College VS High School

1377110_668942723116921_1505867867_nIt’s been a year since I’ve graduated from high school. While I was in high school, my teachers constantly told me I was going to have loads of homework, would not have any free-time, and professors would be strict.  Now that I have experienced a full year of college, it isn’t quite as scary as I feared. On my first day of school at the El Paso Community College, I was worried about getting lost in a big campus, but, once I passed through the sliding doors, everything turned out okay. At first I was nervous and scared, but I had more confidence in myself when a professor greeted and me helped with my classes.

My favorite part of college is the freedom to pick your own classes, make your own schedule and spend time where you like. Going to college gives you more freedom and responsibilities that were not offered in high school.

Here are some tips to help make your transition from high school to college a little easier:

1. BUY YOUR BOOKS ONLINE OR USED!
College is not always fun and games. For me, purchasing expensive books every semester was my least and most difficult part of my freshman year. College books are very expensive! They range from $40.00-$300.00. On my first semester I spent $250 on 3 books — that’s right, only 3 books.

During my second semester as a college student, I learned that buying used books or buying them online was a cheaper alternative.  I bought a used book for $8 and I rented my other book for $30. Some colleges provide the opportunity to rent your books, but there are also online vendors, like Chegg.com and Amazon.com, that offer a cheaper renting option for students. It’s always best to compare prices at the book store and online before making a decision. Therefore, never buy new books, unless that’s your last option, and always investigate before hand, just in case.

2. NEVER, EVER, PROCRASTINATE ON PROJECTS.
I had to learn this the hard way; it gets to you pretty bad when you fall behind. Sometimes, professors assign a project at the beginning of the semester, which is due towards the end of the semester. Instead of waiting until the last week to work on the project, start right away on the first day and break up the project into smaller pieces. The more you procrastinate, the more you’ll regret it.

3. MAKE FRIENDS IN CLASS AND EXCHANGE CONTACT INFORMATION.
Not making friends is the one thing I regret not doing during my first year of college. During class, I would stay quiet and mind my own business. I did talk to some people, but I never switched numbers. Trust me on this one! If a teacher assigns something and you have questions about the guidelines or when it’s due, having a buddy or two for back up will help.

4. IF YOU’RE ILL, CONTACT YOUR PROFESSOR A.S.A.P.
There are times when your immune system decides to give up and you magically catch a cold. You might think that you’ll never get sick, but don’t let your body fool you, it can happen in 24 hours. When this happens, it’s best to either: A.) E-mail your professor B.) Call your professor AND/OR C.) Call or text your buddy to inform them you won’t be attending class

5. IF YOU OWN A VEHICLE, PARK OUTSIDE THE CAMPUS OR BUY THE PARKING STICKER.
Most colleges or universities will charge you for a parking sticker/permit, which can range from $45-$600 for the school year. The last thing you want is to have to pay a fine for parking illegally. Check with your school’s parking website for more information. If paying to park is a hassle, consider taking the bus to school — make sure you’re never late!

6. BRING MONEY OR LUNCH, YOU’LL GET HUNGRY.
Unless you’re on a meal plan, chances are you’re going to have to pay for your own lunch. Most colleges have their own food court, food stands, and snacks available throughout campus. Dining at school may not always be an option so pack your lunch. I always bring snacks during my breaks in order to avoid driving home and back  to school when I get hungry.

7. GO TO CLASS!
Remember how in high school you would get detention for being late to class or ditching class? Well, in college you have more freedom and don’t get detention. Don’t let this fool you! Your actions do have consequences. If you don’t attend class, it can affect your grade or enrollment in the class. Some professors count attendance and participation as a portion of your grade. Always attend class and make sure to pay attention to the lesson.

8. FIND YOUR FAVORITE SPOT.
Sometimes school can push you to the edge, so it’s important to find your favorite spots around campus to relax for a few minutes or even have a good place to study. Don’t be afraid to explore your campus, you never know what you might find. My favorite spot would be the student union and the library. At the union I would play video games and meet new people, while the library would give me the peace and quiet I needed. Plus, visiting the library helped me catch up homework so I wouldn’t have to worry about it at home.

College can have its ups and downs, but you have more freedom and opportunities to meet the most amazing people! So, before you go off thinking college is going to be hard, test the waters first and then decide whether it’s fun or not. Just remember these few tips and have an excellent freshman year!

My Bully Story

Bullying has always been around, even since the caveman years. Today we are realizing how harmful and hurtful it can be for the bully and their victim. Everyone has their own story to tell and everyone has been affected by bullying, some more than others. These Latinitas were eager to talk about their experiences in overcoming a bully situation.

Friends Before Foe

Hally, age 17, has been a victim of bullying, a bully, and defended someone who was being bullied. Hally was bullied for her personality and because she started wearing glasses. “When I was younger I really didn’t understand what bullying really was until I entered middle school,” said Hally. Hally didn’t really pay attention to the comments her classmates made and was also bullied for being a “nerdy girl,” and for her short height. When she entered middle school, she bullied one of her best friends to be seen as a cool kid. “I do regret what I did to my very first friend I met in middle school,” said Hally. She did apologize and her friend accepted, now they are very good friends. Hally also saved someone from being a bully victim when she was in high school. “I can’t remember the words I said, but I remember the feeling of helping someone else,” said Hally.  She still gets bullied from time to time, but then remembers her own advice, “forget other peoples comments; do what you want and follow your dreams.”

No Regrets

When Evelyn, now age 17, entered elementary in the third grade, she was the only Hispanic student in her class where everyone else was white.  “Therefore, I bullied other students, so they wouldn’t bully me. My teacher never noticed  because to her I was known as the sweet and quiet one,” shared Evelyn. “When I bullied my classmates, I had no shame for what I did. I had anger and would ask myself  ‘Why am I so dark?’  I would let my anger go on my classmates, which made me the bully.” After seeing  a little boy get picked on by four kids who were bigger, she saved him and stopped her bullying days. “After helping him, it felt better than picking on someone else. Now I have grown  up, I regret my mistakes… I help those who are in need. Be careful of your actions, you  might regret what you did.”

New Beginnings for a Realized Beauty

Jasmine, who is 17, first moved to a new town when she was in elementary school. Jasmine was being picked on by her classmates because she had a different skin color. “I never understood why younger kids did this to me, just because I was a different color didn’t mean anything,” commented  Jasmine. “I would tell my teacher of my troubles with my classmates, but she would respond with ‘My students would never do such a thing’.” Jasmine also shared that during fine arts class one of the girls threw a pair of scissors at her and she had to go to the nurse immediately. She lied to the school nurse and to her mother by saying ” Oh, there was some scissors on the floor and I fell over them”. When Jasmine entered middle school she started to gain friends and  learned that there are other people who will ignore the differences and accept her the way she is. “We are all the same on the inside; we shouldn’t hate one another because of our skin, we should love each over no matter color we are,” shared Jasmine.

Bully Free Tips

In many school hallways across the country, children and teens are being bullied. Kids are spreading rumors, making fun of other students’ religion, teasing someone for how they look, hurting others because they have a different cultural background, picking on them because they are homosexual or sending harassing messages online.  About 77 percent, students are being bullied verbally, physically and other ways. Many adults don’t think that the situation of bullying is grave, but in truth, bullying has affected many teens. Bullying can lead to depression, drugs, alcohol, cutting themselves, and the biggest issue of all, teen suicide. There have been cases of teen suicide related to bullying. While this remains an issue on many campuses, many teens are starting to take a stand against bullying. They have created anti-bullying organizations, posted their stories online, made videos and told stories on the news.  These Latinitas share their top tips to creating a bully free zone, preventing bullying or helping someone in need:

Tip#1: “Ignore the people who are bullying you,” recommends Evelyn, age 17.

When other kids or teens are sayings mean things to you or someone that you know, it’s better to ignore those people. Ignoring those people shows that you don’t really care about their comments and that you like being who you are. Also, this helps you to let them know that you are stronger and more mature than fighting back towards them.

Tip#2: “Talk to the bully about their comments,” suggests Marlett, age 17.

Bullies may not know that their words are hurtful. Try talking to the bully and explain to them that their words and actions are not funny, that in fact it hurts and they should stop.

Tip#3:” Tell your parents, an adult, or even a friend, that you  can  trust,” shares Vanessa, age 17.

It’s important to tell someone that you  know about your situation. When you let people know about your troubles; it helps you to let out your troubles and lets them know about the conflict.

Tip#4: “DON’T fight the bully,” declares Marifer, age 17.

Involving yourself with the bully can lead to trouble. Just because the bully made a comment it doesn’t mean you should fight back with the same level of insult, or get into a fist fight. When the bully does an offensive comment, or physical contact, its best to ignore him or her and walk away. Doing this will get yourself out of trouble with the bully.

Tip#5: “Help the ones who are being picked on,” adds Evelyn, age 17.

When someone is being picked on, it’s better for you to help them out. You can help by telling an adult or  by defending the victim from the bullies.

Tip#6: “Don’t hesitate to ask for help,” says Vanessa, age 17.

It’s important to ask someone for help. It’s not snitching it’s protecting yourself. If the bully harasses you, tell an adult immediately. You don’t know what might happen next. It is better to be on the safe side.

Tip#7: “Try being their friend,” encourages Cynthia, age 21.

Some bullies intend to bug others because they want attention or because someone else is bullying them. The best way to overcome a bully is try to talk to them and be their friend. If the bully talks about their troubles and says what’s bugging them, it’s likely for them to stop tormenting other people.

Tip#8: “Be careful of your words and actions,” says Evelyn, age 17.

You may not know it but sometimes your actions and words can hurt others, making you a bully. Even if you are just playing around, to the other person may take it as an offensive joke.  The best way to avoid being a bully is to keep your comments to yourself and be respectful to the person you are talking to.