Lost for where to start your journey to attending a top U.S. college? Wondering if you’re behind your peers? Confused about what step comes next?
We have a map to help you find your way. There are steps you can take all four years of high school to improve your candidacy for a top university acceptance. With hard work and the right guidance, you can make it to the finish line!
This guide walks you through each high school semester, but don’t forget to take advantage of those summers, too! Even if your teachers or peers aren’t thinking ahead, summer break is the perfect opportunity to set yourself apart.
Here are some suggestions for your superstar summers:
Rising Freshman Summer: Reach out to friends and look at the list of clubs you can join. You can also brush up on fundamental subjects.
Rising Sophomore Summer: Practice target skills, take a class at a local community college or online, build good writing and study habits, and explore extracurricular and academic interests.
Rising Junior Summer: Take more advanced courses in subject areas that most interest you. Start participating in camps or competitions. Start narrowing down your list of schools and majors. Prepare for standardized tests.
Rising Senior Summer: Apply for competitive summer programs, internships, and hands-on opportunities to set yourself apart. Begin the actual college applications.
Final Summer before college: Some schools offer bridge classes to help you adjust to college workloads. Otherwise – spend time with your family, check off any bucket list activities in your hometown, and get excited about your new home for the next few years!
Navigating the college application process can be challenging – that’s why we recommend speaking to a college counselor. Empowerly connects you with a team of college admission experts, handpicked based on your interests & goals. Whether you’re looking to develop your extracurricular profile or need support with summer programs or college applications, our counselors can boost your admissions chances to your dream college.
Learn more about Empowerlyhere or call +1(800)491-6920.
Apply today for Spring Classes at Chabot College! Looking to train for a new job, transfer to a four-year university, or learn a new trade? Chabot College offers over 20 student and academic support programs to help you reach your educational and career goals. Chabot College is here for you with online classes and programs to make sure you stay on track. Visit Chabot.edu and APPLY TODAY!
Apply today for Spring Classes at Las Positas College! Want to transfer to a four-year university? Looking to train for a new job or get career-ready? Las Positas College offers a wide variety of flexible online programs to help you stay on track and reach your goals. Las Positas College is here for you with over 20 student and academic support programs to help you graduate. Visit LasPositasCollege.edu and APPLY TODAY!
It was supposed to be a momentous year. I was planning to throw a party. A graduation party. Friends, flowers, photos. Smiles, speeches, tears. A memorable day where I would watch my daughter walk across the stage, surrounded by her peers, basking in the cheers of their families. A communal celebration. A coming of age. A time to fly. A time to sigh.
From the time she was four, I had imagined this milestone moment of her college graduation. Almost twenty years ago, I had heard commentary by Baxter Black about his graduating daughter on National Public Radio. It began with a question. “Did you ever stop and think to yourself – this will be the last time?”
It was a brief monologue, simple and moving, in the way heartfelt words often are. I thought about his words for days, trying to remember the order of those short sentences, trying to grasp the genuine emotions they conveyed. Years later, Google helped me trace the transcript.
I printed the words on an off-white sheet of paper with green trellis design, inserted it into a plastic sheet protector, and tucked it into a cardboard box. The box traveled from America to India, and then to Singapore. My job was to keep the paper safe until her graduation day. The idea was to hand the sheet to her; to ponder, to keep, to discard, just like all the words I had uttered her over the years. That was the plan.
To paraphrase John Lennon, Covid-19 is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Instead of the class of 2020, my daughter’s graduating cohort will forever be referred to as the Covid-19 class.
Without a public ceremony for graduation, there will be no visible marker of an event to signify an end and a beginning. For me, the end of the years of direct parenting; for her, a beginning that would require her to fly away with strong wings and a smile.
The disappointment of not having a large in-person ceremony was not just hers. I was hoping to vicariously relive the memory of my own graduation that took place more than two decades ago. To temper my disappointment, I revisited commencement speeches that form an important part of the US graduation experience.
Encapsulating the distilled wisdom of the lived experience of writers, entrepreneurs, and people of substance, each speech is a mini self-help book of sorts, a concentrated shot of a carefully fermented brew that could cause a palpable buzz if swallowed swiftly. Many popular speeches became books that could be handed out as graduation gifts containing words of advice to young people stepping into a world of possibilities.
But what advice can you give this cohort of millennial youth who feel cheated of their moment in the spotlight? They were denied the chance to post envy-inducing photos of a champagne-popping, hat-tossing, party-hopping day on Instagram. More importantly, they were denied the chance to savor the last in-person class, the last in-class exam, the last time of simply hanging out around campus, and the last chance to say goodbye.
In an ideal world, my daughter would have heard inspiring words from influential people. All she can do now is hang out with family members with whom she has been stuck at home for months. While I cannot provide her the chance to march across a stage, victorious in a cap and gown, the one thing I can do is dispense pearls of wisdom. After all, I have lived an interesting life. But, as she helpfully points out, I have been giving ‘lectures’ forever. Instead of applause, my monologues are usually met with eye rolls.
Even though I grudgingly agree, I am tempted to install some final pieces of programming code into her before she flies away.
“Uncertainty is inevitable. Doing something is more important than getting it right every time. Take all advice with a pinch of salt.’
But in this post-COVID world, I look back on my years of parenting and consider the futility of the insistence on helmets and seatbelts, at the constant attempt to ease my child’s path and smooth the bumps, and wonder if anything I have said can prepare her for a world that has literally turned on a dime.
Words, however, are not empty platitudes. They carry with them the weight of a person’s experience, and their value is proportional to your trust and respect for the person involved.
There is much I want to say, but this is the time for action, not words. I once again read Baxter Black’s musings and notice for the first time that like me, he has more questions than answers.
All I can do is mutely nod in response to his final question – “Where did she go, this little girl of mine?”
Ranjani Rao is a scientist by training, writer by avocation, originally from Mumbai, a former resident of USA, and now lives in Singapore with her family. She is co-founder of Story Artisan Press and her books are available on Amazon. She is presently working on a memoir. Medium | Twitter | Facebook | Blog
Apply today for Fall Classes at Las Positas College! Looking to train up for a new job or a different job? Displaced from work and want to learn a new trade? Las Positas College offers a wide variety of online programs for in-demand careers. Las Positas College is here for you. It’s no wonder that 4 out of 5 students would encourage others to attend Las Positas College. Visit LasPositasCollege.edu and Apply Today!
COVD-19 has caused worldwide concerns in the higher education space, especially in the middle of the ongoing decline in the number of international students studying at American universities. They are losing billions of dollars as reported in the March 2020 report of ‘NAFSA: Association of International Educators.’ There has been discussion on how it has impacted schools, colleges, next admission cycle, financial funding, how teachers are told to teach online. Most of the universities have moved to online teaching.
Some, like Boston University, are considering the possible postponement of their Fall 2020 semester, which will again put International students at higher risk because if they are not enrolled for a specific number of credits during a semester, they will not meet the visa regulations, initiating possible deportation proceedings against them. However, these are not the only challenges international students are going through, there are many more things we need to think about as we move forward.
Take financial insecurity. Many of my American friends don’t know that International students are only allowed to work on campus for a limited number of hours to support themselves financially. These hours are further reduced during the summer semester for international students. Due to this unprecedented situation, international students are worried about how they will earn their livelihood and pay their bills with campuses closed.
Traveling is extremely expensive at this point. Canada, India, and many European countries are on complete lockdown. International travel is expensive, and that is why international students choose to go annually or biannually.
Someone I know can afford tuition fees, but they depend entirely on their on-campus cafe’s job to pay bills. In these extremely uncertain times, the educational institutions are doing their best to offer most of their classes online, providing free food, supplies, and virtual support, but this is a temporary solution. International students have sustained the economy of American Universities and though international students may not be citizens or permanent citizens, they pay similar kinds of taxes on their income; another contribution to the US economy that has been impacted.
I have been worried about my friends and family. I am not at home to take care of my parents, and to seek solace, I have been talking to other international students. I realized that I am not alone, we are all stressed. One lost their family member, a few have economic challenges, my friend’s elderly parents are alone without any help. We do not know if traveling is safe, from both, an immigration and health point of view.
Many students have invested their hard-earned resources for a dream to earn their degrees from America. University of Chicago’s Business Professor and Economist Anil Kashyap and Jean-Pierre Danthine at the Paris School of Economics are predicting a massive recession that will likely hit the job market shortly, which would be again detrimental for international students trying to find a job. Graduate students who are joining US schools from Fall 2020 also see an uncertain future because after they graduate in two or five years, depending upon what degree they are pursuing, may not have a stable economy waiting to welcome them.
This situation is of global concern and everyone should take steps that are guided by morality and compassion. The American economy has benefited immensely from the contribution of immigrants. Far from home, they don’t have much direct physical support, unlike most other students, and everyone should come forward with a different approach to meet our challenges.
Saurabh Anand is an international Ph.D. student and a Graduate School Research Assistantship Block Grant (GSRA) fellow in the Department of Language and Literacy at the University of Georgia. A version of this article was first published in Duluth News Tribune.
It begins with only a single voice. Just a single beat, a simple six-beat dadra breaking through the silence. Then another. And in a matter of seconds, the song emerges in full force, a Bollywood-pop rhythm that’s smooth and yet hits all the right notes. So engrossed am I in the voices reverberating from my Youtube playlist that I almost entirely forget that there were no instruments present in the entire song. No omnipresent bass to emphasize a beat drop. No layers of autotune to smother the melody like fabric. Just voices, raw and powerful, somehow so American and yet unabashedly Indian at the same time.
That was my first peek into the world of Penn Masala, a group of a capella singers from the University of Pennsylvania. Over the past two decades, the group has skyrocketed to fame, garnering millions of views on Youtube and other platforms for their creative Bollywood mashups. They’ve covered everything from Guru Randhawa’s smash-hit Suit to Justin Bieber’s chart-topping Let Me Love You, and can seamlessly pivot between classical melodies, jazz riffs, hip hop, and much more. Beyond the screens, they’ve worked with some of Bollywood’s best. A few of their live performances include sharing the stage with Ayushmann Khurana and A.R. Rahman. In 2015, they were a part of the Anna Kendrick-starrer Pitch Perfect 2, and somehow found the time to slide in performances for Sachin Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar, and Barack Obama.
It’s quite the formidable resume, all right. And a resume about to be altered with their eleventh studio album, Musafir. To discuss this latest addition to their discography, I had a chat with Penn Masala, where they harkened back to the group’s humble beginnings.
Penn Masala was started in 1996 by a group of students at the University of Pennsylvania who wanted to use this art form to bridge the gap between their heritage and the culture they lived in, explained Sahit, a group member. I think that message still resonates with all of us and is one of the main things that drew us to the group. I don’t think our founders realized where the group would go when they started it back then but we feel so lucky that our music and our message has made it so far.
He then went on to discuss the a capella world, a powerhouse for entertainment on college campuses and beyond. Before Penn Masala, UPenn was already home to a number of successful groups, who not only sung as one, but lived and studied alongside one another, sometimes maintaining these friendships for the rest of their lives.
While the a capella industry had already seen all-female or all-Jewish teams dominate the stage, there was a gaping void in the recipe. Then they added the masala.
..Our founders felt, many Indian American kids have a whole separate side of their identity that this form of expression may not have been able to capture in the past. I think a cappella’s versatility and organic nature makes it especially conducive to different styles as well. In our experience, it’s been really interesting and fun to incorporate Indian sounds such as tabla and sargam into the traditional a cappella repertoire.
With Musafir, Penn Masala went above and beyond their previous a capella pursuits, forging soulful medleys from Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’s Illahi and Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill. They bounced between styles while still matching one another in technique and vigor. On the surface, Musafir seemed like yet another Masala blockbuster. But the group mentioned how this album crosses more serious frontiers, on both a personal level and for the South-Asian community as a whole.
In this album, we came to realize that we had a platform in the Indian-American community, and that there were issues that meant a lot to us that maybe have not been explored as much as they could be. These included mental wellness, South Asian identity, and linguistic diversity. We put a lot of thought into the song selection and visuals so that they could most authentically convey our experiences. Beyond the ideas that we explored in this album, we also pushed ourselves musically by exploring a whole new range of musical styles and languages that Masala has not covered in the past. In creating these mixes and in conceptualizing the videos, we spent a lot of time reflecting together on our own experiences.
Penn Masala makes good music. They always have, and another album with effortless transitions and Bollywood pomp would not be a surprise. What has changed is how their concept has come of age over the years, where they act not merely as a college-wide a capella group, but as a cross-cultural liaison in new musical territory. They are evidence of the Indian entertainment industry at the height of its globalization. And so the album begins with a music video for the Illahi mashup, which serves as a heartfelt tribute to the Indian-American student life. As a Desi student myself, I was delighted to find pieces of myself in the video, which includes Bollywood movie sprees, tadka dal, cricket — staples of the brown lifestyle. Even better is the Desi Regional Medley, a mix that unifies India’s rich linguistic history while beautifully highlighting the differences.
This is an album that does not shy away from appearing “too Indian”, but rather marinates in its own masala.
Music is often most beautiful when the expression is unfiltered and authentic, the group concluded. And Penn Masala has lived up to that ideal, offering us a chance to find our own inner Musafir. We hope that listening to this album allows our fans to similarly [reflect on their experience], and how music can be used to express it.
Much like the Desi identity, Penn Masala is in a constant state of metamorphosis, leaving its imprint on every continent, keeping its roots, and yet finding its voice. Musafir closes on a lingering crescendo, a fitting end to a beginning.
To listen to Musafir, the full album can be listened to on YouTube here and an abridged version can be streamed here.
Kanchan Naik is a junior at The Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. Aside from being the assistant culture editor of India Currents, she is the editor-in-chief of her school’s news-zine The Roar. She is also the Teen Poet Laureate of Pleasanton, and uses her role to spread a love of poetry in her community.
There’s no state in America quite like California. In troubled times for the Nation, California is where the American Dream is alive and well. The most diverse state in the world’s most diverse democracy, California is big-hearted, thriving, inclusive and bold.
This year, we’ve been working to build a California for All. Governing by our values of growth and inclusion, we have made principled yet practical investments in our people and our future.
Making sure that those investments are built to last, we have budgeted responsibly for the years ahead. Our balanced, on-time budget created the largest rainy day fund in state history and paid down California’s wall of debt.
That budget addressed the biggest challenges we face. Today, I will share our work to tackle the high cost of living in California, prevent and prepare for emergencies, and combat homelessness.
First, we’re working to confront the state’s affordability crisis. It is our state’s foundational economic challenge, which threatens lives and threatens futures. The things that make it possible to get ahead – housing, health care, saving for your kids’ college or your retirement – are getting farther out of reach for Californians.
When I took office last January, I got to work to make life more affordable for all. Together, we expanded healthcare subsidies to middle-class Californians. We took on rising prescription drug costs by seeking to establish the nation’s largest single purchaser system for drugs. We helped put higher education within reach of more Californians by providing two free years of community college to first-time, full-time students and negotiated tuition freezes at California’s universities.
We also put money back in the pockets of California parents by doubling the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and adding a $1,000 credit for families with children under the age of six. We eased the financial burden on parents by repealing the sales and use tax on diapers.
Second, we are making sure that California is ready for the next natural disaster, and that communities still recovering from catastrophic wildfires have what they need to rebuild.
We invested $1 billion to build disaster resiliency, response and recovery – including funding the pre-positioning of emergency response teams in times of high-risk wildfire conditions. We launched Listos California, a statewide network of community organizations that build disaster resiliency in vulnerable communities. We also moved the state toward a safer, affordable and reliable energy future by drafting wildfire safety and accountability measures and working with the Legislature to create a $21 billion wildfire fund.
Finally, we’re working nonstop to confront the statewide crisis of homelessness, which impacts 130,000 Californians in every corner of our state.
We’re pursuing solutions that work. We made a historic $2.75 billion investment — the most California has ever spent — on programs to fight homelessness and build more housing. That amount included $650 million in Emergency Homelessness Aid to cities and counties so that they can implement the best local solutions for their communities. We’re also striking at the root causes of homelessness, including the unacceptable lack of housing construction and unscrupulous landlords who price-gouge their tenants and unfairly evict them. We negotiated and signed the nation’s strongest statewide renter protections and worked with technology companies to secure $4.5 billion towards California’s housing crisis.
We’re “all in” on tackling this crisis because it is a major quality of life issue not just for the person sleeping on a sidewalk, but for everyone in their community. We recognize that every homeless individual is someone’s child, parent, or friend. Many times, they are our service members, who served honorably in our military and fell onto hard times after they got home. These individuals are often struggling with mental illness or substance abuse.
They deserve better than the reckless rhetoric and heartless cuts to the social safety net that Washington is offering. They deserve the thoughtful solutions that we are pursuing in California, in partnership with local governments, the private sector, and philanthropists statewide.
Make no mistake, we have so much more work to do. There are still too many Californians who do not get to share in the prosperity that they help to create. For them, and their children – and California’s continued leadership in the nation and the world – we must boldly confront our remaining challenges. These challenges demand bold solutions, and above all, the courage for a change.
Fortunately, we have no shortage of courage here in California, a state of dreamers and do-ers who are not afraid to take risks for what’s right.
In the year ahead, we’ll continue to work hard and aim high on behalf of all Californians, and everyone who looks to our state as a beacon of hope.
Las Positas College is now accepting Applications for Spring Classes and Offers options to take online, evening and weekend classes.
As one of the top ranking transfer colleges, students that attend LPC are guaranteed transfer admission to over 30 universities. Discover what Las Positas College has to offer, visit www.Laspositascollege.edu and apply for admission today!
This season of Navaratri brings with it garba, dandiya, music, masti, and hordes of Indian Americans ready to celebrate! Traditionally, garba/dandiya is associated with the region of Gujarat, however, all over America, this practice has been adopted by all. Uttar Pradesh Mandal of America (UPMA) is one such local Bay Area organization that has used the love of garba and dandiya for a good cause. On Friday, October 18th, at the San Jose Convention Center, UPMA held a benefit garba, Festival of Life “Dandiya Dhoom”, with world renowned singer, Falguni Pathak. UPMA has used the money they have raised over the past year from such events to build 10 daycare centers in Chitrakoot and helped 15,000 underprivileged women become empowered and get married. I was lucky to attend such an event on Friday October 18th; it was a night of synchronization, music, energy made unforgettable by Falguni Pathak’s infectious energy.
“Every penny earned [by UPMA] is sent back to India.”
UPMA’s light and energy is sourced from founder, former President, and current Chairperson, Nilu Gupta. Nilu Gupta and Prakash Agrawal co-founded the organization in 2006 when they saw a gap in knowledge and retention of UP culture in the Bay Area.
As a Hindi professor at De Anza Community College, Nilu Ji also runs one of the few college credit Hindi courses in California; she is trying to inspire the next generation of Indian Americans to grasp their native language and keep it alive.
UPMA is not without a team of volunteers and the current president, Ritesh Tandon, is working tirelessly to keep the organization vibrant. Attending events like Festival of Life shows support for Indian culture in the Bay Area and allows us to be civically engaged transcontinentally. To learn more about UPMA, to volunteer, or to find out about upcoming events check out their website http://upmaglobal.org/.
Apply Today and see what LPC has to of er when classes begin August 19.
(Livermore, CA) – Las Positas College (LPC) is ready to help usher in the next generation of an educated workforce with degrees, certificates and transfer programs that are designed to help students and working adults further their career opportunities.
This fall, students enrolled at LPC can take advantage of guaranteed transfer programs to four-year universities and career technical education programs, such as Fire Service Technology, engineering technology, and Early Childhood Development.
All students are encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the only way to see which types of financial aid – everything from California College Promise Grant to scholarships and loans – are available. DREAMers should file a Dream Application, which provides similar financial assistance. Additionally, students may qualify for Bookstore loans, work-study programs and textbook loaner programs.
About Las Positas College Las Positas College currently enrolls 8,000 students and offers curriculum for students seeking transfer to a four-year college or university, career preparation, or basic skills education. The College provides university transfer classes, retraining classes for those in need of employment or career advancement, a first-time educational opportunity for many adults, enrichment classes for those seeking a broader perspective, and career and technical training for those entering the technical and paraprofessional workforce.