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Published: Mon, 22 May 2017 11:00:31 -0400


Every Conversation You Will Have at the End of the School Year

Mon, 22 May 2017 11:00:31 -0400

Things change, but at least the conversations we’re having at the end of every school year will always stay the same. The end of times could be nigh, and we would still be saying, “Have a great summer!” as civilization crumbled around us, provided it was late May to mid-June and exams were finally over. Here is every conversation you will be having with another person in the coming weeks, revealing that we are little more than sentient flesh piles with a finite number of stock phrases stored away in our word arsenals. PERSON 1: Man, that AP lit exam was harder than I thought it would be. PERSON 2: I mean we’re not really supposed to talk about it. PERSON 1: True. PERSON 2: So let’s proceed to talk about it in detail and at great length. Did you see the memes? PERSON 1: Obviously I saw the memes. PERSON 1: Got any plans for the summer? PERSON 2: I am going to watch TV for three months until my brain reverts back to the primordial ooze from which it evolved. You? PERSON 1: Same. STUDENT: Hi. TEACHER: I’m not curving the exam grades. PERSON 1: I can’t wait for this school year to be over. I’ve been really busy lately. PERSON 2: You think you’re busy? I’ve got four essays to write, seven assignments to finish, three group projects to present, and the entire German Enigma code to crack, thus decisively turning the tide of World War II. PERSON 1: Will you sign my yearbook? Make sure it is a page-long endeavor that is both touching and hilarious. PERSON 2: Can I make inside jokes that neither of us will remember one year from now? PERSON 1: Of course. PERSON 2: What about pop culture references that will make us feel older and older as the years lengthen, which in turn will remind us that our bodies are slowly hurtling towards oblivion and eventual decay? PERSON 1: You bet. PERSON 2: Give it here. PERSON 1: I still have to clean out my locker. There are things inside of it that I haven’t seen in nine months, things I have adapted to living comfortably without. PERSON 2: Good luck with that. PERSON 1: It’s so hot out. PERSON 2: Sure is. PERSON 1: It feels like I was JUST complaining about how cold it was. I’ll never be content. PERSON 2: None of us will. STUDENT: Can we have class outside? TEACHER: And derive one single modicum of joy from what is supposed to be a mutually agonizing experience? I’ll die first. PERSON 1: So we should probably erase all the stuff we wrote in our textbooks. PERSON 2: Probably. PERSON 1: Or we could leave them and have our mark on humanity’s rich tapestry be butt doodles. PERSON 2: Let’s do it and be legends. PERSON 1: Have a good summer! Let’s definitely hang out! PERSON 2: I will never see you again, either in this life or the next.

6 Common Mistakes People Make When Choosing a College

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:00:25 -0400

Congratulations! Your hard work, persistence, and all of that excessive lying subtle padding on your applications have finally paid off: you got into college! Now it’s time to kick back and relax with many, many burritos and all of the Netflix: your work here is done. EXCEPT IT’S NOT, and you’re going to have to give those burritos to us (the chips and guac too, please). Getting into college is a killer achievement, but now you have to decide where you want to go, and it can be difficult to narrow down your options. But if there’s one thing we’re experts at, it’s making mistakes—so here are a few you should definitely avoid when it comes to picking a school. Mistake 1: Picking a school for its name or reputation. You might think that having Harvard, MIT, or the Vincent Clortho Public School for Wizards on your resume pretty much guarantees that you’ll have your pick of fantastic jobs after you graduate, but as it turns out, employers care far more about your applied skills, your character, and your drive than they do about your university’s name. So don’t attend an Ivy League school just because you think it’ll score you your dream career; instead, choose a place you love, and then focus on soaking up as much knowledge and experience as you can. Mistake 2: Choosing it because your friends are going there. As cliché as it might sound, college is an opportunity for you to break out of your comfort zone and figure out who you really are—like a nerd with the voice of an angel who looks amazing in a velvet blazer, or a genius who invents Facebook and betrays his best friend (you kinda look the second one, tbh). If you’re surrounded by a bunch of your high school friends, it can be much harder to meet new people, and you’ll probably miss out on a lot of great experiences. Mistake 3: Ignoring the $$$ factor. As much as it sucks, money should definitely be on your mind: stuff like tuition, student loans, and that inexplicably expensive meal plan (why does it cost so much if the cafeteria doesn’t even have fro-yo machines?!) are definitely important. But if you really, really love a school, don’t give up on it just because of its price tag: many colleges offer financial aid in the form of grants and/or scholarships, so do a little research and see if you might be eligible for assistance. Don’t be oblivious about the financial aspects of college, but don’t let them make your decision for you. Mistake 4: Choosing a college because it’s where someone else wants you to go. We know that things can get complicated when emotions—especially emotions like guilt—come into play, but please, please don’t pick a college just because a parent or an S.O is pressuring you to. The next few years of your life will be spent at this place, and you have the right to choose a university you’re truly excited and passionate about, and one where you feel you have the best chance at being happy. Mistake 5: Putting too much emphasis on your major. If you don't change your major at least four times by sophomore year, are you even a college student? (Rhetorical question: You are not.) Unless you’re planning to focus on something like neuroscience or engineering, don’t pick a school just because it caters to a major that you’re not even entirely sure you’ll pursue. After all, you might lose interest in electronic dance music and furniture upholstery halfway through your first year, and when you do, you don’t want to be stuck at a university that can only give you the skills to become a DJ at Pottery Barn. Mistake 6: Going there because the school colors match your eyes. Did Draco take into account the fact that green Slytherin robes would really set off his sneer? Of course he did—but he was also involved in a plot to murder Dumbledore, so he’s not a great role model. Unless taking cute IG selfies are the extent of your college goals, your university’s color scheme really shouldn’t be a deciding factor. (OR SHOULD IT??) (It shouldn't.)

The Graduation Test

Mon, 22 May 2017 10:00:05 -0400

I remember having conflicting feelings as my high school graduation neared. I mostly couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Atlantic City, New Jersey and move to NYC. There I would let my freak flag fly, find people who were into the same (old) music and poetry as me, and get a chance to live a life like all my artistic heroes: Lou Reed, Dee Dee Ramone, Edie Sedgewick. But I knew my high school friendships, though there were only a few I genuinely cared about, were about to be permanently altered. I was sad about ending that chapter, but I’m a pragmatic kind of girl. Whether you're a ruthless pragmatist or a character on One Tree Hill, your feelings about The End are totally valid. Take the quiz to find out your Exit Style! This quiz was originally published in May 2016 [viralQuiz id=65]  

Open Thread for May 22

Mon, 22 May 2017 09:37:42 -0400

Auntie SparkNotes: What's the Big Deal with Forgiveness?

Fri, 19 May 2017 21:08:49 -0400

Dear Auntie SparkNotes, I am, as the kids say, suffering. I'm in a really complicated situation with one of my best friends and my dad right now and I could really use some unbiased, third-party advice. My dad is a selfish person and emotionally abusive. He's forced me to lie to my mom to make things convenient for him, manipulated me into accepting his horrible partners, and forces me to be his best friend. He'll talk to me about his dating life (like semi-explicit details) and then say I'm "rejecting him" when I don't want to talk about it or I want to sleep in instead of doing something. He expected me to carry his emotional baggage, to be his crutch. Yet, when I would go to his house (I spend the weekend with him and the week with my mom) he didn't really care about me? Sometimes I would stop talking halfway through my story and realize he wasn't listening, he wouldn't be present. Things got really bad when he tried to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, someone who hurt him really badly. I didn't want to talk to her cause she did a lot of crappy stuff to us and I didn't want to invite that back in. He was super mean to me, saying I was selfish and emotionally manipulative. She continued to stay at our house while I just suffered in silence. I eventually left his house when my mom and I found out he was selling/using drugs. I didn't feel anything. Continuing on to my friend. My friend and I, let's call her Rachel, were really tight. She was one of my first friends when I first entered high school and she kinda created our friend group in ways. She's super outgoing and funny and smart, but she has a really abusive mom and mental issues. She cuts herself and has attempted suicide before. Her latest "issue" I guess, was right after Thanksgiving: she told my friends and I that she wanted to kill herself, and we should let her because she's a pedophile. Yeah. What the f***. Being the rational, morally right person that I am I stopped being her friend. Yet all my friends continued to be her friend. After she said she was a pedophile and wanted to die, she gets a super cool job, gets applauded for it (I work too and no one gives a crap), has a great relationship with our friend group, etc. For a long time I didn't hang out with any of them, I was really upset and angry. None of my friends lifted a single finger to ask about how I was doing or hang out with me. My friend said everyone "moved on." Eventually I decided to sit with them again and I'm getting steadily less and less upset with Rachel. Sometimes she's not even on my radar and sometimes I want to shove my hand through a wall. I'm sorry this is so long, but this is where my dilemma-dilemma is. It's almost the end of senior year and my dad is going to rehab near my grandparents. Everyone I know wants me to start talking to both people again and forgive them. But?? I don't know how I can when they've done the sh**tiest thing imaginable to me. They've manipulated me and betrayed my trust. I've given my dad at least 100 chances and if someone says they're a pedophile, how do you get over that? And I feel like if I did forgive them, I would be losing. It means that I'm weak and I need them in my life when they should be suffering. For once, I want to be the one who doesn't forgive and forget, I want to be right and justified. But I'm also sad/angry all the time and? I just, Auntie I don't know what to do. How can I forgive them? Can I? What's the whole big deal with forgiveness anyway? Ooooh, let's start there. Because to put it simply, Sparkler, the big deal with forgiveness is that it frees you. Forgiveness is saying, "That happened, and I accept that it happened, and I embrace that no amount of dwelling or grudge-holding or howling at the moon will change the fact that it happened." Forgiveness is nothing more or less than the ability to move forward unburdened by directionless, useless anger. And man, is that burden ever heavy[...]

QUIZ: Is This a Catcher in the Rye Quote or a Lana Del Rey Lyric?

Fri, 19 May 2017 11:00:19 -0400

If you want to write a Lana Del Rey song, you’re going to need some sadness, a bit of angst, and whole lot of 1950s Americana. Presumably, this is also how J.D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye. Can you tell them apart? [viralQuiz id=312]

What You Should (& Shouldn't) Take Into Consideration When Choosing A College

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:00:56 -0400

Choosing a college is a lot like competing in the Triwizard Tournament—you make the wrong choice, and all of sudden Cedric Diggory is dead, and you’re in a creepy graveyard with a dumb trophy and Lord Voldemort. (This analogy may be slightly flawed.) There’s a ton of pressure on you to pick the right place (you’ll be spending the next 3-5 years there, after all), and it can be hard to figure out what you should base your decision on. It’s perfectly rational, for example, to take into account the location of the college—is it a short drive from home, or a 6-hour plane ride?—but it’s slightly less rational to take into account the location of the nearest Starbucks (is 14 blocks too far to walk to get that S’mores frappuccino? Trick question. NO distance is too far to walk for a S'mores frappuccino). Here are a few more things you should (and shouldn’t) take into consideration when you’re deciding where to go: The Food: Nope! Eating violently mediocre cafeteria food is part of the college experience, so don't knock an otherwise great school off of your list just because their salad bar doesn't have your favorite type of mung bean—you can always get around the problem of bad campus food by buying your own groceries (AKA investing in 13 family-sized tubs of Nutella). Besides, even if a university’s dining service is amazing, there’s no guarantee that you won’t eventually get sick of their delicious margherita pizza (and when that happens, please feel free to send it to us). The Classes: Yes! Like it or not, classes are a major part of college (even Harry Potter had to go to class, and he was literally the Chosen One). So make sure that you like the general structure, style, and types of classes offered by the colleges you’re considering, as well as the classes you’re required to take in order to graduate. If you have an idea of what you’ll want to focus on—Creative Writing, Neuroscience, Bagpiping–then definitely look into those specific programs or departments at each school. The Dorms: Nope! Despite what TV shows have led you to believe (we’re looking at you, Vampire Diaries), your dorm room isn’t going to be a sprawling suite with vaulted ceilings and a walk-in closet. Freshman dorms are pretty much guaranteed to be adequate at best (and post-apocalypse survival bunkers at worst), so keep your expectations realistic. You'll likely be living off-campus in a year or two anyway! The Location: Yes! Whether it’s a busy city with a gigantic population or a middle-of-nowhere town where exactly 19 people live, the location of your college is something you should definitely take into account, as it’ll affect the vibe of your campus, what you do on the weekends, and what sort of internship and job opportunities are available to you. But make sure to consider the location in relation to where you want to be, not where you’re from. If you’re desperate to put some distance between you and the place where you grew up, then a college that’s 30 minutes away probably isn’t ideal—but if you plan on heading home every weekend to do your laundry and watch Netflix with your fam, then don’t choose a campus that’s halfway across the country. The Student Body: YES x INFINITY. The best way to get a feel for the students at a particular college is to visit the campus, and then either people-watch from behind a pair of gigantic sunglasses (because human interaction=vaguely terrifying), or start up a conversation (what are you, some sort of extroverted mutant?!). These students were in your shoes only a few years ago, and they’ll probably be happy to chat about their experience—and they might be one of the most reliable and honest sources of information. Ask yourself if they seem like the people you’d enjoy spending four years with—are they welcoming and cheerful, or do they immediately make fun of yo[...]

How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:00:43 -0400

Do you feel like you just got away with something when you get a term paper back with an "A" on it? Do you sometimes hear yourself speak and think "UCH, I DON'T SOUND LIKE I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" Are you nervous that someone, somewhere will eventually leap out of the shadows, point to you, and cry "Imposter! J'accuse!!!" You aren't alone. In fact Imposter Syndrome is something that tons of super smart workaholics (who are also all cramming until one AM for the AP U.S. History final) constantly deal with. We've got just the slideshow to ease your overheated noggin. When you start feeling like you just aren't enough, take a gander at these calming pictures by France Corbel and know that you aren't fooling anyone... because you never needed to in the first place!

Open Thread for the Weekend of May 19!

Fri, 19 May 2017 08:00:52 -0400

QUIZ: Which Classic Novel Sums Up Your School Year?

Thu, 18 May 2017 11:00:51 -0400

It’s the end of the school year. Time to torpedo your sleep schedule and rely primarily on Cheetos for sustenance. But before you drop off the grid completely, take a few moments to reminisce. Think of all the tests you didn’t study for, all the crushes you now regret, all the parties that were happening somewhere, probably. Which classic novel best describes everything you had to go through this year? [viralQuiz id=313]