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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

College Research: Learn a Lot & Stay Sane

As a mere high school junior, I cannot pretend to be an expert in the field of the college application process. What is, however, my claim to fame is college research. Below I have compiled my top 5 tips for finding and organizing information on potential schools.

1. All Hail the Spreadsheet

There's a good chance you'll accumulate a lot of information on your search. Keep it all clear and organized on a spreadsheet. Make your first row every college you are considering. Don't be selective, it's just a baseline for research! Then, create a variety of columns. Of course, the obvious categories are Academics, Campus Quality, Location, but don't be afraid to create some columns that are specific to you. For example, I'd like to continue journalism in college, so I made a column for notes of the school's journalism program. This one is weird, but Whole Foods reminds me of home, so I made a column called "Whole Foods Proximity" (I actually used Google Maps to find the distance between each campus and the closest Whole Foods). Obviously, no school would be blacklisted because there's not a Whole Foods within walking distance, but it's still fun to note! Some of my other categories include Social Scene (I'm not interested in Greek Life, so it was important that I noted schools with a dominantly Greek scene), Proximity to Family and Study Abroad. Then, as you find information about each school, you can choose to give it a grade or a point value like I did. For example, George Washington University received an A+ in Whole Foods Proximity because there's one ON CAMPUS!

2. Use Good Sources

I've written about Niche and Fiske in a previous post, but here's an excerpt for those who missed it:
If you’re looking for some tried-and-true resources for college research, I’ve compiled my two favorites below:
"Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015- This book is the best. It offers clear, concise, and information-rich profiles of over 300 colleges and universities. It’s seriously so fun to read. Fifteen dollars well spent. (The Mountain View Public Library has 2013 edition available for checkout and the 2016 edition on order!)
Niche- It’s like College Confidential, but more streamlined. Niche creates a school profile by giving grades to different aspects of the school. Everything from Academics to Diversity to Health & Safety are more is given a letter grade. Beware, if you start using Nice, you won’t be able to stop! Looking at the various grades and reviews is addicting."
A few other great sources The Choice, a blog from the New York Times that aims to demystify the college process. Though you'll find less information about specific schools, but it gives good advice and offers a fresh perspective on the process. Also, I've found that using the university's own website is a good way to find out about possible majors, see pictures of the campus and more.

3. College Emails Can Be a Good Thing!
This must be how college people feel when they send out their email blasts. 
I would bet that the inboxes of most other high school juniors are also filled with dozens of college emails per day. While most of the time they are just plain irritating (though the subject lines are often hilarious. i.e. "[insert student name here], I have a special something for you!), signing up for some lists is actually a good move. I love University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, so I signed up for their email list. This way I'll be notified if an admission counselor comes to the Bay Area for an information session. This way I won't miss out on learning more about the university!

Post by Allie C., Homework Assistant

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Programs - Teen Book Club

Monday, June 15 is our first Teen program for the summer, join us for the Teen Book Club.

This summer we will be talking all things John Green, so be ready to talk about John Green books, movies, vlogbrothers - you name it!

Click here to register.

Questions? email marie.richardson@mountainview.gov

College Touring: Do or Don't?

In the past 3 months, I have visited 13 different colleges and endured 13 different information sessions (mostly boring) and 13 different walking tours (always freezing). After these trips, I've been left with the same question: is college touring worth it?

There are several schools of thought about college touring. The first one involves visiting as many schools as possible, soaking up as much information as possible, searching for “a good fit” for you. Alternatively, you might apply to all the schools that pique your interest, and then only visit the schools to which you have been accepted.

Both strategies have their merit. By visiting before applying, you have the chance to learn what you like and what you dislike. This will help direct your search but also give you the chance to learn about different possibilities. For example, though I’ve always imagined myself at a small, East Coast college, I visited UC Davis and loved it. I had not previously considered a large, close to home school like Davis. Now, I feel confident that if I were to be admitted and enrolled at UC Davis, I would be very happy there.

By touring before application season, you also have the opportunity to do an on-campus interview. On-campus interviews are usually very casual, more like conversations with an admissions counselor than a formal dialogue. You can interview at schools regardless of whether or not you are even planning to apply. But if you do apply, they’ll consider the notes from your interview while making their decisions. I would recommend taking advantage of on-campus interviews (which is almost always a good thing!). Even if you don’t like that particular college, doing an interview anyway will be good practice for your top schools.

My last recommendation for those who choose to do the pre-application visits: take everything with a grain of salt. If you visit over spring, winter, or summer break, it’s likely that the campus will be emptier than during the year. If the vibe feels quiet or sullen, remember that it will probably be more lively and friendly when the students return. Also, remember to consider a school’s climate in every season. If you visit in the summer, don’t disregard the potential for sub-zero temperatures in the winter. If you visit in the winter, don’t get depressed by ubiquitous snowbanks and clouds. I know these pieces of advice are trivial, but they are easy to forget when you get caught up in the college frenzy. Remember, beyond being a bridge to the workforce, the college you choose will ultimately be your home for the next four years
Image result for wellesley college spring
Wellesley College in the spring...
...Wellesley Colleg in the winter. Bad example. It looks cool either way! 
On the other hand, if you wait to learn what your options are before visiting, you’ll be able to avoid a lot of the stress that accompanies touring as a junior or a first-semester Senior. It’s easy to fall in love with a certain school after an excellent visit and then have your heart broken by a rejection letter. By waiting to visit, you’ll avoid this sadness and be able to focus on choosing your favorite school out of your options.

And, of course, if college tours are not in the cards for you, don’t fret! You can learn almost as much about a school online as you do on a campus visit. You can look at campus pictures, learn about available majors, and read reviews on campus food, student life, and more! Honestly, researching online probably gives you more impartial information than you’d receive in an information session :).

If you’re looking for some tried-and-true resources for college research, I’ve compiled my two favorites below:

Fiske Guide to Colleges 2015- This book is the best. It offers clear, concise, and information-rich profiles of over 300 colleges and universities. It’s seriously so fun to read. Fifteen dollars well spent. (The Mountain View Public Library has 2013 edition available for checkout and the 2016 edition on order - place a hold now!)

Niche- It’s like College Confidential, but more streamlined. Niche creates a school profile by giving grades to different aspects of the school. Everything from Academics to Diversity to Health & Safety are more is given a letter grade. Beware, if you start using Nice, you won’t be able to stop! Looking at the various grades and reviews is addicting.

Post by Allie C., Homework Assistant 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Summer Bucket List

Summer is just around the corner! If you are prone to summertime boredom, here are some ideas to keep you entertained and productive.

1. Go to the Farmer's Market. It is the BEST. The Mountain View market is actually open year round (find more information HERE) but there is a much better variety of produce in the summer season. Also, it's much easier to get up early on Sunday mornings in the summer, rather than in the school year. I strongly recommend trying the orange juice from Ferry Farms. Life changing.  
2. Read (or reread) To Kill a Mockingbird in preparation for the publication of its sequel, Go Set a Watchman. And then, of course, come July 14th, devour the much-anticipated new novel by Harper Lee.

3. Start a scrapbook. Scrapbooking makes me feel like Martha Stewart...in a good way! Even if you're not a crafty person, scrapbooking is both easy and fun. Pinterest is a great resource for finding inspiration, and I love using the Kodak stations at (most) CVS and Walgreens stores to print out all of my pictures. 
4. Check out what the Teen Zone has to offer! Throughout the summer, the Teen Zone hosts a large variety of free, fun programs for teens. Check back on the blog for more information about specific programs. Bring your friends!
5. Plant succulents- Want to have an adorable plant and promote drought tolerance at the same time? Plant a succulent garden. Here is a great resource for getting started. 6. Go on day trips- Need destination ideas? I've got you covered. Check out this old post!
7. Have theme parties with your friends. Some fun ideas: Childhood Movie Day (High School Musical, Toy Story, etc.), Classic Movie Day (The Breakfast Club, Breakfast at Tiffany's, etc.), Fiesta Day (eat Mexican food and have a pinata), the list goes on and on!

Image result for flowers on a doorstep8. Perform a random act of kindness- Whether it be dropping flowers on a neighbor's doorstep or babysitting for free, doing a random act of kindness for someone else will surely brighten your day as well as their's!

9. Make a summer reading list- I love making a summer reading list that encompasses a variety of genres. Since I rarely have time to dive into longer books during school, I like to make sure to include some hefty novels on my reading list (I read The Book Thief last summer and LOVED it. Highly recommend).

10. Nerf gun war/ water balloon fight/ paint fight. Need I say more?

11. Study for the SAT/ACT, only if you want. Summer is your time to relax and recharge between school years. However, if you are an incoming junior, studying for the SAT might be a good use of your free time. As a rising senior, I wish I had studied for the SAT and taken it for the first time in August. That way, I would have had an earlier start, and might have been done with the whole process before senior year begins.
And to end on a happy note...

12. Spend time with your family and friends. This one is pretty obvious, but as teenagers, we have a limited number of summers before we go off to college. Make the most of it!

Post by Allie C,, Homework Assistant 

Thursday, June 4, 2015



With school almost over and finals around the corner, I still can't believe that senior year is almost over. Currently, in English we are working on writing valedictions which we will share with our class as our English final. As I wrote my first draft I began to reminisce the past years. I remember the first day of school. I was the shy and quiet girl who would avoid the eyes of teachers to not be called on. Boy, did I wish then that school would go by fast. And knowing that high school is coming to an end, I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could have done more for my community and myself.

So because I am not Dr. Emmett Brown (Back to the Future) and I don't have a time machine, I cannot go back in time. However, I can do something even better. I can tell you all this: Try to live each day without a regret. If you have always wanted to join a sport or always wanted to a specific class, do it. Don't have regrets. I wish you all great summer!

Written by Maria, Homework Assistant

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Keep Calm and Carry On: Driving Edition

There is an existing stigma that learning to drive is a bad thing. That it is expensive and a waste of time. However, driving is incredibly beneficial and actually saves one time and money.

Teens at the age of fifteen and a half (this may be different from states outside of California) are eligible to receive their permit. This permit requires one to take Drivers Ed. This can be done online or in-class. Drivers Ed gives specific info on laws present in any state and instructions on what to do in tricky situations (Do you know what to do when your car is hydroplaning? Pshhh. I didn't think so). After one finishes Drivers Ed, they take a written test of about 45 multiple-choice questions at the DMV. This first step is where most people chicken out. They see the money it costs to pay for Drivers Ed and the time it takes to do Drivers Ed and book appointments. 
These vehicles have no affiliation
with the Italian Job.
Upon passing the written test, future drivers receive their permit. Their permit allows them to drive with an adult. Teens must hold their permit for six months (Think it seems forever? If Tom Hanks can last four years on an island with a beach ball, you can wait six months to get your license.) and complete six hours of be8nd-the-wheel driving lessons. This six-month period was pretty helpful for me as I became acquainted with my dad's Corolla and my mom's minivan. This second step is where teens wimp out yet again. People do not want to spend that much time and also do not want to pay for lessons. 

They may look simply happy on the
outside... but they are bursting with
uncontrollable joy on the inside.
The third step is both the hardest and easiest. The practice from the previous six-month period is then assessed in a fifteen-minute test (No. Not a four hour NASCAR race against other anxious teens - however, that would make a good sequel to the Hunger Games!). While teens can easily feel anxious for the test, it is important to remember Winston Churchill's words, "Keep Calm and Carry On." As soon as the test is passed, one can drive all by themself. No more lessons or practice sessions. No studying out of a book. Once the test is passed and one has insurance (this is the hard part), the new driver is free to drive themselves places. After a full year, one can drive their friends too. 

While people are concerned about the cost and time it takes, the freedom benefits everyone. First of all, you get the process out of the way so that you don't have to do it alone when you are twenty. Secondly, the cost of insurance and the permit test won't change when you are an adult. Why not get it out of the way sooner? As a bonus, driving is an enormous help to parents. Now teens can pick up their siblings, take care of their own ride to school, and even go grocery shopping. I save more time using a car than I do for anything else. It gives me control over what I want to do. I encourage all high schoolers to start driving now! 

by Rebecca B., Homework Assistant


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Off to College-But wait, what should I buy?

Off to College-But wait, what should I buy?

Just a few more weeks until school is over and summer begins. For current senior it means a few more weeks until high school is finally over.Those four years of high school sure go by fast. I can't believe that I won't be seeing my school librarians every morning or the teen zone librarians every other afternoon. or any of you who come by to the teen zone. I'll surely miss everyone. But I am getting off topic here. When June 1st arrives it also means that for fellow seniors who will be living on campus there are only three months to do all the college dorm shopping. Dorm shopping can be fun, but it can also be stressful. Not having a list of the things that are essential for college can turn dorm shopping into a horrifying experience. For this reason, I took the liberty of searching for sites that have college dorm checklists. Here are the websites:

Written by Maria M., Homework Assistant

Monday, June 1, 2015

Teen Summer Program Registration!

Welcome to Teen Summer Programs at the Mountain View Library.

We have loads of programs this summer that you might enjoy.

All Teen programs are free and open to kids in grades 6-12 (rising 6th graders and just graduated 12th graders included!)

All programs are in the Teen Zone unless otherwise noted.

The following programs require advance registration:

Teen Book Club.
Calling all John Green fans! There's so much that's awesome about John Green; join us to talk about your favorite John Green book, movie, vlogbrothers video - you name it!
Monday, June 15, 6:30-7:30.
Click here to register for Teen Book Club.

Moose Wesler of Doodlecity will take us through the ins and out of painting with watercolors. For both newbies and experienced artists, all supplies provided.
Monday, June 22, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Watercolors.

Darcy Vasudev of Henna Lounge will teach us about the ancient art of mehndi and how to paint beautiful henna designs on our hands, feet - wherever you want! Bring your ideas and design inspiration and be ready to make beautiful body art.
Monday, June 29, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Henna.

Beaded Jewelry - Introduction to Stringing
Learn how to make different styles of beaded jewelry. This class in an introduction to stringing, highlighting different earring styles. All supplies provided.
Monday, July 6, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Beaded Jewelry - Introduction to Stringing

Beaded Jewelry - Open Forum
Learn how to make different styles of beaded jewelry. This second class will offer an open forum of design for your creativity to meet imagination! All supplies provided.
Monday, July 13, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Beaded Jewelry - Open Forum

Hula Hoop
Think you can't spin a hula hoop? Think again! Join us in Pioneer Park and learn from a pro. We'll have bigger, heavier hoops that are easier to spin - it's easier than you think! Wear comfortable clothes and be ready to have fun!
Monday, July 20, 6:30-8:00.
This program will take place in Pioneer Park.
Click here to register for Hula Hoop.

Bottle Cap Creations
Make a cool charm or pendant out of bottle caps and old comic books and magazines! Make a necklace, backpack charm, keychain fob - whatever you can dream up! All supplies provided.
Monday, July 27, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Bottle Cap Creations.

Teen Advisory Group
What do YOU think of the Teen Zone, and the Library? Join the TAG and help make the Library an even better place for Teens. Meetings will take place monthly on Monday evenings through the school year, come to this open house meeting to find out what it's all about! TAG members earn community service hours. Snacks will be served.
Monday, August 3, 6:30-8:00.
Click here to register for Teen Advisory Group.