Extracurriculars That Will Boost Your College Application

By Savannah Wardle 

Healthy Lifestyle Seamless Pattern

So many extracurriculars to choose from, so little time…

Everybody knows that extracurricular activities look good on a college application. But which activities are the most impressive? And how many extracurricular activities should you aim to include? There are a few key things to remember when choosing extracurricular activities with a college application in mind.

Firstly, less is sometimes more. Dedication to a few activities you’ve engaged with for years gives colleges a much better idea of your interests and staying power than many shorter term activities that have been picked up and dropped.

Secondly, the extracurricular activities themselves don’t really matter. It’s how you use them to develop and demonstrate your skills. The single fact that you enjoy snowboarding is unlikely to impress a college applications team. Instead, they want to know about the skills and attributes you gained through that snowboarding experience, of which there will be many.

Here are a few extracurricular activity examples and tips for how to reference them in your college application:

Subject Related Activities
Subject related activities can help to show your commitment to the subject you want to study at college. If you want to study journalism, you could write for your school newspaper. Or if you want to train in the medical field, try to get some work experience in a local medical center. You could also sign up to nationwide competitions that demonstrate your abilities in a particular area. Including a subject related activity on your college application will help to show how passionate you are about your chosen subject, a quality all colleges will look upon kindly.

Volunteer Activities
Being able to say that you regularly volunteer within your local community can look really good on a college application. Work for a wildlife conservation organization, sign up to a mentorship program for disadvantaged children or even go to volunteer abroad during your vacations. This kind of charitable work shows a certain type of personality – someone with a sense of responsibility and empathy. It can also help to develop skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving and awareness of perspectives other than your own. Talk about the things you’ve learned and the skills you’ve gained in a college application to really make the most of your volunteering experiences.

Sports
Whatever your sport of choice – skiing, snowboarding, football, hockey or gymnastics – it can look amazing on your college application if you have the right approach. You need to show real commitment to developing your sporting skills– skiing ability alone won’t get you a place at college. If you enjoy a particular sport, set yourself personal goals and record how you went about achieving them. Or teach beginner skiers to tackle their first slope. Extracurricular sporting activities help to show your confidence and your dedication. They can help to show colleges that you’re a passionate and well-rounded student.

Arts
If you love to perform on stage or work behind the scenes, conduct or play in a band, create art or critique it, you can use these experiences to boost your college application. As with sports, passions of this kind help you to communicate to colleges the kind of well-rounded and dedicated person you are. Talk about your own progress and successes in these fields or demonstrate the fact that you’ve shared your knowledge with others to really make your extracurricular achievements shine.

The extracurricular activities you choose to do while at school are likely to take up a lot of your time. You shouldn’t pick activities just because they’ll look good when you apply for college. Instead, find things you’re truly passionate about. That way you can boost your college application and have lots of fun at the same time.

About the author: Savannah Wardle works at Snowpak. She is an experienced traveler who loves winter sports and mountains. Whenever not working, she’s at the slopes in the US, Asia or Europe. She’s also interested in photography and film-making.


Looking for other ways to boost your college application?  Check out The Secrets of Top Students for more tips, tools, and techniques.

4 Must-See Places on the East Coast for Theater and Art Students

By Alison

Summer is almost over. Before the school year starts, you and your theater and art buddies are ready to hit the road for an amazing vacation. Instead of meandering from state to state, plan your trip to include as many cultural activities as possible. Fortunately, the East Coast is home to tons of artistic and theatrical touchstones.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

No trip to the City of Brotherly Love is complete without a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As one of the largest museums in the country, it is home to hundreds of paintings, architecture, sculptures and more from North and South America, Europe and Asia. Spend a day admiring the amazing Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by Van Gogh, Cezanne and Monet and famous works by Frido Kahlo, El Greco and Salvador Dali that are on display at the museum. The building itself is a work of art, too. The neoclassical building is modeled after the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum is located at the west end of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. You and your friends can either explore the museum on your own or arrange for a guided or walk-through tour.

Exterior of the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Exterior of the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

Located in the Boston suburb of Worcester, the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts offers something for everyone. The theater, which seats 2,300 people, hosts national-touring companies performing Broadway shows, nationally-famous entertainers and community theater groups. To satisfy both the theater and art fans in your group, the Franklin Square Salon Gallery, which features a variety of art exhibits, is located on the second floor of the theater. This summer’s performances include the 10th Anniversary World Tour of Celtic Woman, Morrissey and the 2015 Miss Massachusetts Pageant.

Broadway

An East Coast adventure is not complete without spending some time in the Big Apple. After exploring in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, head to New York City for at least one Broadway show. For example, if you have wanted to see “The Book of Mormon” ever since your theater professor told you how funny it is, now is your chance to do just that. If you have time for more than one show, there are no shortage of entertaining productions on the Great White Way, including classics like “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Aladdin” and “Jersey Boys.” Whether you prefer something dramatic or a more avant-garde production, New York City theater offers something for everyone.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The “Met,” as it’s known, is to the Big Apple what the Louvre is to Paris. The museum’s collection of European art rivals anything you will find overseas and includes everything from the ancient Romans to Renoir. The Met is also home to plenty of American classics, as well as pieces from Egypt, Africa and the Middle East. The museum features hundreds of events and programs every month, including lectures, tours and performances.

About the author: Alison has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.

What It’s Like to Work in an Office in India

Wondering what it’s like to work overseas? Check out these useful tips about office life in India.

By Prasad Joshi

Work culture in India is a reflection of the various norms and standards followed by its people. Indians have several cultural yardsticks, which extend to their work culture as well. Thus, it is important that a person who is looking to work in India have some basic ideas regarding business ethics and customs followed here. In India many job seekers prefer online job portals for job search as it eliminates geographical barriers and communicates multiple job vacancies.

Working hours:

Indians work a minimum of eight hours a day, excluding lunch and coffee breaks. However, many Indians spend more than ten hours at work or work on weekends in order to follow the deadline. Only a few multinational companies allow working in flexible working hours.

Nidhi

Decision making:

In India, companies follow the hierarchical system and decision-making is usually from the top to bottom. Some companies invite suggestions from their employees on important decisions or policies, but the opinions of superiors are usually the dominating factor.

Time management:

Though not in personal life, Indians are punctual when it comes to their work life. Arriving to work on time is a must. But, in the case of time management, the mindset of Indians differs from that of Americans. Meetings and seminars can be postponed or rescheduled at a very short notice.

Office Environment:

Indians are friendly and helpful. In India discussing things like one’s academic background and previous work experience is very common and not considered as personal.

Employees spend their 30-50 minute lunch breaks in the lunchroom or cafeteria. It is rare to see anyone eating lunch at their desk.

Following rules and procedures is another important factor while working in India.

Hierarchy:

The relationship between the boss and subordinates is believed to be more formal and hierarchical in India. People in power openly display their ranks according to which importance is given. Subordinates generally do not criticize ideas of their superiors even if they feel so. A clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to show disagreement is avoided as it can be considered as rude, instead people show their disagreement indirectly. For instance instead of saying ‘I don’t think this idea will work’, people say ‘The possibility that this idea will work is less’ or ‘We need to do more research to check whether it will be a success’.

While this varies from company to company, the relationship between boss and subordinate is rarely close.

Change:

In the Indian work-culture, people do not accept change easily. Usually a lot of resistance is encountered in order to accept and implement change.


A great career calls for good grades.   The Secrets of Top Students can help you get there!

Ways to Keep Your Parents Sane While You’re Studying Abroad

By Lee Reyes-Fournier

The idea of you studying abroad may be scary for your parents, but the benefits are huge. According to the University of California at Merced, 97 percent of students that study abroad find employment within 12 months of graduation, and 25 percent of those make around $7,000 more annually than those that only study domestically.

Instead of being discouraged from learning abroad, create ways to keep your parents sane and connected with you.

graduation student  open arms to welcome the worldwide job

Keep a Rigid Schedule

The best way to keep your parents from freaking out is to communicate on a regular basis. Know the time difference between countries, and set a good time to talk before you leave.

Of course, this can become difficult if you don’t have telephone or Internet service. However, most large, industrialized cities have available Wi-Fi in Internet cafes, restaurants or stores.

Furthermore, instead of trying to rely on cell phone towers, use Internet platforms like Skype and Google Voice. In rural areas, you may need to be your own hotspot, so try hotspot apps like Cellular Abroad’s MiFi, which has service in 33 countries. Most of the packages are under $100 per month.

Share Your Trip

Your parents want to know that this educational trip is worth the time, money and worry. Sharing your trip pics is a good way to keep them in the loop without needing to call and explain every moment of your travels. Use Dropbox or a similar cloud storage service so that your parents can access photos whenever they want. This allows them to easily see that you are safe as well as all of the cultural, historical, educational and fun things you are experiencing.

Geolocation Tracking

Since the day you were born, your parents always want to know where you are, what you are doing, who you are with and that you are safe. This parental instinct does not change just because you are 21 and no longer live at home.

To help combat your parents’ fears, try a geolocation tracking app like Life360, which can tell you where your family member is within 32 feet. This application works with the GPS and texting systems of the cellphone, allowing you to see where everyone in your network is located. It also has emergency functions, which allow you to send an alert to everyone in the family grid with a push of a button.

Get Names And Numbers

There is nothing more reassuring than a person that will pick up the telephone. No news is not good news for parents, so the University of Northern Iowa’s Study Abroad Center recommends getting contact names, phone numbers and emails for your school, home, embassy and any other important people abroad. Furthermore, it may help your parents relax if they can talk to any of these people before you leave.

Also, register with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan to stay informed with any potentially dangerous situations.

Lee Reyes-Fournier is a psychotherapist with 25 years of experience. She is the award-winning co-author of CoupleDumb.com, which is ranked within the top 1% of all relationship sites. She also co-wrote the book “Dysaffirmations” and is co-host of “Relationship Rehab,” a relationship web series – Science!!


Want to improve your grades?   Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

How Does Life Change In Your Twenties?

By Selena Jones

So, you’ve graduated. Congratulations! You’re quite possibly in your twenties – now what? You may already be noticing some changes. While half your friends are still getting drunk every night, you’re wondering if you can even hack one night of birthday drinks and cursing those hangovers. Midweek cocktails are firmly out of the question for you! Or perhaps your friends are having babies and the appropriate response is no longer to panic and ask “what on earth are you going to do?!” – they’re actually happy about it, and you are, too.

Your twenties are a definitive decade.

Your twenties are arguably a definitive decade. You’re still young enough to experiment, make mistakes, and yet you are starting to get some real responsibilities, too. Now, nobody’s saying you have to settle down, make compromises, whatever. But you’re learning that sometimes you have the choice to, and that’s okay. It’s an exciting time, one where you have the world at your feet, your career is dawning and you’re most likely mixing with a different set of people, perhaps in a new place. Suddenly, getting a house, starting a family and all of these ‘grown up’ things don’t seem so ‘forever never’ – they’re suddenly potentially your daily reality. Of course some things will be hard to adjust to, others will be easier. Everyone is different, but that’s part of living.

So, what do these different stages in your life actually mean? I’ve touched on families – you’re possibly thinking about starting your own. With today’s mounting debts and rising costs pricing a lot of people out of any huge milestones, it’s often advisable for a lot of people in this situation to put their career first. But you’re also probably learning that sometimes, things just happen the way they happen, and that’s fine as well.

What about travel? So many Americans don’t even own a passport, and yet there are literally hundreds of countries out there, waiting to be explored. Travel no longer has to mean road tripping down to Miami for WOOHOO Spring Break, because sadly, not many of us in a 9-5 are afforded that privilege anymore! But there are plenty of other options, from taking time out to commit to backpack, or learning a new language or culture by actually working abroad. The lucky few, perhaps those already settled in a two income household, may even consider investing in a holiday home on a Spanish island somewhere, like in Tenerife, which is cheaper than you’d think, or perhaps a luxury property in Dubai! The world is your oyster.

Of course, money doesn’t totally make the world go round. There are loads of things you’ll likely change in your twenties – some people calm down more, while others decide to throw caution into the wind! No matter who you are, what you’re doing or how old – or young – you feel, different areas alter in your mind over the years. So, even though you’re a grown up, you never have to stop chasing your dreams – you just have to adapt them!


To land your dream job, you’ve got to have a strong GPA.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

Traveling for Students: Why It’s Important

By Selena Jones.  

Here in America, we can be somewhat guilty of ignoring the world around us. It’s true – up to 70% of Americans don’t actually own a passport, and it’s somewhat shocking. In other parts of the world, ‘Gap Years’ are common – they’re basically months taken outside of study to go abroad. There are a few options, and many young people go before they even start college or university. Others go after they graduate. The experiences will differ widely, but their purpose remains the same. The individual will come home more independent, more cultured and potentially they will even pick up skills that will be valuable in any workplace.

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Secrets of Top Students (and Other) Updates

Many thanks to Nancy Ruhling for writing an article about me that appeared in the Huffington Post!  I am now officially an “Astoria Character.”  Check out the article here.

In other news, I’m super excited to be giving a talk about academic success at Stern College/ Yeshiva University next week.  I’ll be introducing the SMARTER system (SMARTER is an acronym for some of my top studying strategies).

I also recently went on a trip to Turkey.  Did you know that the city of Istanbul is full of beautiful, friendly cats?  It was like I had died and gone to heaven!

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Preparing for an Opportunity to Teach English Abroad (Guest Post)

Jeremiah Jordan is a teacher-turned-entrepreneur who blogs about business solutions.

When you teach English to a citizen or a child in a developing country, you can actually increase that person’s earning power by an average of 25 percent, according to The Guardian. In fact, your volunteer teaching efforts might actually make the difference between that person barely scraping by for the rest of his life or having a job with a promising future. While it’s almost certain that you could make more money teaching English in a first-world country like Japan or South Korea, the satisfaction that you’ve actually made the planet a little better by teaching in a developing nation may be worth more than cash to you.

Children and education, teacher reading book to young students

Program Options

Unlike many other volunteer efforts that can be completed in a one, two or three-week time frame, English teachers are typically asked to make a commitment of a semester — about two months — to a year or more. For example, WorldTeach has teaching opportunities of various lengths, including year-long positions in India and Costa Rica, six-month-long semester positions in Ecuador and Namibia, as well as eight-week-long summer positions in China and Morocco, according to WorldTeach.org.

Preparing for Your Trip

Being away for the length of time required by most teaching jobs takes quite a bit of pre-trip organization. Unlike shorter volunteer trips where you can just ask a neighbor to take your mail in for a week, being away for several months means taking care of the following:

  • If you rent or own a home and will be going away for several months or more, decide whether or not you want to sub-let your abode. If not, you will have to arrange for someone to keep an eye on your place. In addition, you may have to make special arrangements to pay your mortgage or rent, such as setting up automatic payments from your bank account, as TransitionsAbroad.com recommends.
  • Have your mail stopped or picked up by a trusted relative or neighbor who can open it and inform you of any important information that may require your action.
  • Oxford Seminars recommends appointing your power of attorney to someone you trust in the United States. You never know when you might need someone in America working on your behalf to transfer funds or to represent you in a legal matter.
  • Set up an account with an identity theft or credit fraud protection company. If you are living halfway around the world from your home and you suddenly learn that you have become a victim of identity theft, it may be next to impossible to try to unravel the mess on your own, especially in a developing nation where phone calls could cost you a fortune. Having LifeLock protection can save you a lot of grief in the long run.
  • Determine how you are going to handle any prescription medication that you take on a regular basis. Will you be able to get them through the mail or get a supply that will last you for your entire trip? You may need to speak with both your physician and your insurance company to see how best to handle this situation.
  • TeachAway.com suggests getting health insurance that will cover any of your medical needs abroad.
  • Do your homework on the country that you will be living in and do your best to be culturally aware. For example, if you are a woman who will be living in a conservative Islamic nation, try not to walk around in a top that shows too much cleavage or is too tight.

Want to improve your grades?  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

How to fly for next to nothing

Here’s a list of all the places I’ve visited in the past three years: Italy (twice), Spain (twice), France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, Belize, Taiwan, and Japan. Oh, and some places in the U.S. And I get to fly for next to nothing! How do I do it?  By dating a pilot!   Yeah, I’m pretty lucky.  Check out my new article on SheKnows, “The Top 6 Reasons You Should Date a Pilot,” for more info. It’s just a little tongue-in-cheek piece I wrote. Hope you enjoy it!

Stefanie Weisman in Nice, France

Stefanie Weisman in Nice, France

Stefanie Weisman in Venice (Burano, to be precise).

Stefanie Weisman in Venice (Burano, to be precise).

Stefanie Weisman in Munich

Stefanie Weisman in Munich

Stefanie Weisman in Barcelona

Stefanie Weisman in Barcelona


Give yourself the gift of great grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

Newsflash: Bull Leaping is Alive and Well

For some reason I can’t explain, I’m obsessed with Minoan history. I find it so fascinating that I wrote one of my qualifying papers on it for my Master’s in Art History. The Minoans, in case you don’t know, were a Bronze Age civilization that rose to power on Crete in the second millenium B.C. They had this practice called bull leaping, in which brave men and women performed acrobatic feats over the back of a live, raging bull. The Minoan works below present striking visual evidence of this practice. I saw them when I went to the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion:

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Bull Leaping Fresco detail, Heraklion Archaeological Museum

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Bull Leaping Fresco, Heraklion Archaeological Museum

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Bull Leaper Statue, Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Bull's Head, Heraklion Archaeological Museum

Bull’s Head, Heraklion Archaeological Museum. The Minoans revered the bull.

 

I bring this up because I just found these amazing videos in youtube, in which young men and women in Spain do the exact same thing! If there’s any doubt as to whether bull leaping is physically possible, these videos will clear it right up. It’s incredible that this ritual has survived for thousands of years.

The bull leapers don’t always make it over, however. Warning: the video below contains some graphic images. (Specifically, at 4:07)