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Graduation: A Time of Celebration or Stress?

by Jessica Seals

As I type this blog entry, I have less than two months of college left before I get my bachelor’s degree...and I am on an emotional rollercoaster.

When I first found out that I would be able to graduate a semester early, I was overcome with joy and during the summer, I could not wait to begin the fall semester and kept having visions of walking across the stage and smiling proudly as I realized all of my hard work had paid off. Although my excitement grows more and more each day, so does my stress level. Graduation is a wonderful time because family and friends gather to watch you close one chapter of your life and hear your plans of starting a new one. I am elated to know that everyone I care about will soon get to see how hard I have been working in school when they see all of the honors I’ve earned but since that day isn’t here just yet, there’s still much work to be done.

Although I am graduating, my workload has actually increased. I have to take the LSAT to get into law school and put together things such as my letters of recommendation and personal statements for my law school applications. I am very satisfied with the grades that I have made so far but the law school admissions process is pretty daunting and I often find myself frazzled when I think about how close the application deadlines are! I kind of wish I could hop in a time machine and go to May 2012 see how things worked out.

Behind all the stress, however, I know one thing is certain: I will make it through and when I do, the smile on my face will be even bigger and wider than it was at my high school graduation because of everything I’ve accomplished. Soon-to-be graduates, what are you looking forward to the most?

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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The Importance of Letters of Recommendation

by Jessica Seals

When I first began attending college, my agenda included getting good grades and making new friends. No one told me how important it is to establish relationships with my professors and up until my junior year, I did not put a great deal of effort toward creating and maintaining these connections. It was only when I began looking into law school admissions requirements that I noticed I would need multiple letters of recommendation from professors to complete my applications.

So what did I do? I began by taking more challenging classes with professors I already had so they could get to know me, my work ethic and future goals. Now that the law school application process is in full swing, I am fortunate enough to say that I have already designated which teachers will write my letters of recommendation. Though our relationships are now quite strong, I am also providing my resume so they can easily reference my past accomplishments as they write.

I have seen classmates struggle to get good letters of recommendation because they only did what they had to do to get by. If you plan on going to graduate or professional school, you will need letters of recommendation and it’s never too early to begin the process. Believe me, the law school application process is taxing but my stress level was cut down significantly because I made the right connections with my professors.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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Junk That Junk Food - Eating Healthy is Important!

by Jessica Seals

It’s Tuesday afternoon and you just finished your last class for the day before heading off to club meetings, work, and finishing up two big papers. As you realize just how full your schedule is, you remember that you forgot to include time to eat and, given your time crunch, you decide to grab a quick burger for lunch and some chips to snack on later. As a college student, this scenario probably seems very familiar: We have so many different things going on in our lives that we struggle to make time for healthy meals. Although eating fast food occasionally will not cause you much harm, you will eventually notice changes in your body and mood if you eat it each day – in college and beyond.

Although the infamous ‘freshman 15’ still causes concern for college students, many continue to rely on fast foods. During my freshman year of college, I was more than excited to learn that our campus dining halls featured a few popular fast food restaurants but after eating these foods without including any fruits or vegetables in my diet, I noticed a big change in my mood. I have a high metabolism so gaining weight didn’t worry me but I was concerned about my lower energy level – I always felt too tired to do anything, even after I had just eaten and I could not focus on reading assignments or writing papers. At that time, I realized that it was time to make a change.

I knew that I could not give up fast food completely, but I did start keeping fruit in my dorm room or eating salads instead of burgers. When I went to restaurants, I opted for healthier choices and slowly but surely, my energy level returned to normal. My advice to even the busiest college students? Make room for healthy foods. Your schedule may be packed but you’ll be able to get through it much easier when you have more energy!

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Pomp and Circumstance

Early Graduation and the Road Ahead

January 4, 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

by Jessica Seals

After experiencing another Thanksgiving filled with laughter, tons of delicious food and family gatherings, I realized that graduation was right around the corner. Each morning, I hoped that the date would magically jump to December 17th so that I could walk across the stage and receive my bachelor’s degree; with all of my wishing, that day did arrive and all of my emotions hit me full blast.

I was excited to be done with my undergraduate work, I was nervous about potentially falling as I accepted my diploma in front of thousands of people, I was anxious to see what the future held for me and I was sad when I realized that I would no longer get to experience campus life anymore. Despite the fact that I was overcome with emotion, I sported the biggest smile as I proudly stood in line waiting for the graduation ceremony to begin.

Leading up to the commencement exercises, all of the soon-to-be graduates lined up backstage and I saw just how many students were aboard the same emotional rollercoaster as me. Some were so excited they could not stand still, some appeared sick to their stomachs and some tried to remain calm while clearly fighting back tears. When my name was called and I headed toward Memphis’ president to receive my diploma, my goal of obtaining a degree in less than four years – with several different honors, too! – became a reality. It was everything I’d imagined, plus so much more.

What happened next? I walked down the stairs (without falling!) and breathed a big sigh of relief. As I passed my seat, I felt extremely accomplished and wanted to keep the success I had as an undergraduate going for the rest of my life. With law school and internships on the horizon, it’s only a matter of time before the world sees just what I am capable of.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Is It Too Early to Make Spring Break Plans?

by Jessica Seals

Although the spring semester is just barely here, it’s never too soon to start thinking about what you want to do during spring break. Just the thought of spending an entire week at a sunny beach with your friends is enough to make anyone start planning but the reality is that many of us might not be able to afford to squeeze some fun in the sun into our busy schedules. For those of us who will remain at home or school, there are several options to make spring break just as fulfilling as it will be for those students hitting the beaches.

Get some rest. It might sound boring but once the semester begins, you will find yourself wishing that you had time to catch up on your sleep. Doing so during spring break allows you to recharge your body so that you can make it through the rest of the semester.

Work ahead. By now, we all know how most professors like to set deadlines for big projects and papers for the end of the semester. Doing schoolwork over spring break may not necessarily be fun but you can save yourself a great deal of stress by working ahead. When the end-of-semester chaos hits in the form of finals and papers, you will be more relaxed knowing that you are ahead of the game.

Participate in an alternative spring break. Many schools offer alternative spring breaks to students so that they can spend the week volunteering for a good cause. Not only do you give back to a community in need but future employers will be impressed to see that you spent your spring break helping others. Even if your school does not have this option, you can still go out and volunteer on your own.

It’s never too early to start planning for spring break. If you plan wisely, you may have the chance to get some rest, work ahead on your homework, catch up with friends and volunteer at the same time while still managing to go back to school energized and ready to conquer the rest of the semester.

Jessica Seals is recent graduate of the University of Memphis, where she majored in political science and minored in English. She was the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society and Black Scholars Unlimited. As she prepares for law school, Jessica will continue to tutor and volunteer in her community.


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Why You Should Include Office Hours in Your Schedule

by Jessica Seals

On the first day of class, professors usually pass out detailed syllabi that provide valuable information such as grading scales, what materials will be needed and what topics will be covered during the semester. There is one more piece of helpful information that most students overlook despite the fact that it’s normally displayed at the very top of the page: the location of the professor’s office and what days and times they will have office hours.

Although professors have office hours, most students do not take advantage of them. I just completed my third year of college and I have lost track of the number of emails that I have received from professors practically begging students to stop by during their office hours with any type of question. Most professors are also willing to accommodate students if their class and extracurricular schedules do not allow them to come during regular office hours but only a handful of students seize this opportunity by the end of the semester.

I have always taken advantage of office hours to make sure that I understand every assignment clearly. I have often noticed that professors tend to be more favorable towards students who come to their office hours because they seem to be the ones that care about their performance in class the most. I also get the one-on-one help I need and always do extremely well on assignments I ask questions about.

My advice to any college student is to take advantage of office hours. The professor gets to know you personally and notices that you care about your grade. Also, don’t wait until the end of the semester to show up with concerns; there’s not much that can be done by you or the professor if issues are being addressed this late in the game.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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There’s No Place Like Home...or Is There?

by Jessica Seals

During my freshman year of college, I seized every opportunity to go home and visit friends and family. Although I only live an hour away from campus, I looked forward to going home to catch up on how different life was now that I was technically no longer living there. As time went on, however, I noticed that I stopped going home as often as I did during my freshman year and so did all of my friends.

By the time my junior year rolled around, I had grown accustomed to being in Memphis and treating school as my home. Many of my friends had gotten their own apartments or rented houses and had made the cities where their schools were home as well. Now when I go home to visit, I am usually the only person who decides to do so; we have all gotten older, learned how to be independent and are starting to live our own lives separate from our parents. Now I am lucky if I can catch my friends when I can and we rely on setting up gatherings via Facebook even more than before.

The decline in the number of times everyone ventures home shows just how much going away to college can allow you to explore things on your own and branch out to experience things outside your hometown. I personally feel more independent and even closer to completely growing up and being on my own.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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by Jilliane Hamilton

By Jilliane Hamilton for myUsearch.com

With so many different colleges and universities to choose from, making a final decision can be tough. Each college has its own unique personality, campus life, reputation and atmosphere. Here are some tips to help you choose which college is for you:

  1. Don't rule out schools that aren't universities. It all depends on your career plans and long-term goals.
  2. Talk to a student from each school. Ask them why they chose that school and what they like/dislike about the academics and campus life. You're going to get a perspective that's a lot less biased than just checking out the school's website.
  3. Location, location, location. How often do you plan to spend the weekend at home? Are you ready to make the big move out of state? What kind of weather are you used to?
  4. Don't choose a school just because your best friend, boyfriend or girlfriend are going there. College is about starting fresh. New home, new place, new school, new friends, new outlook on life. Besides, you may want to use your friend as a security blanket, rather than going out and meeting new people.
  5. Academically-speaking. Try to contact a couple people in the program or classes you're interested in taking. What's the professor like? What's the work load like? Does the school have a good reputation for their graduates from these programs?
  6. Dorms. Most freshmen will find that living on campus will make their life a little less hectic. Find out what kind of dorm you'd be moving into with each different university you have on your list. How old are the buildings? What amenities do they offer? You may even want to consider renting an apartment instead of living in the dorms.
  7. Look at scholarships. Which of your potential schools offer the most scholarships for incoming students? Do they have any just for students from that state or students from out-of-state?
  8. Consider the extracurriculars available. If you're interested in taking part in extracurriculars, find out which schools offer what clubs, committees and athletics.
  9. Sometimes, size does matter. Some people just aren't meant for huge campuses. Maybe you prefer a smaller campus with a warmer, more familiar feel. Then again, larger universities often offer more amenities, social activities and extracurriculars.
  10. If possible, take a campus tour of 2 or more schools. Get a feel for the atmosphere and go with your gut feeling. If it doesn’t feel right for you, perhaps you should keep looking.

Jillianne Hamilton is a blogger, writer and journalism student in Charlottetown, PEI. She blogs for various college websites, including myUsearch.com, an unbiased website where you can search and compare colleges for free.


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Challenging Yourself in High School Has Vast Future Rewards

by Julius Clayborn

I began my high school career at EXCEL-Orr High School but quickly realized the school was not doing enough to prepare me for post-secondary success. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I transferred to Urban Prep Academy and though my collegiate dreams were now within reach, the transition was not easy. I was met with much opposition and had multiple run-ins with many of the students. I was torn: Here I had this great opportunity but these external factors were taking an academic and emotional toll on me. I began to regret transferring and eventually regret school altogether.

Luckily, I found solace in my extracurricular activities such as debate and youth activism club. These things helped me realize my full potential and made me believe that there was something greater in store for me. Transferring quickly went from the worst decision I had ever made to the best, especially when it came time to start applying to colleges. Initially, I saw more challenges – Will I get in? Can I afford tuition? – but my worries were put to rest just as fast: We had an entire class period dedicated to college preparation and the application process, which is where I found out about the site you’re reading right now. Not only did I get accepted to a fantastic school, I also received enough scholarships and grants to pay for it.

If you find yourself dissatisfied with your high school’s curriculum, don’t sit idly by: Challenge yourself by taking harder courses or transfer, like I did. It may be difficult at first but any struggle will be well worth it in the future.

Julius Claybron was born on Chicago’s South Side in the Harold Ickes public housing projects. At the age of five, he lost his father to diabetes and was raised by his mother and grandmother, who helped him to enroll in Urban Prep Academy, a public all-male college-preparatory high school, during his sophomore year. Julius started to read at the age of two and still enjoys escaping in books during his spare time. He will begin his freshman year at Cornell University this fall, where he plans to double major in psychology and English literature.


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Julius Claybron

by Julius Clayborn

It was a Monday and my inbox was filled with the usual bulk messages colleges send to make prospective freshmen feel special. Or so I thought.

There was one email in particular that looked like an invitation to a freshman event but I didn't bother reading it because I knew I couldn’t travel miles to a school I probably had no chance of getting into. That night, however, I opened the email out of curiosity: "This special invitation is extended to you because of your strong academic performance and because you will be admitted to Cornell University's Class of 2015."

This was a joke. There was no way it could be true. Cornell was going to send an email the next day apologizing for the terrible mistake...but after reading it repeatedly, it finally hit me: I had been accepted to Cornell University.

I sighed a big sigh of relief. The past three years weren’t the easiest for me and dealing with school as a whole was a taxing experience. I had failed to reach many of the goals I previously set and dismissed any hopes of attending selective institutions because my faith in myself had become practically nonexistent. During the college application process, though, I still applied to some of the country's toughest schools because the little bit of faith I had left compelled me to do so. I took a chance and in the end, a pure leap of faith was all that mattered.

I don't have any spells that will get you into your first-choice college. No gimmicks, no tricks up my sleeves and no rabbits in my hat. I don't have any admissions formulas or surefire ways to land a coveted spot at an Ivy. Just believe you deserve whatever you are hoping for, even if no one else does. At times, a positive thought may be the only thing keeping your dreams afloat but with this thought in mind, you will definitely get you to where you want to be.


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