you don’t always have to be the one approaching, which is nice if you’re not incredibly outgoing.  However, if you are pretty outgoing, you could be the one approaching too!  Sit down next to someone quiet that you don’t know and spark up a conversation.  Maybe tell them about how you just fell down the stairs on the way to class or spent five minutes trying to get your locker open.  Making people laugh and admitting your embarrassing stories upfront like that serves as an awesome ice breaker and keeps you from being presented as “perfect” and therefore less approachable.

Safe, Fun, and Legal Hangouts

     Hopefully your freshman year is like mine and you aren’t confronted with any risky circumstances just yet.  My favorite ways to hangout with my friends, old and new, include going out to dinner, spending a Saturday afternoon downtown, having them over to spend the night, and meeting up after school at a restaurant like Panera to review for a big test we both have to take.  All of those activities could be done as a pair or as a group!  There’s a group of girls in my grade that went out to dinner before every home football game (I was invited to tag along once) then carpooled to the game together and I think that’s such a fun idea!  As high school goes on you most likely will be presented with some tough situations, but surrounding yourself with people you want to be like will usually keep you in a good place.  If you aren’t interested in participating in drinking, drug use, etc. and surround yourself with like-minded people, you most likely won’t face any situations in which you feel pressured to do so.  If you’re a Christian and have YoungLife in your community I definitely recommend you go (I know I talk about YoungLife all the time, but I seriously can’t emphasize it enough).  Not only is club itself super fun, but the college-age leaders often go to football games, high school lunches, etc. and as you form relationships with them they’ll be there for you if you ever feel excluded because of your moral limits (if you’re interested in hearing more about why I love YoungLife so much you can read my post about it here!).

Dating

     I certainly wouldn’t call myself very experienced in this topic, but I did have a boyfriend for a few months during my freshman year.  My biggest piece of advice for dating in high school is to keep it in perspective.  Yes, I know the idea of going on dates and having someone to receive VSCO-worthy texts from (you know exactly what I’m talking about) may sound enticing, but not dating in high school isn’t the end of the world.  I’ve always kind of wanted to be in a relationship deep down, but within the past few months I’ve decided I don’t really need it.  I have a handful of nice friends that I love to spend time with, I have a full plate with my AP course load, blog, job, YoungLife, numerous clubs, and lacrosse, and I am loved by a God far more permanent and capable of loving deeply than any boy in high school.  Not to mention, high school relationships lasting past freshman year of college are incredibly rare, so I don’t feel like I’m really missing out on much.  If you do end up dating, please remember that you deserve their utmost respect and you don’t owe them a thing.  Again, this is high school, and your forever shouldn’t be based on what you’re willing to do right now.  I’m not trying to make dating sound bad, I have a few friends that are in very happy relationships, but I have twice as many who aren’t and are just as happy.

Thanks for reading!  If you found this post helpful, you might also want to check out the “My Advice For High School Freshmen” post that I wrote last year, linked here!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.53.30 PM

How I Organize My Planner Collab

     I know it’s not Tuesday, but today I’m sharing a “bonus post” in my Back to School series this week, and it’s a collaboration!  I’m collaborating with Cayleigh from CNPrepster to show you how we organize our planners!  I’m so excited to be doing my third collaboration with Cayleigh, be sure to check out her post here!  I don’t know about you, but my life would be a train wreck if I didn’t have my planner to remind me of homework, practices, club meetings, my work schedule, and Bible studies.  While the planner I’m showing you today is the one I used last year, the way I’ve begun to organize my planner this year is pretty much exactly the same!  I’ve divided my post into a few areas of depth; what I use, how I lay out my months, how I organize my daily sections, and how I utilize the “notes” area.  Enjoy!

What I Use

03F3587F-B331-40A2-83C9-44BD41042A15.jpg

ED59470B-5AE9-4FD1-8D62-EA269EABD742.jpg

     I use a large Kate Spade agenda.  I’ve found the size, layout, and style to be perfect for me.  I used to use Lilly Pulitzer agendas, but I just love the simplicity of the Kate Spade agendas so I bought another one this year!  Shop all of Kate Spade’s agendas here (the one I purchased for this school year is linked here!).  I use a set of colorful gel ink pens that was gifted to me about a year ago to color code everything I write in based on class or activity.  I was unable to find this exact set online but I’ve linked a similar set here.

Month Overlook

4ED1DED4-EB34-43E7-90C6-BA4E2DB7D2B6.jpg

FB40317D-1C4D-445C-89B7-E34A496ABDE7.jpg

     The monthly overlook in Kate Spade agendas provides squares for every day in the month as well as a small “notes” section on the lefthand side.  I typically use the “notes” section to write in exciting things that are happening that month such as spring break, a big concert, the beginning of lacrosse season, holidays, etc.  As you probably already know from reading my blog, I love faux calligraphy and it’s no surprise that I use it in my planner too!  When I write in events and due dates in the monthly sections’ daily squares I like to have a variety of “fonts” if you will, so sometimes I write in faux calligraphy, sometimes I write in all caps, sometimes I just use my regular handwriting, it’s really just whatever I feel like doing.  I typically write my major classwork due dates in using colors that somewhat coincide with that class’ binder.  The pen colors I have that aren’t similar to any of my binder colors (in last year’s case red and orange) are used for writing in extracurricular events such as lacrosse games, YoungLife clubs, Bible studies, choir concerts, major blog posts, and dinner dates with friends.  For the sake of keeping my monthly calendar looking color balanced I will occasionally use a color that actually belongs to a class to write in an extracurricular (take the photoshoot on Saturday the 4th for example), but that doesn’t usually throw me off.

Weekly Sections

5DE94CB8-0B2A-43BD-B0F9-D3DF75B97236.jpg

FEF0B9AC-CABB-4DF3-9025-17BF958E7B4F.jpg

ECE23E0C-B046-4D97-9D63-EC4598DD0E3B.jpg

FA3EDE6F-DB05-4A7F-A716-948C4AE86D92.jpg

     Kate Spade agendas provide a full spread for each week and seven lines per day.  I have seven school periods each day (two of which last year were choir and a study hall), so this is perfect for me to use a line per class.  I mentioned I had choir and study hall because I never had homework for either of those classes, so I usually had two extra lines in which I wrote in due dates and extracurriculars that take place on that particular day.  I write in each class’ homework in colors that correspond to their binder colors and use the extra pen colors for extracurriculars, just like in the month overview section.  If something big is happening one weekend and it’s planned more than a week or so ahead of time (like a wedding, friend’s birthday party, or anchor club fundraiser) I will write it in, but I usually don’t write anything in on Saturday and Sunday because most of my weekend plans are made pretty last minute.  I usually use Saturday’s seven line allotment to write in a little weekend To Do list for myself.  These typically include completing some long term assignments, studying for assessments the following week, and shooting/writing specific blog posts (all of which gets written down in its usual color coded pen color).

“Notes” Section

8FFD0B73-035E-493E-BD77-CB19B2D5FFA6.jpg

     I’ve never been one to truly use the “notes” sections in any agenda for the purpose of actually taking any type of notes.  However, last year I started using these pages in my agenda to brainstorm blog post ideas and I’ve absolutely loved it.  You can see several of my past ideas in the picture above, some of which I went on to write (the “Steal Her Style” idea went on to become my “An Outfit Inspired by…” series) and some of which I’m still working on.  I organize these ideas into a few categories; “Style,” “Christianity,” and “Life, DIY, Etc.”  I think this is a great way to utilize your agenda’s “notes” pages if you’re any type of content creator, whether that means you’re a blogger, YouTuber, Instagrammer, etc.

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to check out Cayleigh’s post here to see how she organizes her planner!

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 7.53.30 PM