New Semester Resolutions

Sorry for not writing for a while. I was incredibly busy with finals, then I traveled with my parents back home, where the internet sucked, and now I’m back in college. (Also, I didn’t really know what to write about).

So the new semester is about to start and some of you enjoyed my end of last semester reflections. So I’m going to do the same before this semester.

Academics

1.) Don’t take too many hours

Last semester, I learned a lesson about not taking too many hours. I took on 18 hours (to be fair, I kind of had to to make my degree work but still.) I ended up getting one B and one B+, which screwed my GPA up a bit (It’s still fixable and not horrible). So I learned my lesson and this semester, I’m taking 15 hours.

2.) Take morning classes

Last semester I took all morning classes and it was a great decision for me. I had the whole day to work on getting stuff done and plenty of time to do extra curricular activities. So this semester I’m sticking with doing the same thing.

3.) Pay attention during difficult classes

I day dreamed a bit too much during my accounting and statistics classes. Which is one of the reasons (apart from the 18 hours one) for not doing too hot in them. So my resolution for next semester is to put away my laptop/phone, take notes, and pay attention.

Recruiting:

1.) Don’t Procrastinate with NetworkingSo far, I did not procrastinate with my academics and with submitting online applications. So far I have two interviews that are going to the second rounds so this strategy is somewhat working. However, I did procrastinate on reaching out to recruiters, networking, and cold calling small firms (since this tasks are less pleasant.) I did do some of those activities but definitely not enough so this semester I should focus more on doing that, especially knowing my GPA issue. 2.) Start Going to More Recruiting Events During the first semester, I didn’t go to nearly enough recruiting events. Not only did I miss some free steaks but also opportunities to talk with recruiters, get to know more people, and potentially get a head with my recruitment process. I did go to a few events but not nearly as much as I used to. 3.) learn the technicalsDuring a couple of interviews, I got asked some technical questions. Even though my major is declared as “Finance”, I know as much about Finance as your average High School counselor (ok. Knowing their advice about student loans I know a bit more). Since I know Finance as well as your average person does, you can imagine how awesome I’ve done at the technical questions. To say it was embarrassing would be an understatement. So my resolution is to learn the technical things that I need to know for interviews. It might not come up and I might not need it but knowing this things would be nice anyways and in the worst case scenario, I will waist a couple of weeks learning how to use Excel better and how to do financial models.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

1.) Start Going for more Leadership Roles

Last semester, I started to put myself out their more with extra curricular activities. I ended up being committed to only one of them but to be fair, the other activities sucked (For example, I met a group of feminists who thought that wearing make up was a form of misogyny.)

With this said, I did end up being fairly involved in one of my clubs (I actually attended all meetings, events, and even advertised for it). So my goal for next semester is to go for a leadership role in it.

2.) Do more Case Competitions

I did my first case competition last semester and won third place. I won $100 (ok. I won $160 but $60 is going to Uncle Sam).

Since I’ve been successful at it the first time (and really enjoyed doing it), I want to do more of them. It is a nice opportunity to talk to recruiters, I’ll get to work with more interesting people, and I can win more cash prizes (and who doesn’t like cash?)

Friendships:

1.) Be more straight foreword with people

I had one guy who wanted to be friends with me this semester. I didn’t really enjoy spending time with him but did anyways because I felt like I “had too” and like “you can’t have too many friends”. This story ended with him thinking we were dating (we weren’t) and telling me that he wanted to “break up” with me. I told him, “I’m sorry but you can’t break up with me. We aren’t and had never even dated”.

I laughed about this ridiculous “break up” and felt relieved about not having to talk to that guy anymore. So this story had a happy ending for me. However, I could have avoided all of this by being more straight forward and telling the guy that I didn’t want to hang out with him.

2.) Find a friend who will be “the honest one”

Usually, I’m the one who gives “tough love” to my friends. If I genuinely am friends with someone, I will state my honest opinion and tell my friend to “get your life together” if I see him or her slacking off.

However, I don’t really have a lot of friends who would hold me accountable, give me advice on stuff, or call me out on my BS. I realized last semester that I really want to have such a friend and hopefully can find someone.

So this are my goals for next semester and reflection on my previous ones. Would love to hear about your goals as well.

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How to Not Get Stressed Out throughout the Semester

This semester had been incredibly smooth and calm for me so far. Even though the midterms are coming, I feel collected and in control. Everything seems to fall into place and the stars seem to be aligning. So in this post, I will share some advice about how to get into such a state in College or High School so that you don’t end up freaking out the week before exams.

1.) Cut Down on Procrastination and Social Media

I know, you love Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and probably can’t imagine your life without it. Which is why I’m saying “cut down on it” instead of “eliminate it.” Although “eliminating it” would be ideal.

By “cut down on it”, I mean that you should not be checking it every 5 minutes while you are studying or sitting down in class. This behavior will make you unhappy in the long run because you will not be in control of your life. Check it when you are taking a study break or (ideally) once a day before you go to sleep. If you have to use social media as a tool to organize your extra curricular obligations, promote a certain product, etc… than use it for those purposes only and set up specific times during the day for that type of social media use. If you just can’t keep your hands off of social media, than download a website blocker and block every social media website on your laptop for the time periods when you will be studying (and lock your phone away as well, of course).

Once the social media problem is resolved, half of the battle with procrastination will be won. The other half is not watching YouTube videos instead of doing work, talking to people, and entertaining yourself in other ways. To clarify, you can (and should) do all of those activities. Just not when you are studying. This type of multi tasking will only cause procrastination, force you to do everything at the last minute, and inevitably lead to stress. In order to stop yourself from procrastinating, remove as many distractions as possible, establish a special environment for studying, and if all else fails, find a friend to scream at you every time you decide to procrastinate.

2.) Make Yourself Look Presentable

No. I’m not suggesting that you should wear a suit every day to class or make yourself look like a Victoria’s Secret model.

All I’m saying is that you should look neat. This means that you should not through on the first thing you see lying around in your room. Make sure that whatever you choose to wear doesn’t look like something that you went to sleep in (Yes. There are some people who actually look like this at my university).  Make sure that you brushed your hair, your clothes are clean, and everything in your bag is somehow organized.

The point of doing this is NOT to attract attention or to make you look attractive in front of someone you like. In my personal opinion, you shouldn’t worry too much about that issue in High School/College anyways. The point is to make yourself feel organized and “put together”. Doing this is much easier when you look the part than when you don’t.

And yes, you should also keep your room clean. Being in a clean environment will help you feel more organized.

3.) Establish a Routine

This is probably one of the most important items on this list. You should create a rough schedule for when you are going to work on your assignments and stick with it. This schedule should not be too strict because things will come up that you will need to take care off and too strict of a schedule will make you feel stressed out when those issues come up. However, having no routine will cause for your life to be all over the place, which is equally as bad.

Look at your schedule and decide when you can dedicate a certain amount of hours on studying each day. If you have a long term project (academic or otherwise) that you are working on, include it in your “schedule” and commit on working on it at least 3 times/week. If you are in High School, this part will be easy because most likely, you will have time to do homework after you come home from school. If in college, you will have more freedom of studying whenever so use this freedom wisely and study when you feel the most focused during the day. If you have a new extra curricular activity, part time job, or any other commitment that you want to add to your life, revise your schedule to include that activity.

You should allocate enough time for studying so that you can always be caught up with all of your readings and have most of your writing assignments/homework done a day in advance. You should also allocate some time for ongoing unassigned practice of the course material. If you do this, studying for the actual tests will not take that much time. With all of this said, I would not recommend going as far as allocating time for studying each specific subject. You might simply not have anything to do during a certain day and doing something simply for the sake of doing something is a waist of your time.

4.) Don’t Over Think

When it comes to academics, don’t make your life harder than it has to be and stick to the rubric. Do what you know is expected of you. Do not spend too much time crafting a perfect short story if your goal is to get an A and it doesn’t have to be perfect for you to get that goal. Don’t get passionate or attached to your academic work. You are not getting graded on”passion”. You are getting graded on standards and benchmarks that you must match. No one, except for your teacher, will read your work. Your work is mostly meaningless and is there for you to build up your skills, not to make significant contributions. Don’t spend too much time thinking about each specific assignment. Simply get it done, make sure that it matches the standards, and move on to doing something else. If you are obsessing too much over your academic work, it means that you have too much free time on your hands and you should get yourself another hobby, a part time job, an extra curricular activity, or anything else that’s productive and that you will find more significant to stop this behavior.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying to not take your academic work seriously. In fact, you should take it seriously and do all of your assignments thoroughly. However, there is no need to obsess over one assignment for days and days. In fact, doing this will most likely cause for you to have a lower grade on that assignment. So do your work, edit it, check the rubric, submit it, and move on.

5.) Have a balance of activities, not just academics

In order to resolve point #4, you should start doing things outside of academics. You are probably thinking that this advice will make you more stressed out because you will have more work to do. However, I found the opposite to be true. Having a hobby that you can focus on, a club that you attend, a part time job, etc… will help you 1.) get experience on your resume, which will decrease your stress later when you will be looking for a job or a summer internship (or help you with college admissions if you are still in high school 2.) do something that you enjoy and take your mind off of academics 3.) help you get out of the house and talk to people 4.) stop you from over thinking your school work and 5.) have experience with the “real world” outside of academia.

For specific activities, I would recommend doing 1-2 major/career related activities (or activities such as community service that will help you get into college if you are still in High School. Yes. I am including part time jobs and internships in this category) and 1 activity that you find “fun” so that you can relax. This is what you should do at minimum. If you find yourself having too much free time as mentioned in point #4, you should get yourself another activity. I’m using the term “activity” loosely here and don’t mean just extra curricular activities but also internships, part time jobs, hobbies that you might do alone at home, etc… If you are doing the IB program, than obviously you will already have guidelines in terms of extra curricular activities that you will have to follow. I have already described my advice on that in my post on IB so follow that guideline instead.

6.) Hang out with Friends

Even if you have a lot of school work to do, you should not allow for that to stop you from having social interactions. Going out with friends will allow for you to get advice, encouragement, and much needed social interaction in the week. Your friends will help you feel less stressed out. I usually hang out with friends a minimum of once a week. Again, I’m using the term “friends” loosely here and mean “anyone who you want to talk to”. For you, it might be going out to parties and meeting random people, speaking with a mentor, or going out to a restaurant with your best friend. Basically, you should have at least one “social” activity a week. This will help you get out of the library/house and not turn into a socially awkward person.

7.) Think of Education as You Becoming the Best Version of Yourself

Now that I am done with the more practical items on this long list, I am moving on to more of “things that I think about to remain chill through out the semester” type of items.

The most important thing that you should do in order to stop yourself from stressing out about schoolwork is to start thinking of the education process differently. Instead of thinking about how you “must get a certain grade”, think of it as a process of you becoming the best version of yourself and your grades being there to help you reflect on what you did wrong. This doesn’t mean that you forget about grades. You still pay attention to them and do your best to get the highest grades that you can get. You are still striving for excellence. However, you are focusing on the process of studying, completing assignments, and improving in order to get good grades rather than on the actual grades. Once you get a score on the test, you reflect on what you did wrong and change your studying/test taking strategy. You don’t start freaking out over your GPA or stressing out about needing to get all 100s on other tests to get an A. You concentrate on learning, not making the same mistakes again, and becoming the best version of yourself. If the subject is actually significant and you enjoy it, than you focus on doing your best for that reason. If it’s a stupid elective, than you think of the class as teaching you how to complete assignments on time, improve your time management skills, and soft skills of figuring out what the teacher wants you to say.

If you always do your best, good grades will follow and you will have nothing to worry about.

NOTE: point #4 is still valid. You do your best on assignments but you don’t over think them. You think of them as “practice” and “work that helps you become better” not as “masterpieces that I need to spend countless hours perfecting”.

8.) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Your focus should be internal (on yourself) not external. You shouldn’t care about what other students are doing, what grades they have, and wether or not they interned at Facebook this summer. Their life is the their life. Your life is your life. You don’t know for how long they have been getting good at something, if they have connections at those firms, and other circumstances in their lives. Instead, you focus on comparing yourself with yourself, looking at wether or not you are making improvements, and wether or not you are achieving your own, individual goals. Yes. You should ask what other people are doing in order to get ideas about what you should be doing. However, they should be just ideas and not what you “absolutely must do to be successful”.

9.) Focus on What you Can Control

You do not think about “what if” scenarios or complain about what happened in the past. You can’t change the past and you can only react to situations as they arise. You can’t change global events. Therefore, you should not worry about them. This should apply to everything that you do in your life but because we are discussing academics (college/high school life) here, I will apply this concept to academics.

For example, if you got an F in a class during your first semester, that sucks but their is nothing you can do about it now. Therefore, worrying about it now makes no sense. You can’t control or change the past. What happened, happened. Let go and move on. Also, you do not spend a lot of time thinking about how you will do a certain academic program or assignment, unless you are actually in that program or working on that assignment. You don’t start worrying about the IB Program at the beginning of 10th Grade. Why? because you are not yet doing that program. You think and address  everything when it comes up not when it might come up.

So this are the main points about what I do this semester to remain calm and in control. A lot of those points will probably help you become a better student as well. Just remember that stress is an emotion that (just like any other emotion) you are in control of (or you can learn to be in control of).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should You do Your Homework?

I’m not a teacher and this blog is mostly focused on expressing my opinion about the education system. So, no, I will not make a statement about how “you should always do your homework”. Doing that is simply a waist of your precious time, which you do not have a lot of. With this said, never doing your homework is also an awful idea. So in this post, I will outline when I consider it being logical to do the homework/readings and how thorough they should be done.

When Should you do your Homework?

  • When you know that your teacher will grade it or check it. Yes. If your teacher will not give you a grade on the homework but you know that she will check if everyone had done it, you should still do it. Not doing it, will make the teacher dislike you, which will cause for you to get a lower grade in the class. (Unless you know that the class is graded externally or all exams are multiple choice).
  • If the class is more focused on problem solving/application of knowledge, rather than memorization. For example, you should do your math or accounting homework. However, if it’s psychology and your teacher will not check it, feel free to skip.
  • If the class actually has significance to your real life.
  • If there is a lot of material in class that you know it will be hard to catch up on.
  • If you are trying to turn around your “bad girl” image and want to get the teacher to like you. Doing homework and than asking for help from the teacher (even if you don’t need it),

When Should you not do your Homework?

  • When you have something more important happening than school work. For example, if you have an interview with Facebook coming up, it’s way more important than one homework or reading assignment. Even if that assignment will be graded (assuming it’s a small percentage of your grade), skip it and focus on the interview.
  • When it’s busy work and you know that your homework will not be checked.
  • For the readings, if you know that all of your tests are based on the lectures, don’t bother doing the homework. Likewise, if you know that all of your tests are based on the readings, feel free to “check out” during class and do homework for your other classes or day dream.
  • Extra credit. Seriously, get your normal work done correctly and than you will not need extra credit.

To summarize, you do not go around doing extra work if it will not make your life better (in this case, help you get a good grade). You have or should have enough of other things to focus on apart from obsessing over doing unnecessary homework that will not help you. If you don’t, than go and join a club, get yourself a part time job or an internship, or spend more time with your family or friends. Homework that is busy work should not be the most important part of your day. If it is, you are doing something wrong.

How Thorough do you have to be?

  • When it comes to doing the readings, I would recommend actually putting the work in to making the notes on the readings. Otherwise, you will forget what you’ve read and will have to reread it before the test anyways. Which means, either don’t do them at all, or do them properly by taking notes. Don’t waist your time. And yes, this notes should be thorough, neat, and readable by you. 
  • For busy work assignments that you know will be graded, do the minimum amount of work to get an A.
  • For math, do it thoroughly and make sure you understand everything (unless the problems are so easy that it turns into busy work). 
  • For classes that will not relate to your life, do the minimum amount of work. 

Basically, ask yourself if the class matters, if it’s a challenging class, and if the homework will help you do well in it. If yes, put the effort into doing it and seek to understand. If not, do the absolute bare minimum to get a good grade for the homework. Feel free to google the answers, ask your trusted friends for them, etc… 

How to Deal With Failure? 

Chances are, you will fail at some things in life, and, maybe, you will succeed at something. Failure is normal, inevitable, and good, in some cases. At the same time, there are certain things that are better not to fail at.

I separate failure into 3 categories:

  1. Important Things: in this category we have things like failure to cheat successfully and getting caught, failure to get good grades, or failure to stay out of massive debt without a good and sound strategy to pay it off.  This type of failure is serious and should be avoided because it will decrease your chances of success.
  2. Learning mistakes: Whenever anyone starts out at anything new in life, he or she will fail many times. At first, everyone is a loser. Nobody is born being incredibly good/talanted at anything. So at the beginning it is inevitable that you will make mistakes. Those mistakes are ok. They are part of learning. In this case, failure is actually good because it shows that you are at least trying.
  3. Not My Thing: not everybody can be talented at everything. Chances are, you will be a winner at 2-3 things in life (if lucky and work hard) and a loser at everything else. At some point, you have to admit that something isn’t your thing and that you will never be successful at it. This type of failure is also good and inevitable because it means that you are trying to “find yourself” by trying out new things.

Of course, with all 3 categories, you should try to avoid failure. No one ever sets out to do anything with the desire to fail. However, failing at the last two categories is ok and good, while failing in the first category will cause for you to have issues in the future. This means that you should actually put a lot of effort not to fail in the first category and not care so much about what happens with the other two. It is always possible to come back from any failure. If Trump became president, anything in this world is possible. However, if something will significantly decrease your chances of succeeding in the future, you should avoid that type of failure (for example, getting all F’s in High School, if you dream of going to Harvard.) This also means that you should avoid taking unnecessary risks in this category. What you also have to understand is that if you fail at category #1, you will have to try extra hard to make up this failure with something else. I will not dwell on the first category anymore because I think you all get the point by now and move on to #2 and #3.

For category #2, you have to expect that you will make mistakes and you will be a loser at whatever it is that you set out to do, at first. That is normal and there is nothing wrong with that. Nobody starts out a professional right away. The main thing to remember is to learn from your mistakes and to not repeat them again. Also, it’s probably better to start out learning whatever it is that you want to learn in a non-high stake environment so that when you do screw up, it does not turn into category #1 and does not end up having a significant impact on your future. For example, if you want to learn how to draw, (assuming you know absolutely nothing about it) take some classes outside of school/college instead of taking advanced courses in Art that will count towards your GPA. This way, if/when you screw up, your GPA will not be effected and you will also be able to learn at your own pace. Similarly, if you want to start an internet business but know absolutely nothing about it, do not invest all of your College fund money into this idea. You do not want to end up not going to your dream school because you thought that you would become the next Mark Zuckerberg in your senior year of High School.

You should also be realistic in your progress and understand that in the beginning, you will suck. And if it’s something that you actually want to be good at, the beginning will be extremely difficult. You will feel like a “failure” and a “loser” (which is true, by the way. But so is everyone else when he/she started out). In my experience, trying to fight this feeling and running away from the truth will only make things worse. Instead, you should use this feeling to motivate yourself to practice more at whatever it is that you want to be good at so that you can get out of the “loser” and “failure” zone faster. And, in this case, you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and fail. Over and over again. The more mistakes you make and the more often you fail (assuming you don’t do it on purpose and learn from it) means that you will get out of the “failure”/”loser” zone faster and become successful at whatever it is that you want to achieve sooner. Also, once you start making improvements, don’t forget to compare yourself to your past performance and recognize how far you’ve come. At the same time, you should recognize that you still have a long way to go before becoming your best. This way, you will not slack of and continue improving.

However, if you try to learn something and you are not making significant progress, at some point you have to admit that this failure is in category #3 (that this activity is simply not your thing) and that you should do something else instead. Everyone is different. Not everyone can be as good at doing something. If this was the case, everyone would be an Olympic champion or a billionaire. Different people can learn different skills with different speed. Some people have won the genetic lottery at certain skill sets (for example, athletics). Some people might have been more lucky with the family that they were born into and have more opportunities that way. No matter how much Einstein will try, he would never look like Bred Pitt. Call it nature, God, or whatever you like, but people are not born equal. Some are more gifted in certain skills than others. This means that, if you are unlucky, no matter how much you try to achieve something, you might never get there.  At some point, you have to admit this to yourself and move on.

Making this call is incredibly difficult (and painful), since different people learn at different pace and simply because you are slower at learning something doesn’t necessarily mean that you will never be able to succeed at it. However, if you are trying to get good at something for more than a year and you are getting no where, it’s probably time to call it quits. No. I’m not saying that you should become a pro in a year. What I am saying is that if you have tried to do something for a year and are making 0  (or minimal) progress, it’s definitely time to try out doing something else. If you really love doing it, you can still do it as a hobby but don’t try to turn it into a career. You don’t want to turn a Category #3 failure into a Category #1.

There is nothing embarrassing about admitting that something is simply not your thing. For example, I tried to play volleyball for over 3 years. I suck at it. I know that I will never be great at it. It’s just no meant to be for me. I admit it. It’s impossible for you to be good at everything in this world. No one is. Those people simply don’t exist. So once you understand that you are not getting anywhere, you should admit it to yourself and move on to trying out other things. Just because you suck at one thing, doesn’t mean you will suck at everything in this world. Eventually, you probably will find something that is “your thing” and that you can get good at. What you should also remember is that the sooner you find “your thing” in your life the better, since you will have more time to develop that particular skill. Therefore, you should not be afraid to fail at Category #3. Trust me, I tried out dozens of different activities until I discovered 3-5 that I can potentially get incredibly good at. Unless you try doing something, you will never know if you enjoy it and (more importantly) if you can get good at it. So if you don’t know what you “want to do with your life” yet, you should be trying out different activities and potentially failing at them in order to figure out the type of activities that you can get good at. This will help you avoid failing to find a meaningful career (which would be a failure in Category #1).

 

Don’t be afraid to fail,

 

XOXO

 

 

Katy Bronsk

P.S. Thank you to all of the new people for following. This blog had reached 15 followers, which feels like a milestone. So thank you guys. You are awesome. Also, I’m sorry for not writing sooner. I was just flying back to College and obviously couldn’t post during the flight. If any of you have any topic suggestions, want to contribute to the blog, or have any other ideas, feel free to comment or email me.

 

 

 

Reflecting on my Freshman Year of College

My Freshman year of college is done. I’m done with my finals, my grades are up, and my friends had left home for the Summer. At first, I felt very disappointed with how my freshman year went. However, simply hating yourself for something or being disappointed is not very productive. Besides, I’m still an honors student and I have made loads of friends so I’m probably being way too harsh on myself. Instead of making this into a “I’m so disappointed in myself” story, I will reflect on my successes and failures and what I learned from them that I can apply next year (and that you can learn from as well).

Academics

1.) Quality is Better Than Quantity

What I mean by this is: it’s better to take fewer hours and get all A’s than take 17 hours and get a mixture of B’s and A’s. During my second semester of College, I took 17 hours. I thought that I could handle it because I took 16 during my first semester and got a mixture of A’s and -A’s as my grades. However, I was wrong. My cumulative GPA is still a 3.7 so I didn’t screw up too bad but I could have done significantly better if I had taken 14 or 13 hours.  I would have had more time to focus on each subject. Also, picking 3 difficult classes (calculus, chemistry, and management information systems) as part of those 17 hours was probably not the bad idea. I also would have had more time to join clubs and activities instead of being constantly stressed out about my grades.

I’ve done this because I wanted to declare my major earlier than everybody else. I achieved this goal but had to pay with a lower GPA.

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Resolution For Next Year: Take less hours (maximum 16). Have a greater balance of easy/hard classes. Also, use Ratemyproffessor.com. No need to make my life harder than it has to be.

2.) Write What Your Professor Wants to Hear

I need to give credit were credit is due. I got this idea from Wall Street Playboy’s blog. They have written a post titled “The Real Guide to Our College Education System”. I’m not going to summarize the whole blog post here because not everything in it is relevant and because you can search for it yourself and read it.

One of the arguments that their blog post had made is that college teaches you to think like someone else and that if you write what your professor wants to hear in the essay, you will get a better grade (especially in humanities/social science/general education classes).

I tried this strategy out in my Sociology class. In the first essay, I’ve expressed my opinion on one of the issues in the class and got a B-. On the second essay, I have written what my professor wanted to hear (about how income inequality sucks) and got an A. I have used a similar approach for the exams, and again, got A’s on them.

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I think you can guess  on which one I told my own opinion. Hint: It’s the first one.
The quality of both essays were similar. I spent exactly the same time writing the second essay as I spent on the first essay and I don’t think that my writing skills had significantly improved in this short period of time. However, I had the same opinion as the professor on the second essay and a different opinion on the first one, which had made all the difference.

Resolution For Next Year: Wall Street Playboys are right about this one. Use this strategy next year because it works.

3.) Controlling Your Emotions During Exams is Important

During my first Math exam, I ended up getting a really bad grade because I freaked out during the exam. I tried to solve the questions on it but ended up getting stuck on the arithmetic part, getting angry at myself, and “quitting” in the middle of the exam. On the next 2 exams, I have done significantly better (more than 24% better) because I was calm and in control of my emotions. As my Calculus professor had said: “It’s all in your head”. Yes. Studying for exams is important. But being in control of your emotions is just as important.

Resolution For Next Year: Don’t really have one. I learned how to not get nervous and remain calm so don’t really have anything to add.

Social Life

1.) Academics and Extra-Curriculars are More Important Than Social Life

This one relates to the academics point. This year, I have spent way too much time socializing and not enough time studying.

In High School, my High School Counselor had written in my letter of recommendation that I was anti social. The issue is that I have a tendency to try to prove people wrong and so I spent the whole freshman year by socializing with anyone and everyone, from a homeless guy next to the University to a millionaire trust fund kid to liberal arts kids to a guy whose triple majoring in 3 demanding subjects. I ended up going out almost every day. Even though I met a lot of incredibly fascinating people, I have ended up ruining my grades (partially because of this) and not participating in enough extracurriculars, since socializing took a lot of time.

Resolution For Next Year: Spend less time socializing (once or twice a week) and more time studying.

2.) Socialize With The Right People

Even though I socialized a lot, I ended up making a lot of random friends instead of making friends who can help me succeed or friends who are also studying finance/business. Yes. I have made some friends who also want to do something finance or business related but not enough.

Not only have I failed to make friends within my area of study, I have also failed to make a lot of friends who are motivated to do something with there lives and who, in return, would motivate me to do something. A lot of my friends are liberal arts majors and don’t understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and think that I should just switch to studying a more “fun major”.

However, having said all of this, I have found 2 best friends, who are just incredible human beings and who have always been there for me this year. One of them, I have met at Austin’s Pizza, after I have had a really bad experience with one of the guys. The second one I have met in my MIS class and she had taught me a lot of useful information about how to deal with my parents. I can’t thank God enough for putting this people in my path and I will definitely continue being best friends with them in the future.

Resolution For Next Year: Start socializing with people who can help me, who share my life goals, and/or who are motivated to do something with their lives and who will not drag me down. Stop socializing people who are not supportive of me and who have completely different goals and ideas about life. Don’t try to argue with them and waist your time. Continue being friends with my current 2 best friends because they are amazing.

3.) Remember People’s Names and How They Look Like

I have met so many people this year that I don’t remember half of the people that I’ve met. The problem is that a lot of those people remember my name and, somehow, a lot of those people think that I’m their BFF. And I don’t even remember who they are, where I met them, and what they are studying. I would usually pretend to go along with what they are talking about and pretend like I remember who they are (even though I don’t). I’ve used this strategy until one of those people had asked, “what’s my name?” in the middle of the conversation. I just stood there, mortified. Because whatever I did, I could not remember her name.

Resolution For Next Year: Keep track of who I meet and remember them. Because, apparently, I am a very memorable human being.

Extra-Curriculars

1.) Better to Join Less Clubs but be More Involved

Similarly to academics, quality trumps quantity.

I have joined a bunch of clubs my freshman year and ended up quitting most of them. In my High School, I didn’t had a lot of options when it came to extra-curriculars. In college, there is just so much to do and so many clubs to join. I felt like a kid in the candy store who wanted to try out everything. Even though I had a lot of fun (and don’t regret it because I figured out which clubs to join next year), I ended up not participating in any clubs meaningfully and (obviously) haven’t gotten elected for any leadership positions in any of the clubs.

Resolution For Next Year: Join 1-2 of the right organizations and participate a lot. Try to get a leadership position in one of those clubs by the end of next year.

2.) Meetings Are Boring But Necessary

For the finance related organizations that I have joined, the weekly meetings are pretty boring. You just sit there, listen to some people who make presentations, and pretend not to be bored. It’s like attending an additional class. Even though the information that they were talking about was interesting, you, yourself, are not doing anything. You just sit there and listen to other people talking. Because of this, I ended up not going to a lot of the weekly meetings.

However, what I have realized is that those meetings help  you  make friends with the right people. All of the people at this organizations are interested in the same things you are interested in. This means that it would be easy for you to find people to participate in  competitions, which are relevant to your major, with. It would also be easy to find people who have similar issues and concerns that you do and who understand you better. So even those meetings are boring, they provide a great opportunity to meet new people.

Resolution For Next Year: Suck it up and attend weekly meetings at those organizations in order to make friends with the right people easier.

So this are the my most important resolutions and things that I’ve learned for next year. Hopefully, I can stick with my plan for next year.

Hope you had an incredible year,

Good luck with Finals if you are still taking them,

 

XOXO

 

Katy Bronsk

PS: Sorry for not writing for so long. I just had a lot of exams that I had to do and then I started my Summer job so was getting used to the new work load.

 

 

 

 

 

What I think about Sports, P.E, and Active Lifestyle

NOTE: This post will mostly be my (negative) opinion about sports/P.E./etc… All of what I’m going to be saying is my personal experiences, not backed up by any data or science.

Now days, P.E. teachers, scientists, nurses, college counselors, and parents talk about the benefits of doing sports, P.E, and active lifestyle. I agree with them, to a certain extent. Sports and active lifestyle does help you to be healthy and look fit. When I used to do sports, I got sick less often. However, with this said, here is where I disagree with them.

Loads of teachers, scientists, etc… are claiming that P.E./sports/active lifestyle helps improve academic performance, decrease stress, help you lose weight, increase your chances of being successful in your life, and help you to concentrate. Speaking from personal experience (and personal experience only), I hadn’t experienced a single one of those benefits.

When I was doing sports in High School (because I had to), I had a 3.8 GPA. Now, I’m in College and don’t do sports anymore. Guess what GPA I have now? You guessed it. A 3.8 GPA. It didn’t increase. It didn’t decrease. Now, it’s also more difficult to get a 3.8 GPA because I had a “curve” in High School due to I.B. and, in order to get a 4.0 GPA, having all  6’s (Which is like an  A-) was fine. Now, I had  2 A-, and it dropped down to 3.8. So, arguably, I’m doing even better academically then I did in school.

From my experience, a lot of things influence GPA such as work ethic, natural intelligence, your ability to force yourself to sit down and study, your ability to concentrate and remain calm and control yourself during an exam, having a good memory and problem solving ability, your relationship with your professor, sometimes even luck. However, what has absolutely no influence on your GPA is wether you have an active lifestyle or not.

Yes. For some people, it might help them to concentrate, keep calm, etc… but I’m not one of those people. I never had an issue with forcing myself to study, my memory was always good enough to pull off studying one night before the test and then acing it, and I always had enough emotional intelligence to keep calm during the test starting High School. The only class for which active lifestyle matters is P.E. (My personal opinion about this is that P.E. should be mandatory in middle school and then an elective in High School and College. By that age, kids normally know what’s good and what’s bad for them and shouldn’t be forced into doing what makes them unhappy.) For all of the other subjects, you are better off talking to your professor, practicing skills that are actually related to the subject, not procrastinating on essays,  and actually doing the work that needs to be done instead of getting yourself another sport in the hopes that it will somehow magically help your intelligence. I have met plenty of people who don’t do anything physically active and who have a 4.0 GPA and some who have 2.0 GPA. I also met student athletes who have a 2.9 GPA and some who have a 4.0. What I’m trying to say here is that regardless of wether or not you have an active lifestyle, you can have a good GPA and how much sports you do will not determine or improve how smart you are. It can help some people but it doesn’t help everyone and if you are an exception to the rule (I saw so many exceptions to the rule that I don’t even want to call it a rule despite the fact that science says so) don’t do sports in the hopes that it will help improve your academics and do something tangible and actually useful with your time instead.

NOTE: I get it. GPA is not the only factor that measures/reflects intelligence/academic ability but it is a measurable one and something that potentially changes through out one’s life, which is why I was using it as an example.

When it comes to stress relief, I know a lot of people for whom sports provides that. If you are one of those people, then that’s great. By all means, do sports. However, if you are like me, sports felt like a chore and created more stress. Part of it is that I’m really bad at sports. The other part is that I simply don’t enjoy it and doing something that I don’t enjoy doing for the sake of doing it doesn’t make me feel happier. Despite what science says about your body releasing endorphins, if you don’t feel happy doing something, doing it will not make you feel happier and it will not make you less stressed out. In fact, most likely, when you are unhappy, you become more stressed out. When I did sports, I would usually think about all of the academic work that I needed to do or things that I found interesting that I could have been doing instead or how bad I was at it, all of which made things even worse stress wise. What I usually do for stress relief is that I draw, write, or socialize with people. Those three activities usually help me feel less stressed out because I enjoy them and find them fun. If you are like me, there are loads of other healthy ways to get rid of stress that have nothing to do with sports that you can try out and figure out what works for you. However, what will most likely not work for you is continuing doing sports because somebody else says that it will “make you feel better”. If you tried doing something and it makes you feel worse instead of better, chances are, you will get the same result the next time you do it. To quote Einstein or whoever said this quote (there is some debate about who actually said it and I don’t want to get into an argument about it right now.)

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

So stop the madness and insanity and try something different instead until you find what works for you. You know yourself better then some random scientist in a lab coat who never even met you and who looks at averages rather then at your unique case, your unique needs, and your idiosyncrasies.

When it comes to success, many people achieve success differently. Doing sports might help you become successful. In fact, if you want to be a professional athlete, sports will be the determining factor that will make you successful. However, you can also be successful without it. Just like with academics and GPA, there are so many exceptions to the rule that I have seen that I can’t even call it a rule.

When it comes to weight loss, I lost more weight when I stopped exercising then when I exercised. The reason for it is that I started to watch what I eat more carefully, I’m now going to college with a more demanding schedule and so I don’t have as much time to eat, and I get sick a bit more often, which causes for me to lose weight more often. Yes. Getting sick more often is bad and I’m not encouraging it. But if I said that it didn’t help me lose weight, I would be lying and I want to be brutally honest in this Blog and admit that it helped me when it comes to weight loss. So, yeah, it’s even possible to lose weight without exercise or gain weight while doing sports (yes. This happened to me once).

So, to conclude this blog post, I think that sports/active lifestyle/P.E. have some benefits but it’s way too overhyped. Just because it makes someone else happy or the majority of people happy, does not mean that it will make you happy. At the end of the day, you should do what will help you achieve your goals and this might be different for you then for other people around you. This advice applies to sports as well as to life in general. Over all, personally, I don’t do sports anymore because the benefits of getting sick less and being more healthy do not outweigh the downsides of being more stressed out and not spending this time doing things that I find interesting. The opportunity cost and the cost just don’t outweigh the benefits.

 

Do what makes you happy,

 

XOXO,

 

Katy Bronsk

How To Study for a Math Test?

If you are like me, you probably struggled with Math at the beginning. Math is a difficult subject for a lot of people. It’s difficult. It’s confusing. If you miss a topic it’s hard for you to catch up. Furthermore, studying for a Math test is arguably harder then studying for other tests, since you can’t simply memorize material for it. However, I have learned how to concur studying for this subject over the years. So here’s my do’s and don’ts when studying for a Math test.

Do: Practice Math problems every day. Don’t: cram everything the day before

Unlike the majority of other subjects, it’s incredibly difficult to simply cram for a Math test, since Math is always cumulative. Even when your Math teacher tells you that the test is not cumulative, in reality, it is. Every new topic that you learn in Math builds on the old topic. If you are bad at arithmetic, you can’t learn algebra. If you are bad at algebra, you will not be able to do well in calculus. Since it’s almost impossible to cram all of the cumulative material one day before the test, you should start studying for a Math test early.

What I usually do is practice Math problems for 30 minutes to 1 hour every day (depending on how busy I am with other subjects on that day. If I have an exam in another subject and an essay due tomorrow, it’s usually 30 minutes. If it’s Friday and I have no plans apart from watching Pretty Little Liars, I will study Math for one hour. And, yes, this includes Weekends and Holidays.) During this 30 minutes – 1 hour I either do homework (if I’m really busy and have a lot of Math homework) or additional problems that I find online. I also do practice problems from the book or practice with older homework assignments or past Exams. 30 minutes – 1 hour of Math a day is not that much time and after a while it becomes a routine. Think of it as taking a shower or brushing your teeth every day. It’s something that just has to be done.

One to two weeks before the Math test, I increase the time I spend studying Math and start focusing on practicing the specific problems and concepts that are most likely to be on the exam. I usually start studying for about 2 hours/day instead of 30 minutes-1 hour. About 2 days before the exam, I run through every problem type/topic that might come up on the Exam and make sure that I understand it and can do it. If I don’t understand some minor detail or forgot how to do something, I will use this time to address this minor issues. However, if you practice Math every day, you will most likely have no/very few minor issues to address and will be able to spend maximum of 4 hours studying the day before the exam and not pull an all nighter (more on this later)

Do: Ask your teacher/professor/TA/ best friend who is super smart at Math for help.

If you don’t understand a concept that you have covered in class or how to do a super challenging problem, ask somebody who is good at Math for help. Ask them to explain the concept to you. Make sure that you understand his/her explanation, that it makes sense to you, and that it’s logical. DON’T just simply memorize it, especially if it’s a specific problem that you had trouble with instead of a concept. Concepts/theorems/definitions are sometimes fine to just memorize, although it’s always better to try to understand. This way, if your memory fails on the test, logic can save you. However, specific problems should NEVER be memorized. It’s highly unlikely that the exact same problem will come up on the test. Chances are, the problem on the test will be different. Also, ask for help as soon as you realize that you don’t understand something. Don’t wait the day before the exam. Address issues that you are having preferably on the day or on the second day after you realize that you have that issue and then spend your 30 minutes-1 hour time practicing the concept and the type of questions that you don’t understand. If you still don’t understand it, then ask for help again and continue this cycle until you understand and can do the problems on your own.

Don’t: Ask that super smart person to do every single problem that you don’t understand for you.

This might sound like a contradiction to my last point but it’s actually not. What I mean by this is that you have to struggle and try to figure out every question on your own before asking for help. (This doesn’t apply to concepts/theorems/formulas, etc… If you don’t understand those, then ask for help as soon as possible. Don’t try to figure those out on your own.) The reason for trying to figure problems out on your own first is that part of Math is being able to problem solve and so you have to practice problem solving. The only way that you can practice problem solving is by spending some time trying to figure out problems that you don’t immediately know how to do on your own.

I have a 10 minute rule for this one. If I can’t figure out how to solve a Math problem for 10 minutes after looking through my notes, googling it, and trying every single thing I can come up with, I usually go and ask for help on it.

Also, don’t treat help as somebody who does your homework for you. This means don’t simply ask him/her to do every single math problem for you on your homework and assume you are studying. You are not. You are simply observing somebody else studying.

Do: Pay attention during class and don’t skip

This one is kind of obvious but you should come to every class and pay attention by taking notes and doing problems that the teacher tells you to do. If you don’t pay attention or skip classes often, it will be harder for you to understand the material or catch-up. Since Math is cumulative, it’s important not to fall behind because the more behind you fall, the harder it is to catch up. If you do miss a class, ask a friend to explain to you what you have missed.

Don’t: waist time memorizing definitions, having color coded notes, rewriting notes, creating study guides, etc…

Math is a subject based on practice, problem solving, and understanding rather then content and route memorization. Therefore, having well organized content to memorize looks nice but not that helpful. Yes, having a well organized content might help you practice because it would be easier for you to look up how to do a question from a while ago or a formula in your notebook. But you can always look up formulas or how to do problems online or in your textbook. You don’t necessarily need well organized notes for that. Also, if you will follow my 30 minutes-1 hour of Math a day advice, you will be using up so many notebooks that all of that work that you put into organizing your notebook will end up in the garbage can (or somewhere lost in your desk) pretty quickly. You can try to have a separate notebook for concepts/theorems/definitions but it would be hard for you to switch between the two and would take extra time to organize. In my opinion, that time would be better spent practicing problems.

Also, don’t spend time memorizing definitions unless you have a really weird Math teacher who explicitly states that they will be on the test. Knowing definitions word for word will not help you on the test. Knowing how to apply those definitions to solve problems will. Therefore, don’t waist your time on definitions.

When it comes to study guides, a study guide will once again be pretty useless and a waist of time. Instead of a study guide, create a study plan. Write out the topics that you need to study and the time that you will spend practicing each topic. And that’s the only thing that should be on your study plan. Don’t waist time writing out concepts, formulas, theorems, drawing out graphs in 50 different colors, etc….

If you are going to be given formulas on the test, don’t spend any time memorizing formulas. Just spend some time practicing applying them. If you will not have access to formulas on the test but you need to know them, then spend about 30 minutes memorizing formulas and the rest of the time practicing them. Also, it might be useful to memorize some stuff that often comes up such as cos(0)=1, cos(pi/2)=0, etc…

Do: Keep your work organized when doing practice problems and practice proper notation

Practice doesn’t necessarily makes perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Therefore, it’s important to use proper notation when doing practice problems and keeping your work organized. Half of getting an A on the Math test is understanding but the other half is not making careless mistakes. Keeping your work organized and using proper notation will help you make less careless mistakes. If you are often getting problems wrong when practicing due to careless mistakes, work on organizing your work better. Also, once you do enough practice problems, certain notations and ways of solving problems will become a habit and almost automatic, which is why it’s important to use proper notation and proper ways of solving problems. If you don’t use proper notation, it will be harder for you to relearn the new notation in the future. Therefore, it’s important to get it right when practicing.

Don’t: Try out new methods of solving problems, new notations, etc… the day before the test

If you have a certain way of solving problems or a certain method that you like to use to do multiplication that always worked for you in the past, don’t start learning new ways of doing things that you already know how to do the day before the test. During this time, you have more important things to worry about. Also, relearning how to do something that you already know how to do is a very difficult process and will take a lot of time, more time than you have the day before the test. It will also feel very confusing and increases your chances of making mistakes on the test.

If you want to practice new techniques of doing old stuff, do it during your summer break, not the day before the test.

Do: Study Math problems under similar conditions that you will have on the test

What I mean by this is, if you are allowed to use formulas, practice problems together with a formula booklet in front of you. If you are not allowed to use formulas, memorize them as soon as possible and practice problems without having them in front of you. If you are allowed to use a calculator, always practice with a calculator. If you are not allowed to use a calculator, always practice without a calculator. Also, never use online tools to solve parts of problems for you, such as online derivative calculators or online graphing calculators. By using those tools, you are cheating. (I personally do not have an issue with cheating in terms of ethics but this is a topic for another time) While this cheating might help you get an A on homework, it will harm you in the long run, since you will not be able to use those tools during the test. Therefore, you have to learn how to do Math without having those online resources available to you. The only appropriate use of those online tools is to use them to double check your work.

Don’t: Pull an all nighter the day before the test

As I have already mentioned, about 50% of your success on a Math test depends on your ability to not make careless mistakes. In order to not make careless mistakes, you have to be able to concentrate on the test during the test. If you have pulled an all nighter, it will be harder for you to concentrate and you increase your chances of making careless mistakes, even if you know all of the material really well. You will most likely not learn that much new material by pulling an all nighter and you do increase your chances of screwing up the test simply by being too tired to perform well on it. In my opinion, the risk is simply not worth the reward.

Don’t: Study on the day of the test

Studying on the day of the test is most likely to do more harm then good. You will not be able to learn many new techniques and hour before the test, since the majority of things in Math require a lot of practice. However, you have a really high chance of confusing yourself, stressing yourself out, and making more mistakes on the test. If you’ve done your studying the way that I have described in my previous points, there is absolutely no need to study on the day of the test. Instead, you should relax, get something to eat, hang out with friends (and don’t talk to them about anything Math related), etc… Unless you have a really bad memory or some issues with your brain (sorry if I offended somebody but I did warn that this blog will not be PC), you will not forget what you’ve learned over the past weeks from morning until your Math exam. So just chill and relax before the test. You’ve done everything that you could do and an additional hour of studying will not help you that much anyways but has potential of making things a lot worse.

So this are the main points of how I study and don’t study for a Math exam. There are plenty of other smaller points that I can include so I might end up making a Part 2 to this post but I did cover the main topics. Also, keep in mind that what works for me might not necessarily work for you.

Feel free to share how you study for Math in the comments below,

 

Good luck on your Math exams,

 

XOXO

 

Katy Bronsk