3 Things to Do With Those College Emails

College Emails FunnyIf you’ve ever taken a standardized test in your life, then in the spring of your junior year you are going to be swamped with emails from public colleges, private universities, and Libyan princesses.

This is because College Board, the omnipotent deity that has the power to decide not only where you go to college but also what you will have for dinner tomorrow night, runs this thing called the “Student Search Service.” And don’t let that title mislead you: if you get kidnapped, College Board will have absolutely no idea where you are. Even your handwritten cursive integrity statement won’t reveal that much about you, although it does reveal whether or not you paid attention in third grade.

No, the Student Search Service exists purely for the benefit of colleges. Essentially, College Board sends your email address to every educational institution in the world that has signed up, including some slightly-confused preschools that originally joined because they thought it would help them locate any kidnapped toddlers.

Now I know what you’re thinking: but, man, if you don’t want those emails you can just opt out of the Student Search Service, right?

Sure, in theory. In theory, there’s a little box somewhere on every AP test, SAT, PSAT, and SAT II that allows you to opt out. But by your sixteenth AP test or fiftieth SAT II, you’re too brain dead to find the little box. Heck, you’re just trying to figure out whether leaving it marked or leaving it unmarked is closest to “C,” which is what your hallucinatory, test-battered brain has been guessing on the last thirty questions.

Since it’s inevitable that College Board eventually gets your email address, it’s inevitable that you receive these college emails. Heck, you might not even realize how massive this email-address grabbing operation is. That fly buzzing around your laptop? It’s actually a College Board-controlled bio-mechanical robot meant to get a screenshot of you logging into your email address.

So, once you’ve received these emails, what should you do?

Respond Immediately

Trust me, colleges wouldn’t send these emails if they didn’t want a response. That’s why they take the time to personalize each and every email: notice how your first name is used in the subject line of every email, often up to three times. (In rare cases, the subject line might read like this: “Joe, picture Joe at the University of Uzbekistan, Joe”).

So, you need to respond ASAP. First of all, it’s the polite thing to do. Secondly, you don’t know which colleges you’ll be applying to eventually, and do you think you have any chance of being accepted if you didn’t respond to the personal email a college sent you? You’d have about as much chance of being accepted as Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.

Thus, the question then becomes: how? How can you possibly respond to the 60+ college emails you receive everyday? The answer’s pretty obvious: do less. Sleeping? Cut some of that out. Surfing the ‘net? No time, you’ve gotta respond to the seven emails that just came in. Metabolizing? Hello, wake up, you won’t have time for that either, dreamer. Maybe after you get accepted to college you can do that stuff.

Get the Free Guides

Often, the emails that you receive from colleges will include a free guide. These guides will have incredibly catchy titles, such as, “5 Questions to Ask when Touring Colleges,” “10 Ways You Can Find the Right College,” or “18 Fiscal Tips to Avoiding the Next Double-Dip Recession.” Instantly, your self-doubt will set in. What if you don’t respond? What if you don’t get these guides? WHAT IF YOU DON’T ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS ON A COLLEGE TOUR AND END UP CRASHING THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? It’d be so easy, you’ll tell yourself, to just click the enticing link and not have to worry about missing anything. So you click the link.

Of course, once your guides actually arrive, you’ll realize how gullible you were. Sure, they’ll all look amazing, with color photos and very glossy paper that reveals just how little that college—say, Somalia State University—cares for the environment. But the tips inside will be practically useless. For example, one brochure might recommend that you “Look around” while visiting a campus, or “Talk to Current Students.” Obviously, without this helpful advice, you would have strolled about the campus blindfolded, with a sign around your neck explaining that you have a rare tropical disease to keep people from getting close enough to talk to you.

Even though these guides are all fluff you should probably already know, I still recommend you get every single one just to appease your paranoia. After all, you don’t want to lose sleep worrying about all of vital admissions info you’re missing.

To get the guides, of course, involves slightly more time than simply responding to most other college emails. Often, you have to provide your parents’ email addresses, neighbor’s email addresses, and the email addresses of the last seventy people you emailed, which takes a little while. But, really, you’re just doing these people a favor: without you, they’d be missing out on all of these wonderful emails.

Sort the Emails

You can’t allow these college emails to just pile up in your inbox. Heck, since you’re already spending the majority of your time outside of school responding to them, you might as well take the extra hour or six and sort them.

The question is, how do you sort them? Well, that’s a good question. After all, you probably have no idea where you will or won’t apply to college. So, I recommend the following system:

First, sort the emails by geography. And if you aren’t sure whether Denver or Austin is closer to your current location, you might as well touch up on your geography knowledge now rather than later. I mean, at least all you have to do is check Google maps. Think of how bad it was for your parents in the 1980s: they probably had to walk to both cities and count their steps. (Plus, email didn’t even exist back then, so they had to sort college telegrams instead).

Then, sort the emails by rank. And this doesn’t just mean academic rank. Coolest names, best locations, strongest engineering programs, number of times they emailed you, number of times they used your first name in the email subject line, etc. Since many email programs can only sort by date, name, subject, or size, you’re going to need to start printing out each email to properly sort it. To minimize your environmental impact, just print it on the envelopes and paper of the free guides you were sent. And, of course, to ensure that your sorting efforts don’t go to waste, you should keep your files in a fireproof, underground, climate controlled, radiation-blocking safe (or a chiseled slab of concrete works well if you can’t find one of those).

Conclusion

Take action. Sort emails. Respond. Get free guides. It’s pretty straightforward, really, even if it does take 27 or 28 hours a day. So, in parting, I have one final tidbit of advice: outsource. Got a baby sibling or a lazy pet cat? You might as well give them something to do and allow them to feel productive.

Last year at this time, we drew your attention to the urgent issue of “The Movie Industry’s War on Teen Books.” You definitely need to be aware of what’s going on if you aren’t already, and that post includes what I find to be one of our funniest pictures of all time.

What Model United Nations Can Teach Us About the Real United Nations

MUNfunnySome of you may call it MUN. Others might call it Model UN. Thankfully, none of you call it Model United Nations.

If you did call it by its full name, adults would know what you were talking about, and then they would think you actually do care about more than the new flavor of Trident Layers that just came out. And we don’t want to ruin the “teens are dumb” stereotype, because if adults think we’re stupid, it’s a lot easier to get away with stupid things. Like crashing your car into your neighbor’s brick mailbox.

Adults chalk this crash up to having an “underdeveloped” brain, but we all know you’re just getting revenge for when that neighbor sprayed you with the hose on Halloween. Which was really unnecessary, seeing as you were only going to aerate his lawn with some plastic forks and test the strength of his roof with some raw eggs. Some people just don’t accept good deeds, I guess.

Anyway, back to the point (not that I have one. But if I did have one, this would be the time to come back to it.)

Model United Nations may just be a mock UN activity, but it can teach us some valuable things about the real world of foreign relations.

(If you don’t know what MUN is, it’s basically when a group of schools gets together and everyone pretends to represent real UN countries and delegates. You pass resolutions and dress up in business attire. In a way, it’s like playing dress-up when you were five, except this time you can put it on your college application. Although, just between you and me, I’m planning on putting: “Dressed up and imitated Thomas the Tank Engine; Grades 2-3” on my college application to give me a slight competitive edge over y’all).

The Transportation

Just like in your own (or, if you don’t have one, a neighboring school’s) MUN chapter, the real United Nations delegates travel to their conferences in yellow school buses manufactured before the invention of shock absorbers.

Since many delegates come from places as far away as South Africa, South America, and South Dakota, they often leave two to three years ahead of when the conference is scheduled. For countries with lots of railroads, like Russia, they often have to leave even earlier than that, since the driver has to stop and open the doors at each railroad crossing.

The Seating

When you finally get to your committee room, you try and sit next to your friends. This way, you can talk about important things like that new Trident Layers flavor* when you hit a slow part in the debates.

In the UN, delegates also try to sit next to their friends. Unfortunately, unlike MUN, the real United Nations committee chair enforces the “sit alphabetically” policy. To counteract that, of course, countries just started lying about the English translation of their official names. How else did you think we ended up with names like “Djibouti?” Clearly, that guy just wanted to sit near the attractive delegate from the Dominican Republic.

* If you don’t pay me in the next ten days for this product placement, Trident Company, I’m changing it to “5 gum” instead.

The Resolutions

Sure, many people take MUN seriously, but there are always a few jokesters who like to make spoof resolutions (not me, of course. As a humor writer, I only write serious resolutions). And wouldn’t you know it, the United Nations has the same problem.

Some countries, like the major western nations, actually want to resolve problems in the world. Others, however, like Luxembourg, have so much money that they actually don’t have enough physical room in their banks to keep it all (and it doesn’t help that Luxembourg is only about as large as your AP Biology textbook).

So, delegates from places like these do spend all of their time on joke resolutions. Recently, “Resolution 1399: Banning the Election of Any National Leader without a Phonetically Spelled Name” came within five votes of passing. Had it passed, 78% of all the countries would have had to hold emergency elections.

The Free Time

Even if you don’t like international relations, lots of people do MUN to get out of school, travel to a nearby college, have free time with friends, and attend the party on the final night.

And, believe it or not, about 30% of all UN delegates are there simply for the parties. You think Morretalgo has any major international influence? Heck no. Half you probably think that I just made that up, because you’ve never even heard of that country. (And the other half you are “dumb” teenagers, because I did just make that up.)

These delegates come for the crazy parties and New York City nightlife. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to corruption. One third world country (which will remain unnamed) had an entire internal government investigation after it was found that the UN ambassador bribed the selection committee because he really, really wanted to go see “Cats” on Broadway. And that’s absolutely pathetic. I mean, “Cats?” Really? Talk about poor taste.

Conclusion

Clearly, MUN programs across the nation do a much better job modeling the real United Nations than you thought, right down to the pillow fights over who gets the single motel bed and who gets the floor (quick note: this is what started the Cold War). So, if you like MUN, maybe you should consider becoming an international relations major. Besides, if that doesn’t work out, you can always become the official U.N. school bus driver instead.

If you’re more interested in some useful advice, you probably want to check out, “Everything You Need to Know to Pass Chemistry Class,” published this time last year. Part of the “Everything You Need to Know” series, it’s there to help you get that A+. Or C-. Whichever your friends will be more in awe of.

The 5 Real Reasons to Take AP Classes

Funny Ap textbookSure, we’ve all heard the arguments for AP classes. They can get you college credit. They can offer you a more in-depth coverage of a subject. They will instantly turn you into Albert Einstein. The list goes on and on.

But while these arguments are true, they are not the main reasons you should take AP classes. I mean, get college credit before college? Please. That’s what junior high school was for. You need a break before entering college, not more college credits. Heck, college is so cheap nowadays there’s absolutely no reason why shouldn’t be able to afford at least a few days of college and pick up some credits.

As a brilliant investigative reporter—because no one ever suspects the gum-chewing, half asleep, walking into walls, grammatically erroneous teen to be anything but a source of comedic relief—I can tell you that there are actually other, better reasons to take AP classes.

1. Get Less Sleep

Many studies have shown that teens need 8+ hours of sleep every night. These incredibly scientific studies argue that a lack of sleep leads to depression, anxiety disorders, and zombification of teens into stumbling green undead creatures.

But let me ask you something: when’s the last time anyone ever sponsored a study examining the consequences of getting enough sleep every night? It’s never happened, because people are too afraid to find out what getting enough sleep could mean. For all we know, sleep can cause death, just like it’s been found that various amounts of sitting, standing, running, swimming, breathing, and eating can. Obviously, no one knows for sure, but to make sure you’re not getting too much sleep, you should definitely take some AP classes.

2. Learn More Useless Information

The purpose of our education system is to teach us stuff that we’ll never need to know, so that when we finally need to know something, we will have spent so much time Googling useless stuff that the useful stuff will be easy to find on Google. And, since education is often lauded for its effects on knowledge, the economy, politics, and social mobility, one can only conclude that more education is a good thing.

With that in mind, why take regular US History, when there’s an AP US History? It is clearly better to stay up until 3:00 AM learning about the Women’s Christian Temperance Union than it is to stay up until only 5:00 PM. Sure, in regular US History you might know the names of the leaders of the movement, but in AP US History you’ll learn so much that you can tell people whether the leaders preferred hot dogs or hamburgers.

3. It’s An Easy A

Colleges prefer A’s to B’s, or C’s, or even, believe it or not, D’s. But as the number of applicants to various colleges have skyrocketed, college admissions departments have had to adjust by spending less time on each applicant (although the popular alternative being considered is simply moving college application deadlines to the spring of your 6th grade year, to give the admissions officers enough time to really assess your “diversity”).

So, currently, college admissions officers only quickly glance at your transcript, trying to mentally tally the number of A’s. What this means is that the more AP classes you have, the more capital “A”s you have on that transcript. Thus, even taking an AP class adds an A to your transcript. And if it’s, say, AP Computer Science A, that’s even better. (For this reason, I’d recommend avoiding AP Calculus BC. Colleges hate C’s).

4. Awful Tests

Thanks to modern tech advancements, many of the old hardships of your parents’ days are over. You no longer need to walk five miles to school in the freezing cold with a warm potato in your pocket for lunch and warmth. You no longer need to sweep the school house or kill snakes on the playground. Heck, you don’t even have to churn butter!

Sure, this is mostly a good thing, but think about it: what are you going to tell your kids? Currently, your parents can make you grateful you have to wake up at 4:00 AM to catch the bus just by telling you about their own past.

Well, AP classes solve this problem. So, in the future, when you have kids, you can mention that you used to be locked in a room for four hours and forced to write essays about events that happened 300 years ago, by hand.

5. Never Worry about Social Status

It’s no secret that high school is a time of shifting social relationships, which can get pretty stressful. The best way to avoid this stress is simply to avoid people. And, the best way to avoid people is to take AP classes.

With AP classes, you’ll have 28 hours of homework every night, ensuring that you don’t have time to hang out with friends. Thus, you’re less likely to be betrayed or hurt by your friends, since you don’t have any.

Overall, there’s really no reason not to take AP classes. Heck, I’ll bet that in fifteen years taking AP classes will do more for your high school status than playing on the varsity football team. But don’t wait: take the number of APs that you can handle, multiply it by five, and then take that many AP classes. You’ll be astounded at how much your life improves.

The State Writing Test: Not Your Average Standardized Test

StateWritingTestsFunnyHidden behind the big-name tests like the PSAT, SAT, AT, just plain T, etc. is a lesser-known but more important test: the state writing test. It’s more important because in most states, if you don’t pass, you can’t graduate from high school, whereas with something like the ACT, you can get as low as a 35 out of 2400 and be sought after by colleges.

But let’s back up for one second. The state writing test is not nearly as stressful as the SAT. In fact, it almost seems like a standardized test done right. Almost.

The Premise

The idea of the state writing test is to test your writing ability. And unlike other standardized tests, that is actually true. Sure, no boss is going to ask you, “Can you read this passage and then tell me why the main character sighs on line 23?” but many jobs involve writing things like legal disclaimers, memos, and legal disclaimers for memos.

The Bubbles

The bubbles at the beginning are truly why this test is so wonderful: they’re already filled in by some sort of ominous black circle-stamping machine. Whereas with the SAT you must pay $87 and submit an address, phone number, email, photo, and blood sample, and then have to fill in your own name, the state writing test already knows you exist, all for the cost of $0. Unfortunately, however, if any of the information is incorrect, there is no way to fix it, so you can either be Hpil (female) with a high school diploma or Phil (male) without one.

The Rules

The rules of the test are not nearly as nice as the bubbles, unfortunately. To begin with, you must fit your entire work onto the one page (front and back) provided, and you can’t draw extra lines in between the lines, nor extra lines in between the extra lines in between the lines, even if you’re writing the next great American formulaic sequel-after-sequel book series with a possible movie deal.

Also, you can’t use excessive profanity or vulgarity, which means just about everything you’ve ever learned from your favorite movies about writing artful dialogue or creating gripping plots is useless.

Furthermore, you aren’t allowed to research or talk with others about your writing, closing off the valuable essay resources of Facebook and Yahoo Answers.

But worst of all, you aren’t allowed the internet, period, and spelling is more heavily weighted than in an SAT essay. How are you supposed to Google whether it’s “unneccessarrillyy” or “unecesarily?” Sure, you’re allowed to use something called a “dikshonary,” but I don’t think that would help. It’s just a big heavy book with the alphabet written on the side in little flaps, I guess in case you forget how to write, like, a capital “G.”

The Prompts

The state writing test has 4 prompts (at least in my state), which initially appears quite nice. Sure, it’s more than the number of prompts on the SAT or ACT, but once you get down to it, the prompts are really no better.

Usually, they fall into four distinct categories: expository, persuasive, self-narrative, and imaginative. For example, your prompts might be:

  • Imagine that you are eating a piece of fruit, and it starts talking to you. Write about the conversation you have and the valuable life advice you gain from your produce.
  • A group of basketball players is playing basketball. Persuade them that golf is a more athletic sport.
  • Many people visit the beach and play in the sand. Write about a time when you went snowboarding.
  • Explain how to make your favorite food. Include measurements, preparation tips, and whether you used outspoken or mute ingredients.

Other Things of Note

While all that may sound pretty straightforward, there are a few other things everyone should know.

To begin with, you have unlimited time during the state writing test. So, if you get really involved in your analysis of golf, you can spend weeks, or even months, perfecting your arguments. Sure, you’ll miss a lot of class and have a ton of makeup work, but at least the next time you go to a Heat game you can convince LeBron to finally pick up golf.

But, as we’ve seen in regards to prompts or bubbles, unlimited time isn’t the only advantage these writing tests have over other standardized tests. In addition, regular standardized tests like the SAT have been accused of being biased against minorities, the poor, or the illiterate. The state writing test, however, is much less biased: you can write your essay/story in either English or Spanish! Although in retrospect, I’m sure there are people who argue that this is simply evidence of anti-Slovakian bias.

Whether or not you like them, state writing tests are a graduation requirement, and are thus pretty much unavoidable. Sure, the prompts are stupid, and the rules are restricting, but let’s face it: at least it isn’t graded on neatness of handwriting. If it was, it would take most of us over a decade to finally pass. And 26-year-old high schoolers just don’t strike me as good thing.

Along with the state writing test, the new semester usually brings new classes, and with them, new syllabi. Which means you’ll probably want to check out, “The Only Guide to Class Syllabi that You’ll Ever Need,” published at this time last year.