Monday, May 30, 2016

Celebrating America while in College

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY EVERYONE! This is truly one of my favorite holiday weekends of the year because I've always spent it with my loved ones, cherishing the lives that have been lost! Because of this, today I wanted to devote an entire post to celebrating America and those truly USA holidays!

During my undergraduate education, the school year didn't end until the weekend after Memorial Day and I stayed on campus for two years over July 4th, so I was really able to get my fill of patriotic fun (including Veteran's Day and 9/11 Memorial Celebrations). So, I wanted to share with you all some great ways that college students can help celebrate these great holidays and make great memories with your friends and college community!

1. Help with a Parade - Does your college town have a Memorial Day or Veteran's Day Parade? Why not volunteer to help organize it with the Chamber of Commerce or with the local American Legion. It could be something as simple as passing out waters or programs. If your town doesn't have a parade, why not meet with some business owners and try to organize one as a Capstone project. It would look great on your resume, especially if you want to do event planning or anything with hospitality!

2. Walk in a Parade - If you don't have enough time to volunteer or organize a parade, offer for your team or club to walk in it, holding a banner and passing out candy! It is a fun team bonding experience for you all as you say good-bye to your Seniors or welcome your Freshmen. It also looks good on your team's projects to have some local community activities on there too!

3. Table in the Student Union - Become more politically or patriotically active on your campus by setting up a table and display in the Student Union or Campus Center with information for students. It could be something as small as getting students registered to vote (perfect for this coming fall) or tabling to raise some money for a local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). It is a great way to increase patriotism on your campus and to celebrate the lives and duties of our current soldiers and veterans!

4. Visit the Local Cemetery - Take a walk through your local cemetery with a group of friends to pay your respects to former veterans and fallen soldiers. You can help clean up some grave sites if there is garbage next to them and straighten out any flags you see. If the weather is nice, it will be great to get some fresh air and take a break from studying to do something nice for the community.

5. Profile a Veteran in the Paper - If you're involved in the newspaper on campus or a webblog for the campus, why not profile a local veteran or a member of the staff, faculty, or student body who are veterans or members of the ROTC. It is a great way to help gain awareness on your campus, especially if your campus has a high veteran population!

Celebrating America and the great holidays for our veterans is a great way to bring your college campus together, so the next time you have a reason to celebrate, why not take part in some of these patriotic suggestions. It is a great way to get involved on campus, while having fun, and doing some good!

I hope you all had a really great weekend with your families, friends, and local veterans!

enjoy the chase,

Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review: Hope For the Flowers

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to do a book review for you all about a really transformative book in my life.

As you may recall from my "Keeping your New Year's Resolutions in College" post, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to read one non-school book a week. Well ... my resolution didn't exactly stick, however in January I did read four books, so I started with the best intentions!

Anyways, one of the books I read was Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus. This was a gift to me from a really great mentor and its one of those reads that you really need to think about once you've finished reading it. This story was copyrighted in 1972, so it comes from a time of free thinking and transformation, which is why I think it is relevant to you all and this blog.

The story involves two caterpillars who are on the quest for what they think is something great. This greatness is also being pursued by a million other caterpillars in the world. They have no idea what is at the top of the climb, but think it must be something awesome if all of the other caterpillars are trying to get to it too.

Essentially, the point of the story (in my opinion, you may have another once you read it) is that following what everyone else does and pursuing a path that is common isn't always the best for you. As high schoolers and college students, we are constantly inundated with pressure to follow what everyone else does and choose the 'cookie-cutter' path. In this book, once the caterpillars break out of the normal path, they find a much more exciting and fulfilling life.

So, while everyone else may be choosing one path towards college, graduate school, or career. Make sure you choose a path that is going to provide you the most fulfilling life! Talk with your trusted resources and find the path that is just meant for you and your success! It may not be the easiest route and you may feel alone in your pursuit of it, but just know that by following what you want to do, you are truly creating your own future, which is amazing!

Here is a link to where you can buy Hope for the Flowers. It is a quick read, but can really help you through your next transformation if you let it!

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy this time with your family and friends, while celebrating the lives of those who we've lost. Happy Memorial Day!

enjoy the chase,

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Facing your Fears for your Future

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great start to your week and are gearing up for a fun weekend ahead ... Memorial Day!!

Something that I think is really great about this blog and about me writing and providing my advice for you all is that I too am feeling and going through the same experiences that you all are. I also am on the brink of a big transition in my life and am facing my fears at every turn to determine what is best for my future! So, today I wanted to address that.

Take advantage of art opportunities in your area.
If you have a creative side, why not enter your work in a contest!

Earlier this week, I was incredibly fortunate to be offered an in-person interview for a position in another state. With it being 800 miles away, I had to fly to my destination and rent a car and do all of that exciting travel stuff! The travel itself was a huge part of facing my fears for my future! I was not raised to be a flyer, I was raised to be a road-tripper, so handling all of the airport stress and flying by myself was so new to me! While I was anxious and nervous to do it all, I did it with grace and only got lost once! (Ironically, and luckily, with my aunt who had a GPS!)

So, while this new phase of your life can induce stress, fear, anxiety, and nerves, it is important to remember that everything you are working towards and trying for is only going to better help your future! Face your fears and do something you would never think about doing or think about trying. College and life after school is all about growing as a person and finding your place in the world. You aren't going to be able to do that if you stay in your comfort zone.

Take advantage of "Share" opportunities in your community
to find new hobbies and meet new people. If there isn't one,
try and start one for your area!

I'm not saying you need to travel around the world to face your fears, but even if it is something as taking a class you normally wouldn't or working in a job that makes you nervous, but excited. All of those experiences are going to make you a better and more interesting person for future opportunities! These can also lead you to places that you never knew were possible!

My challenge to you all is this: Get our of your comfort zone and face your fears about your future. Apply to an internship you never thought about, work at a summer camp to get more experience working with others, or take a karate or ballroom dance class that expands your creative and athletic world. Take advantage of new opportunities and don't say 'no' if they strike a little bit of fear in you! (Obviously, if it is something dangerous or not safe, then 'no' should certainly be your answer!)

Face your fears my friends and see what comes from it!!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. What are you challenging yourself to do? Make it something that you want to accomplish for the month of June and start planning for it!! Share your plans in the comments below, I'd love to hear!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five Helpful Posts for Juniors

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great and productive week!

So, I don't like to repeat content on my blog and oftentimes the information that I share is relevant to everyone at some point in their college search process. Because I fear being redundant, I just wanted to share with all of the High School Juniors out there, my TOP 5 posts that would be helpful to you as you finish the school year and enter summer.

Because the summer before senior year is really crucial for your college search and planning, I wanted to devote a whole post to what I think are the 5 most important things to think about during this time. Let's get started!

In this post, I share the main things that you should focus on as you finish up the school year and before you leave for the summer. These are all helpful pieces of advice to let you leave a lasting impression on the school year and set the groundwork for a successful start to your Senior year come Fall!

When you are choosing to pursue a career path that you love and are incredibly passionate about, obviously you want to get started right away on preparing yourself for your career and future opportunities. In this post, I share all of the small, but significant, experiences you can pursue that will help jump start your career while still in High School. With the free time in summer, why not get started on some of these?  

Are you wondering what you want to study, where you want to go, what path you want to choose, or even just where to start? Check out my candid post on the importance of soul searching in your college search process. The more you are exposed to new experiences, the more your idea of what you want to become and gain from college will grow!

Since all of you should plan on visiting the colleges that you are interested in at least once over the summer, you will want to know what to bring with you on your visit. From questions to ask, to what to wear, and the other papers you should bring, make sure you take a look over this before you head out for your trip!

This post gives you a great overview of what you should be doing the summer before you enter your final year in high school! It is an amazing time to enjoy and make new memories while still diligently preparing for the future! 

For all of you current Juniors out there, I hope this helps you as you prepare to say good-bye to your Junior year and hello to the fun and exciting summer!! Please let me know if you have any questions or need advice on something specific! You can reach me through my contact page here

enjoy the chase,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thoughtful Thank You Gifts

Hi everyone! As the end of the school year winds down, we start thinking about how much certain people have impacted our year; teachers, bosses, mentors, upperclassmen ... etc. Oftentimes, we cannot think of the right words to say thank you, so giving them a thoughtful gift is the next best option to show them how much they mean to you!

When you're thinking about gift ideas for some of your favorite people, make sure you consider their personality and interests as well. This is a fairly straight-forward list, but you can customize almost anything to have it fit their personality and their needs! Let's get started!!!

1. Notebook Set
You can find the greatest notebook and pen sets out there, anywhere: Hallmark, Target, Etsy, and Luxury good stores. There are so many options of sizes and sets that could fit any type of writer. Whether for a grocery list or daily goals, this would be a really thoughtful gift for any boss or friend who you are really grateful for!

2. Beauty Products
If this friend is a hair-dresser, make-up artist, or just someone who loves beauty products, some samples or a gift box from a beauty store could be a great "Thank you" gift for them. It could include shampoo, aftershave, eyeshadows, or lip glosses. Whatever would strike their fancy and feel appreciated! Again, this is all about tailoring it to their interests, so pick something they would love.
3. Framed Picture
I mentioned it in my Graduation Gift Guide, but I LOVE giving framed pictures to people as a "Thank you." It's one of those items that captures an exciting or captivating moment in your relationship. The picture could be from a conference, a night out, or just from a day in the office. It is a great way to show how much they mean to you and how you hope the relationship will continue for future years! 

4. DIY-Inspired Puns
Pinterest is filled with cute thank you gifts that are pun-tastic! Think about giving life-saver candies to that person who was such a life-saver during school. You can find some really funny ones that match whatever personality you are giving the gift to. Don't hesitate to combine a few ideas or put your own spin on it! They will just be so happy that you were thoughtful enough to give them something!

5. Restaurant Gift Card
Gift cards to restaurants are a really good gift for someone that you really want to thank, but can't come up with something different. You can pick a place where they always go or someplace that they would enjoy. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts is good for that one person who always goes there, but you can also get a Texas Roadhouse or a specialty restaurant gift card that they could use with their family. 

6. Monogrammed Bag
A nice beauty bag, wallet clip, or tote bag would be a great idea to give to a teacher or boss who you really respect. Then, add their monogram to it to add that personal touch.  You can also pick their favorite color to use for the thread. If you're trying to come up with something additional, put a few smaller in-expensive gifts inside the bag or a gift card in the wallet clip. 

7. Coffee or Tea Set
For the coffee or tea lover, why not gift them a nice set of new flavors that they would enjoy. You can also buy a cute mug to use for those taste testings. This is especially a good idea for future birthdays or other celebrations because you can find a gift set of anything: barbecue sauce, appetizer dips, seasonings .. etc. Find something that matches their personality that you know they'd love and can enjoy while relaxing!

8. Handwritten Note
When shopping for the perfect gift fails you, write them a thoughtful note sharing your appreciation for their friendship and mentorship over the year. You can make such an impact with a simple note to someone who doesn't expect it. In a world that is obsessed with materialistic items, a heart-felt and candid note can provide someone an extra dose of support and hope. They can keep it to read whenever they have a down moment or need encouragement.

Hands-down my most favorite "Thank you" gifts have been those thoughtful and heartfelt ones. When you give a gift you want to make sure it makes an impact on that person's thoughts and that they truly understand how grateful you are for them. So before you buy something, make sure it is coming from your heart and can truly show your thoughtfulness!

enjoy the chase,

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Celebrating Accomplishments

Hi everyone and Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a great weekend and were able to celebrate some amazing accomplishments in your life and in the lives of family and friends.

Yesterday, I celebrated my graduation with my Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration and I wanted to share it with you all!

I am a firm believer in "practice what you preach," and I guess the "preach" of Chasing College is to go out into the world and find opportunities to learn. I have been chasing college since I was in pre-school and I don't think I'm quite done yet, but I wanted to take this time to talk to you all about the hard work that goes into these accomplishments and these exciting moments in life.

College is not easy, whether you are doing a two year, a four year, your Master's, a certificate program, or your PhD, it is not an easy road that is ahead of you. There are bumps, U-turns, round-abouts, express lanes, crashes, breakdowns, and so many more things that happen along the journey. But, it is your perseverance, your faith, and your belief in yourself that will get you through the journey and that will help you enjoy it.

Through all of that hard work and dedication, graduating is one of the biggest accomplishments you will have in your life. I have been lucky enough to attend many different commencement ceremonies and see many different types of students walk across those stages and get their diplomas, and each one is unique, significant, and amazing as the next. Celebrate these moments and remember that feeling of accomplishment as you enter your next challenge.

Life is about challenging ourselves and chasing our dreams, so it is beyond necessary that we always have goals we are striving for. In those goals, don't forget the important role that education can play in them and pursue that. In whatever you choose though, make sure you are always chasing something!

enjoy the chase,

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wish I Knew Wednesday

"The most helpful thing for me would've been having a better sense of myself. Here I was about to enter a new stage of life ... and I really wasn't sure what I was supposed to be looking for. The hardest part for me was being able to search for both a school and a home."
Matt U., 23, Pleasantville, New York

While I can't help you find yourself, I can give you some help with looking for a college that will be a school and a home. I talk a lot about finding a college or university that fits your needs and this is exactly why. You are searching for a place that is going to help you grow academically and socially for the next four years, so it is necessary to find that right balance. 

Oftentimes, there is a debate about finding a college that is rigorous academically but not socially stimulating, or giving up a demanding academic life to have a good social experience on campus. You know your personality, so you need to find the campus that matches it.

In my opinion, and there may be people who dispute this, the academics will come no matter where you go to college. Obviously prestige and scholastic awards are great, but at the end of the day if you work hard, you will get that degree in Biology, English, or Art. While some universities have better facilities for certain majors, and you should be no means ignore that, you could find two or three universities with very comparable programs.

When academics can't be compared because they are virtually the same, it is necessary to find the university that fits your personality and your extra-curricular desires. If you want to excel both in academics and student life, then you will want to find a university that balances that well. When you step onto campus and speak with students and professors, you can get a pretty good impression of what the campus is known for. Additionally, picking up a school newspaper will help you see what the university wants to put in focus: academic accolades or on-campus events. 

When I was deciding on my final undergraduate choice, both schools were pretty comparable in terms of everything: both had French programs, study abroad options, and opportunities to dance. My decision, however, came down to how I felt on the campus and how I thought I would fit into my new "home." One university was a money magnet, many of the students came from wealthier families and there was more of an individualistic approach to the interactions with students (at least what I saw on my visits to campus). The other was a tradition-based college with an emphasis on community connection among students, administrators, and faculty. I loved both, and I still do, but I had to pick the university where I would fit in, feel comfortable, and be able to make my home!

There are a lot of options you need to weigh when you finally make that decision, but you need to go with your gut feeling on what college is going to be your best school and best home!

enjoy the chase,

Monday, May 9, 2016

Springing into Senior Year

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend and a Happy Mother's Day! Thank you to all of the mothers out there who support our decisions and desires to go to college! Ya'll are the best!!

Today I wanted to give some advice on what you should do in the spring of your junior year (either of high school or college)! You are about to enter the transition phase where all of your hard work has without a doubt paid off, so make sure you lay the groundwork for an amazing and fulfilling senior year!

1. Reach out to Recommenders - Before you leave for the summer, it would be a good idea to talk with your teachers and your professors who you think you may want to write your letters of recommendations for college applications or to act as your reference for future internship and job applications. It doesn't have to be an extensive conversation, but you will want to mention it to them that you are starting to think about your recommendations and that you think you would like them to write one in the Fall. This early notice will give them the opportunity, if they choose, to write it over the summer prior to the start of the year and the rush of other applications. If you don't want to mention the letter to them right away, then at least start having conversations with them about your future plans and they may bring it up too!

2. Speak with your Counselor or Advisor - Make sure you check in one last time with your school counselor or your Academic Advisor so that you can start talking about plans for the future. They may have some extra advice for you on tasks you can do over the summer to better ensure your plans will work out! They also may know about opportunities for this summer where you can work or gain more experience in your choice career!

3. Take your SATs/ACTs - For you juniors in high school, you will want to take your first round of college tests. Then also schedule one for next fall too. This allows you to utilize all of those math skills that you are using in your upper-level classes to do really well on the math portions of the exam. Oftentimes, your school will offer test preparation courses or after-school programs, so take advantage of those. Taking your exams before the summer let's you know your average score for when you visit colleges and have conversations with admissions counselors!

4. Prepare for Graduate School - For you college students, use this summer as your opportunity to prepare for graduate school. This could be prepping for and taking your GRE, LSAT, or GMAT or just completing more internships to round out your resume and experience. While this is the "last" summer before life really hits you, you still want to take it seriously and start planning for your future goals!

5. Take on a Leadership Position - Honestly, being a leader on your high school or college campus is really important for improving your people and management skills. If you are already a member of a club, then run for a position and if you are already an officer, then why not run for the President position! Management is a skill you will need no matter what career you choose, so taking advantage of leadership opportunities is really important. Personally, I always started out as a secretary because I loved to write and take notes. If you're better at math and finances, why not a position as Treasurer? Find the opportunity that best fits your personality and then go for it!!

6. Plan to Attend a Summer Camp -  High School juniors, use your last few weeks of school to lay the ground work for attending a summer camp; whether academic, arts, or leadership - based. It will be an amazing experience for you to get that first glimpse of life away from your house. For academic camps, you will most likely need recommendations from your teachers and a transcript, so you will want to make sure you secure those before leaving for the summer. If you are attending a leadership camp, just make sure you have all of the contact information you need. ( I attended Girls State, which is a politically-based leadership camp for high school juniors throughout your state (Each state has one) where you develop the government of a new state. I loved every second of it because it was something I enjoyed and I was surrounded by girls with the same interests that I had.) Look into a program that you will gain the most out of!!

As you finish up your school year, make sure you set the scene for what your senior year will be like! Make it enjoyable and prosperous as you begin your transition into becoming a senior!

enjoy the chase,

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Graduation Gift Guide!

Hi everyone!! It's been a crazy couple of weeks with preparation for final exams and finishing up all of the exciting happenings for the school year, but I wanted to share with you all Chasing College's Graduation Gift Guide!

I did a Holiday Gift Guide back in December and thought that a Graduation-themed one would be fitting for the time of year! Plus, sometimes thinking of a gift for a friend, cousin, or niece who is graduating from high school or college can be rather difficult, so I came up with some great unconventional gift ideas to share with you all!

1. Address Book and Note Cards 
 As the new grad enters the real world or the real world of college, get them started with an address book and some note cards to send to people. This is a sweet and thoughtful gift that will remind the grad to stay in communication with others, even if its through the mail. 
You can add a book of stamps to the gift and even add some addresses to the address book of people they may want to write (grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins).

2. Car Care Kit
If the graduate is commuting to college or bought a new car for their college graduation, a car care kit may be a good idea as a gift! If they are commuting, you can check out my list of essentials here, which could make a great gift basket idea. Otherwise, a car care kit for people depending on their car or for the male graduate may be a thoughtful, yet practical option!

3. A Subscription Box
Subscription boxes are such a great gift idea for the graduate who is difficult to buy for or who already has everything. They are shipped to the receiver, depending on the specific box, once a month or every few months. There are options out there for everyone: the make-up lover, the health fan, or the book nerd. Here is a list of some great subscription boxes, but you can also find some just by googling it. Also, for some of those boxes, they can change the shipping address so that once they move into their dorm room or new apartment, they can receive them there!

4. Thoughtful Gift Card
I say "thoughtful gift card," because gift cards can be seen as impersonal or unthoughtful, but a card to the right place can be just the gift the grad loves! Think about those random stores that the graduate would love to shop at but may not have the money to devote to it. Especially if a big purchase is coming up, like a laptop, new suit, or leather bag, a gift card to a place where the student can buy one of those items can be really helpful to them! 

5. Inspiration Board
This may be best for a friend or an older sibling or cousin who is graduating, but if you don't have a lot of money to spend but still want to be thoughtful, create an inspiration board for them to hang up in their dorm room or home office. You can include family pictures, quotes from their favorite books, cut-outs from magazines, and other inspiring images that will help them through their next journey! A gift doesn't always have to come from the wallet to come from the heart. 

6. A Framed Picture
I am notorious for giving framed pictures to people as gifts, especially for graduation and thank you's. This is another inexpensive way to show someone how much you mean to them. Print out a picture of the two of you from an event or from a great memory you share and then put it in a nice frame from Target or HomeGoods. If you add a heartfelt note to it, it will surely be one of the graduate's favorite gifts. 

7. Office Supplies
While some people may think giving office supplies to a graduate is lame, I firmly believe that that would be setting them up for future success! While I love a good post-it note dispenser, think about gifting a cute stapler, pen holder, and organizational tray for notes or other oddities. These items do not need to be drab or lackluster. Check out specialty stores and office supply stores to find some nice and colorful products that the grad can use on their desk!

I hope my Graduation Gift Guide has provided you some inspiration for gift giving in the coming weeks. No matter what though, a gift from the heart is going to be so meaningful to the new graduate and they will be so thankful to you for it! Best wishes on your gift giving!!!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. Follow me on Twitter (@Chasing_College) and on Instagram (@skylarclapperton) to keep up to date on blog posts and videos!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Should I Take a Gap Year?

Hi everyone and Happy May! I cannot believe that May is already here and 2016 is almost half way over! I hope you all had a great time making your college decisions as yesterday was the National Enrollment Deadline. Just remember as you plan for the coming months, don't focus on the could'ves and the should'ves, instead focus on the university you accepted admission to and the great experiences you want to have there!

In follow up to Malia Obama's news that she will be attending Harvard University in the Fall of 2017 after a gap year, I thought I would talk to you all about planning to take a gap year.

A gap year is the 12+ months between high school graduation and entrance into a college or university as an undergraduate. Oftentimes, students will take this gap in education as a time to travel, spend with family, or work a little to gain some extra cash. Especially if you are interested in doing a Rotary Exchange experience in a foreign country, you can do it between these years. But, here's the major question: Should I take a gap year?

The first thing you need to think about is if a gap year is actually going to benefit you in the long-run. Did high school exhaust you or did you do everything you could to get through the last four years of high school? If so, a gap year or even a gap semester may be a good idea. It gives you an opportunity to refocus and enjoy a break from testing and homework. Especially if you had an illness, whether physical or mental, that left you grasping to complete the school year, take the extra time to focus on yourself and becoming healthy again!

Next, you will want to check with the university's admissions and financial aid office to determine if deferring your admissions (saving your acceptance/place for next year's class) is a possibility. There may be deadlines or guidelines that they can provide you to make it an easier transition and decision-making process. They may also be able to help you with any credit courses or experiences you may complete during your gap year.

Third, you will want to see if it is financially feasible for you to take that gap year. If you are choosing to travel, you will want to double-check and make sure that you or your family will be able to pay for it. This will be time without a part-time job and without schooling, so the only thing you will gain is life experience. While invaluable, make sure you consider the financial ramifications. If you decide to use your gap year to work at home, make sure you are using that money to save for the future, as opposed to spending it frivolously while you live at home. No matter what though, when making your decision try to make the best financial decision for your future as well.

Lastly, it is necessary to recognize that your goals and future aspirations may change during your gap year. Especially if you are traveling or working, it may show you a new career path to pursue. Because of this, a result of your gap year could be needing to reapply for admission to another university for another program. While you can't plan on this happening, it is important to have that conversation with yourself and with your family that these new experiences could provide you with a new mindset and future plan!

Taking a gap year is a serious decision to consider, so it is important to weigh the options correctly and appropriately. Have conversations with your school counselor, your family, and your admissions counselors to see if it is feasible and to gain advice on what to pursue during that gap year!

Are you planning to take a gap year or are you wondering more about it? Comment below with your plans, thoughts, or questions! I'd love to hear about it!

enjoy the chase,

P.S. Follow me on Instagram at @skylarclapperton  to keep up-to-date on blog posts and new YouTube videos!