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Meet Lauren Ross, OCSP’s Road to College Blogger
Daughter and Beneficiary of OCSP account owner Diana Beasley, Lauren was selected to describe her Road to College experience through a series of 11 web and video blogs during her senior year in high school.
Lauren currently attends Edmond North High School in Edmond, Oklahoma and she plans to attend college next fall, with help from the OCSP account her mother established for her several years ago.
Read Lauren’s blog submissions below.
Hats off: Final Thoughts Before Throwing the Graduation Cap
As my last week of high school ever winds down, I am overwhelmed with memories of the last four years. High school was no walk in the park for me. The past four years have been filled with more ups and downs than any high-quality rollercoaster could ever bolster. From the implosion of friend groups to the dastardly evil that is simultaneous with AP classes and physical and mental health issues galore, this era of my life is not one I am too upset to leave. At least that’s what I thought going into this year.
I thought I would leave high school with flying colors, not a tear in sight, only attending my graduation out of fear that my mother might have my head if I don’t. Then I started experiencing “lasts” of the activities that I have cherished these past four years. At my last debate tournament, our statewide tournament at the University of Oklahoma, I sat down during awards and sobbed with my fellow teammates realizing I would never deliver another extemporaneous speech again. The thought that I had put so much time and effort into an activity, for it to just end without my permission, was heartbreaking. Then District Convention for Key Club came. As a Lieutenant Governor, I found this was the piece de resistance of our year. All our hard work came down to this four-day convention in Dallas. The retirement brunch on Sunday morning did not have a dry eye in sight. I had traveled all over the country with my board members competing in International Conventions helping pack backpacks and lending a hand wherever was needed; it was a grim realization to know all of these people would never be in the same room together again.
Finally came orchestra. At the time of me writing this, my last concert was days away, and over-emotional doesn’t begin to describe how important this moment is for me. Our banquet was filled with tears and happy memories and I could not wait to make music with the people I love. We are playing Dvorak’s New World Symphony and it is the kind of piece you hear as a child that makes you pick up your instrument in the first place.
I found, surprisingly, that I am very emotional about high school being over, just not in the way I first assumed. It wasn’t high school football games or assemblies that made me emotional or nostalgic about the end of an era. It was the activities where I spent my blood, sweat and tears that really ended up mattering. As I throw my cap into the air at graduation, I’ll look forward to the future knowing that the past went by in a blink.
April 30, 2019
The Rocky Road to College
Every time I am asked my favorite ice cream flavor, I reach a crossroad. As hard as it is choosing between Baskin Robins 31 flavors, Braum’s specialty delights, and Cold Stone Creamery’s interesting add ons, I always end up going back to homemade vanilla. It’s classic and you can’t go wrong. Although I have found a solution in my ice cream endeavors, the same cannot be said for all other decisions I have to make throughout my life. I have found that my inability to make a decision when it comes to ice cream is not just limited to me but is a boundless issue when it comes to other areas as well. Most recently I have found that my friends are faced with the biggest decision of their life, and it’s not choosing between rocky road and butter pecan.
As May 1 has come and gone most people have made up their minds on where they are headed to school, but the answer wasn’t always black and white. Although we all love to celebrate when kids have decided where they are going to school, the solution isn’t as easy as closing your eyes and pointing a finger. College decisions are by far one of, if not the biggest, choices we have to make in our lives &ndash thus the fanfare surrounding the question “so where are you going to school” doesn’t help any. To understand the weight of this decision and how it affects everyone around me let’s take a closer look at some of the flavors my friends are choosing between.
Weighing the pros and cons of a university is so much more than just one location versus another. Taking into account cost, class schedules, walkability of campus, scholarships, professors, connections to job markets, and many various other aspects makes decisions so much harder than they first seem. What’s worse is hundreds of thousands of dollars are going into these years so the wrong choice could mean half a million dollars gone to waste.
So when you really break it down those decisions are much heavier than the chocolate triple fudge, and they can lead somewhere much worse than a rocky road, so give them all a bit of slack because it might take a while for everyone to settle on their favorite flavor but everyone will eventually find their homemade vanilla.
April 18, 2019
The college trail vs. Oregon Trail
Everybody starts their journey playing the famed childhood game Oregon Trail with a hopeful spirit. They aren’t going to die of dysentery along the way or lose a horse. They are going to the final frontier and gosh darn it, they are going to make it! Slowly (or quickly depending on your decisions) that hope fades as you face trials and tribulations, drown in a river, and start over one or 600 times.
Applying to college feels a little like playing Oregon Trail, except you don’t even know your final destination. On my own road to college, I faced many trials.
I was rejected from my top two dream programs and it left me heartbroken. Minerva, an experimental college program that travels to seven different countries in four years, decided I might not be the best fit. Weeks later, Fordham’s School of Global Studies in New York City also declined. I spent hours upon hours of library time working on a never-ending stream of essays. Knowing two colleges, where I thought I would be a perfect fit, didn’t want me really stung. When you can vividly picture yourself attending a college, walking the campus and truly growing, getting a we-are-sorry-to-inform-you letter can feel like you are drowning in a river with no way out.
But, as any good Oregon Trail player knows, you push on or start over. I pushed on, and the third time is a charm because this pioneer finally has a destination.
As of March, I am officially a Poet, no that is not the Robert Frost kind. A Whittier Poet! I had heard of Whittier College in California the past few years because my stepdad went there and because it makes ESPN’s top 10 worst mascots list. Every. Single. Year. He is incredibly proud of his alma matter and I find him constantly saying, “Fear the Poet” anytime the school is brought up or mentioned.
Everybody wants something different out of college. I want a small campus that feels like a family. I need a program that allows me to have an array of classes to fit my million miles per hour speed. I was hoping to find both of those and a school that offered a way for me to study abroad, as I am going to be an international business major. I found that and more. With over 100 approved study abroad programs and ways to take trips in January and May of every year, I am set. Even more set with the Global Poets Scholarship (GPS) every student receives.
What started as a “backup” college has quickly morphed into my dream school. The small campus has teacher-student ratios that make my own high school’s look bad, a scholars’ program that lets me design my own major and an alumni network so strong it makes my Wi-Fi signal seem weak.
I am so excited about my destination! I receive an email every morning telling me what they are serving in the cafeteria that day. And let me tell you, dried meat is nowhere in sight, there will be no dying of dysentery while I’m in California.
Maybe this felt like a plug for Whittier, and it should, (Go Poets!) but knowing your destination is only a fraction of the journey, and I’m excited to take you along the rest of the way as I head west to a new frontier and a new chapter of my life.
March 5, 2019
The cure for senioritis
It is that time of year: flu season. You have it. Your brother has it, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dogs have it. That sick lethargic feeling of not wanting to do anything but sleep comes by many names. The common cold, the flu, and most prominent for high school seniors... senioritis.
Senioritis is contracted most often over Christmas break after final transcripts for college applications have been sent in. Its symptoms include, but are not limited to, laziness, procrastination, sleepiness and the feeling of dread when assignments come your way. It sweeps senior classes like the plague. Slowly but surely, seniors start dropping from activities, not showing up to class and “not seeing the point anymore”. I can tell you from experience senioritis is no joke. Losing all motivation to complete projects you were so passionate about at the beginning of the year is hard, but trying to find that motivation again is even harder.
I have found that the immense pressure on seniors causes serious burnout in the second semester. The kids who applied to 17 schools don’t want to write another essay because that was their entire life for five months. Students who had to jump through government hoops for financial aid aren’t willing to jump through hoops at school because they’ve started to think this last semester of high school doesn’t *really* matter.
On my road to college, I’ve experienced burnout. In January, I attended a college scholarship weekend. On the plane ride home, I realized with dread I didn’t want to go back to school. The number of items on my to-do list seemed more like an impossible mountain I would never conquer than just some tasks. Understanding that my life was about to immensely change made me want to be at that stage already. February brought a pileup of activities and weekends that were anything but free. As I looked at my calendar, I realized I don’t have a free weekend until after graduation!
So how did I come out of this burnout slump and get motivated for my remaining semester? I took everything one day at a time. Sometimes when you look at the big picture, life can be overwhelming. When you narrow your focus to what needs to immediately be done, the pressure starts to melt away. The number of days left in the semester doesn’t seem like a cold you will never get over but a set of stairs at the top of a peak you have been climbing for four years. Contracting senioritis is never fun but the cure lies in some good sleep (as always) and taking one step at a time.
Jan. 8, 2019
Home runs and strikeouts
Even the best athletes have good games and bad games. Babe Ruth, one of the best baseball players to ever play the game, renowned for hitting home runs, famously struck out more than he hit home runs. The road to college is similar to the game of baseball in many ways.
“Today is the day,” I tell myself as I wake up in the morning. I understand that in a few hours, I will either be jumping for joy because of a home run or – well, I don’t want to think about what else I’ll be doing. Decision day is hard, and understanding that your entire life is going to be immensely impacted by a piece of paper or an email is even harder. I have friends who put their entire heart into their college applications and the thought of rejection, or a strikeout, is devastating.
I now officially know from experience, no matter what kind of fancy lettering they use, kind words, or better-luck-next-time’s, a college rejection letter stings. Pipe dream or not, having a school you love say you just weren’t the perfect fit feels like it might just be the end of the world.
While it’s a strike out, it’s not the end of the game. Your self-worth cannot be determined by a piece of paper that you send in through the common app and your self-worth can’t be determined by that acceptance or rejection. Your road to college is an incredible journey, but it isn’t the end of your life; it is just the beginning.
Have that long, hard cry, or don’t if you don’t need it, and then allow yourself to fall in love with another school. Maybe you thought you would be wearing maroon and gold but instead it becomes purple. Plans change. While quite the curveball, a rejection letter might be just the throw you need to hit life out of the park.
I also know from experience now that an acceptance letter feels amazing. It’s a home run early in the game! Just remember the world isn’t going to be sunshine and butterflies just because someone decided you were a perfect fit. College responses aren’t the end all, be all, but on my road to college, I have found that college response letters have already made a lasting impact on me and the people around me.
Make sure you congratulate those who made it, as it is a shining moment. Make sure to console those who didn’t, as it is crushing. Finally, make sure to take care of yourself during this taxing time of year. As early decisions from schools come out, it is hard to see the bigger picture sometimes. There are multiple innings to every baseball game and even if you strike out in one inning, it doesn’t mean you won’t hit the home run in another.
Dec. 3, 2018
To stress or not to stress
It’s that time of year. People are playing their Christmas music before it is fully Thanksgiving season, deadlines are quickly approaching, and somewhere someone is basically telling you the sky is falling. I mean, you’ve got finals to study for, deadlines to apply for colleges, holiday shopping to do, gatherings with friends to maintain the shred of a social life you’re clinging to, and on and on! I just want to tell you, wherever you are, whether you are a high school senior or not, take a deep breath. Life is all about choices and you’ve got a choice: to stress or not to stress.
As someone who often lets stress get to her, I am telling you the last thing you want to do on your road to college (or road to anywhere for that matter) is to stress so much you break down and cease all human function. I have witnessed it in friends who have switched their early decision colleges around three times before deadlines. I’ve also seen it in friends who have dropped their dream schools altogether, and in those who stress so much they just go numb. None of those options sound good.
So with “that time of year” (the “I have 600 things on my to-do list but I really just want to do nothing and eat something pumpkin spice flavored” time of year) quickly approaching and maybe already upon us, I want to share some advice I heard that helps me when I feel like I just can’t seem to get ahead.
If it is not going to matter in five years you do not need to stress about it now.
Of course, this isn’t applicable *all* the time but if you can sit back and assess a situation and say, “No, one bad quiz grade isn’t going to kill me,” you will be much better off. This is especially important when it comes to applying to schools. Sure, getting into your dream school would just be absolutely phenomenal, but you are still going to rock that backup if it doesn’t work out. Five years down the line, you will have a college education from a school you hand-picked.
So, when push comes to shove and stress is stressing you out, just imagine yourself five years from now and ask yourself whether to stress or not to stress.
Nov. 5, 2018
Making a list and checking it twice
It feels like we just went back to school but the holidays will soon be here. Like Santa, I’m making a list and checking it twice, but I’m trying to find out which colleges are naughty or nice.
Choosing what colleges you want to apply to can be a monstrous task, one that all seniors are all too familiar with. Figuring out where you want to spend the next four years of your life can feel like a daunting mountain that no reasonable teenager would ever want to climb. Alas, we must. Year after year, answer after answer is compiled on the web on how to find the perfect college. If you search “how to choose a college” on Google you get billions of results in under a second. This is my contribution to those results from a bona fide senior who has spent the past few months figuring out where she wants to go.
No college applications are fun but before you even get to the “joys” of supplemental essays you have to figure out where you want to go first – and lists are always a great place to start.
Just like Santa makes a list of the good and bad kids, you need to make a list of what you expect out of college so you don’t end up with a proverbial coal in your stocking once you arrive and find out it wasn’t what you wanted.
Oct. 3, 2018
Everyone’s senior year of high school is filled with many “lasts” – the last homecoming celebration, the last debate tournament, the last lunch hour with high school friends. It’s a bitter-sweet time, but I’m committed to experiencing as much of it as possible.
When you see rally towels swinging around in the air, you know it is officially “Edlam” season. While most are very well aware of Bedlam—the annual Oklahoma State against University of Oklahoma Football game – it takes another form in high school as Edlam. It’s when the Edmond high schools of Memorial, Santa Fe, and Edmond North battle it out on the football field.
Our schools have spirit weeks to get ready and, as a member of my school’s student council, I help plan them. The first of these weeks was called “THUD” or “The Huskies Utterly Dominate.” Throughout the week our student body dressed up as memes, surfers, grill masters or soccer moms, in 90s fashion and in as much Edmond North Spirit as they could muster.
This led up to the first assembly of the year, which was MTV-themed. It also marked our first game in our new stadium. Our principal came into the assembly on the push-up board and opened the assembly with a roaring start. Videos of our new stadium with “Welcome to our Crib” (a take on the MTV show Cribs) were shown and we taught them one of the band’s hype up dances.
Our assembly was a huge success. Our student section was so overflowing we didn’t even have enough room for everyone. The seniors lined up to run the field with the team and I felt a rush of adrenaline.
Even though we lost the game, our student section remained strong throughout. As we chanted together “it’s great to be an Edmond North Husky” and as I participated in one of many “first lasts” I was reminded of how unique our Edlam rivalry is and how much I am looking forward to the rest of our football games throughout the rest of the year.
Sept. 14, 2018
So where do you want to go to college?
If I had a dollar for every time I had been asked that question this summer, I would have enough money to start paying for the colleges I am applying to. As senior year has swept upon me, an unexpected hurricane of emotions, ideas, plans or lack thereof has overrun my life. Sometimes it feels like I am going upstream without a paddle, while a downpour of expectations rains upon me from peers, parents and people in general.
I spent the last few days of my summer before senior year doing something that I absolutely never do unless I am stressed: clean. When I say “clean” I mean “Extreme Makeover Home Edition-level” clean. It was a multi-day process that required more time than I imagined. My parents called my room the war zone and stayed far away. I’m happy to announce that my room looks much more livable and a whole lot less like some contraption exploded sending everything everywhere. In a way, preparing for my senior year by cleaning up, tidying loose ends and feeling able to start fresh is a beautiful parallel to my own senior year.
I gave a monstrous number of bags to goodwill this year. Out with the old and in with the new. Or, more accurately, take a long hard look at what you have and where you want to go. Applying for college is one of the many parts of my senior year that forces me to take a look in the mirror at who I am and consider who I want to be. There is no time like the present to start fresh.
That’s exactly what I did before this school year started. I cleaned my room. I also cleaned up my phone, deleting apps I was using too much, clearing up storage and all-around attempting to start fresh for my final year in high school. Maybe going on an all-out disaster-level cleanup effort in my room is not what many would choose to do in their final days of freedom before their senior year, but it gave me peace of mind and an opportunity to reflect on why I kept my graded papers from fourth grade. Turns out you won’t really need them someday.
Cleaning my room made me question a lot of choices I had made in my life, especially fashion ones. More importantly, I wondered why I hadn’t taken as many pictures as I wanted or gone to as many football games as I would have liked. Anyone in debate can understand that Friday nights are usually taken up by tournaments, but I had no excuse to only attend two games last year when I could have easily attended more. I was never immersed in the “high school experience.” I rejected it before I even gave it a chance as a freshman. My mom called it my “alternative” stage, but I think it was the false ideals I picked up from Highschool Musical that turned me off of the reality of the four years that I was about to endure. Cleaning up and cleaning out gave me a chance to reflect on what I wanted to do differently this last year.
I might have prepared for my road to college by attacking my house with Clorox and a duster, but you can prepare for your road to college in whatever way that makes you feel prepared. It might mean getting new school supplies or in my case it means finding old letters you wrote to Hannah Montana but never sent. To each their own.