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How to select the best college for your child?

 

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When people say “time flies by quickly” they are not exaggerating. It seems like only yesterday our sweet big eyed daughter was running around here with her Barney stuffed doll and her hair in pigtails. She’s almost 17 years old now and instead of Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer she’s into boys and trying to convince us to let her go to Florida on Spring Break with an 18 year old friend (no way!).

Sigh… if only they could stay young for a longer time.

We’re not prepared for a lot of things that come with having an older teenager. It’s enough just trying to help her find a job so she can afford a car, which is another thing we are not ready for. We also have to think about college. She’s going to be a senior in the fall. NOW is the time to think about where she wants to go, what she wants to study and spend our weekends making college visits.

When I was in high school and I was planning on going to college I wanted to go to a college that my friends were going to – or one that was known as a “party school”. I was young and foolish then. I didn’t think about college curriculums, entrance exams and essays, financial aid, student loans or what college majors have the strongest job prospects. I just wanted to go and hang out with my friends. What a big mistake that was.

I’m NOT letting our daughter make the same mistakes that I made. I want her to know everything there is to know about selecting a college, applying for college and how to afford college.

You CAN find this information online, but you’ll go crazy researching it. There are so many websites and so much different information to be found online. I prefer to have it all in one place by a trusted resource. That is why I am going to get a copy of the book by U.S. News & World Report called Best Colleges 2014. This guide book is filled with the latest, up to date, information and includes all important information you’ll need to consider when selecting a college.

Best Colleges 2014 cover for B&N Better Paper Project promo

I like that the book starts off with something that is very important for all college bound students – WHY are you going to college? How do you learn best? What activities matter most? Can you handle the pressure?

Our daughter wants to go to a college on the west coast (we’re in NY). I can understand that she wants to “spread her wings and fly” and be independent, we also don’t think she’s “equipped” to handle something like that… yet. We’d like for her to go to a college locally for a couple of years to see how she does then she can transfer any where she wants to go.

I love that the book points out which schools offers the best internships, which schools foster a sense of community with incoming freshmen and which schools are best for certain degrees.

Throughout the book you’ll also find informative articles/essays written by professionals that also help you and your student prepare for life beyond high school.

Here is just one of the articles you’ll find in the book (shared with permission).

Admissions Officers Speak Out: Application Mistakes To Avoid

Some types of mistakes on college applications drive admissions staffers crazy (and sometimes send the applicant straight to the rejection pile). U.S. News asked pros from around the country to weigh in on what they’d strongly rather you not do. Here’s a sampling from the 13 goofs they identified:

Let parents take the lead

“It doesn’t tell us that a student is interested if we get 15 phone calls from Mom,” says Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management at Butler University. “We want families involved. But the student needs to take the lead.” 

Submit a lengthy résumé

“At my stage in my career, I shouldn’t have a three-page résumé. So no 17-year-old should be submitting a three-page résumé,” advises Leigh A. Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid at Bates College . “I know many college counselors encourage students to write one as a process to help the kid recognize all she’s accomplished, but we don’t need to see it if you’ve filled out the application properly.” 

Hit submit without proofreading

“Using spell-check isn’t enough – you have to proofread,” warns Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid at Oberlin College. Admissions officers tell of one applicant who described having an “international bachelorette” degree and another who wrote a passionate essay about the musical “Lion King.” 

Wait until the last minute

“Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace,” says Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis. “We try to give a few days’ grace period, but colleges and universities expect you to confirm that your application has been received and that it is complete. Check your status through the college’s or university’s website first to see if everything is there.”

Write a one-size-fits-all essay

“If you write an essay for a university, and then you write that essay again and it’s just a matter of changing the name of the university, then it’s probably going to be a poor essay. And yes, we have gotten students who forget to change ‘Northwestern’ to “Rice,’” reports Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice University. “Why, specifically, have you chosen us? Demonstrating true interest and care can make a difference on the margin.”

Trump up your extracurricular activities

“We want to know where a student’s passions lie, and genuine interests tend not to appear suddenly in senior year,” states Sarah Richardson, director of admissions and scholarships for Creighton University. I’d rather see quality over quantity. Include as much detail as you can so that we can understand what kind of a fit you’ll be for our institution.” 

Fail to check our requirements

“There’s nothing more disappointing than to review an application of a student who might otherwise be competitive for admission and realize she is ineligible because she didn’t take the required courses, says Kelly A. Walter , associate vice president and executive director of admissions for Boston University. “For very focused and specific programs and majors like business, you’re required to have specific quantitative skills. Or for physical therapy and athletic training, a very strong foundation in both science and math is a critical factor in the admissions process. So look at all the curriculum requirements for things you may be interested in.”

Excerpted from “Oops! These Goofs May Ruin Your Chances” in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014.

Thankfully this article will help us to avoid these mistakes.

I made A LOT of mistakes when it came to college. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t think things through. As a result I dropped out after one year and had to wait several years before I was able to return to college with a better head on my shoulders.

I am getting a copy of this book not only for me and my husband but also for our daughter. She needs to start taking things more seriously and start narrowing down her choice of schools that are not entirely based on location (she’s only looking at where is a school is located – not at what it has to offer or how much it costs). She also needs to narrow down her major and find out if it’s a major that will help her to land a job when she graduates or does she need to reconsider and come up with alternative options just in case?

You can find the book at retail locations like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. You can also purchase the guidebook HERE. Use the discount code SCHOOL25 to save 25%.

If you have a child heading off the college soon or you have already survived sending a child off to college, would you care to share any words of advice and tips? Not only will it help me but others who are reading this post. I value your feedback.

graduation

Kimberly

*I have partnered with U.S. News and World Reports to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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Help Kick Tabacco to the Curb and Raise Tabacco Free Kids

 

Cigarette

I am grateful that my kids don’t smoke. My daughter (almost 17) admitted that she tried it once last summer with a friend (who is a bad influence) offered her a cigarette to try. She tried it and hated it but mostly she thought about how she didn’t want to die from lung cancer.

We embedded into our kid’s heads since they were old enough to understand that smoking is dangerous for your health. In fact when they were younger they would constantly say things about their grandfather smoking (he started when he was 15) and whenever they saw someone on the side walk smoking they would walk far away from them so as not to risk second hand smoke.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses each year.

I am disappointed that our daughter tried to smoke a cigarette but grateful she hated it and came to her senses. I guess we’ll just chalk this one up for peer pressure. FYI… she is not allowed to hang out with that girl anymore. She’s nothing but trouble, sad to say.

Our son is 14 and in the 9th grade. He recently told me about a female classmate of his (a girl that we know) and how she’s started smoking. How is it that the parents don’t know that? Doesn’t she smell like smoke and where does a 14 year old get cigarettes from or even the money to buy them?

Kick Butts Day

TODAY – March 19, 2014 – is the 19th annual Kick Butts Day, a national campaign to help educate youths and parents about the dangers of tobacco products, especially for children.

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

Did you know that 1,200 people die EVERY DAY from tobacco? Thank about that for a moment and let it sink in… One thousand, two hundred people die EVERY DAY from tobacco related diseases.

In addition, 280,000 New York kids alive today will DIE prematurely from smoking. That is just a statistic for New York. I a sure that most states have similar stats. That means that many children you know – your child’s friends, classmates, relatives or neighbors – will not live a full, long life because they will die from complications from tobacco related health issues. That is very sad and very scary too. It also makes me mad that smoking is still an issue with youths.

The goal of Kick Butts Day is to educate children, parents, teachers and caregivers about the dangers of tobacco in hope of one day wiping cigarettes out of our lives for good.

Make Tobacco History

Its sad to think that it will take that long to totally abolish cigarettes from our lives. I wish it could happen sooner.

Personally I don’t smoke. I am not judging anyone who does smoke. That is their prerogative. So please don’t jump all over me about why you, as an adult, smokes. “To each his own” my mom always told me. I’m just concerned about youth who smoke. I think we can all agree that children and teens should not be smoking the same way they should not be consuming alcohol or illegal substances.

In the state of New York, 11.9% of high school students smoke and 12,900 become new daily smokers each year. Nationally it was found that 18.1% of high school students still smoke. That percentage should be 0%!

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Did you know that nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products (like Hookah Pens and E-Cigarettes). Tobacco companies knowingly target youths magazine and store ads, discounts and candy (or fruit) flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.

This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action.  The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General’s report found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought.  The report found that without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused deaths.

Some companies are already making efforts to eliminate tobacco from our lives. Recently CVS announced that starting later this year they will phase out all tobacco products from their stores nationwide. CVS is also a proud supporter of Kick Butts Day.

There is a special printable that you can print out and use in support of Kick Butts Day. Simply download the print out (found here) and take a photo of yourself with the sign by your nearest CVS and then upload your photo on the various social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) using the hashtags  #StandWithCVS and #KickButtsDay.

Kick Butts Day

A suggested message: “I #StandWithCVS on #KickButtsDay to #MakeTobaccoHistory @CVS_Extra

If you don’t have a social media page you can email the photo/photos to info@kickbuttsday.org. All the photos will be used in a special online photo gallery in support of Kick Butts Day and Stand With CVS.

Kick Butts Day needs your support to help Make Tobacco History (#MakeTobaccoHistory).

To learn more about Kick Butts Day please visit www.KickButtsDay.org or www.TobaccoFreeKids.org.

In addition please check out Kick Butts Day and Tobacco Free Kids on Facebook as well as Kick Butts Day and Tobacco Free Kids on Twitter. The official hashtags are #KickButtsDay and #MakeTobaccoHistory.

What do you do to ensure that your children or grandchildren don’t fall victim to the tobacco companies or peer pressure and give in to smoking?

Are you, your family, school or organization planning anything for Kick Butts Day?

Feel free to share your thoughts.

CTFK_KBD_Earbuds_3.16.14

Kimberly

*Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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4 Techniques That Will Help You Teach Your Teen to Drive

 

Teen Driver

You taught your kid how to walk with no problems. When it came time to go to school, you showed him how to add and subtract with ease. But now that your child is approaching the magic age that suddenly allows him to drive, it’s time for you to teach him something that’s not quite as simple. Operating a vehicle is multi-tasking at its finest, and even old-timers can’t always do it effectively. So how are you supposed to instruct your teenager, that won’t even clean up his room when asked, how to do it?

1. It’s What You Do, Not What You Say

With teenagers, it doesn’t really matter what words are coming out of your mouth unless you back them up with actions. This is especially true when it comes to driving. You can preach all of the rules of the road to your teen until you lose your voice, but he will still pay more attention to what you do when you are behind the wheel. After all, if you break one of the rules, it must be okay for him, right?

2. Answer the “Why?”

Just like when your kid was a toddler, the all-important answer to the question “Why?” really matters. It’s not enough to tell your teen that he needs to keep both hands on the steering wheel: You need to explain that if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to control the car successfully in an emergency situation. Once your teen actually understands the reasoning behind all of the driving rules you give him, he is more apt to follow them.

3. Be a Pollyanna

Sometimes it seems like all you ever say is, “Don’t do that!” and “No, that’s not right!” Instead, try to focus on the positive. Even though your teen seems like he doesn’t care about what you think of him, deep down, he thrives on your pride for him. So let him know how awesome he is when he follows the speed limit, even in the school zone. Tell him good job when he uses his blinker before switching lanes. He will crave your positive words and try to earn them every chance he gets. Plus, teaching him to drive will be much more pleasant experience for both of you.

4. Use Scare Tactics

It may be a cheap shot, but it is an effective one. And when it comes to your teen’s safety, you need to take advantage of everything at your disposal. In order to really stress to your teen the importance of what you are telling him, you need to put a little fear in his bones. Let him know that out of every five teenage deaths, one of them is from a car crash, making it the leading cause of death for his age group (15-19 years). Inform him that over 5,000 teenagers die while driving (or riding with a teen driver) each year, and 56% of these teens were not wearing seatbelts.

To top it all off, really ingrain the importance of safe driving into his head by showing him graphic images of car crashes caused by teen drivers. If that doesn’t scare him into driving safely, you might want to withhold the licensing process until it does.

Car

Guest post by Drivers Ed by Improv.

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5 Parenting Tips Every Parent Can Do To Make a Difference in Their Teen’s Life

 

Talking to teen

As a parent, you want to equip your teen with the skills necessary to navigate through the world with a minimal amount of pain and hurt. However, adolescence is typically when teens break away emotionally from their parents as they try to find their own identity. Even though you and your teen are entering a new phase in your relationship, there are still some parenting techniques and tips you can employ to make a difference in how your teen transitions into a healthy, capable adult.

Tip #1. Set Rules and Consequences Up Together

As your teen gains more independence, now is a good time to discuss the house rules and the consequences of breaking them. Often, your teen will come up with some meaningful contributions to the discussion. Hold the conversation when you are both calm and relaxed rather than immediately after an infraction. Establishing expectations on both sides will give you both an idea of what happens and what punishments are fair.

Tip #2. Communicate About Dangers

Your teen may feel like he or she knows everything there is to know about life, but you can make them better prepared when you have open and honest discussions about things like sex, drugs, drinking, bullying and even social media responsibilities. Make sure they are educated on the facts of each topic rather than rely on what they hear through their friends. Brainstorm ways that your teen can handle various situations, from being offered alcohol at a party to dealing with a bully. Planning, preparation and information also leaves the door wide open for your teen to come talk to you about any of these issues in the future.

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Tip #3. Know When to Step In and When to Back Off

Your teen needs opportunities for independence now, so give them a chance to do things on their own, within reason. Step in when your teen is thinking about doing something harmful or permanent, but in general, let them have some leeway when it comes to day to day decisions. Realizing the consequences of their choices are some of the most powerful life lessons, and sheltered or smothered teens may not develop a healthy sense of self awareness. Pick your battles when it comes to your teenager and don’t nitpick over small matters, yet step in when it is something that is significant or potentially serious.

Tip #4. Get to Know Their Friends

You may not like your teen’s friends, but when you get to know them better, it gives you insight into the type of people your teen identifies with, for good or bad. It also gives your teen a chance to see how his or her friends react around others, adults specifically. If your teen’s friends are not respectful, responsible or otherwise appropriate, your teen will see that quickly. Knowing about your teen’s friends also gives you another avenue for communication—you can ask about the happenings in the friend’s lives and gain insight into your own teen’s thoughts, concerns or achievements.

Tip #5. Set the Example

Your teenager may act like he or she doesn’t want much to do with you but in reality, your actions and behaviors still have a big influence on how your teen views the world. Make sure your actions in dealing with others, handling stress and challenges and expressing yourself reflect what you want your teen to see you do. You can be a good role model and help your teen develop appropriate ethical and moral standards that will help guide them through their later teen and adult years.

Teens

Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer with expertise in marriage and family development and adolescent issues. For more parenting tips, visit HelpYourTeenNow.com.

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Movie Review – The Spectacular Now – Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download TODAY!

 

spectacular-now-final-poster

As a mom to two teenagers I know a bit or two about teenage drama. My kids often fail to remember that I was a teenager once too. I don’t think any teen’s life is exempt from some drama from time to time.

I don’t think I would want to be a teenager today. I think teens today have a lot more stresses then I did when I was a teen. The most rebellious thing I did was attend keg parties (beer) in the woods. These days kids are into hardcore booze, drugs, gang violence, relentless bullying and other things that leave me tossing and turning at night.

My daughter wants to know why we don’t trust her. It’s not HER we don’t trust – it’s her peers. I have heard and seen some really serious stuff.

I don’t recall teen alcoholics when I was a teenager, do you?

A new film that is available today on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download called The Spectacular Now showcases a teenage boy who clearly has issues. In almost every scene he’s drinking alcohol, yet sadly, the film doesn’t really address it much.

The Spectacular Now is based on the book with the same name.

The Spectacular Now is the story of high school senior Sutter Keely. Sutter is very liked by his peers. He is the life of the party where ever he goes. Sutter lives in the “now” with no thought to his future. That becomes very clear with his poor grades and constant drinking.

Sutter’s girlfriend, Cassidy, is fed up with his lack of ambition and alcohol abuse and dumps him, although they remain friends.

In order to deal with the breakout Sutter does what he does best – drinks. He drinks so much to numb the pain of the break up that he awakens to find himself sleeping in the middle of someone’s yard. He literally has no clue where he is or where his car is.

Aimee Finecky, one of Sutter’s classmates, happens up Sutter and offers to give him a ride to find his car. In return Sutter helps Aimee with her paper route.

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Aimee is the opposite of Sutter. She’s shy, quite, doesn’t party and has never even had a boyfriend before.

To thank her for her help Sutter invites Aimee to lunch.

A friendship develops and Sutter invites Aimee to a party. While at the party he encounters Cassidy and her new boyfriend. Heartbroken he goes for a walk with Aimee. This is when Sutter introduces Aimee to alcohol.

Sutter and Aimee start a relationship. Aimee seems more into it than Sutter does.

In one of Sutter’s drunken moments he invites Aimee to the prom. Initially he wants to back out but decides to go through with it. He even buys Aimee her own flask (filled with alcohol) which pushes Aimee to drink and more. Even at prom Aimee is seen drinking and pouring alcohol from her flask into Sutter’s drink.

Sutter and Aimee find that they have something in common after all – both don’t have relationships with their father. Aimee’s father has passed away and Sutter’s father mysteriously disappeared after his parents separated and he doesn’t know where to find him. With the help of his sister, Sutter is able to locate his father. Sutter and Aimee head off to pay him a visit.

Sutter soon learns about the type of person his father really is. Sutter takes off after his father ditches him. Aimee tries to comfort him but he pushes her away – even going so far as to force her out of the car where she is hit by an on coming vehicle.

Will Aimee survive? Will Sutter learn to deal with is problem rather than drink to numb his pain? What will become of his after high school? To find out you need to pick up a copy of The Spectacular Now, available where most movies are sold.

I watched this movie with my 16 1/2 year old daughter who was home sick from school. I wish I had known up front that there was sex and nudity in the film. It’s a bit awkward to sit there with my child when scenes like that come on. I made her close her eyes.

I noticed right away that Sutter had a drinking problem. He almost always had a cup in his hand in every scene, or his flask. I wish the film would have addressed his obvious alcoholism, but it didn’t.

spectacular-now-miles-teller-shailene-woodley

I also noticed the Sutter was always trying to help out others, but he never stopped to think about how he could help himself. He even tried to help Aimee make friends and find a boyfriend before their budding romance developed.

My daughter loved the movie and actually watched it a second time. She was ranting like a crazy person at the ending. She didn’t like he way it ended. There were way too many unanswered questions. I told her the filmmakers probably ended the film the way they did to keep the viewer guessing and for the view to come up with their own conclusions.

I thought the movie was just “OK”. I don’t find teenagers with a lot of “baggage” entertaining, nor am I a fan of seeing teens getting drunk and no one stepping in to stop it. Aside from the sex scene I think this film is geared more towards young adults rather than us “old folks”.

I guess it’s the mom in me but I was hoping Sutter’s alcohol abuse could have been dealt with. His boss was able to recognize his drinking problems, so why not his mother and sister? And if Aimee and Sutter’s ex-girlfriend Cassidy were such good girls, why didn’t they do something to help him. His boss should have stepped up and found the young man help – or at least pointed him in the right direction – especially after Sutter was honest with him and told him he couldn’t promise he wouldn’t show up for work ever again drunk.

If this sounds like a movie you would enjoy look for it where ever films are sold.

Here is the film’s theatrical trailer for your enjoyment. Keep in mind this was for the movie’s theater release. It’s no longer in theaters. It’s available for purchase of VOD today.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teens’ New Year’s Resolution

 

New Year Resolutions

This is a guest post written by Folasade Lapite. I know a lot of readers have teenagers (or teenaged grandchildren). I thought this article could be helpful for them. A lot of this information could apply toward adults too.

New Year’s Resolution. Whenever hearing those three simple words everyone starts to write lists. Not just the ordinary daily to-do list, but lists that seem will take an eternity to conquer. These “New Year’s Resolutions” then morph into a nagging duty rather than a goal people set for themselves. Why? Because there are so many changes one wants to see, but who has time! Well for teenagers, it is no different. However, this simple little tradition can cause havoc in the mind of teens or can be the perfect remedy to improve their life!

Well, anyone can create a few resolutions. Everyone begins full force to achieve those resolutions. However, only a few will get legitimate results. Why? It is all in the execution people take. Some teenagers might want to improve their grades, while others might want to commit more to their extracurricular to build up their resumes. However, a lot of teenagers have tight schedules already without these goals. The average high school day has its toll on the average student—learning for about eight hours and then having to commit two or more (mostly more) to a random array of assignments. After finishing the “student life,” there are extracurricular, then where is the time to execute one’s New Year’s resolutions? Well, teens might think it was easy the first week; however, during that first week there was a major difference: NO SCHOOL.

Goals

Time Management: Time is a major factor in planning and doing a resolution. Teens have to remember that when beginning school again that maybe they can’t commit 4 hours at the gym to get those “washboard abs”. Time is a crucial factor that can bring anyone to reality that they won’t get any resolutions accomplished. Therefore, one has to “play by the rules” and do things that a practical and feasible to his or hers high school schedule.

Deadline: One flaw to the “New Year’s Resolution” is that no one ever thinks of how long his or her “time frame” is. Let’s say one wants to save up about $1,000 from their part-time job. However, how long is one saving for: the whole year or a set deadline? The deadline can be a great way to help push one’s determination in the right direction. Deadlines practically force one to complete his or her resolution because they cannot keep pushing it off.

Life Changers: Resolutions don’t have to be something drastic either. The best kinds are the ones easy to enact and can lead to “healthy habits.” For example: trying to eat five servings of fruit a day. Why not have a few easy resolutions that are not only beneficial but also can raise one’s spirits since one is actually completing his/her resolutions!

Teens are not the only ones victimized by New Year’s Resolutions. However, with their busy schedules, it becomes hectic to keep up with these goals. Having in mind what is feasible/practical in one’s personal schedule it leads to more resolutions that will actually be achieved. This can also help people create new habits they would like to see in themselves. Who knows, maybe reading fifteen minutes a night! However it plays out, new year’s resolutions are suppose to be goals one sets ahead of themselves to achieve. Rather than creating something that seems will be factitious later on, these new years resolutions are for fun. Therefore, this year when jumping back into the swing of school don’t let it be the things that makes one high stress.

This article was written by Folasade Lapite.

Resolution

*The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect my own.

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