Back-to-School Advice from the Class of '07

By Lauren, age 18, California

Each year about the end of August or beginning of September school starts. For some it is the start of junior high and for others high school. As a college freshman now I look back on my last four years realizing there was so much I wish someone would have told me. More importantly, I wish I would have listened to the things I was told. You constantly hear "do this" and "do that", and of course it just goes in one ear and out the other. But listen closely to advice from someone who's just been there. I think you'll gain something useful from it.

My Top Ten (or so) Pieces of Advice for Freshman and Sophomores:

1. Study hard. You always hear, "Colleges don't even look at your first year, so I can goof off." Well, in reality, they do look at it. They look at your overall GPA, and if you mess up your first year, well, there goes your overall GPA.

2. Okay guys, you're in high school now and think you're the biggest things to ever hit the face of the earth, and you want to be with the upper classmen all the time to show off to your friends. Well, take it from someone who hung out with the upper classmen because I only had classes with them, so I didn't get the chance to meet my own age group my first year ...You need friends your own age too. Your senior year will suck when they are all gone. They all move on to college and now you're left alone. So slow down a bit and smell the flowers. You'll soon be the one ruling the school.

3. Get involved. Be a part of every club, every team, and every organization you can and want to do. They will keep you out of trouble as well as make some of your best high school memories. They also look good on transcripts. Colleges want well-rounded kids. They often make or break your acceptance.

4. Okay, I know I just said be a part of everything, but don't forget you only have time for so much, so don't do more then your body can handle. Your health and grades are more important then any of the extras.

5. Start thinking about colleges now. You have time, but at least look at some and have an idea of what you want in a college. Remember, there are schools other than just state schools and junior colleges.

6. Scholarships! Look them up now! Don't wait until late in your senior year to research them and apply. I know you're slumping in your seat and thinking, "Yeah, right, like I'm going to write more essays than I already have to." You may be thinking, "I have plenty of time", but watch out ... that time will disappear like no one's business!

7. Every summer look for summer jobs, sports teams, local city clubs, and opportunities to volunteer. I know some of you are too young, but look into summer camps, babysitting, church ministries, pet shelters, hospitals, girl scouts, venturing scouts, and so on. These not only give you things to do during the summer, but they look great on transcripts. Again, they make you look well-rounded.

8. Remember, friends come first, relationships second.

9. Most of the people you date in high school you won't be with forever ... probably none of them. So don't take it too seriously.

10. Take risks, but make smart choices.

For Juniors (Class of 2009):

1. Sorry to be a bubble buster, but this is your year to realize you're almost done, 'cuz next year you're going to want to slack. So go get all those things you need to do out of the way now, so you can slack off next year! (Well, maybe just a little.)

2. Scholarships! You can apply for tons starting this year. Don't make your parents pay for it all.

3. Colleges - go visit them now. Don't wait until your senior year to figure out if this or that school is really the school that fits.

4. SATs - don't wait till your senior year! You will stress out too much if you do.

5. Yes, this year is the hardest, so don't slack off! If you do, you're in big trouble next year. "Senioritis" isn't the only "itis" in high school. There is a "Junioritis" too.

6. You know those people in the office called "counselors"? Well, they are useful and worthless at the same time. If they tell you that you won't get into the school you want, then don't listen - they're lying to you. You can get into any school you want if you put your mind to it. My counselor told me I was shooting too high ... I'd never get into a four year school ... I should start off at a junior college. My GPA was fairly high, but that's what I was told. Well, now I'm going to a school that is said to be the UCLA of private schools. However, if you have a good counselor, then use him or her. They will do wonders in helping you get to where you want to be, as well as point out things you need to do or improve to give you a higher chance to getting there.

7. Take a break once a week for yourself. If that means going out with friends, going to the nail shop or spa, or just reading a book, do it! You will thank yourself so much for it at the end of the year. This is what will keep you from having a mental break from all the stress.

8. Realize the end of this year holds your last summer of childhood freedom. Don't let it go to waste. I used mine to the fullest, and if I could I would do it all over again. However, I have way too many friends who sat back and now wish they had done more that summer.

9. Junior year is the year many students start drinking and smoking, so be careful. If you choose to do this, make sure you don't get in a car with someone who has been drinking or drive yourself. Don't risk your life! Or others!

To Seniors (Class of 2008):

So you've finally made it to the top of the chain! Aren't you excited? Well, let me hit you with some things you probably already know, but have yet to let sink in.

1. Don't waste the year away. I know you're ready to graduate, but take this year and make the most of it. Soon you'll be in the real world. Once in the real world it won't be all fun and games.

2. Scholarships! Yes, I know I've said this about every year, but they will make things so much easier on you.

3. Take any spare change you have and place it in a jar. Change will add up, and by the end of the year all that change can help you buy all the needed stuff for your dorm. You will be surprised how much you will need to buy.

4. Start buying dorm items early in the summer. If you have a graduation party let people know what you'll need. You will find that family is more than willing to help pitch in so that you get your needed items.

5. Keep on top of your work. Yes, I know senioritis hits us all, but don't be one those kids who works so hard for 11 or 12 years and then their last year of high school throws grades or graduating out the door. Don't let yourself or your parents/guardians down.

6. Thank your parents/guardians. They have put you through school for 12 or 13 years, and without them you wouldn't have gotten as far as you are now.

7. Don't let high school drama bother you, especially near the end of the school year. Realize that as soon as you graduate none of it will matter. The drama isn't worth hurting the image of your senior year.

8. Don't let a relationship mess up your graduation plans.

9. Go to Grad Night if your school has one, along with any other senior activities, even if they seem lame. It's one the last times you will be sitting with your entire class at one time. This may be the last time you see almost all the people you just spent four years with.

10. Say your goodbyes, and get numbers and emails and photos. You will want them in a couple years.

11. Take risks this year. In a couple months you will never see these people again. So, if you make a fool of yourself, how much of your life will it really affect?

12. Be careful on graduation, senior ditch day, grad night, and any other night you party. Don't make your school have to put a graduation cap and gown on an empty seat in place of you because you weren't able to be there for your big night. It happens. Don't think it can't happen to you.

After four years I learned a lot of things, and I hope what I have shared has helped you in some way. Good luck to the future of the world.


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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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