Should I Graduate Early?

Are you a little burnt out from school? Trying to save money? Have a fantastic job opportunity you would need to leave school to take? Last year, I decided to graduate a semester early from college. It was a really hard decision to make and I spent many months thinking about it, but now I have been out of school for 8 months and I know it was the right choice for me. Is it right for you? Here are five things to think about as you make the big decision.

(This is geared towards people who, like me, only started thinking about graduating early right before senior year. Many people plan from the start to graduate a semester or year early and I hope that some of this can be helpful to those people as well).

1 . Is it too late?

Most colleges have a deadline to apply for early graduation. Check at your school – if it’s already past this deadline, congratulations! The decision has been made for you and you can wonder no more. Focus on enjoying the rest of senior year and know this happened for a reason.

2. Do I have the credits? Will I finish my major? Read More


Things That Will Happen When You Cut Your Hair Short

0. You will schedule the transformative salon appointment for a few days after a semi-professional photographer is coming to do a family portrait. This way your mother will have a respectable Christmas card photo regardless of what happens.

1. Your sister will drive to the salon with you and provide small talk as you assure the hairdresser that yes, when you say short you mean ‘boy’ short.

2. You will go home and ask your brother if he likes your haircut. At 13, he cannot control himself and stutters an emphatic “n-n-o!”.

3. Over the course of the next 3 years, every member of your extended family will comment that you look like your great aunt.

a) This is not a bad thing. Your great aunt is young and cool and has been to every                        continent. She also has short hair. Read More

First Not First Day of School

I can hear my dad cooking eggs at 6:27, the whites just starting to sizzle in the pan. This early morning cooking is an effort to get this school year off on the right foot for my brother, who is starting his junior year of high school. My mom is back at school this week as well, a middle school teacher, and there’s an egg on an English muffin for her as well. My dad comes upstairs to say goodbye to me before he leaves for work. For him, it is just another Tuesday.  Read More

How to Make the Start of School Easier (While You’re Living It)

The first week of school can be a stressful transition, whether you’re a freshman still getting lost on campus or a senior who’s done this countless times before. There were probably some things you could have done to prepare (we’ve all done that last-minute packing job) but it’s too late for that now! So here are some tips to get you through the first couple of weeks while you’re living it.

1 . Don’t take on everything this week

It’s tempting to start the new school year filled with hopes and intentions of promptly reviewing your notes after class or going to the gym every day at 7am or getting a promotion at the coffee shop where you’re a barista. But know yourself. This week is stressful. Is going to the gym that early going to sacrifice some much-needed hours of sleep? Or is it going to invigorate you and give you the energy to get through a full day? Everyone is different – but ask yourself honestly. Taking on too many life-changing resolutions during this first week puts stress on top of stress and means those lifestyle changes probably won’t last. Give yourself time to unpack, get your academic and work schedules set, and see the friends you’ve been away from for 3 months. You can incorporate changes to your routine next week.

That said….

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How Can I Possibly Throw This Away

There is one drawer in my desk and it is filled with letters from friends, mostly from 2010 to 2012. Many of these people I don’t talk to anymore, or don’t talk to beyond an occasional “thinking of you hope all is well” Facebook message sent once a year. Some of those letters I look back wistfully on, while others remind me of negative people that I can’t believe I was ever friends with.

In procrastinating on cleaning out my stuff from my parent’s house, I’ve been thinking a lot about Marie Kondo. I haven’t read any of her books, but I have read every New Yorker and New York Times feature, so I feel pretty well informed on her methodology. One of the key premises is if when you hold an object it doesn’t “spark joy”,  you should throw it away. That’s a pretty high standard, and in some ways it’s helped me think about my clothes and knick-knacks differently.

This is a pretty effective way of sorting through books I will never re-read and clothes that have spent years shoved in the back of the closet. Objects like letters are much harder. How do I apply this high standard to these emotional accoutrements that fill my desk drawer? The goodbye/thank-you note from a woman I worked with when I was seventeen? That gives me joy. So does a note from a girl I was lucky enough to become close with my senior year of high school. The letters from a friend I now see once a year about what she did on a Thursday in 2011? Maybe joy, maybe just a blend of nostalgia and ambivalence.

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5 Ways to Be Prepared and Ace Your Phone Interview

Are you applying for jobs right now? Get ready to spend a lot of time on the phone. Phone interviews act as a way for the company to get to know a little bit about you without both parties spending the time and energy on an in-person interview. It can be pretty low-pressure, but it’s a big opportunity for you to express your interest and skills.

I’ve been doing a lot of phone interviews, some better than others. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

1 . Have key documents open on your computer

The person interviewing you is looking at your resume and cover letter – you should have those open in front of you as well. If the interviewer refers to specific bullet points in your resume or an interest you mentioned in your cover letter, you want to be able to see what they’re talking about, especially if you applied a while ago. I also like to have the description of the position open as well so that I can tie in what I’m saying to specific requirements or responsibilities. Have these all open in easily accessible tabs before the interview starts.

Image result for sketch of phone

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To My Friends Starting Their Senior Year

Dear Class of 2017,

Hello from the other side! You are a week away from starting your senior year of college. I am at my parents’ house, with a degree but without a job, gazing wistfully at your back-to-campus snap stories while I plan out my next move. This is a love-letter in the form of some unasked-for advice.

1 . Get off campus

More of you have cars than ever! Explore off campus: the state parks and mountains you’ve been meaning to visit since freshman year, that Book Barn that people talk about? This is the time for Saturday afternoon excursions. Campus feels tired and small and being outdoors and away is good for you. I also think it’s important to see what being with your friends feels like outside the gates, especially if you don’t see each other during the summer. Go with friends or go by yourself, but a little bit of time away from the pressures and routines of campus life leaves you more able to enjoy the time you have left there.

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Better Birthdays and Other Goals for Being 22

I have been 22 for 2 months now and time feels like an illusion. While we’ve all watched too many Youtube videos and read too many Refinery29 articles about what it means to be in my early 20s out of college, I’m still thinking about ways to improve my own early 20s life.  This year, I’m trying to be a better friend, be a little calmer, and spend time on things I care about. Here are 3 ways I’m working towards that.

1 . Be better about birthdays

I never really cared that much about my birthday, satisfied with eating a meal I liked at home with my family. My friend group for most of my life was not good about remembering, so it was always very low-key.

In high school, a group of friends that I knew went all out for birthdays. Instagram collages, carefully selected gifts, cupcakes at school, the whole shebang. I always really admired this, all the effort they took to make their friend feel special. Recenty,  I’ve been really touched by people who took the time out to text me on my birthday, rather than relying on that Facebook reminder. Waking up to those messages on my phone made me feel special and valued.

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5 Cheap Things to Do in Central Mass This Summer

Stuck in Central Mass for the summer with not a lot of cash? Don’t feel like you have to splurge on a commuter rail ticket to trek to Boston. There’s lots of ways to keep cool and have fun without breaking the bank or leaving the area.

1 . Worcester Art Museum

The Worcester Art Museum far outclasses the city in which it resides. They’ve also embarked on some efforts to make the museum more accessible to the general public. If you are a student at any college in Worcester, you can get in for free! Just present your school ID at the desk.  Do you not attend at Worcester consortium college but live in the area? You can reserve a pass to many local museums through your library. Reserve the pass online, pick it up at the library that day, and show the pass at the desk.  In addition, if you receive benefits through SNAP or WIC, present your card and you get in for just $2. Spend a couple hours enjoying air conditioning and art (there’s also free parking!). This summer in particular the WAM has a very strange exhibit featuring live cats that I highly encourage everyone to check out.

2. Out to Lunch

Last summer I worked at City Hall in Worcester and my favorite part of the week was the Thursday Out to Lunch concert series. Once a week the Worcester Common hosts an outdoor concert with a small farmer’s market, some local food trucks, and local craft vendors. You can get food from the Wooberry froyo truck, the Dogfather (they’ll make you a hot dog you can’t refuse), and the Loving Hut. In addition, the REC Mobile Farmer’s Market is always there with high quality produce, and if you pay with SNAP/WIC you get 50% off. The music varies throughout the summer, though my favorites are the 80’s cover bands and the salsa groups. These two hours on Thursdays are a nice way to see people flock to downtown and to have the Common filled with positive energy. 3. Regatta Point State Park

3. I started going to Regatta Point to take a sailing class a few summers ago and I fell in love with this little spot on Lake Quinsigamond. Park of the state park’s system,  there’s a small beach for swimming as well as a community sailing organization where you can rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. There’s also a nice spot for fishing  by the Worcester Boathouse and from the beach you can watch sailboats and crew shells go up and down the lake. It gets pretty crowded on the weekends with people having barbecues, so I like to go in the late afternoon on weekdays (if you arrive after the guard leaves you don’t have to pay for parking). Bring a beach chair, put your feet in the water, and enjoy the breeze off the lake.

4. West Boylston Movie Theater

My house doesn’t have air conditioning so I’m always looking for some place nice and cool and cheap to spend a few hours. The discount movie theater in West Boylston shows second-run movies at a cheap price, so if you missed a film when it was in regular theaters this is your chance to see it on a big screen. The best deal is on Tuesdays, when all movies are just $4 all day. The popcorn is pretty cheap too, and there’s a Walmart in the same plaza if you want to buy snacks there as well. The theater is usually pretty empty, especially on a weekday matinee, so if you and your friends might get a whole theater to yourselves.

5. Purgatory Chasm

If you want to get out and explore a little bit, Purgatory Chasm in Sutton is a great option. The park is based around a deep chasm between granite walls, with cool rocks and tunnels throughout. It’s also easy to get to, just off of Rt. 146, and there are a variety of  hikes for different fitness levels. If you grew up in the area, you probably know some stoners from your high school who reached enlightenment on a Purgatory hike and then talked about it for months on end, though in the summer there will be more of a camp kid crowd. Regardless, this state park offers a chance to get outside, have a picnic, and climb around on some rocks.




How Do I Trust My Gut When My Gut is Untrustworthy?

I am thirteen years old and am pacing around an empty living room holding a cup of hot water in my shaking hands. We are on a family vacation and have rented a house for a week. I am jet-lagged and having a panic attack, though I do not know those words yet. The clock is turned around so I do not continue to panic about how late it is. I am convinced that I will never sleep again, that I will die in this drafty unfamiliar house, that my body will never be calm again. My mom sends me back to the room I am sharing with my sister, where I read a boring book with a flashlight and hold my body tense until it is exhausted enough to sleep. My body is screaming: take me home. After this, I do not travel further than my grandmother’s house for 6 years.

I am fifteen years old and feel nauseous. I have learned about anxiety and panic and the importance of soothing evening routines, but am not very good at identifying and implementing. It is a school day tomorrow and I quickly become convinced that I am going to throw up. My dad tells me to drink water out of a glass instead of a straw and reminds me that I have felt like this the past 100 nights. I haven’t thrown up then and I probably won’t now either. I keep a bucket next to my bed just in case and read old-fashioned comic books while trying to breathe deeply. What is my gut telling me? I should drop out, be homeschooled, go vegan, drink more water, go to sleep earlier, switch out of my AP classes? The message is lost in a muddle of exhaustion and dry mouth. Regardless, I have to go to school tomorrow.

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