Thursday, May 14, 2009

Get It. Got It? Then Read It!

1984 – George Orwell
This is not a ‘feel-good’ book, so don’t pick it up if you want something to smile about. However, if you’re sick of the Twilight buzz and the Harry Potter craze, then definitely read 1984. I had the feeling that Big Brother was watching me long after I put down this book.

Silas Marner – George Elliot
This book is about a recluse who loves hoarding money. One day he comes across a toddler, and his life changes forever.

All six books by Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion. I like Persuasion best (well, at the moment – sometimes I change my mind). I do get a bit frustrated with Austen at times, but her books give you an interesting view of 18th – 19th century English life, so just hang in there.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
If you want something with more raw emotion, then Bronte is more for you than Austen.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding
This book poses important questions about civilisation.

Top Girls – Caryl Churchill
This play is an excellent commentary on the different types of feminism. It faces themes such as motherhood, working women, sexism, monetarism, socialism and patriarchal society. The dinner scene in the beginning is particularly bewitching, with it’s mythical, historical and modern characters all under one roof.

The Homecoming – Harold Pinter
This play deals with power. It is about the power struggle that takes place in a house of men, and the strange shift that takes place when an odd woman is thrown into the mix.

The Crucible – Arthur Miller
This play is loosely based on the actual Salem witch-hunts which took place in Salem, Massachussets. A terrifying look at morality.

If you can think of any other books (or plays) that are must-reads, please comment!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smart Summers!

Here are some fun (and useful) things to do during the holidays.

1. Get a job
These days money is tight, so why not take some responsibility and start earning your own cash?

2. Use your connections.
Ask your parents, friends, family members, or anyone else you know about good job opportunities, internships or clubs that you could join.

3. Brush up on your schoolwork.
If you feel like you’re lagging behind in anything, this is the perfect time to catch up. Yes, I know that the TV is calling your name, and that your friends are going out without you, but stop the procrastination, and get down to it!

4. Read, read, read!
There are tonnes of good books out there for you to read before you get to college. Besides, it’s so much fun. See what you can dig up from your parents’ bookshelf, or go to the local library.

5. Pick up a new skill.
Learn how to play a new instrument (even if it’s just your brother’s old guitar). Learn a new language. Try your hand at cooking or gardening. Pick up a martial art or a new style of dance. There are so many things that you could do. Just think of something that you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for.

6. Start a club.
If you live in a sleepy town like mine with no job opportunities, it’s a good idea to make your own opportunities. Think about something you’d love to do and, if there’s no club for it, then make one!

7. Family first.
Don’t poke your nose up at a good family vacation. No matter where your parents are ‘dragging’ you to, you should be able to find something interesting to do. Also, help your parents out around the house, or offer to babysit your younger siblings, now that you have the time to do so.

8. Enter competitions.
Are you a writer, or do you secretly fantasise about winning American Idol? Whatever your talent, find some way to share it with the world. Search for competitions to enter.

9. Community Service
Find out where you can help, and get to it. If you're not sure what to do, just think of what you're good at: drama, tennis, dancing, math? Then start free classes at a community centre, shelter, home or orphanage. You'll get to meet a lot of interesting people, and have a good time. You must be able to get out of your comfort zone, though!

10. Get fit.
Exercise and eat healthily. The fitter you are, the better your body can cope with the stress of a new school year. Besides, you’ll feel great!

11. Get started on your college admissions!
If you live close to a college you’d like to go to, why not organise a trip with your friends. Or if you’re going somewhere with your family, make sure you check out all the colleges in the area. Even if you can’t do these, devote a little of your time to checking out college websites.

12. Have fun!
Whatever you do, make sure that you truly enjoy

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Need-Blind Admissions for International Students

Need-blind admissions means that, whether or not you apply for financial aid will have no bearing on whether you are accepted or not. If you are an international student who needs financial aid, then this list of colleges is very important:

Amherst College (
Dartmouth College (
Harvard University (
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (
Middlebury College (
Princeton University (
Williams College (
Yale University (

All these places have fantastic financial aid. They will cover your need 100%. These eight colleges are also highly selective. The sooner you start planning for college, the better. If you think you have a chance of getting into any of these colleges, then definitely apply! Even if that chance is minimal.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How Many Colleges/Universities Should I Apply To?

If you have enough time and money to apply to about ten colleges, then I say go for it! But if you can only apply to a few, then you should aim for at least six. Two in each category: safety, reasonable and reach.
If, however, you feel extremely confident about two or three colleges in particular, you’ve been working on your application for a while now, and there’s a fairly reasonable chance of you getting in then you could just apply to those three.
But I would advise that you keep your options open while you still can: apply to as many places as is possible. Just make sure you don’t stress yourself out too much.
Good luck!

How to Choose Colleges to Apply to

Ok, so you’re ready to start thinking about your college options. You have to think carefully about which colleges to apply to. Here’s a suggestion on how to go about choosing:

1. First, think about what you want out of a college. Don’t worry too much about detail (the weather, for example); just get down some main ideas. For instance, there’s no point applying to a large state university if you cannot see yourself ever attending a big university.

2. Then, write down a list of colleges that fit your criteria.

3. Separate this list into three categories: the colleges you’re most likely to get into (ones that have a very high acceptance rate, for example) – safeties. The ones that you know would be extremely difficult for you to get into – reaches. And the ones in between – reasonables.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Choosing Subjects

So you have a million subjects to choose from, and you're totally lost? Here's a few tips on how to choose:

1. Choose something you're good at.
This would just make your life a little easier. You may not have to work as hard or put in the extra time, and you'll get a good grade.

2. Follow your passion.
Do something you truly enjoy. It's no use sitting in a class and being bored out of your mind. Besides, you probably won't be able to do very well anyway.

3. Don't give in to the pressure.
Don't let your parents, teachers or peers pressure you into choosing subjects that just aren't right for you. Listen carefully to their advice, explore all your options, and then choose subjects that seem sensible to you.

4. Challenge yourself.
College admissions officers want to see that you've chosen the most rigorous course available to you. So, choose a few subjects that you know are particularly challenging.

5. Manage your time carefully.
Don't choose too many subjects, or you won't have time for your extracurricular activities, or just for resting. On the other hand, don't choose too few subjects, because you'll have too much extra time on your hands, and you won't have challenged yourself (see 4).

And amidst all the hustle and bustle of the high school rat race, don't forget to just have fun!