One Month In

Today officially marks one month since the 2016-2017 academic year began for us TAMS students, so now is probably a pretty good time for a retrospective review of these last four weeks and what this all means going forward. Because you are all very busy, I will try to keep this blog as concise as possible (no promises), and to hopefully help you control any potential stress, I will try to also provide you with ample motivation to persevere!

Part 1: Academics

There are pretty much two types of people: those who came into TAMS expecting that each class would be an intimidating uphill battle and that exams would be formidable obstacles designed to throw you off course, and those who wandered into TAMS assuming that these supposed "challenges" would be easy breezy. No matter what your presumptions were beforehand, you should now know more or less how well you are able to handle the academic course load of TAMS. Naturally, the content of your classes will grow more difficult, and the amount of homework you need to complete will increase, but if you feel like you can handle everything now, then I wholeheartedly believe that you will find success this year, so don't doubt yourself. If you currently feel overwhelmed by your classes, do not panic; you have several options. First off, try new ways to study, such as working with a group and talking through the material if you have always studied by yourself and found that you aren't remembering essential information come test time. Also, always feel free to talk to anyone on the staff, but most importantly your RA and your academic counselor, Ms. Wendy. Every staff member here at TAMS is committed to the wellbeing and prosperity of each individual student, therefore making them an invaluable resource when you find yourself in difficult times. Even if you have always been a straight A student with little to no studying required, everything can change once you get to TAMS, so don't beat yourself up over the one B you got on that test or paper you thought you deserved an A on. The absolute last option you should consider is leaving TAMS, even if it feels like your only choice. You will make it through any difficulties that come up if you put your mind to it and use the resources available to you -- I promise.

Part 2: Social Life and Clubs

I have said this before, but I will say it again: what students remember most about TAMS are the memories they made with their friends, not the time they got a perfect score on their Biology test. I'm not trying to say that studying isn't important (because it is), I'm just saying that you should not forget to enjoy TAMS while you are here because you got distracted by the schoolwork. If in this last month, you felt like you never made time to see your friends because you spent every waking hour stressing about that first Chem test or the upcoming English paper, challenge yourself to relax and socialize more. The same goes for clubs: if you thought that you would be too busy to allow yourself to go to a club's GA, even though it was something you were really excited about, try not to limit yourself so much. Going to GAs and seeing your friends can even be beneficial towards your academics, at least it is for me. When I give myself time to take a break and see my friends, it helps me stay much more focused once I get back to studying because my brain just needs a break from reading textbooks sometimes. Essentially, the most important thing to take away is that balance between your academic and social lives is vital. 

Part 3: Volunteering

It may seem easier to put off your community service hours until you have nothing else going on in your academic life, but what you will find is that you almost never have nothing at all to do. The key to successfully completing your community service requirement is to begin early and participate regularly. One of the best ways to do this is to sign up for a regular volunteering event, such as through one of HOPE's many wonderful committees, so that you have a scheduled time each week where volunteering is your one priority. The optimal time to start volunteering is right now, so don't hesitate to comment your name on a post when you know full well that you would otherwise be sitting in your room watching Netflix from 4-6 PM this Thursday. Also, don't think of volunteering so much as just another hassle to deal with; try to find something you are passionate about so that you can genuinely enjoy your time while making a positive impact on the community.

Part 4: Random Tips

  • If you are planning to take go home every weekend to spend time with your friends back home or your family, at least consider staying at TAMS for a whole weekend. Some of my favorite times last year were with my TAMS friends when we had nothing to do on a Friday night.
  • Don't treat your RA or the other RAs like they are people who are just their to doc you and to make sure you don't die; the TAMS RAs are some of the coolest and funniest people you will meet, so you should talk to all of them whenever you can and truly get to know them. The same goes for all other members of the staff, such as your academic counselor or the front desk workers.
  • Take care of yourself! Try your hardest to get enough sleep, even though it may not always be the most convenient or fun aspect of your life. Sleep is super important, especially the nights before big tests and presentations. Also, make sure you are eating three meals a day (and not just ramen three times a day), even if that means getting up a whole 15 minutes earlier to grab a quick breakfast at Bruce. Taking good care of yourself is the best thing you can do to ensure that you will stay healthy, physically and mentally, throughout the school year.

 

Although a lot of this information may seem obvious, it's always important to remind yourself what you should be prioritizing, especially when you are all in a completely new environment surrounded by lot of new people and challenges. I hope that you all keep your goals in mind and that you never fail to keep trying. You will make it through this year one way or another, and this blog should just serve as a reminder to those of you who may face a struggle at some point this year (i.e. everyone) that you always have options and that finding a balance that works for you is the key to getting the most out of your TAMS experience.

- Zina

Posted on September 26, 2016 .

A Day in the Life

As my eyes slowly opened and adjusted to the light coming through the blinds, I reluctantly gathered the energy to climb out of bed to turn off my blaring phone alarm. Sigh, time for 8 AM Bio, I think to myself. I drag my still-sleepy limbs to the sink and switch on the buzzing fluorescent light above the small rectangular mirror. Gently brushing my teeth, I pace back and forth in my room, resisting the urge to sit down on my bean bag and fall right back asleep. Now it's decision time: should I make myself look put together or should I leave the room in the same sweatpants and t-shirt I just slept in? Today it's a bit chilly so I convince myself it's worth it to change into a sweater and jeans. After slipping on my shoes, I stuff my homework into my unzipped backpack and throw it onto my back, still only half-zipped. About halfway down the hallway, I realize that I forgot to lock my door, so I do a quick 180 and jog back, complete the task, and return to exiting the building. I carefully walk down McConnell's winding staircase, past the Front Desk, and through the double layer of doors into the cold unknown...

If I were to describe my entire day in this fashion, I'm sure you and I both would be pretty exhausted by the end, so I'll try to be less dramatic and a little more organized from now on.

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

7:55 AM: I arrive in my seat, expecting to be uninterested in today's biology lesson, but ready to listen anyway.

8:52 AM: The professor talked for a couple minutes longer than he was supposed to, but that's okay. I just have to walk a little bit faster across campus to chemistry, and I'll have a little bit less time to talk to friends before class. 

9:00 AM: Chemistry begins as usual, with my professor rapidly reviewing all of material he went over last time then turning to the board and scribbling something illegible. Fun.

9:21 AM: Boy am I starting to get hungry for lunch... I probably shouldn't have skipped breakfast to sleep longer.

9:47 AM: We get to leave three minutes early today! That might not seem like much, but it truly is a blessing. Now I have to get back to the same building I was in for Bio to attend my favorite class of the day: Calculus!

10:00 AM: We always kick off calculus by passing our homework to the front, then my professor picks up where he left off yesterday or begins teaching an entirely new concept. My notes always look like a train wreck by the end because I'm trying to write down every number of every step of every problem, but it's all worth it come exam time. Side note: You too will find the class and professor you enjoy the most, so make sure you cherish it while it lasts.

10:51 AM: After a whirlwind lesson on integrals, I sure could go for a delicious sandwich at the UNT union, so I grab a couple of my friends and head over.

11:09 AM: I have successfully placed my Which Wich order and now proceed to wait off to the side until one of the workers yells, "Chicken Club for Zina!"

11:21 AM: The Which Wich worker has just announced to the world that the Chicken Club for Zina is ready. He did pronounce my name wrong, but you can't win 'em all.

12:35 PM: Lunch was great, and now that I'm feeling fulfilled, it's time to get cracking on some studying. I slowly flip through the pages of my agenda and suddenly notice that there's a Bio test next Friday... and I've only read one of the six chapters that will be covered... AHH!

12:41 PM: Well I spent a few minutes on Twitter, you know, to catch up on world news and all, but now it's time to get reading.

12:42 PM: WOW that delicious sandwich from the UNT union sure did make me sleepy... a quick nap can't hurt.

2:26 PM: Now that I am truly awake and ready to study, I can knock out about two chapters in the next few hours before it's time to go to Chem lab.

5:48 PM: It's all so clear now... the mitochondria truly is the powerhouse of the cell. Anyways time to go mix some chemicals.

6:26 PM: One trial down, three left to go... oh boy this is going to take a while...I probably should have eaten dinner before Chem lab...

7:29 PM: There's just enough time to run to Bruce and quickly devour some of that fresh, homemade, food! 

7:51 PM: I just got back to my room, but now it's time to go down to Mac and work on some Calculus homework until the GAs of the night begin! 

10:49 PM: Wow I learned so much about upcoming volunteer opportunities, competitions, and various other events thanks to those three amazing clubs whose GAs I spent the last three hours attending! And look, I finished my Calculus homework during the breaks between GAs! What a productive and interesting night.

10:59 PM: My friends and I are having a heated intellectual debate about the true meaning of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, the last play we finished reading in English, when everyone in Mac suddenly realizes that there is only one minute left until we are all supposed to be at wing meeting!

11:00 PM: After quickly walking and not running up the stairs, I made it to my wing right as my RA entered the hallway to begin checking to see who was there on time. Phew.

11:17 PM: Thankfully we had a quick wing meeting this week, and I have a little time before I sleep to shower and catch up on our current English book. 

11:39 PM: I quickly check Facebook to make sure I didn't miss any important announcements during the course of the day, then I brush my teeth and climb into my bed. As I gently drift off into dreamland, I go over all of the information I read in my Biology textbook today in my head in order to increase my retention of the knowledge.

11:58 PM: I gently fall asleep to my serene thoughts of metabolism. I have a multitude of dreams about the wonderful opportunities I will encounter tomorrow and the next day and the next...

 

So that may have been slightly exaggerated, but if you read carefully, there were many important tips to remember for this year. Hopefully this gave all of you a bit more insight into what a typical day in the life of a TAMS Junior looks like.

- Zina

Posted on August 8, 2016 .

A Beginner's Guide to TAMS

Summer O was exhilarating, right? Your first taste of life inside McConnell Hall, and more importantly, of freedom. That freedom can feel unlimited at first, but you have to remember that you do still have responsibilities to keep your grades up and be a mature student. This might sound difficult to get used to, but luckily, HOPE has some handy dandy tips for getting adjusted to life at TAMS! 

 

1. Branch out

Whenever TAMS seniors are asked the question, "What was your favorite part about TAMS?" 9 times out of 10, they will include something about the friends they made. It can be hard in the beginning, I know from experience, but it's incredibly important to get to know as many people as possible. The best way to do so is to start early and to be nice to everyone. Introduce yourself to a fellow junior, say hi to a senior, converse with Sam or Wendy whenever you see them, high five an RA, chat with the front desk workers. There are a lot of diverse and interesting people at TAMS, so don't worry if you don't click with someone right away, you will find your people, it just takes time and effort. Even if you already know people coming into TAMS, still try to branch out because every friendship will become invaluable to you.

2. Work hard, play hard

The first few weeks of TAMS may feel like a dream come true: only a few hours in class per day, living surrounded by friends with no parents in sight, unlimited food... TAMS really can be all that, but don't let your dream turn into a nightmare when you arrive at your first bio exam and realize that the one hour of studying you did the night before was not enough. It's a hard reality to face, but TAMS will be harder than your old high school, and therefore will require more effort on your part in order to succeed. Spread out the workload and set reasonable goals. Reward yourself with a break to see friends or an episode of your favorite show on Netflix after you've studied for a few hours or completed a difficult assignment. The key to getting the most out of your two years at TAMS is to find the right balance between your academic and social lives. It's important to stay on top of your work, but be sure to find the time to have fun with your friends.

3. Love thy teacher

Oh no! It's 2 AM, the night before your first English paper is due, and your printer has suddenly stopped working! Everyone you know with a printer has already gone to bed, and you won't have time to go to Willis Library before your 8 AM class. You decide to send your teacher an e-mail explaining your problem, hoping that  maybe she can help. Chances are, if you've built a rapport with that teacher, she will be more understanding of your situation and will be more likely to help you resolve it. The relationship you build with your teacher can also help when you need a college recommendation from any of your teachers, because some will only write rec letters for a select number of students, so it's never a bad idea to get to know them.

4. Clubs, clubs, and more clubs

There are so many different clubs at TAMS that it can seem overwhelming at first. You may be asking yourself the following questions, "Which clubs should I join? How many do I actually have time for? Why should I join any clubs at all???" Don't panic, there is an easy solution to answering all of these questions for yourself: join all of the clubs that you want. Seriously. Go to a few GA's for each club and find out what is really interesting to you and what you're willing to commit yourself to. There's no contract or agreement that forces you to stay in any club, it's entirely up to your preferences and schedule, so explore all of your options. Being a part of a club is a great way to meet new people, especially the senior execs who will be choosing the execs for next year (hint, hint).

5. Facebook daily

As you may have already figured out, Facebook is the biggest form of mass communication at TAMS. The Class of 2018 page will be your hub for all sorts of information including, but not limited to, lost and found items, homework questions, generous food offerings, GA reminders, the occasional meme or troll post, class cancellation celebrations, and motivational pick-me-ups. Pretty much every club and HOPE committee also has their own page to provide all of the necessary information about when they meet, what they do, and who to contact for more information. If you don't already have the Facebook and/or Facebook Messenger apps for your phone, I highly suggest that you download both of them immediately, as this will help to prevent you from missing important information.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you to figure out what to expect from TAMS and how to better prepare for your first year. The TAMS community is very loving, and we will welcome you with open arms. Your seniors will gladly help you if you ever need anything, so never hesitate to ask. HOPE is very excited to see what you guys have to offer and to show you what we have in store for this year!

GO HOPE OR GO HOME!

- Zina

Posted on June 19, 2016 .