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An Optimist’s Guide to Exploring Life

By Akshaya Narasimhan

I moved from India to California 6 months ago. This transition was big and it was hard for me because this is the first time I would be staying away from home. Back in India, the whole idea of living in the US has always been considered a golden opportunity, all of which added to the excitement. I always believe that meeting new people and experiencing new things constantly helps me evolve as a person  so I was hoping that I would be able to take this lesson forward in exploring life better.

Life in the US has been almost a complete antithesis of my life in India. I used to work for a market research firm as an Analyst back home, spending more than 10 hours at work. Talking to clients, reaching out to potential customers and, of course, constant research made my work fun because I used to end up learning a new thing every day! I was longing to get back to work and use my brain cells as soon as I moved here. But restrictions and my visa status meant I had no option but to wait; so resuming my career seemed like an impossible dream. Over time, meeting new people and talking to them helped me understand that losing hope was not an option at all!

As I explored options, I chose to explore my new city and keep myself busy while my husband was away at work, so I started figuring out my options here. As the saying goes, “A person who stops to grow will continue to decline.” Since stagnation is the last thing I wanted to experience, I took up a course at UC Berkeley to advance my education in Marketing.

In addition to this, volunteering at GiveTeens20® has been yet another journey I have been excited about! GT20 has helped me gain new exposure, insights, meet new people and be inspired by them. It also gave me an opportunity to test out a newer and rather exciting aspect of marketing, Social Media! In such a short time, I have learnt so many areas that I didn’t in my previous job.  As I look back at the past few months, I realize that I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey!

I guess I would say California has been a catalyst by opening my horizon and I am hoping the journey continues to be as enriching as it has been so far. As I take this opportunity to make a brand new beginning to my career, one of Seth Godin’s quotes keeps resonating in my  mind:

“Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow”

blog-8-akshaya

Akshaya is our brand new Social Media Strategist for GiveTeens20®! When she is not busy engaging GT20 fans on Social Media, she enjoys listening to music and reading. Have a question about Indian cuisine? Akshaya is your girl!

 

Image Courtesy: www.pexel.com


AP Courses… Are They Worth It?

Student reading a bookIt’s the time of the year again when high school students must decide which courses to take for the coming school year.  With college looming ahead, making wise choices is imperative in order to reduce time and money spent on college and to be competitive for scholarship awards.  But, does being “wise” mean that your student sign up for available AP courses?  With numerous articles both encouraging and cautioning AP courses available on the internet, I’ve attempted to summarize both sides below.

What are AP Courses?

AP, or Advances Placement, courses are college-level courses taught in a high school setting designed to challenge students above and beyond a high school level.  The requirements, workload, and exams are designed and regulated by College Board.

The Pros of AP Courses

AP courses are a good choice to consider for students who perform well in honors level courses (A’s and B’s) or for students who get straight A’s in regular College Prep classes and need or desire more challenging material.  Because AP courses are weighted differently than CP courses, students can increase their GPA as well as their class rank.  This could be beneficial when being considered for scholarships.  And, beyond GPA and class rank, taking AP courses demonstrates hard work which is equally, if not more, important to most colleges.

Taking AP courses also offers the opportunity to gain college credit by taking an AP exam.  Students who score above a 3 (on a scale of 1-5) are considered to be qualified to receive college credit for that course upon entering college.  This effectively can decrease the amount of time in college which, in turn, can decrease the out-of-pocket expense.

The Cons of AP Courses

With the rigors of AP courses comes a lot of stress, therefore they are not appropriate for all students; nor is it necessarily appropriate for a student to load up on AP classes that may not interest them just for the sake of increasing their GPA.  Most colleges prefer un-weighted GPAs and some might even request an un-weighted transcript or recalculate the GPA of core classes on their own.  In that case, earning a C in an AP courses might not be looked on favorably by a selective college.  This varies greatly from college to college.

Regarding college credit, that too varies widely from school to school.  Some colleges do not limit the number of credits that a student can bring in with AP courses.  However, other schools are more limiting.  Dartmouth college, for example, recently announced that beginning Fall 2014, it will no longer grant any college credit for AP examinations.

In summary, with over 30 possible AP courses available for high schools to offer, students have more opportunity than ever before to advance their education and potentially save time and money on their out-of-pocket expense for college.  However, a common sense approach to the number and types of AP courses taken should be utilized for each individual student.  Parents need to help their children evaluate what subjects interest them and how many AP courses they can take and be successful at while staying informed of the current policies for their college of choice.

Sources:

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html

http://www.examiner.com/article/are-ap-courses-worth-the-effort

http://www.nytimes/com/2013/01/18/education/dartmouth-stops-credits-for-excelling-on-ap-test.html

http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/05/10/weigh-the-benefits-stress-of-ap-courses-for-your-student

This blog was provided by Emily Kelly of College Planning Relief from their March 2014 e-newsletter.

Photo Credit: UGL_UIUC