4 Things We Would Tell Our Former High School Selves

Although high school and college each last four years, your freshman year of high school constitutes 1/14 (7%) of your 14 years of existence, whereas your sophomore year of college makes up only 1/20 (5%) as you hit your 20th birthday. I know, time is a weird concept. As cliché as it may sound, high school years do shape you as an individual: you make new friends, you discover potentially lifelong interests, and hopefully you pass your driving test.

I had an enjoyable high school experience, and if I could do it all over again… I would definitely do some things differently. Alas, humanity has not yet evolved to the point of bending the space-time continuum, so the best I can do is share my wisdom with you. So here are 4 things I would like to tell my former high school self:

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Building Connections: My Experience With Project Build

Here’s a conversation I’ve had a lot:

Other Person: “Did you do a pre-orientation program?”

Me: “Yeah, I did Project BUILD.”

Other Person: “Oh, cool. So you, like, build stuff?”

Me: “Um, no. Not really.”

Other Person: “…Oh. So what is it then?”

First of all, it’s a misnomer. Project BUILD is a week-long pre-orientation program at Duke University, though the concept is not unique to Duke. Pre-orientation programs exist at many schools as opportunities for incoming freshmen to get to know each other, get to know campus, and get to know life without daily parental oversight.

At Duke, our programs are either one or two weeks long. They all involve teamwork and upperclassmen leadership. They all have official names starting with “Project.” Project Waves is a week at the beach. Project Wild is two weeks in the wilderness. Project BUILD? Less intuitive.

The trick lies in the word BUILD, which really isn’t a word at all but is instead a rather clumsy acronym for “Building Undergraduate Involvement in the Life of Durham.” Not sure what that means? Neither was I.

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Choosing a Study Abroad Program in the Middle East

I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little bit about the process of choosing a study abroad program in the Middle East. It’s a lot harder to study in this region than on other continents simply because of conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon, so there are a lot of considerations for students looking to spend a semester in the Middle East.

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What I Wish I Did in High School

When I think back to high school, there are a lot of things I’m proud of myself for—things I would definitely go back and do again. Of course, there are also regrets. If I were to do high school over again, there are a few things that I would do differently, and there are a few things that I’d never take back.

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I Got Lucky: Making Peace with the Role of Chance in College Admissions

How did I get accepted to my dream school? The answer to that question is more complicated than many of us might like to admit. Certainly, my own hard work and talents mattered a great deal, but I’m just as certain that another factor played a role: sheer luck.

There are no guarantees when it comes to college admission season, and acknowledging this fact early on will help you to keep your expectations for the application process realistic. Here’s how to make peace with the role of chance in the application process without letting it discourage you from pursuing your dreams.

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High School Holiday-Itis. You’ve Got It. Now How Do You Get Over It?

The holiday season is upon us! With Christmas trees lining shop windows and strings of lights in the streets, Christmas break feels so close, I can almost taste it. But only almost. There’s still one thing that’s keeping me from jumping full length on the couch and staying there for a week. You can probably guess what, since it’s the very thing we’d both rather not be doing but we have to do anyway. That is, of course, homework.

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