Educational Articles

How to Spend Your Summer: Consider Volunteering Your Time

During the long, lazy days of summer, it’s so tempting to simply relax and unwind after a busy year in school. However, you will have already read many of the posts on this blog encouraging you to make good use of this time, to read, to experience new things, travel and experience new cultures… Here’s another suggestion: volunteer your time to a non-profit organization. As well as helping the organization, this can benefit you in many ways: valuable experience for your resumé, a sense of community, well-being, and purpose, new connections, and friends.

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I have been volunteering my time from home for some years translating for non-profit organizations. However, earlier this year, I decided to fulfill a promise I had been making. I used to live in France and now, back in the UK, I like to spend my vacations across the small pond that we call the English Channel, getting my fix of French cheese! Each time I travel, I am aware of the refugees that are stuck in the port town of Calais and I have often said to myself that I will go there and do something to make a difference to these people’s lives, however small. This promise was hard to fulfill: there were family commitments, work, life took over. After seeing so much in the news about the desperate people who travel to the region to escape war, persecution and uncertain political situations in their own countries, finally, I decided that I just had to take action.

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I booked a few days off work and began my research. I discovered many non-profits working in Calais, supporting the refugees and accepting short-term volunteers. I posted in my local refugee help group on social media and within a couple of hours had managed to contact a group locally who were sending volunteers each weekend for the whole month. I found a woman who had booked the same dates as me and was looking for someone to take along, so I could just fit in with her plans – amazing, what a coincidence!

I decided to reach out to the community to see if I could bring donations of items that were needed. It was still cold, so I put out a call for hats, gloves and scarves, to my nearby and online friends as well as local churches. The generous response was overwhelming and I ended up taking 8 sacks of donations.

On arriving in France, I was nervous going to the warehouse that would soon be my place of work with the organisation Help Refugees. I need not have worried, I was met by a group of friendly, dedicated volunteers and staff, part of a community where everyone is accepted and respected, whatever their background or identity. During morning briefing, I learned more about the situation in Calais and how, sadly, the authorities were hostile towards refugees sleeping rough and also towards volunteers distributing food. I was then taken on a tour and discovered that I would spend the first part of my stay working in the warehouse, sorting blankets and sleeping bags that had been donated by the public. We had a huge sense of satisfaction when we had organised the area and made an inventory of all the items.

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The next day, I helped out with the organisation Refugee Community Kitchen. These amazing people cook hearty vegan curries for around 1000 refugees each day, as well as for the volunteers. The kitchen was an upbeat place to work; I prepped veg, washed up and prepared the portions for distribution while chatting to the other volunteers. It was interesting to hear their stories: many recent graduates who were taking a year out, a doctor who had given up her only free weekend in months to fly down from Scotland, an American who had already been volunteering in Greece, people from all backgrounds, all united in the common cause of helping people who had lost so much.

I left feeling that I had only made a minor contribution, but had gained so much: I saw a great deal of kindness and dedication and my faith was restored in humanity. I will be going back later this month to take some more donations and check in with how things are going.

I only gave a weekend, but it was a life-changing experience. I urge you to find something that you can be passionate about and give your time to. It doesn’t need to be a big commitment, even if it’s just for a few days over the remaining weeks of summer, you can make a difference and I guarantee that you will also benefit from what you choose to do.

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Seniors: How to Prep for College App Season

Dear Seniors,

With the blink of an eye, it’s somehow already August -- and before we can blink twice more, November 1 will be around the corner!

And we all know why November 1 matters.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we tumble towards this important date:

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Draft up your college essay(s)

Once your school year starts up again, you’ll have homework, athletics, and other extracurriculars demanding much of your time. That’s why it’s a good idea to aim to return to school with a solid Common Application essay draft -- and at least a few Early Decision/Early Action supplements -- ready to go. We encourage you to research the universities on your list in depth so you can craft thoughtful, school-specific supplemental essays. This will make it super easy for admission officers to imagine you thriving on their campus (and hopefully welcome you into the incoming class!)

 

Consider creating a resume

While many of your favorites, most time-consuming extracurricular activities will likely be included in your Common App list already, you may want to share additional activities that have mattered to you. The “additional information” section of your Common App is a perfect place to include these, and it’s a good idea to format each one with organized bullet points -- just like you would a resume.

 

Put together a portfolio

In addition to your intellectual curiosity, heart of gold, and impact in your communities, universities also love to learn about your artistic talents and passions. Have you invested a lot of time in a specific artistic discipline? If so, you may want to consider submitting an Art Supplement. Be sure to plan ahead, as each school that accepts this supplement may have different requirements -- and sometimes different (earlier) deadlines -- for students who want their portfolios reviewed with their whole application.

 

Follow up with your recommenders

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You’ve heard me say it many times by now, but I’ll say it again -- your recommendation letters can have a huge impact on your overall application. Many of you have just returned from fulfilling summers with exciting new academic and extracurricular experiences. Don’t forget to check in with your recommenders, ask them how they are doing, share any new information with them, and confirm that they have everything they need to write you a positively glowing letter.

 

Don’t forget about standardized testing

You thought I’d never mention it, right? Sorry :) October is typically the last standardized test that counts in time for Early Action/Decision applications, so be sure to register if you’d feel more confident taking it one last time. Remember: in addition to submitting your applications, you’ll also be responsible for releasing your standardized testing record to each university.

 

Gear up for interviews

Once you’ve submitted your application, some schools may contact you for interviews, which are most often used as another data point in a holistic review of your application. For some schools, interviews are optional, while for others, they are mandatory. Either way, you’ll want to carve out some time to prepare for these with articulate responses about your favorite academic subjects and teachers, leadership impact, curiosities about the university, and stories about other important experiences that have shaped you into who you are today.

 

Maintain academic excellence

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Remember, senior year grades matter, so now is not the time to let “Senioritis” kick in! Early applications will include grades from your first quarter, and Regular Decision applications will request midyear reports from your counselors. If you’re deferred in the Early round, it’s possible that admission officers want to see your full first semester grades from senior year, so keep up (or even improve!) your academic performance.

 

And even after Nov 1…

Just because you hit “submit” doesn’t mean you can forget about your application altogether. Be sure to check your inbox for confirmation about your application. Most schools will send you a link to a portal to track your application status. If you notice that any part of your application is missing, it’s your responsibility to make sure the school receives it promptly. Schools cannot review your application or share admission decisions with you without receiving your complete application.
 

Whew! This may seem like a lot to keep in mind in a short period of time. Luckily, the whole team at LogicPrep is here to help you succeed and put forward the best version of yourselves. No matter what, we know you’ll get into schools where you will thrive, not just as scholars, but as human beings ready to make an impact wherever you ultimately land. Don’t forget that we are your biggest fans!

My Biggest Regret in College & How You Can Avoid the Same Mistake

Ah, summer. The sunny skies, the green green grass. Beach time if you're lucky, study time if you're ... well, study time. Period.

Some of you are heading back to high school in the fall for another year, inching (or, from your parents' perspectives, hurtling) toward the Great Launch to College. And some of you are making the Great Launch even as we speak, preparing to enter a brand new world, surrounded by exciting new people and exciting new opportunities. Either way, in the short term or the (not very) long term, you are looking toward a time of choices -- what to learn, whom to hang out with -- and in many cases, it will be hard to make a truly wrong choice. You're going to learn a lot, no matter what you do, and learning is the whole point, and the joy.

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I have exactly one regret about my choices in college. In order to fulfill a curriculum requirement one semester, I was choosing between two science classes: one, a notoriously EASY course in electrical engineering, where the main assignment was to create a rudimentary website by the end of the course; the other, a notoriously HARD class on the physics and acoustics of musical instruments. Now, I'm a musician, and I love everything having to do with music. The acoustics class looked so intriguing ... but I thought to myself, "Do I really want to do hard calculus problems again? Wouldn't I enjoy myself more if I gave myself a break and coasted through the semester this time?" And so, like many others, I chose the website class ... and it nags at me to this day. 

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Sound waves from Pink Floyd's "The Wall"

I got nothing from that easy class. (Well, I guess I got a lousy website, but even that is long gone.) But I still think about what it might have been like to explore the science of how music, my life's greatest passion, is actually physically made. I look at a rock band, or an orchestra, and think, "I could have learned how all those magical things are happening. How the strings vibrate the air, how the overtones color the sounds of the oboe and the electric guitar, how changing the length of the air column in the flute changes the pitch ..." But I didn't. I ... I chose the road MORE traveled by ... and that has made, if not all the difference, at least enough difference that I still look back at where those roads diverged.

So what I'm saying is: when it comes to the choices between the hard and the easy, remember to push yourself. Don't just float down the river; choose the course where there are rapids to navigate, because the rapids are thrilling and exhilarating, and even if you come out exhausted and bedraggled on the other side, you will remember it with joy and pride.

And you know what else? It's never too late to pick the challenge. We live in a world where we can go back and find those textbooks on musical instruments, and learn what we never pushed ourselves to learn back then. So I think I'm gonna go do that ... gonna head down the rapids I steered myself away from so long ago. See you on the other side.

Why the Diagnostic Process is Crucial to the Test Prep Process

The diagnostic process is the first step for everyone in what is a very long road. Why do we do this? It is extremely important for the student, the family and our staff to understand where we are starting from on both the SAT and ACT; knowing what you're up against is half the battle. Sometimes knowing what you don't want to do in your test prep is just as important as figuring out what to do, and we want all of our families to understand all of their options in totality before making a decision together. After we complete the diagnostic process, we can prepare a game plan for each student that addresses their specific needs.

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A question I get asked all the time now is why take the SAT during the diagnostic process. While it is true that most students will end up taking the ACT because of the wealth of practice material that is available for the ACT, we want all of our students to have an understanding of both options. It also brings clarity for the entire process. While it doesn't happen often, we don't want a student to change strategy and tests midway through their test prep. Creating a unified goal for us to work towards is crucial to set at the beginning of the process. As mentioned earlier, if I have a student take a diagnostic SAT and they come back to me and say, "I never want to see another SAT again," that tells me everything I need to know.

Another key component in the diagnostic process that sets us apart, is the ability to meet with different instructors and pick whom you would like to work with. While all of our instructors are incredibly talented and bright, they all bring different personalities and teaching styles. Finding the right fit for each student is paramount to success.

At the end of the process, we want to empower our students to be in control of their test prep. This is an important process that allows for a lot of growth and we want to foster that growth.

In the words of our late founder, Jesse Kolber, "don't be the sage on the stage, be the guide on the side."

What Happened with the June SAT?

People are fired up about the June SAT.

When the College Board released SAT scores last week, many students noticed something off: they missed the same number of questions as on previous tests, but their scores were lower. In some cases, students answered more questions correctly only to see their scores go down.

How is this possible? Well, unlike most high school grades, the SAT scores that get reported to colleges are not "raw" scores that directly reflect the percentage of questions answered correctly. Instead, they are “scaled” scores out of 800 in each section. This scaled score is what allows colleges to compare a score that a student received in May in Brazil with a score received in October in Florida, or a score received by an applicant this year with a score received by an applicant last year.

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There are minor variations in difficulty between one test form and another, so the scale used -- commonly called the test's "curve" -- changes slightly from test to test. In one typical test, missing 5 questions across the two math sections might lower a student's score from a "perfect" 800 to a 760. In another, the same number of errors might only lower the score to a 780. The College Board calls this process test equating, and it's based on test statistics, not on individual performance.

This kind of "equating" -- and the frustration it can cause students -- is nothing new. So why are people so upset about the June SAT? Two reasons: First, the curve was the steepest by far since the new SAT was first administered in 2016. According to some students' score reports, missing the same number of questions resulted in scores as many as 90 points lower than in previous test administrations. A gap that large raises alarms: while equating works well between tests with only a slight variation in difficulty, it doesn't work well when some tests are substantially "easier" than others. The frustration over the curve is felt particularly strongly among high-scoring students since a test with a steep curve fails to distinguish meaningfully between content-based errors and a small number of careless mistakes.

Second, four items were removed from the Verbal side of the test (two from the Reading section, and two from the Writing and Language section). The test is designed to be able to provide an accurate score even when some questions are deemed flawed after the fact and removed from consideration; still, having four items removed on top of a steep curve for an "easy" test has left many students feeling like the College Board's June test was simply unfair.

What can be done?

The College Board has released a statement affirming that scores are accurate, so don’t expect any adjustments to the test's scale or scoring. Instead of focusing on this one test, students should remember that standardized testing is a long game. Most of our students take the test multiple times in part because the tests -- as well as individual performance -- can vary from day-to-day. The ultimate goal of testing is to present colleges with a score that reflects your hard work and your abilities, and it's difficult for any one test to indicate more than just your performance on a single day. This is a big part of why many colleges "superscore" the test, taking the highest score from each section across multiple tests. Even rising seniors still have several opportunities to take the test again, including August 25 (registration deadline July 27, late registration deadline August 15), October 6, and November 3.

The June test was unusual -- and with all the outcry, you can be sure the College Board will be working even harder to ensure consistent test difficulty in the future. But under normal circumstances, "equating" makes the tests more fair, not less. If you're well prepared and one test section feels harder than usual on test day, you should expect the curve to reflect that. And if you unexpectedly finish a section earlier than usual, be sure to take that opportunity to double check for careless mistakes.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Taking the ACT Science Section

The ACT Science section can be an intimidating section of the test. It’s structure and what it covers are a mystery to a lot of people, and can seem odd when one first takes it. However, a few basic pointers will do a good job in introducing you to the test and will put you on a path to bring your score to its full potential.

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It’s not rocket science

Is science not your ‘thing’? Not a problem! That doesn’t mean you cannot get a great score on the science section of the ACT. The science section is more a test of your abilities to read, interpret, and break down graphs and tables. General science knowledge definitely helps, but even if science is your thing, you are guaranteed to run into material that might look unfamiliar. Have no fear! Almost all questions for each passage can be answered without background knowledge of the topic presented. You do not have to be a top science student to get a great score.

Graphs and tables are your friends

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While general science knowledge might not be so important, one thing that you will definitely have to be good at is interpreting graphs and tables. A really big part of the science section involves interpreting data. Questions will ask you to find data points on graphs, hypothesize potential results based on trends, and combine tables to find different solutions. Understanding how to read and break down graphs and tables is one of the main skills of the science section.

Don’t sweat the fine print

Does all of that text in each science passage seem a bit daunting? The good news is that you can get away with mostly skimming these passages. One only needs to get the gist of what the experiment is doing before concentrating on the information that is on graphs or tables. Reading each science passage through all the way is an easy and silly way to lose valuable time on the test.

Timing, timing, timing

Much like the rest of the ACT test, the science test is all about timing. 35 minutes to answer 40 questions means that you have to make your way through the science section at a brisk pace in order to make it all the way to its end. Understanding your own personal timing patterns, and allocating time strategically are essential in order to get through all questions in the section.

Do not stress!

The most important pointer for all sections of the test. Unnecessary stress can affect anyone, especially after three hours into a long test, and it will make your brain work a lot slower. Work at a good pace and do not let the test get to your head. After all your hard work and preparation it's important to not let worries get the best of you and affect your performance, especially when you’re so close to the finish line!

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The science section can be difficult, but it is not impossible to break! If you apply these simple strategies you are sure to already start improving your science score on the ACT.

How the Internet Impacts Our Ability to Learn

Access to information is not an issue in our digital world anymore. We rely on the internet to find whatever data we need to solve our everyday problems, and we also count on the knowledge held by our digital interpersonal connections.

As a result, instead of memorizing and retaining information, we store it online, where we can easily and quickly access it.

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Researchers at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Illinois think that the easy access to information via the Internet is changing our ability to learn, recall, and solve problems using our brains. The more we rely on the Internet for one type of information, they add, the more we are likely to continue using technology to gather new information in the future.

Many people (consciously or subconsciously)believe that finding answers to common questions is much quicker when using the internet than using memory, which is exactly why we are becoming more dependent on technology to collect information, to store it, and retrieve it.

So how exactly is the Internet affecting the way we learn?

  • The internet has become our external hard drive so that we don't need to remember information-- we just look for it online. This can be illustrated by a study done by Science Magazine, where students were asked to type in pieces of trivia. Depending on their group, they were told that their information would either be erased or saved. The group that was told their data would be saved were less likely to remember. This study indicates that people have lower rates of recall when they can expect to be able to access information in the future.
  • The internet is impacting our focus, as we hardly give tasks our full attention anymore. As a result of multitasking and multi-screening, in order to be considered relevant by our brain, all learning experiences and communication need to be objective, practical, and impactful.
  • Children are learning differently, since "rote memorization is no longer a necessary part of education" according to ReadWrite. In order to have the knowledge and the skills to succeed in a fast-changing world, people need to develop the ability to navigate the sea of information and find what they need to solve real problems, instead of memorizing it.

With so much information within reach, our main challenge is to get better at determining what's relevant and reliable from what's not, and with practice, our brains are getting better at this task every day.

Even More Information on International Computer-Based ACT

NEWSFLASH: We now know more about the Computer-Based ACT, which will be the only form of ACT administration offered internationally beginning this September.

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Some of you may remember from my April post that the ACT will officially be entirely computer-based at all international test administrations beginning this September.

Some of you may also remember that there were a number of questions still unanswered at that point -- what the testing interface would look like, whether the timing would be the same, what testing centers will be available, etc. -- and that you could expect more updates released by the ACT (and delivered by yours truly) coming sometime in June/July.

And so, here we are!  The ACT has recently released a more detailed picture about what exactly the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) will look like, which answers quite a few of the questions that we were left with in April:

What will the testing interface look like?

Generally, the testing window will be split into two parts -- the passages will appear on the left side of the screen, and the questions will appear on the right.

Although you won’t be able to write on the screen (meaning that some of your strategies will have to change), you will get scratch paper to work on, and there are some neat tools on the testing interface that will help you adjust to the CBT format (see the ACT’s infographic below).

Among the features that caught my attention:

  • The Test Timer in the upper right-hand corner is a built-in way for you to ensure that your pacing is on track within each section.
  • The Navigation Bar allows you to see how many questions you have left in the section, to flag questions to come back to and to see which sections you’ve flagged.
  • The Highlighter allows you to highlight words and phrases in the passages. I’m super excited that you have the ability to do this, especially for the Reading section, and I think it will make the transition to the CBT format much easier.
  • The Line Reader allows you to zero in on a specific block of text (or figure), which could be a really helpful tool to help you avoid getting distracted from unnecessary or unrelated information.
  • If you’ve ever had a Reading lesson with me, you know that one of my favorite strategies is to “answer the questions in your own words first, then look for the choice that best matches.”  The Answer Masker allows you to mask the answer choices and then reveal them one at a time, so you can do just that!
  • Or… if you’re trying to use the process of elimination on a question, the Answer Eliminator allows you to keep track of the answers that you don’t like.

Will the timing be the same?

Yep!  The same timing that you’ve been practicing all along will still apply.

What about the Writing section?

This is actually one of the sections that I think will be easier with the CBT format.  You’ll now get a text field that does not have a spell-check function but that does give you the ability to copy and paste.  This will allow you to plan out the skeleton of your essay, then elaborate on each point, and then even decide to switch the order of your points if you wish (not to mention, allow you to type instead of writing by hand, which is much faster for most of us!).

What testing centers will be available on what dates?

We have this question half-answered so far:

The 2018-2019 International Test Dates have been released (see below, or check out the ACT's website).  You may notice that there is now a February test offered internationally (there didn’t used to be!) and that both Friday and Saturday are offered for each of the testing windows.  The ACT also reports that “for each of the two days within a testing window, there will be morning and afternoon sessions offered,” which could potentially give you more opportunities to make a test work with your schedule (and your body clock).

However, registration hasn’t opened yet, so there’s still no information available about where the tests will be offered.  Because of the increased technical requirements for test centers under the CBT format, we expect that seats might be limited.  My personal recommendation? Sign up for a text or email alert on the ACT's website to be the first to know when the September test registration opens, and then sign up as soon as possible to ensure that you get a seat in your preferred location.

Still have more questions?

Check out our original "Digital ACT" post - there’s a lot more information there.  And if you have any dúvidas that haven’t yet been addressed, reach out to your instructors and Academic Advisors.  They’ll help you come up with some CBT-specific strategies for the new testing format and make sure that you’re well prepared come September!

Your Transition from High School to College

Most of your life as a student is preparing for something -- preparing for a test, preparing for college, preparing for a sports competition. You spend hours and hours studying, practicing, and creating expectations for how it’s going to be when you reach the goal you are pursuing.

Sometimes, however, when you finally achieve your goal, you find that it's not quite what you expected. It’s not so uncommon to dislike the life you had been fighting for, or at the very least to
struggle with the transition once you get there. It's actually very common for college students,
even ones who get into their dream schools, to feel this way at the beginning of their freshman
year. They may think: “but it’s all that I've ever wanted” or, “it took me so much time and energy
to accomplish this.” If this happens to you, stay calm -- it’s not the end of the world.

You are not the only one to have second thoughts about the new place you are in and the people
you live with. The teachers may not be so friendly or helpful, and college is a totally different
environment that can be very intimidating.

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My tips to get through this phase (yes, it can be just a phase) are:

  • Talk to your peers. You may not think it, but there will be a lot of people feeling the same way as you.
  • Don’t isolate. You have to give it a chance in order to enjoy the brand new world that college is, so try to participate in activities and to integrate into a group that you identify with.
  • Get help from your home support system. This can be friends in the same situation as you, your parents or siblings (sometimes the distance can make people even closer), or even an LP instructor.
  • Seek professional help. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about your feelings with someone outside of your circle.
  • Enjoy the journey. This is a unique lifetime experience that will change you and shape your future as a person and professionally, so be sure to enjoy and take advantage of all the lessons learned.

And then, if you continue to feel that you don’t belong to the place after you give every shot, it’s ok to change your mind and try something else -- another school, city, or even another county. We don’t always hit the mark at the very first try; what’s important is to overcome and figure out what’s best for you and what will make you happy.

Good luck and enjoy college!

LogicPrep's List of Top 10 Commencement Speeches 2018

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We've once again made a list of our favorite college commencement speeches this year, and we hope that you gain some inspiration from these wise words. Enjoy!

 

Abby Wambach at Barnard University

• Here’s something the best athletes understand, but seems like a hard concept for non-athletes to grasp. Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it. Listen: Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it's something to be POWERED by. Failure is the highest octane fuel your life can run on. You gotta learn to make failure your fuel.
 
• Here’s what’s important. You are allowed to be disappointed when it feels like life’s benched you. What you aren’t allowed to do is miss your opportunity to lead from the bench.
• Because the most important thing I've learned is that what you do will never define you. Who you are always will.

Chadwick Boseman at Howard University

• When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you need to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.
 
• I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that’s ultimately proven to have more victory, more glory, then you will not regret it. This is your time.

Chance the Rapper at Dillard University

• We have to erase the fear and stigma behind eclipsing our heroes... We have a responsibility to be not as good as them or live up to their example but surpass them. Even when it seems scary we have to overcome that fear and be greater than our role models. 
• The highest form of respect that we can pay to the people who came before us is to be better than them… To simply copy them would be an insult to their sacrifice… You do a disservice trying to live up to your ancestors, you have to outlive them. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at Harvard University

• At no time has it felt as urgent as now that we must protect and value the truth.
• It is hard to tell ourselves the truth about our failures, our fragilities, our uncertainties. It is hard to tell ourselves that maybe we haven’t done the best that we can. It is hard to tell ourselves the truth of our emotions, that maybe what we feel is hurt rather than anger, that maybe it is time to close the chapter of a relationship and walk away, and yet, when we do, we are the better off for it.
• Be courageous enough to say "I don’t know."

Hillary Clinton at Yale University

• Personal resilience is important, but it’s not the only form of resilience we need right now. We also need community resilience. We need to try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate; to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable.
• To try to see the world through the eyes of people very different from ourselves and to return to rational debate, to find a way to disagree without being disagreeable, to try to recapture a sense of community and common humanity.

Jim Cramer at Bucknell University

• My defeat had yielded to victory. First lesson: it's OK to fail, but it is not OK to quit. You have more strength within you, both physical and mental, than you know, but use it more wisely than I did, please.
• Your classmates are your safety net, these warm souls of the Class of 2018 surrounding you, those who shared classes, or dorms or sororities, or fraternities or service work or clubs and teams with you. Remember there your stumble is just a pothole in the road for your seated neighbors to help you fill.

Mindy Kaling at Dartmouth College

• I was not someone who should have the life I have now, and yet I do. I was sitting in the chair you are literally sitting in right now and I just whispered, “Why not me?” And I kept whispering it for seventeen years; and here I am, someone that this school deemed worthy enough to speak to you at your commencement. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, but especially not yourself. Go conquer the world. Just remember this: Why not you? You made it this far.

Oprah Winfrey at University of Southern California

• The problem is everyone is meeting hysteria with more hysteria, and we just are all becoming hysterical. And it's getting worse. What I've learned in all these years is that we're not supposed to match it or even get locked into resisting or pushing against it. We're supposed to see this moment in time for what it is. We're supposed to see through it and transcend it. That is how you overcome hysteria, and that is how you overcome the sniping at one another, the trolling, the mean spirited partisanship on both sides of the aisle, the divisiveness, the injustices, the out and out hatred. You use it. Use this moment to encourage you to embolden you and to literally push you into the rising of your life.

Ronan Farrow at Loyola Marymount University

• You will face a moment in your career where you have absolutely no idea what to do. Where it will be totally unclear to you what the right thing is for you, for your family, for your community, and I hope that in that moment you’ll be generous with yourself, but trust that inner voice. Because more than ever we need people to be guided by their own senses of principle—and not the whims of a culture that prizes ambition, and sensationalism, and celebrity, and vulgarity, and doing whatever it takes to win.

Tim Cook at Duke University

• Fearlessness means taking the first step, even if you don’t know where it will take you. It means being driven by a higher purpose, rather than by applause. It means knowing that you reveal your character when you stand apart, more than when you stand with the crowd. If you step up, without fear of failure… if you talk and listen to each other, without fear of rejection… if you act with decency and kindness, even when no one is looking, even if it seems small or inconsequential, trust me, the rest will fall into place.