Bucket List?

It’s been over a year since I wrote my bucket list. Wow. Amazingly, I’ve actually managed to complete some of the items on my list. Some will take a bit longer. What’s been bugging me, though, is an item that never made it onto the final draft of the list: Speak at a TED talk.

The point of TED is to spread amazing ideas to the world for free. Subjects range from PMS to psychology to playing games, from serious to silly. The main page is here: TED Talks. My favorite talk (so far) is here: The Voices In My Head. I’ve been watching these talks on YouTube for about two years now. I love them. They’re compelling, and you learn things.

Unfortunately, I have major problems with public speaking. I can barely get through presentations in front of classes of 15 people. I can’t even imagine talking coherently in front of hundreds of people and being filmed. So I changed my list item to “watch a TED talk.”

This did not actually make it onto my list, largely because I assumed that the only people who actually made it into the audiences for these talks were doctors, lawyers, and high-powered CEOs. (This isn’t true; there are many events around the world, and usually all you have to do is buy a ticket.) However, I recently had the opportunity to watch a TED Talk… kind of.

TEDx is the independently organized faction of the TED nonprofit. There are so many great ideas out there that the main organization can’t put all of them on the internet, so they lend their name to groups and individuals who want to put on a talk. One of those groups is based out of my school. Amazingly, for $6 I got lunch, a t-shirt, tons of freebies, and an amazing experience.

Out theme was connection. The speakers were mostly people from my school, with a few other community members thrown in there. Also, not everyone spoke; there were a few musicians and even a break dancer. It was really cool, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go, even though I’m not crossing an item off my bucket list.

What are some cool things that you’ve been able to do through your school? Has anyone else out there been to a TED or TEDx event? How was it, and what did you talk about?




Hey Bulldog (My Transfer Story)

Hi again, my lovely followers. I’m not even going to think about how long it’s been since the last time I posted on here. In fact, I’m going to promise never to complain to you about how long it’s been since I’ve posted something. Nobody wants to read that, so MOVING ON!

To say that my life has been busy the last couple of months is an understatement. I’ve had Frisbee, school, a little bit of a social life, and a few medical problems. But instead of getting into all that, I’m going to share some exciting (for me) news!

I’m transferring to UNC Asheville Chapel Hill! 🙂

Note: I made this post before getting accepted into UNC-CH, and I changed my mind. Any strikethroughs you see in the text are a result of my indecisiveness.

Though I love my school, it’s just not the right fit for me. I’m too close to home, and I tend to get lost in the crowd of over 25,000 students. I want to go somewhere smaller and try living in a dorm (as terrifying as that sounds).

A lot of people have been asking me for advice on transferring schools in my actual life, so I thought maybe some virtual humans would like to know, as well. My top tips are in a list at the end, but here’s how my transfer process went:

Step 1: The Persuasion

It actually took quite a bit of convincing for me to decide to transfer. My brother and I were driving between houses for Thanksgiving, and he was giving me long speeches about the whole family thinking I wasn’t living up to my potential. He reminded me of the big plans I had in high school, plans to go far away for school and never look back. To be honest, I blew him off at first. I was too traumatized by social family gatherings to give the idea any serious thought. But it stayed with me. By Christmas, I was doing research.

Step 2: The Study

The first place that popped into my mind when I thought about transferring was Chapel Hill. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a bit of an obsession. Once I decided to leave the state for college (way back in middle school), I fixated on UNC Chapel Hill and never seriously considered any other options until about my junior year of high school.

For those of you who don’t know, UNC Chapel Hill is one of the hardest public schools in the nation to get into. They have an 18% cap on out-of-state students and only accept a few hundred transfers each year. On top of that, they have a student body of around 36,000 students. In other words, when I started seriously looking, Chapel Hill began to look like it wasn’t my best choice. Of course, this didn’t stop me from applying. I’ll hear back from them in mid-April, but I’ve already made up my mind to go to Asheville.

A super-useful tool in my research was colleges.niche.com. This site lets you fill out information such as your current GPA and SAT scores and tells you your chances of getting into a school based on these numbers. Nearly every school will tell you that they look at more than just your SAT score, so don’t rely completely on the charts, but it’s usually a fairly good indicator. Also, the site will give you the names of colleges it thinks will be good matches and even send your information (if you want them to) to the schools. It gives all kinds of statistics and ‘grades’ the schools in different categories such as Academics, Greek Life, Campus Quality, and tons more. It really helped to narrow down my list. (Every university offers a major in English, so I wasn’t as picky as my friend who wanted to major in Neuroscience.)

Step 3: The Application

The application was honestly the scariest part for me. Thankfully, the Common App let me fill in the blanks for a lot of things. I did have to make a new account though, since it was a new school year with new applications. As for the essay, well, that was…interesting, to say the least. Most of the prompts were “Why do you want to transfer?” I couldn’t very well say “My school sucks and I want to get away from home,” could I? Actually, I probably could, but it wouldn’t meet the word requirement and definitely wouldn’t get me into any good schools.

I had to find a nice way to say these things while bragging about myself (something that’s really hard for most people, including me). I ended up saying something along the lines of “I love my school, and it’s given me many wonderful opportunities (here, I named some of these opportunities, which had the added benefit of bragging about myself), but I’ve run out of chances to take, and I want to do something new.” That’s obviously paraphrased a lot.

One thing you definitely don’t want to do is rag on your current school. You picked that school for a reason, even if it wasn’t the best reason. Talk about those reasons. Explain why you went to your school in the first place, and it will naturally lead into why those reasons aren’t working for you now. In the process of writing this essay, you may even find that you don’t actually want to transfer (I’m looking at you, Ari). That’s perfectly okay. As I said, you picked your school for a reason.

Step 4: The Revision

This is probably the most important step. GET SOMEONE TO REVISE YOUR ESSAY. Anyone. Your current school most likely has a Writing Center. If it does, use it. If not, go to you English teacher (surely you’ve had at least one) and ask them to look over your essay for you. If that isn’t enough, find an English major. Make friends. Bribe them with coffee (it nearly always works). Most of my friends still cringe when they see an email from me. This is a good thing. >:) Ask people for ideas on how to make the essay better, not just for copyediting.

Step 5: The Waiting Game

The “waiting game” wasn’t terribly boring for me, mostly because my schools kept losing misplacing my documents. Once I sent in my college and high school transcripts, it took constant emailing to actually get them processed at certain schools. Don’t be afraid to be pushy. I was terrified that they’d reject me just to get me out their hair until one of my coworkers pointed out that being a little aggressive towards these admissions officers showed how much I wanted to go to their school. That being said, I didn’t email them every single day. Every two weeks or so, I’d get an automated email saying that I had started an application but had missing items. Every time that happened, I’d politely remind the admissions officers that I’d sent this information in X many weeks ago. Eventually, I got a reply saying my application was complete and under review. I had my decision within a day.

Step 6: The Decision

I applied to three schools. I heard back from one almost immediately, but I knew I didn’t want to go there. It was my back up to get me a little further from home (40 minutes rather than 10) and living on campus (it’s required there). So my decision was between Asheville and Chapel Hill and depended almost entirely on where I’d get in. After a little more research, though, I found a major that I love, an environment I could easily get used to, and dorms that aren’t half bad. I’m still going to visit both colleges over Spring Break, but my mind is made up. I’m going to be a Bulldog Tar Heel! 🙂

Tessa’s Top Ten Transfer Tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy. Not only does it get shit done, but it shows how much you want to go to a school.
  • Figure out where you actually want to go. Don’t be afraid to give up on your dream of the “ideal college” in favor of one that will actually fit your needs.
  • Revise, revise, revise. No matter how good of a writer you are, there’s always room for improvement.
  • Do research. Find out what people are saying about the school you want to go to. Look for a map of the school or a layout of the dorms. Look at the school’s majors, requirements, and transfer credit policies.
  • Go to social media. This is a good way to see what kind of students are on the campus. Look at Yik Yak, but don’t take it too seriously.
  • Don’t tear down your current school in your application essay. Why would a new school want you if you hate your old school so much?
  • Visit a few schools. (I’m a total hypocrite, because I haven’t done this yet, but I promise I’m going to!) It’s a good way to get a feel for the school. I have plenty of friends who said they knew they were home as soon as they stepped onto their college campus for the first time.
  • Be patient. Every winter, schools are flooded with applications. They might not get to your right away. That’s okay.
  • Try to find a school you’re going to love. It’s okay to transfer, and it’s okay not to. Just do everything you can to find the right school for you.
  • Don’t stop working at your current school. A lot of times, GPA doesn’t transfer with you, and it’s hard to make yourself care when you you’re your classes won’t matter next year. Keep in mind that you’re paying for school and that your acceptance is likely dependent on you keeping your grades high.

Good luck, and have a wonderful wintry day! 🙂 Are any of you transferring or thinking about transferring? How did your process go?