Youth Helping Youth: Pinkpau’s Guide to US College Applications

American college applications are a strange beast. I considered applying to a few US colleges before but the sheer number of alien acronyms, requirements, and costs (not to mention the fact that I would theoretically be a “transfer” but wanted to start over) gave me too much of a headache. It is a wonder sometimes that there are international students in the US tertiary system at all!

Writer and general busy bee Su Ann, also known as PinkPau, went through this herself last year and has succeeded in getting herself a spot in a top US university (I believe Columbia but I could be mistaken). She has helpfully provided a comprehensive guide to US applications for Malaysian students, whether fresh out of secondary school or in pre-university programs. This first part of her guide also includes a sample resume for the applications (don’t let the sheer number of achievements scare you!), as well as a sample fee waiver letter – really useful as US college applications can go higher than US$50 each and many people typically apply to a few at once.

Su Ann will publish a few more guides, including one on writing the application essays. She’s also happy to answer questions till January, the end of application deadlines.

Asking a qualified college counselor experienced in US colleges is the ideal option, as is contacting the university, but Su Ann has a very friendly peer perspective and definitely makes a great start. I wish I had her guides three years ago!

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Entrepreneurship and Languages – two blogs for you

If you’d like some entrepreneurial inspiration, or would like to learn Japanese in double-quick time, here are two blogs you may want to subscribe to:

1) Australia-based HatchThat is filled with interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs from a wide range of industries. They cover all sorts of interests – from sexual and reproductive health to DJs and party planning. They are always on the lookout for other entrepreneurs to interview – maybe some of you from this list would be interested!

2) A lot of young Malaysians are into anime and manga, and consequently are trying to learn the Japanese language. What if I told you that you could learn enough Japanese in 18 months to not only be really fluent, but also be able to understand technical documents and ultimately be hired in software engineering? Impossible? Young African man Khatzumoto has done exactly that.

On his blog, All Japanese All The Time, Khatzumoto explains his method for learning total Japanese in such a short time – essentially being totally immersed in the culture (surrounding yourself with Japanese media, doing fun things in Japanese, etc), aiming to understand rather than memorize, as well as some smart use of flashcards. He is currently using the same system to learn Chinese, and shows you how to use this system to learn any language – no matter how old or young you are.

If you have any other interesting blogs, please share them with us!

The List of Youth Speakers and Inspiring Young People to Invite to Your Conference or Event

In response to tech conference Tokion‘s lack of women speakers, women bloggers everywhere banded together to create a list of women speakers for any conference, hosted at Personism. The ever-growing list contains hundreds of inspiring women in design, the arts, entrepreneurship, activism, non-profits, business, and everything else that would certainly be an asset for any conference or gathering of minds.

There’s another group of people often missing at these conferences though: young people. Sure, there is no end to youth conferences, but look at the big ones like TED or ideaCity – how many of the participants are under 30? IdeaFestival is testing out a “IF Kids” section, which was apparently quite successful in the 2007 festival, but might be a little condescending to young adults who aren’t actually kids but who aren’t quite old enough to blend in with the other adults. And even if those big events were more inclusive socially, many deserving young people won’t be able to afford them. Tickets are upwards of US$500 a piece, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get them before they sell out. Factor in travel, visas, accommodation, and all other costs and you see a very pricey proposition that turns away many young people from otherwise being the biggest contributors.

What young people need are more opportunities to be represented, more exposure to wider groups of people (and not just their peers). Young people should be taking the stage more often in those big events, they should be the ones being listened to by big minds such as Al Gore or Richard Branson. It’s their voice that should be heard, particularly since all the big chances will be handled by us anyway.

Inspired by Personism’s list, I am now creating:

The List of Youth Speakers and Inspiring Young People to Invite to Your Conference or Event

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you want to be on this list, or know anyone (below 30) who should be here, leave me a comment with their name, country, the field they’re involved in, and a brief description. Please also include a link to a website or webpage about them. It doesn’t have to be their personal/business website – a profile or a news article works too, just as long as it has information (and preferably contact details too) about themselves.

Don’t be afraid to self-promote! So many of us deserve better but are too shy or modest to ask for it. I will scan the list for scammers and spammers though.

You may notice that (at least in the early versions) this list is skewed towards a certain geographical area. This is partly because I’m from that area so I know more people there, but also because people in non-Western countries tend to be underrepresented in big events like these. See the diversity of countries as a good thing – you’ll get a very varied set of backgrounds and opinions, information and knowledge will cross borders, and everyone benefits.

List last updated: 26 Jan 2008

NAME COUNTRY FIELD DESCRIPTION
Tiara Shafiq Malaysia / Bangladesh / Australia Youth, Alternative Education Maintainer of youth/alternative education blog EducateDeviate
Suzanne Lee Malaysia Photography Self-made professional photographer and traveller
Poh Si Teng Malaysia / USA Journalism Co-founder of Malaysia youth socio-political magazine theCICAK
Tharum Bun Cambodia IT, Communications Blogger on ITCs
Khailee Ng Malaysia Entrepreneurship Co-Founder of theCICAK and various web ventures
Daniel CerVentus Lim Malaysia Entrepreneurship Maintainer of Malaysian entrepreneurship blog Ideapreneur
David Askaripour USA Entrepreneurship Founder of youth entrepreneurship portal Mind Petal, web entrepreneur
Brett Farmiloe USA Passion Went on the “Pursue the Passion” roadtrip to interview leading people about their passions in life
Hayley Angell Australia Passion, Empowerment Life coach and speaker on youth empowerment
Jessica Kiely Australia Youth, Career Development Founder of FRANK Team, a company that empowers youth through speakers and newsletters on career development
Adam Smith Australia Youth, Education COO of Education Foundation Australia
Bec Heinrich Australia Youth, Education, Leadership CEO and Founder of Rising Generations
Tom Dawkins Australia Youth, Media Founder of youth media portal VibeWire
Simon Moss Australia Youth, International Development, Education, Poverty COO of youth-run development organization The Oaktree Foundation
Hugh Evans Australia Youth, International Development, Education, Poverty Founder of youth-run development organization The Oaktree Foundation
Jennifer Corriero Canada Youth, International Development Founder of TakingITGlobal
Effa Desa Malaysia Film, Activism Founder of Filmmakers Anonymous, organizes film festivals in Malaysia
Renee Dillon Australia Art, Crafts Organizes workshops for budding artisans
Victor Gan Australia Photography, Film Self-trained photographer and filmmaker
Craig Kielburger USA Children’s Rights, Activism Co-founded Free the Children at 12 years old
Aaron Gill Malaysia Web, IT IT entrepreneur
Michelle Gunaselan Malaysia Activism Writer at TELL magazine, co-founder of voter education initiative VoteED
Cally Highfield United Kingdom Art Artist, illustrator, and novelist of Rose Petal Tea
Hwa Yang Jerng Malaysia Philosophy Interested in Machine intelligence, Cultural phenomenology, History of ideas, Bridging/unifying the liberal arts, science, engineering, and commerce
Kenny Koay Australia Entrepreneurship Founder of j2k, a mobile phone plan distributor that provides employment opportunities for international students in Melbourne
Trisha Okubo USA Entrepreneurship, Media, E-Commerce, Fashion Founder of Omiru: Style for All, a style website dedicated to real style for real people. Style expert featured in Lucky Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Disruptive Innovator at eBay, currently focusing on social commerce projects
Kidchan Malaysia Arts, Graphic Design Self-made artist; interesting observations about Malaysia
Darren Lee Malaysia Internet Technology, New Media, Web2.0/Social Networking Founder of Intrivent Global, Internet Technology Evangelist, New Media Specialist in the field of Web 2.0/Social Networking
Bryce Ives Australia Youth, Media, Arts First General Manager of SYN Melbourne, Australia’s largest youth media project. Crrently the online producer of the ABC’s Heywire
Nikki Brooker United Kingdom / Australia Youth, Politics, Peace First young person in the UK involved with campaigning to establish the UK Youth Parliament, then a trustee and co-ordinated the London Region. Also involved in Peace One Day
Reynato Reodica Australia Youth Policy, Youth Rights Executive officer of the Youth Action Policy Association, peak body for all youth workers and young people in NSW Australia
Brandon Bear Australia Youth Health, Sexual Health Working in sexual health and drug and alcohol health promotion in the field of harm minimisation for 5 years
Joshua Rayan Malaysia / Singapore / Australia / Indonesia Media, Communications Founder of Words Wizards, a creative communications agency that has become a branding specialist for many corporates
Yvonne Foong Malaysia Health, Neurofibromatosis Advocate for neurofibromatosis awareness, writer
Carol Chew Malaysia Politics, Youth National chairperson for Beliawanis, the young women’s arm of Malaysian political party MCA
Joel Clark Australia Youth Empowerment, Leadership, Poverty, Education Founder of nonprofit organisation, Community Spirit Tours, and wide-covering youth advocate with a number of organisations
Josh Lim Malaysia Media, Advertising Founder of blog advertising company Advertlets
Adelyn Lim Malaysia Children, Health, Cancer Founder of children’s cancer organization ROLF Kids
Joel Neoh Malaysia Youth, Entrepreneurship Winner of The Firm and founder of YouthMalaysia
Jennifer L. Pozner USA Women, Media, Writing, News Founder of Women in Media & News, a women’s media analysis, education and advocacy organization dedicated to increasing women’s presence and power in the public debate
Christine HappySlip USA / The Philippines (?) Media, Video, Web Creator of one-woman YouTube show HappySlip
Zadi Diaz USA Media, Web, Production Co-founder of online production company Smashface Productions
Alicia Curtis Australia Youth, Leadership, Mentoring Assists schools and businesses harness the leadership potential of their young people
Donnie Maclurcan Australia Politics, Community, Social Entrepreneurship Founder of Australian community project Project Australia
Miriam Lyons Australia Youth Policy, Festivals Director of Center for Policy Development, director for various festivals in Australia
Matt Noffs Australia Youth, Drug & Alcohol Dependency Development Manager at the Ted Noffs Foundation
Billie Jean Edwards Australia Youth, Indigenous Issues Young Indigenous leader
Joey Le Australia Cultural Awareness, Personal and Professional Development, Leadership, Mental Health for Young People, Youth Health Issues Former Chair of NSW Youth Advisory Council. Currently working as a medical doctor with an interest in psychiatry and adolescent health
Danielle Begg Australia Social Policy, Youth Activism, Psychology Co-established youth advocacy group Australian Teens Advocating Change (ATAC), aimed to promote multiculturalism, the prevention of substance abuse and a positive image of youth in the media through community service announcements and nation wide tours
Jimmy Kyle Australia Youth Empowerment, Indigenous Youth Program manager of Koori Connect, which engages indigenous young people on a range of cultural activities and events aimed at improving community connection, school retention and providing vocational learning opportunities
Sarah Chunys OAM Australia Mental Illnesses, Youth Health Motivational speaker on the subject of adversity/getting through tough times and mental health issues including suicide
Josh Shipp USA Youth Empowerment High-rated youth speaker, CosmoGIRL columnist, has a TV show in development
Peter Draw Singapore Art, Drawing, Children, Happiness Social Cartoonist
Xavier Clarke Australia Indigenous Youth, Social Issues AFL star and co-founder of Indigenous youth support group Unity Foundation
Linh Do Australia Youth, Environment Youth founder of Change A Million Light Bulbs and Change&Switch
David Toovey Australia Youth, Social Justice Current director of the Oaktree Foundation

Don’t forget to list your recommendations!

Bloggers’ Challenge – Get $30 To Support Education

Six Apart, the company behind Movable Type, TypePad, and LiveJournal, have just announced a Bloggers Challenge to help schools, by raising money for various schools programs in the US.

To participate, just send an email to donorschoose@sixapart.com by 5pm Pacific Time October 1st to get a $30 gift certificate to donate to any DonorsChoose project.

DonorsChoose is an American initiative whereby schools and classrooms post projects and needs online and get funding from the public. Among the projects include buying handheld tools to teach maths, building a garden weather station, and getting an LCD projector for history class. While all the projects and schools are based in the US, anyone from any country can participate. You are also welcome to sponsor other projects with your own money once you redeem your gift certificate. There are also other blogger challenges, as well as the option to start your own.

Help support education – join the Six Apart Bloggers’ Challenge for DonorsChoose!

Links in Post:

Thinking About Studying Medicine? Read This First.

For some honestly bizarre reason (which I have yet to discover), Malaysians are particularly kiasu about young people going to medical school. The biggest drama with JPA scholarships revolve around medicine. There is a bigger demand for spaces in medicine than anything else. Students who are the slightest bit brilliant or intelligent are pushed into medicine, regardless of their passions and skills. Apparently Medicine is the “holy grail” of Malaysian higher education: if you’re not studying to be a doctor, you’re stupid.

But do any of these people – the students and those that push them – really realize what it means to be a doctor? Do any of these people really know what medical practice involves?

It’s not just about grades or intelligence. It’s not about dissecting frogs. It’s not about tests.

It’s about sacrificing whole chunks of your life for the sake of someone else’s. It’s about having someone’s life – and death – in your hands. It’s about dealing with wheezy old people and mucusy babies in the middle of the night when you haven’t slept for a week. It’s about not crying too much when a child dies. It’s about being on call 24/7, knowing that even in the middle of a much-needed romantic interlude with your dream partner, your pager could go off because someone somewhere is having a medical emergency. It’s about life.

On Ask Metafilter today there is a question about being cut out for medical school. The person in question isn’t necessarily quick-witted or bright; however, he more than makes up for it in persistence and effort. He loves medicine to death and has worked with sick people, but comes from a liberal arts background. Can he still make it in medicine?

skepticallypleased gives an answer that is practically REQUIRED READING, though the rest of the thread is necessary too. If you are considering going to medical school for any reason, ESPECIALLY if it’s due to societal pressure, READ THIS FIRST.

Wow, loaded question. It’s funny I saw this one early but I’m about to ask another question. And, it’s not just medical school you have to worry about but residency and practice too so I’ll hit on it.

I’m almost like the person you mention although I tend to do well in school and upon standardized tests. I was liberal artsy and well, after some post bac classes, the MCAT, and lots of applying to grad school again am I am now a doctor and, barring the winning of the lottery, won’t be able to retire till I am 75.

I HAVE TO KEEP THIS SHORT FOR MY OWN SANITY.

Only go to medical school if:

1. YOU WANT TO HELP SICK PEOPLE GET BETTER. That’s the only thing that will help you get through the long, painful hours learning material that you will soon forget and is very dry and rote, sadly. (And, that’s the first two years of medical school).

(As for the next two, you have different challenges). If you actually feel good about sticking your finger up a 80 year old’s behind to see if she’s bleeding at a 3:30 AM admission in the ER when instead you could have been sleeping, you’ll like being a doctor.

In short, it’s not going to be about the money. At least not for your 20’s and 30’s anyway. Plus, if medicine has taught me anything, tomorrow is not guaranteed. You give up other things as well. On a side note, I luckily wined, dined and married the woman I love before medical school and, when I had more normal hours as lawyer. I could never fathom having developing the relationship I did with my wife while in medical school. I got to know her ambitions, got to know her family, and we really did a lot of stuff together. In medical school, that life is not so feasible. It’s simply because unlike any most other work, you have to keep reading when you come home (after a couple hours of lecturing or in dissecting the cadaver).
(I probably need to take MeFi off my favorites).

Most of your day is spent filling out stupid paperwork stupid lawyers demand of us, navigating the bureuracy of the hospital, reading labs, and just making sure your patients are getting better. Honestly, it’s tasks that nurses and PAs with some experience do just as well as doctors. The place we separate ourselves from them is our “fund of knowledge” and that requires a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of dedication if you want to do it well.

The sad secret about medicine is that the imaging and treatments are so good, that you can be a lazy doctor but also a fine doctor. Read this excellent piece by a doctor who has a brain power far above mine and you’ll understand what it takes:

Sorry to ramble but to sum up: At least for 7+ years medicine is going to require your all (that’s when the last of many, many tests you will take end). And, it’s hard to maintaing deep relationships, be well rounded, and sort of follow the other pursuits your liberal artsy mind is going to care about also. It’s not just crap like knowing the Classics either. If you wanted to guarantee a loss in a current events trivia tournament, field a team of doctors.

And the latter is not a knock on the profession at all. Honestly, under the knife or when I am truly sick, the last thing I want to be going through my doctor’s brain is a Hamlet soliloquy. I want her to know the best evidence based medicine possible and have the best technical and manual skills possible. Some of my classmates fit this bill and I would humbly and readily trust their opinion over mine anyday.

How can I live with myself then? Well, I’m a lot slower and I hope superior reasoning skills will help me in the end. In short, I can’t name 4-5 leading causes of a left to right heart shunt off the top of my brain, but I’ll probably recongize it on a physical exam or an EKG and it will be diagnosed more accurately on an echocardiogram. (The ability of 21st century imaging to make mediocre doctors like me excellent is a topic for another debate. But, again, read Gawande’s piece and you’ll see where, well some doctoring is actually needed.).

2. Ok, enough of my baggage. Back to your question. Is medical school “doable” Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes.
It honestly does not take much intelligence in memorizing a lot of stuff and spit the right answer back on a multiple choice test. I would say you need about a 115 IQ to be a doctor. If you’re slow at accumulating lots of information, then, well, you’re butt is going to be on the desk chair longer than most people. If you bad at science, well, then, your butt is going to be on the desk chair longer than most people, but you’ll get it. You’ll pull through. And, it seems like you have the intelligence and drive to do it. And, really, that’s all it takes. A friend of mine in medical school got a horribly low MCAT score (I’m talking really, really bad I’m shocked she was in an American medical school bad.) And, she had a liberal arts background from a prestigious school also. But, she wanted to be a Plastic Surgeon (a very tough specialty to get into) and she essentially worked real hard at it for a four years and got into a plastic surgery residency.

I’m not worried about you as you seem to have a true passion for helping people and want to be a doctor.

I’d be more worried about your discipline. Science is not harder than the liberal arts. It just requires a lot more discipline. You have to understand things from the ground up but, strangely, you can’t just reason how we got there. I hope you the reason you are not a good science student is that it’s not because you hate science either. That’s no good in medicine. You have to be both a scientist and a humanist and I feel you have to like both too.

As far as getting into medical school. If your science grades are bad, it will be tough. You might have to retake them again or hope you rock your MCAT. Even then, you can go to a foreign medical school and just work your way into medicine here as you are an American citizen. (Some of the foreign schools are not even requiring a Bachelor’s degree! But, if you can pass the liscensing tests they make you eligible for, you can be a doctor here! (Not a competitive specialty of course, but a doctor nonetheless — perhaps even in Psychiatry which might be good for someone who is not too too excited about the so-called “hard” sciences.

Ok, I hope I helped you out a bit. Medicine sucks a lot, but I’m not going to be a doctor that convinces you out of it. I still have a ridiculous amount of pride when people ask what I do and I say I’m a doctor. And, in those rare times that I feel I influenced patient care past what the mechanized delivery of algorithmic medicine gives a person these days (surgeons might not have this feeling as much, but that field has its own drawbacks), it feels REALLY GOOD to be a doctor.

And, well, medicine has its share of nasty politics (something I find incomprhensible because you see how fragile life can be everyday), it definitely has a decent amount of bad attitudes (although I’d bet perecentage wise less than other professions) and, sadly, the work is basically repetitive. I can’t remember more than 4-5 patient’s names from over 75 I saw last month. You do do a lot of the same stuff until something new comes along, but that something new is probably not something you invented or pushed along anyways and it builds off the previous stuff in the first place. Talking to patients is not repetitive but you rarely have time for really getting to do that. (I guess you would in Psychiatry and you know the conversations are going to be different…..:))

I really feel anyone can be a doctor if they work at it. How good of a doctor and how much time they will have for other pursuits is questionable and you’ll need intelligence to help you out there. (I can guarantee you my friend who became a Plastic Surgeon has never read a blog of any kind, but someone like Gawande, well, people blog about him).

Still, medicine is a lot more social than other professions. And, really, no patient is the same. And the desire to be well rounded can be carved out later in life or at level that you can be individually at peace with and things.

So, in short, if your friend can simply stay disciplined for a decent amount of time and get organized and work hard, he’ll be a great doctor and he’ll like it. Plus, being a doctor only opens more doors than it will ever close for you. He won’t have to practice medicine at all — he can work for a drug corp, teach, research, etc. So, it’s a big world and most people find their way in it.

Links in Post:

How To Get Involved With Your Passions

A recent post on Ask MetaFilter asks:

How do you cope when you seem to be surrounded on all sides by ineffectiveness and apathy?

In his question, jmnugent talks about his frustration at seeing his work and ideas not coming to fruition due to the apathy around him. He feels that not many people “care about quality work” and only does the bare minimum, and is finding it hard to be passionate when it seems no one really cares.

There is quite an animated discussion over rewards for efforts, living on principle, and the value of ideas. In the middle of all this comes the true question: How does a passionate person get involved with other passionate groups and people?

The main answer is that you have to go and look for those groups and people – expecting them to look for you will not yield much. You may be lucky and get discovered, but – like being rich, being famous, or finding the love of your life – a lot of it requires effort. Along the way you’ll also need to earn trust, work on communications skills, and do the work without blame or worry on someone holding you back.

Fortunately it isn’t that difficult to get started. Here are some starting points (as posted by me to jmnugent’s question) on getting involved with other passionate people: (click on the More link)

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Starting School? Keep It Cool.

The first week of school in Malaysia has just ended, and slowly all those in primary and secondary schools are getting back into the rhythm of classes, homeworks, and tests. For many this would be their first experience – first time in primary or secondary school, first time with a child or family member in school, first time in a new school.

Here are some ideas on making your schooling life meaningful and worthwhile:

Relax! A lot of people get unnecessarily stressed out by what happens in school. It’s not the end of the world if you fail a test, or get a tough homework assignment, or get too tired or ill to attend school. Take care of your own sanity, first and foremost. If things are getting too much, take some time off to relax – meditate, work on a favourite hobby, or just lie back and sleep.

Take care of your health. Some schools have the unhealthy notion that no matter how sick you may be, you must come to school, except if you’re bedridden. This is insane and really doesn’t help anyone – you’ll only stress yourself out, and you may be contagious. (Personal experience: I was down with the flu but still worked a million things in school. I ended up being so exhausted and ill that I had to be hospitalized for a few days.) Take some rest and recuperate – you’ll learn better when you’re healthy!

Don’t worry too much about grades or scores. They’re not as important as people say they are. Sure, in some cases they’re helpful, but ultimately what matters more is what you do with yourself regardless of grades. If you fall short of a perfect gradesheet, or end up failing your papers, don’t despair – there are always other chances for improvement and proving yourself.

Broaden your horizons. Here’s your chance to explore the world outside yourself. Don’t just hang out with people of your race, or stick to a clique, or make your textbooks your only source of information. Make friends with people of all backgrounds! Get involved with different things and different groups of people! Read vastly and partake in all sorts of experiences! The world is your oyster – go out and explore.

Have some interests outside of school. Yes, you are allowed a hobby or two. Don’t let what you enjoy disappear just because it isn’t academic. Try out some new things once in a while – a new sport, a new craft, a recipe you’ve tasted somewhere, a play you’d like to watch or perform in. Don’t worry about maintaining standards – you’re not being graded here. Enjoy yourself.

Don’t overload yourself. Sure, it’s good to have all sorts of interests and activities, but trying to do too much will only tire you out – and ultimately, you won’t be able to make the best of anything. Give yourself time to rest and do nothing but recharge. You don’t need a full schedule – especially not a schedule that’s packed with things you don’t really enjoy just because you want to impress someone!

Learn elsewhere. School isn’t the only source of education. (Indeed, whether some schools are sources of education is debatable.) Education comes from everywhere – different books (and magazines and publications), the Internet, the media, people, experiences. Take stock of different viewpoints, and think critically and creatively – don’t just accept one viewpoint as gospel.

Rethink tuition. Tuition classes, despite the publicity, aren’t actually necessary. Pay attention in class and do your own self-study, and you’ll be fine. Much of the time, they’re a waste of time and money anyway. Do go ahead and get extra help if you’re struggling, but don’t go to tuition classes just because they’re the “thing to do”.

Keep your options open. You don’t have to take Science classes and get straight As in all exams and get a scholarship for Medicine in a top university. You can build your life however you want it. Be open to changes of plans – life is never really set in stone. Don’t let other people tell you how to live your life. It’s yours to develop as you see fit.

Any other ideas and tips for those new to school? Share them here. And good luck!