Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tips for Homeschoolers Applying to College

You did it! You made it through homeschool high school. Now what? It can be a bit confusing to try to navigate through the college admissions process as a homeschooler, but it's not impossible. I was in your shoes last year, and I was accepted to my dream school. Here's some tips that worked for me.

1. The number one thing I can tell you right now is to start studying for either the ACT or SAT.  In the world of applications, test scores speak louder than words. Read about each test and decide which one would be best for you, and which one your desired college requires. I've found Prep Scholar to be one of the best resources for that. I also used CollegeConfidential's what are my chances thread to compare my stats with others who were accepted to the schools I was applying to.

Next, find a way to take some practice tests. Ideally, you should be prepping between a year to six months in advance, but I know life can get in the way! It's never too late to start studying. Purchase a prep book, find a test online - just time yourself taking a full practice test. See what you struggled with and what came easy. Focus on those problem areas.

Another thing that's true regardless of where you were educated is that you'll have gaps. Most schoolwork was pretty easy for me but math was a struggle, particularly because our curriculum didn't put that much emphasis on it. Find your gap area and really work on it.

If you do poorly, study up and retake. I went from a 28 to a 31 on the ACT between September to November, and that was while working and taking dual credits. You can only go up!

2.  Start researching schools and their entrance requirements. Decide what you want in a school. Big, small, Christian, public, private, high emphasis on academics or athletics, etc. Pick a safety school - one you KNOW you can get into based on your GPA and ACT scores, and be sure to apply there. Apply to the school you really want, and apply to maybe one reach- one that might be  a little hard for you to get in.. You get four free schools with the ACT purchase, so I'd suggest picking the 'big four' you can actually see yourself at. Don't make all four reach schools or you might be disappointed!

3. Do EVERYTHING on the college application. If essays are optional or you have the choice to submit a resume' , do it. Don't be so lazy you get waitlisted. Start the application early so you have time to get everything in. Who would you want, the kid who went above and beyond to fill out every inch of the application, or one who did the bare minimum? See if there's "extras" that your college would appreciate knowing about. If it's a faith institution, there may be a chance to write an essay on your faith. Is there a legacy section for you to fill out at your parent's alma mater? Are you considering joining a program unique to the school, like TAMU's Corps of Cadets or Baylor's Golden Girls?

4. Apply a month or so before the application is due. You'll need time to get everything together, essays written and scores back. Plus, as a homeschooler you may have special challenges like VOE forms, explaining why you don't have counselor's letters, and transcript verification. If you apply early you have time to communicate with the school and send them what they need before it's too late!

5. Know that you can do this. It may feel intimidating or that NO OTHER HIGH SCHOOLER in the state is doing their college application entirely on their own but you are, and you can rock it. If you have doubts, get a dual credit teacher, co-op leader, or teacher friend to look over your essays or tutor you for an ACT section. Don't be afraid to reach our for help.

Anyway, these are just a few tips that worked for me. I know every homeschooler is different but I hope I helped a little! <3

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Shadowing an OBGYN

In high school, I volunteered at a local hospital and worked at a pharmacy. I encountered Dr Fran at both these places and she always stood out among the other healthcare professionals. She was never too busy to say hello or interact with patients' families. So when it came time to shadow some physicians for my DHSS class, I knew it would be amazing to shadow her.

She graciously made time in her busy schedule for me to shadow her at the hospital and then at the clinic. Dr Fran is an OB-GYN, and I didn't really know much about obstetrics save what I watched on Call the Midwife, but she was so good at explaining things that I really learned a lot. An OB-GYN's scope of practice can be broken into two broad groups: obstetrics, which includes pregnancy, labor and delivery, and post-partum, and gynecology. Gynecology focuses on women's bodies and reproductive health. This could include issues such as endometriosis or painful intercourse. They see patients both in clinics and at hospitals.
Image result for call the midwife
Call the Midwife!

I can't tell too much about the cases I got to observe for HIPPA reasons, but they were all very diverse and interesting cases. I observed an ultrasound during which a lady learned the gender of her baby- super exciting! There was also a pregnant mother with syndactyly, or webbed fingers, a diabetic mother to be, and several post-partum checkups on teenage mothers. I saw pap tests, ultrasounds, and general check-ups. At the hospital I observed a dilation and cutlage, a uterine scrape for polyps. The diabetic mother was a really interesting case as I remembered watching an episode about it on Call the Midwife, and we've been learning about protein in urine in class.

Dr Fran treated each patient with dignity and friendliness, even when the patients weren't always respectful or nice. One teenaged patient played with her phone the entire time, ignored the doctor's questions, and seemed to not care. To be honest, this would have rattled me as a physician, but Dr Fran handled the situation well, giving the directions instead to the patient's mother and writing them out so they couldn't be ignored. I learned nearly as much about patient care as I did obstetrics! I also got to see the 'behind the scenes' and paperwork side of things. Overall, it was a great experience. I am so grateful to Dr Fran for her kindness in letting me shadow and being so willing to answer my questions. She couldn't have been any nicer and I learned so much!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

everyday adventures

Sometimes, when I'm stumbling to 8ams or getting lost in the BSB or confusing the metric system to the chagrin of my poor, saintly lab partner, I remind myself college is an adventure.

"Adventure". I love that word. It brings to mind Indiana Jones, lush rainforests, cracking open ancient tombs, rock climbing, swimming with sharks, maybe being a doctor to a tribe in the Amazon rainforest.

"But college," you ask. "How is college an adventure?"
(I'm going to take a quick second to share a quote from one of my favorite childhood books and movies. )Life is an adventure, guys. People love adventure. They make movies and TV shows out of it. They buy up books like Treasure Island and Kidnapped. Still, hardly anyone stops to consider their life as an adventure. When I started looking for adventure, I found it. By considering it an interesting journey I have had a much better attitude. Isn't "wandering through the sciences" much more exotic than getting lost in the science building? 

Yesterday was my birthday and it was SO MUCH FUN, even though I had a test and a  speech. My roommate surprised me with a shirt, two pattern color books and colored pencils, plus this adorable hand drawn sign:
She included a FRIENDS reference, guys. She gets me. My whole floor helped by hiding the gifts in different rooms, making me cards,decorating the hall, and hanging balloons. It was a total surprise! I had went to bed around 1 after a night of studying and woke up to what felt like Christmas morning. So sweet. 

Then I had to go study some more for a precal test. I KNOW I did not do well on it, but am hopeful I can make a 75ish and then, by getting good grades on everything else, make a B+. I could also transfer to another math course that's remedial, but the shrivel of pride I have left cringes at that. Still, it would be an adventure, I guess.

I know I can get As in all my other courses. Today I had my CSS exam and it went very well. I think I only missed two question out of the whole thing. I also attended an exciting medical lecture.
We heard from a missionary dentist who talked about doing dental work in places where the only method of transportation is canoes, tribal chiefs and medicine men still treat patients, and 22 foot anacondas can swallow horses. It was very interesting and full of adventures! He brought in conch shells, snake skins, and primitive dentistry equipment to show us and we got to blow in the shells and stretch out the snakeskins. That's all for today, folks! Get out there and start adventuring!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dealing with panic in college

(as told thru The Office quotes because how else?)

Syllabus week is over, the realization that pre-med (or engineering, or nursing, or whatever major you have!)  is REALLY hard sets in, and the awful thought of failure looms. No matter how many people offer advice, you head off to college expecting the best, only to come to a rude awakening in the second week.

I thought I was smart. I had over 36 dual credit hours, a 31 on the ACT, shadowed doctors, wrote research papers on trauma surgery, and  took notes while I watched Call the Midwife (much more accurate than Grey's)

So, when by the second week I was feeling very ill,(turns out it was viral respiratory infection) had endured a tornado scare (only a few months after surviving one), consoling my new friends from Houston as their homes flooded, got lost, was writing lab reports like a crazed girl, sick of dining halls and had no idea what to do in math class, I was exhausted and panicked. Why was I, a little homeschooler, taking 18 hours at on of the most prestigious pre-medical colleges? What if I had misread His plan and God didn't want me here? Why was everything so much harder here?

I didn't want to call my mom, who is my best friend/personal counselor, because I knew I would cry like a big whiny baby. So I waited and let my fear build up.

When she called, I sounded like Michael Scott when the office is "on fire". I tried to stay calm and instead just ended up yelling and sobbing. WHOOPS. (sorry for freaking you out bff)

But my mom is an ACTUAL GENIUS (3 degrees, y'all) and talked me through things.

Here's some advice I've learned from my experience.

  1.  Go to bed 'early' at least twice a week. I wasn't out partying, I was literally just going to Vertical (youth group) and then Cane's with my new friends. But it still kept me up late and meant I had to scramble to get school work done.  Try to get to bed by 10:45 on the days you have 8 ams. You don't have to stay up late just because it seems like everyone else is.
  2. Don't be "ON" all the time. I have made so many new friends these past two weeks and I felt like I needed to be there for them all the time. If they needed someone to walk to the restaurants, eat lunch so they weren't alone, pick up a book in the library, study with, I wanted to help. If their roomates were bad, they could vent to me! I also volunteered for lots of missions and groups. This isn't always great. Make sure you take time for yourself and get your own needs met. Put your oxygen mask on before helping others, right?
  3. GO TO THE CAMPUS DOCTOR. If you feel sick, don't wait it out. Go when you have the time. Because chances are, if you're at a 'real' school, you don't get any absences. I am so glad I went and got my antibiotic instead of suffering through it. Viral respiratory infection, high fever and a heart flutter won't just vanish because you have school. Also, get lots of rest. Walking across campus with a heavy backpack + not eating nutritious meals + basically living in a petri dish is not ideal for maintaining health.  Don't wait until you reach this stage:

4. Go to tutoring, SI, ask friends and profs for help. My college has tons of free tutoring options. I went to SI once, the tutor was awful, and I gave up. Bad idea. You don't have to stick with the weird dude aggressively fidget spinning (seriously!) I went to the Math Lab, asked a friend for help, and studied lots. I still don't get everything, but thanks to Wyatt in the Math Lab I understand functions a whole lot better.

5. Spiritual life/counting your blessings. I know everyone reading this may not be a Christian, but for me personally I find that it really helps to pray and read some Scripture, especially my life verse Philippians 1:6.  I also try thinking of all my blessings when I feel down. I love my roomie. I have made lots of friends. Most of my classes  are pretty easy to  understand. Just being at college is a huge opportunity that I am so grateful for.  At Baylor, each lamp post is in memory of a serviceman or woman who attended Baylor and was KIA. Whenever I feel lazy or like giving up, there's one I  read that talks about a boy my age, who left Baylor to serve. He stayed with his crashed plane for hours, shooting back at enemies who tried to get to the ammo the plane was carrying. He eventually died from wounds caused by the crash. How much more courage did fighting back take than me just getting out of bed to go to my 8 am? 

6. Talk to someone! Call your mom or dad, talk to your friends, share what you're struggling with. Don't go it alone. Often they have good ideas that can help. Don't isolate yourself in a little bubble.

Well, that's all for tonight, friends! Make good choices tomorrow!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dimensions of Health Science Studies

Hey there friends! Today was a really good day because it began with my favorite class here at Baylor, Dimensions of Health Science Studies. The teacher is a PT and has multiple degrees in medical concentrations, and she is very knowledgeable about all aspects of the medical field.

One of the things she really stressed to us today was the importance of communication and making a good impression on your future patients and their families. How many times have you felt uncomfortable because of an arrogant doctor, brisk nurse, or even an unprofessional receptionist?  As a doctor one needs to speak slowly and clearly, explaining complex medical subjects. Often, however, the doctor is busy (understandably so!)  and the responsibility of explaining might fall to the PT, nurse, or PA depending on the case. For this reason it's very important for all staff to communicate about patients and any issues that might arise.

We discussed the importance of keeping ourselves clean and neat. No piercings, minimal jewelry and tattoos, dyed hair, etc. People are already nervous about going to the doctor. They don't need to worry about your appearance.

We also talked about the importance of responsibility. Just because you're a doctor doesn't mean you get to delegate all the yucky jobs. Sometimes you have to clean up vomit or blood without waiting for a housekeeper or nurse. We discussed how distasteful doctors with enormous egos are, and their bad teamwork skills. Here, have a Vesper Lynd (the best Bond girl) quote:

Being a doctor means interacting well with staff and patients alike. Our instructor managed her own office for many years, and she shared several problems that arose from that and how she dealt with them, from a smelly OT to a nurse who complained loudly about patients. 

Then we discussed HIPPA briefly. I already have my HIPPA certification from shadowing, and most of the stuff in common sense, but it's always good to review since patients' privacy is so important. 

To sum it up, everything you do should be professional. Consider your patients before posting online, talking about work, and even as you're getting dressed. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

going to Baylor

Well! It's good to be back. While working towards applying to college, I ran across several really helpful pre-med blogs. They inspired me to resurrect my personal blog, which I started as a tween in 2011. I hope to chronicle some of my adventures as a pre-med student and maybe help/inspire someone else in their college journey. Here, have a very school spirit-y picture:

Right now, I'm preparing to begin my freshman year at Baylor University in Waco. If you watch HGTV, you've probably heard of us thanks to these guys:
(Chip and Joanna Gaines from the TV show Fixer Upper) Who knew Waco would become so cool? It's really a fun place, and there's lots of great restaurants and shops in addition to a small town vibe.

I still can't believe it has been a year since I applied to college. It seems like just a moment ago I was buying up ACT books and running from my job to dual credits to college applications. Being homeschooled created some difficulties when it came to counselor's letters and school VOEs, but it also really helped me face the college process independently. I was so terrified of not getting in anywhere. When the acceptance letters started coming, it was a great feeling to know that I had applied to college entirely on my own. I am SO grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to go to college.

I'm majoring in pre-health science studies (basically pre-med) and I can't wait for move in.

Thanks for following along!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pedernales Falls

Recently my family and I went to Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, Tx.
Pedernales is the Spanish word for flint; there are many chunks of flint in the river bed.
The park has lots of hiking trails, camping sites and boulders to climb and explore, but the main attraction is the falls.  The falls are beautiful at low water, but can turn deadly in flash floods, as signs throughout the park state. The falls trickle off into little pools of water, you can walk out to them on strips of rock that jut into the river.

The area the park is situated in is really picturesque- it seems like a backdrop for an old Western, with rolling hills and brown mountains.

mom kept taking pictures. ;)


 This was a cave. I crawled pretty far in but wriggled back out when the tunnel narrowed. People had scratched names on the sides, and sunlight filtered in through a hole in the roof. I felt like Nancy Drew, exploring. :)

The park itself is 5,200 acres and was a private ranch until 1970. Can you imagine owning all the waterfalls?!