Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reader's Dilemma: Where should I go to school? Should I move?

I got another email from a reader asking me about where he should go to school.

Here is a little bit of background information on him:
*He's an average student
*His family is not rich and he has very strict parents, to the point where they abuse him
*He wants to be a writer and his parents want him to get an engineering degree (talk about conflicting interests)
*He works a lot

Here is what he wrote in an email to me:
Hello Yana,
I ran into your answer to a reader on blogger and that made me think of sending you an email question.

I am just finishing grade 12 and I'm nothing special in terms of scholastic achievement. I have average marks, but I really love writing stories and poetry. I want to publish a book one day too. Additionally, I want to move to a different province and pursue a writing career by getting an English degree in university.

Here's the dilemma though: I can't just pack up and leave, since my budget does not allow for such a move. At the same time, my parents refuse to support my writing career because they want me to do something more serious, like math and science. They suggest I become an engineer because they read a newspaper article that said engineers are in demand. They joke about my writing and want me to stay as far awy as possible from it. At the same time, I want to stay as far away from them as possible, since they are extremely unrealistic in their expectations of me.

So, what do I do? Stay in my hometown and live with my parents while going to university and studying engineering or moving to a different province, starting from scratch, working for a few years, and then going for an English degree?
Thank you for your time.
Confused Guy

Here is my response to this interesting email:
Dear Confused,
It seems to me like you are in a very interesting situation. Your parents are not supportive of your career choice and you absolutely hate the choice that they've given you.

It would be cheaper for you if you endured them for the next 4 years that you have to be in university while finishing a program that you know you will absolutely hate. Sounds like fun!! NOT!

It appears like you want to get away from your parents, which is very high on your priority list. I honestly believe that you are already on your way to making a great decision and getting them to let go of you.

The main thing that you have to consider here is your personal happiness. If you are ok with starting a new life in a different province, then go for it! I can suggest a few things though: make sure that before you decide to make such a big move that you have arranged employment and housing in your new location. Then, work out a budget which allows you to pay your bills and possibly even have money left over to put in a savings account so that in a few years you could go get your English degree if you still want it. However, there is no set rule that says you "have to have an English degree in order to be a writer". I also suggest trying to do some freelance writing, which can help you improve your writing skills, gain some experience, and possibly expand your network.

Check out some local bulletin boards, newspapers, as well as look into internship opportunities for writers. There is no harm in trying and the worst thing that can happen is you get told "no". Honestly, you have nothing to lose and happiness to gain if you succeed and land an entry level writing position of some sort.
I wish you all the best in all that you do.

A wonderful person once told me that one should pursue what he/she loves. :)

I wish only the best for everyone who puts forth the effort to deserve it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Reader's Email Question: "why should I care about my high school grades?"...Answered!

The other day, I was going through my emails and I received a question from a high school student (who chose to stay anonymous knowing that her question would end up here) who happened to stumble upon my blog. She stated that she enjoyed reading some of my posts about scholarships, and especially the one about making money while in university.

But then, she said...

"I'm in grade 10. I have no clue what to do with myself, and I just can't seem to wrap my brain around why I should care about my grades when I'm 2 years away from graduating. So tell me, why should I care about my grades? I'm in grade 10 and I just want to have fun! Grade 12 is where it's at."

My response to her was along the lines of the following...

Hello dear (sender's name),
I understand exactly how you feel about high school, and not knowing what you will do for the rest of your life. It is a common thing that almost all young people worry about.

However, I can tell you this. Worrying about what you will do in the future will not bring you the success that you are hoping for. For now, focus on doing the best that you can while you are in Grade 10, and young and have a long road ahead of you. Do not take this as "advice to not care about your future", but you have to know how to balance between "caring vs. worrying yourself to death".

While in high school, you have to care enough about what you are doing so that whatever you choose to do after graduation becomes more of a choice, rather than "Oh...darn, I did terrible in school, couldn't get into university, and now I'm stuck working this minimal wage job that I did not choose". I am not saying that if you do bad in school that you won't be successful, but I AM saying that your chances of success decrease the worse you do at school.

And finally, the long awaited answer to your very last question about why high school grades matter, even early on. Considering that most universities primarily look at your grade 12 marks, I can see why you would be asking this. However, a habit is a habit. If you get into the habit of being organized, getting your homework done and having a good work ethic while you are in grade 10 (or younger), then you are more likely to carry those good habits with you to university and into the workplace. In addition, some of the higher caliber universities DO look at your grade 10, 11 and 12 marks, especially when they see your transcripts. It is better to be safe than sorry. :)
Thank you for your question, and I will you all the best in all your endeavors!

That's kind of interesting for me to get readers' questions. I love to answer them! :)
So, if you have a question you can email yhempler@gmail.com or simply post a comment here. Please state if you would like to be anonymous, since I want to protect the privacy of my readers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yana Hempler Reviews StudentAwards.com

StudentAwards.com is a resource site for college and university students. It is a site where they can find information on scholarships, awards, cash prizes and grants, which will help them finanace their education.

When signing up for StudentAwards.com, you are asked to fill out a profile with your interests, work experience, volunteer experience, as well as your intended area of study/career objectives. Other bits of information that you are asked to provide are: contact information, biographical information, parental background, memberships/affiliations, activities, religion, cultural background/heritage, hobbies, important criteria and circumstances, and much more.

The reason you are asked for all the personal and private information is so that you are matched with scholarships that best suit your criteria. Therefore, StudentAwards.com is much better than many scholarship info sites because it matches you to scholarships on a much deeper level.

Some of the scholarships are available only to people who are of a certain ethnic/religious background or have afilliations with certain clubs. Therefore, it is very important not to leave this information blank.

Here are some tips for using StudentAwards.com:
1. Fill out your profile accurately and completely. Do not leave blanks, because the more honest and detailed you are the higher the chance that you will be matched with a scholarship that you can win because you are eligible.

2. Check StudentAwards.com often, at least once a month. I missed quite a few scholarship opportunities because I was away from the computer for a while and realized that the deadlines have passed. :( Don't let this happen to you.

3. Check the scholarship deadlines. Sometimes StudentAwards.com posts expeired scholarships into your "awards inbox", so keep that in mind.

4. Make a printout or a list of scholarships that you have to apply for and their deadlines as well as what you are required to include in your application. For example: are you asked for reference letters from 3 people? do you have to have your official transcripts? etc. Make sure to get those well ahead of the due date, so that you do not put together an application package in a rush and end up missing deadlines or risk having your application rejected because you do not have everything they need.

5. Keep your profile updated. If you got a new hobby/interest: fill it in. If you've changed your career objective: edit your profile, etc. It is very important!

6. Take advantage of the Uthinkonline surveys that StudentAwards.com forwards to your email. After filling out a survey, you are always entered into a draw where you can win cool prizes, cash money, and much more. Those surveys usually take anywhere between 5-30 min, and ask basic questions about stuff that you are most likely doing anyways. They are easy and who knows, you might get lucky!!

So I definitely suggest that students check out StudentAwards.com and sign up. My experience with them has been quite good. The site is easy to navigate, well worth it.
Good luck!! :)