Pressed for Success

By Lauren, age 16, California
Sweet Designs Featured Writer

Featured Gold Star Writer Bio

From the time in middle school when my teacher whispered, "I think you'll be the Valedictorian!" to the steady stream of college email (school spam) and a thousand different acronyms for upcoming tests, the teen to-do list is only getting longer. As soon as junior year hits, the new mantra becomes: "Take PSAT. Take SAT. Take ACT. Take AP tests. Take finals. Count GPA. Enroll in AP. Repeat." And that's just the beginning. For me, the pressure to succeed has come from two sources - a brother and a dream.

I live in one of the few bottom-of-the-middle-class families. My brother learned early on that age equals vocal power, which translates to attention and, ultimately, free stuff. He's three years my senior and a spoiled egotist. My mother uses 85% of her weekly budget on his college costs, and I feel the effects of that every day when I can't pack lunch. "There just wasn't enough money in the food budget," my mom tells me. Yet, whenever he's home, it's as if money grew on trees. Cookies, cakes, and video games. For him, it's still "ask and receive".

I resolved not to be that way.

Freshman year I applied for over 25 scholarships. I received none. Sophomore year I applied for 18 scholarships. I only heard back from one - fourth place. I was invited to the awards ceremony, but - surprise! - my brother had a concert the same day, so I couldn't go. I never received my award, or the $50 that went with it. Junior year (this year) I applied for 12 scholarships. My biggest headway? Becoming a Discuss award winner (1 in 1,000).

Don't get me wrong - I'm honored to receive those awards. I learned a ton from sending in 55 applications, writing 22 essays, and researching over 140 different organizations. I just don't have a full ride yet, which is my goal. And that's where the dream kicks in.

"Shoot for the stars to land on the moon" is the logic behind my reach school - Princeton University. I'd love to attend any school with a decent communications program, but I knew if I didn't strive to be admitted into a place like Princeton, I'd never get a full ride into a 4-year college. I'm a person who tends to get second best, so I overshoot in my goals. I'm taking almost every AP course my school offers at the moment (which means 4) and getting crushed by homework from Chemistry and U.S. history - but that's pressure coming from me.

One final note: Be careful when it comes to college. Stay healthy. Don't take the risk of burnout if you're truly in over your head - drop a class, extracurricular, whatever need be. Burnout will show in your applications if you try too hard. Do what you love doing (yes, it needs repeating many times) and you won't need to strain for admission.

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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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