March 2022 Advice Column

The Editors-in-Chief of ‘The Science Survey’ answer your questions about life during the 2021-2022 academic year.


Maggie Schneider

Some of the Editors-in-Chief of the 2021-2022 ‘The Science Survey’ collaborate during a Zoom meeting after school. Pictured from left to right, top to bottom, are Declan Hilfers ’22, Maggie Schneider ’22, Saam Ahmed ’22, Victoria Diaz ’22, Jillian Chong ’22 and Cadence Chen ’22 (Not pictured: Melanie Lin ’22).

Hi Bronx Science!

We, the Editors-in-Chief, want to congratulate everyone, especially our 9th and 10th graders, for finishing the first semester plus a month! It hasn’t been an easy one, given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron surge during December 2021 and January 2022, and your tenacity throughout this time is a real testament to your strength as well as the strength of the Bronx Science community. 

For this issue of the Advice Column, we hope that, in our responses, you can find COVID-related words of wisdom, as well as a hint of what to expect from our brighter, warmer second semester. 

With love, 

Maggie Schneider ’22 (she/her), Cadence Chen ’22 (she/her), Jillian Chong ’22 (she/her), Saamiya Ahmed ’22 (he/they), Melanie Lin ’22 (she/her), Declan Hilfers ’22 (he/him), and Victoria Diaz ’22 (she/her)

How do I keep up with the workload from my classes when I am out sick from school (COVID-19 or otherwise)?

Having been out for a while with COVID-19 recently, I can empathize with feelings of being left behind by the class, and the stress that comes with that. Thankfully, since you aren’t alone, teachers are generally very accommodating. The best thing you can do while you’re out sick (other than taking care of your physical and mental health, of course) is to check Google Classroom for work/study material, and if you don’t see it, send an email to your teachers asking if there’s anything you need to stay updated. Also, a lot of teachers have started to offer online office hours, which helped me a lot when I was sick. 

Now, this isn’t going to be a perfect substitute, but even the school knows that, which is why most classes have started mixing in a lot of review. Once you get back, there’s also SGI, and from what I know if you come back right before a test, you can just ask to take it at a later date (most teachers should be fine with this). In all, you should try to stay more or less up to date, but if that isn’t possible, don’t feel stressed — a lot of students are in the same boat, and you have good options to get caught up.

– Declan Hilfers ’22

What is the benefit of applying to NHS as a junior? How helpful is it for college applications?

I am so glad you asked this question! This was something I was looking for answers to when I was a second-semester junior.  It is important to understand that the NHS is all about giving back to the Bronx Science community. By being a part of the NHS, you will be able to provide an extra pair of hands to help the S.O. prepare for a school-wide event or tutor underclassmen in a topic you know well. If helping the school is not your primary goal in joining the NHS, then you may not see any benefit in participating, even if joining as a junior puts you in the running for a leadership position. However, you don’t need to be in the NHS to give back to your Bronx Science community. In the quest to gain credits, you may lose that spark you had coming into the program and lose sight of what you’re really looking for.

In terms of college applications, the NHS does little to help you stand out in the college admissions process unless you have a leadership position. Many of your peers will join the NHS, so having it as a part of your application is unlikely to set you apart from others in your grade. Keeping all this in mind, only join the NHS if you are passionate about helping your community, not for the sake of your application or a leadership position.

– Jillian Chong ’22

With rising health concerns amid the recent surge of COVID-19 Omicron cases (thankfully now rapidly declining), how can we stay hopeful and motivated to do work?

Great question! I think that the most important thing to remember is that these waves are temporary – looking forward to the end of each surge (be it Omicron or one in the future) and making plans for things you’re excited to do then is a great way to keep your spirits up. For me,  keeping up a physical “Things to Look Forward To” list has allowed me to keep finding hope and small joys in everyday life, even when much of it seems bleak.

Moreover, I would say to immerse yourself in whatever makes you happy! Now, more than ever, it’s important that you take time every day to unwind and shift your attention away from the outside world. This can serve as a reward for productivity as well – telling yourself that you can watch an hour of TV after finishing X amount of work can be a helpful way to stay motivated when there’s less school-imposed structure than usual.

– Maggie Schneider ’22

What are the best ways to prepare for the SAT without needing to take private tutoring?

I would suggest using Khan Academy SAT practice, or using the Z-Library to access SAT practice books. For the verbal section, I recommend Erica Meltzer, and for math I recommend plain old Barron’s or Princeton. You can also buy these books to have a physical copy. Study for fifteen minutes a day after dinner or before bed (whichever works for you, remember to set a time in which you will actually do it). Form a strategy (for example, I found that starting with the short answer section of the math worked better for me than starting with the multiple choice), practice, and master. I believe in you, you’ll do amazing!

– Melanie Lin ’22

Can we join clubs in the middle of the year, and is it okay if you are not consistent with it?

Of course! You can join clubs whenever you want. Clubs aren’t as big a commitment as teams so you aren’t required to attend every meeting; just keep in mind that if you want to run for leadership position in that club you will need a certain percentage of attendance. For that information you can ask the specific club’s board members since it can vary. 

Clubs are supposed to be fun, so it’s okay when your classes take first priority. You certainly shouldn’t feel bad about having to miss a few meetings, for whatever reason.

Still, be sure to try out as many clubs as possible to try new things and meet new people, it’s never too late to join a club. 

– Saamiya Ahmed ’22 

There haven’t been as many opportunities to visit colleges in person due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. How would you recommend getting information on a college or university without physically visiting its campus, if you are unable to?

There are many opportunities to learn about colleges and universities without visiting campuses. First, many colleges have virtual information sessions for prospective students. These sessions are usually webinar-style and are great for learning about a university’s programs and admission criteria. For first-generation, low-income, and/or BIPOC prospective students, there are often “fly-in” programs at different universities. These programs are usually application-based and aim to highlight the programs and opportunities offered to FGLI or BIPOC students. You can also research independently, as many colleges and universities have important information on their websites. I also thought YouTube was an incredible resource during my college application process. I often watched videos from students at different universities where they would speak about their experiences or walk viewers through a day on a college campus. Lastly, you can always fill out a form, usually on a college’s website, to receive e-mails and stay in the loop about different opportunities.

– Victoria Diaz ’22

My friend got into a program, but I did not. I’m happy for my friend, but how should I deal with my feelings of disappointment?

Acknowledging that you feel disappointed is important. I’m glad that you know that you feel this way. Some would say I have an avoidant personality, which has only delayed and later intensified feelings I believe are similar to yours. Even if you believe you’ve gotten over this one hurdle, you may remember this particular disappointment at another particularly difficult time, or you won’t. All I can tell you is that it happened, and many more things will happen in your life. 

Know that there are different directions to take, more openings as I like to call them. Applying to more programs of a similar nature is one (if you’re feeling up for it). This may soften the blow and help you to view this isolated “no” and inevitable no’s in the future as less personal. There are so many organizations out there that want your help. You can contact them. Take all the skills you have now and strengthen them through a project of your own making. 

Or you don’t have to do any of those things. Eat, sleep, read — do whatever it is that you normally do. Ultimately, this is a program, which I’m assuming is an academic or career-related one. Deprogramming your mind to stop placing value on “getting in,” at an institution like Bronx Science more than others, is a difficult mindset to gain. For some of us, getting in is the only mindset we’ve ever known. What I like to do is focusing on cultivating interior joy, joy uninhibited by anyone else’s input. As so many exterior forces try to tell us how to feel (marketing campaigns, societal pressures, etc.), feeling this kind of joy appears to be a radical act. 

I’m going to leave an essay by the late great American writer Joan Didion here, which may console you more than I can. It’s about her experience being unchosen by the college of her choice, but I believe this situation is similar enough, because even people as perceptive and as deliberate as Joan Didion are unchosen too. 

– Cadence Chen ’22

“What I like to do is focusing on cultivating interior joy, joy uninhibited by anyone else’s input. As so many exterior forces try to tell us how to feel (marketing campaigns, societal pressures, etc.), feeling this kind of joy appears to be a radical act,” said Cadence Chen ’22.