SAT Error: Test-takers Petition the CollegeBoard

As a follow-up to my previous post in regards to the June 2015 SAT Error, students are not accepting CollegeBoard’s promise of accurate scores despite the mishap. Media is to the rescue for these concerned students and parents.

Photo Credit: via Flickr from Justin C.)

Photo Credit: via Flickr from Justin C.)

A pair of students, Courtney Noll and Sarah Choudhury, began a change.org petition against the CollegeBoard. Change.org is a platform that allows users to sign petitions online instead of the traditional in-person route. This particular petition “June 6 SAT Error –Petition for an Optional Retest” allows test-takers from all over the country to help reach the same goal: an optional re-test.

I had the opportunity to ask Noll and Choudhury about their petition and why it’s so important to them. (See transcript below)

1. What are some things you want your fellow test takers to know?
Courtney: First off, I would like to tell all my fellow test takers to sign the petition!! And for those who have already signed it, I would like to tell them how much their support means to Sarah and me. I know how much this mistake affected everyone, and I want them to know that we will keep petitioning the College Board until we get our retest.
Sarah: Hello fellow test takers, I guess I will apologize on behalf of the College Board for their actions…..or the lack thereof for effectively combatting their printing error. I know there are a lot of you who feel cheated and deceived by the College Board’s new way of grading, and for those of you, I say you should sign the petition for a free optional retest before October! After all, our dreams and aspirations are being put in the hands of the College Board who seem to care more about their money, rather than the students!
2. What would you like the College Board to know (as if you were speaking directly to them)?
Sarah and Courtney: Dear College Board,

After the dozens of phone calls we exchanged, you probably know how disappointed we are with you and your actions. From scheduling a retest for us that didn’t even exist, to thinking it’s okay to estimate student’s scores, we think that it’s more than clear that we will continue to fight. We’ve gained more supporters than ever before, and they will stand with us. You know that a retest is only fair, but your bank account thinks that saving money should be put first. We recently received an email from you, and it ended with “Challenging all students to own their future.” But let us tell you how loaded and ironic that statement is. Not only, did we lose control of our future to you, but you somehow decided to jeopardize it too! Having a “range” be acceptable for SAT scores, is completely and utterly unacceptable. You know what’s right, now make it right.

3. What are your plans if your petition receives enough signatures?
Courtney: I will definitely take the retest! I’ll probably throw a celebratory block party actually maybe even a city party (do they have those?) it’s okay we’ll petition for one! Okay but in all seriousness, I would definitely want to do something special for all of our supporters.
Sarah: First of all, there is no question, I would take the retest with out a doubt! I would thank the College Board for finally making the right decision and putting the students’ interests first. My faith in humanity would be restored once again and I guess I would come to Courtney’s block party. But if that happens, we would not be able to achieve this feat without the help of our nationwide and international supporters.
4. What are your future aspirations?
Courtney: So it’s crazy to think that we’ll be applying to college this fall! My sister currently attends Stanford University, so that’s one of my top choices. I’m also looking at many of the other Ivy Leauge schools. I’m looking at a career in either business, political science, or even computer science. 
Sarah: Wow I can’t believe college apps are so close! I would like to go into the field of medicine and apply to seven year programs or undergrad programs. I’ve been looking at John Hopkins, Stony Brook, and maybe even Ivy Leagues. However, these dream schools rely heavily on my SAT scores. So I hope the College Board gets its act together.

According to the Washington Post, a little under 500,000 people registered for the June 2015 SAT. The petition’s goal is receive 1,000 signatures. As of today, June 17, they have 865 supporters. You can view the petition here.

(Thank you to TMRSAT for bringing the petition to my attention)

Senior Summer: Clean Your(Online)self Up

Back in the olden days, people used resumes and work samples and maybe a few word-of-mouth connections here and there to get jobs. Today, however, employers want to be absolutely sure the person they’re hiring is the person they’ve presented themselves to be in interviews. And for that, they get a little help from this new-fangled invention called the internet.

It’s more than just good shopping these days as employers use social media to check up on you. Here are some tasks you, a potential job candidate, are employed to work on this summer:

  • If you don’t already have one, get a LinkedIn profile. If you do already have one (and if you followed the first sentence, you should!), improve it and make it even better. There are tips here.
  • Next up, all other social media accounts. We’ve heard the trite advice of not posting compromising pics and petty comments, but what about the type of blog you run? Your Profile settings? The apps you play? They may need to be adjusted some and here’s how.
  • Lastly, make yourself heard…in the right way. When you do post online, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress, make sure you’re respectfully yet interestingly grabbing your reader’s attention, formatting your communication in the most effective way possible, and most importantly, presenting yourself as, well, you. Be funny, passionate, intelligent, whoever that may be, and let your online presence show that.

With this advice in mind, you’re well on your way and hopefully, won’t be rejected for a position (summer or otherwise) again.

Season Caught-Up/Series Complete: Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra

(Finally finished! I sincerely miss the drawing styles of Michael Di Martino and Bryan Konietzko, who also created my all-time favorite series, Avatar: The Last Airbender; seriously, Nickelodeon’s highest-rated series)

Book Read: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

(Not my pic; GeekGirl 's pic and she gives an excellent synopsis here)

(Not my pic; GeekGirl ‘s pic and she gives an excellent synopsis here)

(The last book in the Traveling Pants series left me with more tears than laughs and was tough to read at times, but overall, a good book and a comfortable ending to the series as well. Definitely a book about friendship but in a different way than in the previous books in the series.)

Senior Summer: Maybe I Can Actually Get Stuff Done This Summer? Maybe?

There’s no good time to make and keep a goal…except maybe during a three-month vacation? Short of launching a multi-billionaire entrepreneurship or being employed as a teacher (and even the former isn’t likely to take breaks, giving how tech is innovated these days), a three-month vacation isn’t likely to ever happen again.

So why not take advantage of it? Some scientists say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. That pretty much means that you have three tries to get it right this summer.

Keep it simple. Don’t be super ambitious like run 5 miles everyday if you haven’t even broken in a pair of sneakers. Maybe just running three times a week. If you want to enhance your photog skills, learn how to use free apps and take an artsy photo everyday. Tackle a Buzzfeed challenge. Start off small.

And once you have a goal (or goals, maybe you are ambitious!), here are some tips to help you reach it.

As for me, I have been woefully remiss on my leisure activities this year. Surprisingly, being an English major doesn’t allow me a lot of time to read for fun or watch for fun, so I’ll be tackling (fingers crossed) a book and a show a week–either catching up on a current show or finishing the series of a cancelled show. (Below are this week’s:)

That said, I also, finally learned how to use the app I bought over a year ago. You can get Gif Brewery through the Apple Store. I finally had fun with some old videos:

A M Montgomery 2015 Gif

A M Montgomery 2015 Gif

Good luck on your goals, guys!

Season Caught-up/Series Complete: Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix

(Great series but so violently graphic at times, I had to cover both my eyes and ears)

Book Read: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

(Dessen is very predictable when it comes to romance; that said, I wish it would have ended a bit more realistically)

Senior Summer: So You Didn’t Get That Internship, Now What?

A M Montgomery 2014

A M Montgomery 2014

What has two thumbs, no summer job prospects, and a much needed break? This girl!

I apologize for the delay in posting (though in my defense I have been updating my other blog). Since I’m now covering the majority of my expenses (everything except tuition and part of room and board), it’s been difficult to juggle class, work, sleep, and free time. I hoped to gain some paid experience this summer and applied to over fifty internships and jobs. Some I made it into the first round of interviews, but nothing after that. Long story short, I didn’t get a single internship I applied for. So what do I do now?

Good news: The amount of money I hoped to earn is taken care of through some prizes I won (see here).

Bad news: Even if I didn’t have my little brother to baby-sit some days, I still need to do something, not only for my resume but also for me (I’m that kid who assigned herself workbook pages during the summers).

So what should I do this summer? If you search in any search engine, the results are always articles that say you should “get an internship,” “get a job,” or “volunteer” (I kid you not) as well as some other options you may not be able to afford like traveling, exploring, and paying for additional courses. Well, if I actually had those options, I wouldn’t exactly be searching for something to do on Google, now would I? It’s the same thing in the results year after year…

Because I start my senior year in the fall, this is my last official free summer. I have a few ideas, but stay tuned this summer to find out exactly what they are.

Making the Most of Summer? Tips Here

July is almost here! Sorry for the delay. I’ve had this post typed for a while but getting sent to the ER and recovering definitely set me back a bit on posting (more on that on Monty’s Mayhem). I’ve had a whirlwind of a summer so far, but still not much to put in my portfolio, which, for some odd reason, in my generation means I’m wasting my summer? Well, summer’s not over yet. There are tons of tricks of the trade to do during the summer that not only can help you get ahead as a journalist and go on your resume, but for some of them, you don’t have to leave your house!

 

  • Get an internship. It doesn’t have to be paid. It doesn’t have to be in-person. Internships are great ways to improve/learn skills such as AP Style, finding stories, etc. while getting experience in different types of journalism. Good places to search them include sites like mediabistro or, if you’re in school, check out your college’s career center. As always, there’s no better place to look than the place you’re interested in. If you already have a place in mind, check out their website for info or call proving their worth and potentially create your own position!
  • Volunteer. Most news places, especially local ones, are in need of free labor. You can learn some tricks of the trade, get your face in people’s heads, and it’s no pressure. Most volunteering is done on your own schedule, unlike an unpaid internship. In fact, volunteering may be better for you personally than an unpaid internship and before you accept an internship, look at these guidelines first to make sure it’s right for you
  • Start a blog. Yes, you can put blogging on your resume. It’s a great way to keep an online portfolio and keep your writing skills up-to-date with opportunity for feedback. But what should you write about? It depends on what you’re interested in. If you have a lot of authority on a subject like anime or digital photography, recap shows or examine new techniques and products. If you want to try something new this summer, like cooking or skateboarding, start a blog to keep yourself on track and meet others who are experts or novices like you. Whatever you decide, your blog should stay within its theme and a lot of places like wordpress and blogger let you host them for free.
  • Prepare for next summer. If your current summer is not all that you hoped it would be, get determined to make the next one even better. Look at applications for jobs and internships you missed out on due to poor scheduling or lack of seniority and start drafting your responses. If you’re not in school this summer, you have a better chance of not getting distracted and finishing your applications early.
  • Take some classes. You can enroll in courses for credit or no credit at local schools, but also keep in mind, there are some courses online. They range from expensive to free, lasting weeks or lasting minutes, and are on a wide array of subjects. It’s pretty easy to search for them online (Poynter offers a lot in journalism).
  • Learn some skills. Have you ever wanted to add a skill to your resume but never had time to learn it? Well, now’s the time! If it’s a foreign language, get your Rosetta Stone/Pimsleur/Duolingo kits and practice everyday. Practice AP Style with mini-guides online. Get some coding basics under your belt. Learn how to use your devices (computer, smartphone, mp3 player, etc.) to their fullest potential by looking up tips and making your life easier. If you want to become an expert on anything, now’s the time to do it.
  • Get a job. If you can’t find any work in journalism, there’s no shame in getting a job outside your field. It’s still work experience and you can use the money to save up for a new computer that can handle video and photo editing software, that crazy expensive video and photo editing software, kits, tape recorders, cameras, or journalism conference fees. In other words, use your non-journalism job to further your journalism career.

There are tons of ways to get ahead in your career, some you don’t even have to leave your house for! Let me know if you end up starting a blog by leaving the url in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

An Explanation for My Absence and Other Tips From a Public Radio Internship

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been updating as of late. For those of you who don’t know, I am a college student, and have just completed my sophomore year at Amherst College. This semester was also filled with assignments from my internship at New England Public Radio. At the risk of possible conflict of interest, I refrained from my usual media blogging.

However, with the end of a school year also brings the end of my internship. This, however, is the beginning of tips from my first journalism internship.

  • Do keep up with schoolwork If you happen to have an internship during the school year, wanting to prove yourself as vital member of the news team, not just a college intern, is natural. But letting your schoolwork slip is not the way to do it. When I’ve had too many assignments and just under so much stress, I have taken off time off from work. Your bosses will understand as long as you give them enough notice and make up your hours.
  • You don’t have to know everything before you start. Internships are learning experiences, and for someone who goes to a school with no journalism program, I’m super grateful for all that I learned on the job. Just try to pick up skills and get the office’s routine down and you should be fine.
  • In broadcast, tape is key. A hard lesson I learned while working in radio was you could do all the research you wanted and do some rockin’ interviews, but unless you get it on tape and find some suitable sound bites for your story, you don’t really have anything. I was quick to learn this even though it’s such a stark contrast to the print journalism I did prior to my internship. There are always possible derailments to getting tape in radio–the subject doesn’t call back before your deadline, they call back but they don’t want to talk to you, or, they are willing to talk but they don’t want to be recorded. In radio, you have to find ways around these mishaps, most of the time, depending on the story.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. I feel like this statement is true in life, but especially in radio. Yes, be serious when conducting interviews by staying on topic or when writing up your script (I have made a few mistakes myself). But also be yourself and relax. You get some of your best tape from interviewees when they feel you’re having a conversation, not interrogation. The best stories don’t necessarily sound like straight-up news reports, but more like the voice of the story is talking to you, explaining something like a friend would (this took me a long time to learn as well). Also, while dress code ranges from workplace to workplace, as you continue to work, you’ll learn what you may be able to get away with.

Take it from me. My first day, I was dressed like this:

Prop. of A.M. Montgomery 2014

Prop. of A.M. Montgomery 2014

 

And by my last day, I was more laid-back.

Prop. of A.M. Montgomery 2014

Prop. of A.M. Montgomery 2014

 

  • Lastly, keep in touch. Okay, so remember how I said “Don’t take yourself too seriously”? While that’s still important to keep in mind, it’s very possible to not take yourself seriously and maintain competency. This is important. Take your job seriously–do a great job, have a good attitude and respect your co-workers. It could pay off in the long run, in terms of asking for advice or other tasks that could open up at the office after your internship is long over.

For the final assignment of my internship, I completed a feature about the recent changes to College Board’s SAT. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the program because I got to pitch the topic, traveled across western Massachusetts to do interviews, and voiced a longer piece than my usual cut-and-scripts and spots. But don’t take my word for it. You can listen/read all my assignments from the links on my Resume page.

Are there any tips you have journalism internships or working in general? Share in the comments below!

 

Finally! A Book About College!

When people ask of my hobbies, in addition to sleeping and writing, I like to add: “Oh, yeah, I read bad YA novels, too.”

He or she chuckles, confused, and repeats: “Bad YA novels? What does that mean?”

“Young adult novels that are terrible, in prose or plot development or character development.”

Truth be told, I like to read all young adult novels; it’s just that the terrible ones tend to get a greater immediate reaction out of me, and there are so many of them!

A typical trait of many YA novels is the middle/high school setting. When I got to college, I wondered why there were so few college-setting books? Is it because what goes on there has been glamorized by television–with the booze, the sex, the drugs, the fun?

It started to make me believe that I was doing the college experience wrong. I am not engaged in any of the above debauchery. A typical Friday night includes gorging myself on Dining Hall pizza and ice cream before heading back to the dorm and arguing with my friends over which movie to watch before we agree to watch some harmless rom-com or retire to bed, reading a book.

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell reiterated all that I think of college and more. Not only is her main character a triple non-partier, drinker, and smoker, but she actually spends time doing her homework–an aspect of college previously unheard of in the pop culture media!

Image courtesy of "A Reading Nook: YA Book Blog" Don't Judge by Its Cover

Image courtesy of “A Reading Nook: YA Book Blog” Don’t Judge by Its Cover

Fangirl stems around a girl named Cath, who is heading to college in Nebraska, where she hopes to major in English and become a fiction writer. She doesn’t really want to make friends; she has her twin sister, Wren, there and her sorta-boyfriend, Abel, back home, and her fanfiction. Yes, her fanfiction.

Previously undiscovered in media in detail, Rowell presents the culture of fanfiction through Cath, a major writer on the fanfiction site. Cath basically writes the Harry Potter equivalent fanfiction of a Harry and Draco pairing, and she has quite a following. She’s on the clock; she wants to finish her story before the actual last book in the series comes out, but everything will be fine, right?

A few weeks before school starts, Wren tells Cath that they shouldn’t room together. Cath needs to break out and find her own friends, that’s what college is for, right?

So while Wren embraces the drinking and party culture with her new best friend/roommate, Courtney, Cath attempts to stay out her cranky, upperclassmen roommate, Reagan, and Reagan’s “maybe boyfriend”/excited puppy best friend, Levi’s way when going back and forth to her room between classes.

I refuse to spoil the book anymore because I think anyone who is in college, was in college, going to college, or even thought the word “college” in any way, should read this book. Honestly, whatever pre-conceived notions you think you have about the plot and characters are going to be upended and tossed aside.

Rowell is absolutely brilliant in presenting this other side of college, this absolutely realistic side (that is never shown) and in conveying the unfolding of events in Cath’s life in such a way as to not appear as “deux ex machina” when things go right or “saw that irony coming!” when things go wrong. Not only does she explore the relationship between classmates, siblings, significant others, and parents in a coming-of-age story, we, as the readers, also relate to the relationships contributed to inanimate objects, such as fictional characters, books, assignments, that still greatly affect our thoughts and our lives, a paradox in and of itself.

For me, it does beg the question of whether of not I would still love this book, if the main character were not so relatable to myself. Part of the reason, I disliked John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” was because the lifestyle of underage drinking and sex, and fantasies of a person who was almost completely indifferent to your existence seemed weird, odd, and out-of-place. How would “Fangirl” change for me, if I were to read it from Wren’s point of view? (Answer: I would probably be rooting for Cath whenever she showed up).

Fortunately for me, I do not have to make that choice, as Rowell has already written and published the book from Cath’s point of view. For now, I do not have wonder if I love the book; I can simply say thank you to Rowell for finally creating a “college” book from a different point of view. Thank you for making this book not only part of my top three of favorite books, but also for making it not part of my “Bad YA” hobby.