Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

The modern student’s college essay debacle

Ah, college. How mystical and eye-opening exposure to the American higher education system is. I am undoubtedly stoked to dip my toes in, but I have already hit an inevitable admissions road block: writing the essay. And this is coming from a writer….

Recently I discovered that no matter how many essay drafts I write, no couple of paragraphs will accurately sum up my struggles, my personality, or my (currently unknown) goals in life. It just isn’t happening. In fact, I am cleverly avoiding writing some college admissions essays by writing this very blog post. Not because I am scared of the daunting prompts – nay, I’ve seen a few odd writing requests in my time. Rather, I know my limitations as a writer. I can live and breathe a fictional character’s experiences with accurate faux-ness and ease, but it is far more difficult recounting a tale of my own. Truly, pinpointing my best qualities or hardest moments is a struggle; I would rather play darts with my eyes closed, as I would be much more accurate at something so objective. Unfortunately subjective admissions essays require a depth and insight that perhaps takes more caffeine than usual to unleash.

Essays are, arguably, the most human aspect of any college application. After all, they are meant to be manuscripts of conversations – only edited, proofread, over-thought, sanitized, and devoid of error. Where are the cute stumbles of a chat over coffee? The charming pitfalls? The relieving letting of the guard down? They were present in the earnest first drafts, but cast aside during a quest for something more impressive. I could not imagine the frustration associated with being a college essay reader, reading the same words and phrases over and over – diversity, adventurous, mature, studious, “live life to the fullest”, want, “seize opportunities,” need, and desire.

I suppose I could call for an end to essays in general. In reality, all I want is for the students to not stress over their essays so intensely. I am a writer, and every college will know that, so it is fair to assume that my essays will be scrutinized for correctness and general awe. I hope to charm universities with my quirky stories and a quick peek inside my heart, not the mind I have carved to be intelligent over my lifetime. Let me provide a quiet glance at some beating, lively and raw organ that has been engraved by exposure to both words of love and slight odium. Allow me to make my essays more of a photograph than a painting: realistic. I could change the lighting if I wanted to, or even pose, but candid shots are hard to recreate as they were never created. Finally, I will express a good story rather than some admirable adjectives or the thoughts and dreams of others. A mere snapshot of life will provide more information than a screenshot of the world on Google Maps.

To those of you entering this personal, odd and at times uncomfortable world of endless drafting, I wish you luck on your journey.

– Miss Musings

Have thoughts on essay writing? Tweet them to me or join the conversation on Facebook.

 

 

3 great ‘self dates’ for introverts

 

Courtesy of atlast-weddings.blogspot.com

So you want to go out somewhere, but you don’t want awkward small talk to distract you (as it always does). You seek enlightenment, some coffee maybe, and a couple of hours to unwind in comfortable silence. It sounds like you are in need of a quick “self date,” which means exactly what it sounds like: a night out by yourself, not on the prowl for a lover or hashing out your day with your friends.

But where should/can you go… (gasp)… by yourself?

A museum!

Orlando has a bunch of great museums that you could easily spend an evening visiting. Explore the Orlando Museum of Art on the first Thursday of each month and listen to local musicians while examining themed galleries, and then take a stroll through the neighboring Loch Haven Park. You could also visit the smaller Mennello Museum of American Art just across the street to satisfy your taste for folk art, or take a look at the Morse Museum of Art in the nearby town of Winter Park. The best part about attending a museum stag is that many people go by themselves to enjoy the art… in silence. It’s the recipe for the perfect introvert self date.

A movie theater!

A movie theater is the quintessential date location, yet it is often an ineffective place for a date because you can’t talk to anyone during a movie. Luckily for you introverts, NOT talking is not a bane, but a boon! Go buy yourself some popcorn (which is cheaper when it’s just for one person) and get lost in a new flick. Introverts – 1, lovers – 0.

Painting!

You know those elderly people who sit and paint in parks, looking totally at peace with the world and their thoughts? Have you ever felt a smidge envious? Painting allows you to focus on one subject for a long period of time, so there is not much room for tedious over-analyzation or long-winded discussions. Grab some paints and brushes and find a quiet spot in Lake Eola park to paint some nature scenes.

Get quiet and take yourself on a date tonight whether you’re introverted or extroverted – there is so much to see when you are focused on the place you are at, rather than the people you are with.

Have some more ideas? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Making STEM appealing to the modern ‘girly girl’

I grew up as a Barbie®-loving girly girl who only had fashion design and ballet on the brain. I thought robots and planes were for boys, despite my dad’s desire to share these hobbies with me at a young age. No one told me technology and engineering was men’s work – I just assumed it was since Erector® sets did not come in pink.

If they had, I would have had an easier time visualizing myself making strides in STEM.

 

Courtesy of girltalkhq.com

Courtesy of girltalkhq.com

 

The fact is, STEM toys, groups like FIRST Robotics, and technology-infested films such as Transformers and Iron Man are not targeted towards the typical girly girl. Granted, not all girls are girly, but some who are have the aptitude to excel in various STEM fields. I was never interested in any extracurriculars related to STEM as a child or young teenager, although math was my favorite subject and I was a creative thinker and problem solver. Yet when I walked into a FIRST Robotics meeting one year I instantly clammed up; I was intimidated by the technology I had never been exposed to throughout my years I spent focusing on my girlier interests.After all, how could I have the ability to succeed in STEM if I had not been building robots or soldering my entire life?

Later on I realized the importance of STEM confidence – you may not be able to succeed in the fields unless you know that you can learn the tricky topics. This is simply not taught to bright girls who would rather play with dolls or write poetry than dig into STEM at a young age.

Maybe this confidence can be built through designing engaging and girly STEM activities. Perhaps we can market them in an effective way to a subset of girls that is rarely recruited.

So think like a girly girl: writing a computer program may be more appealing when the correct algorithm can simulate an online dress up game. Math equations and solutions could be clues for Barbie® as she tries to find the missing amulet in a computer game adventure. Beading bracelets could emphasize the importance of planning programs, and you can even traverse the bead array and perform physical searches and sorts on it.

While the STEM world may not be the girliest one, girls should be able to feel confident with their reasoning abilities and have the opportunity to develop these abilities at a young age. If we are serious about closing the STEM gender gap, maybe we just need to target the unorthodox audience. Just imagine the potential scientists who could be unearthed once we make youth STEM activities less intimidating and more diverse.

How do you think we should get girls involved in STEM? Send Miss Musings a tweet or join the conversation on Facebook

8 ways NYC is like an Orlando theme park

Not long ago I found myself muddling through crowds, standing astounded on Main Street, and taking short cuts to avoid human traffic jams. But instead of the setting of Universal Studios Orlando, my adventure took place in New York City.

New York City. Courtesy of Miss Musings.

New York City. Courtesy of Miss Musings.

Everyone had told me that New York was this and that – a sewer trap ridden with rats and rude, accented remarks. I had to walk fast or be trampled. Pick pockets are everywhere. New York was absolutely nothing like this; in fact, navigating the big apple was as easy as snaking through any of Orlando’s theme parks.

Here’s how New York and a theme park are similar:

  1. You need to walk fast, but people won’t hurt you if you don’t.
  2. There are (surprisingly short) lines that are avoidable if you look for the short cuts.
  3. The tourist areas are sketchy, but you can find a tranquil haven on a bench in some green space.
  4. No one knows where anything is.
  5. People will randomly stop in front of you to take a photo of something mundane.
  6. There are people in costumes in Times Square, but they will ask you for a tip unlike the character performers at Disney.
  7. Food is everywhere, albeit expensive.
  8. Instead of Mickey Mouse ears, everyone is wearing NYPD and New York Yankee shirts. EVERYONE.

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Oddly enough, I found New York City and Orlando to be close cousins, if not twins. The two towns are similar, and if you can navigate Disney safely and with alacrity, New York City will be just like another theme park.