It’s That Time of Year: College Visit Time

Ah, the college visit. The hectic, iconic and overwhelming day and a half through which students are expected to make a decision about the next four years of their lives.

While college visiting is always in season (when in Rome, or, uh, Boston, right?), summer vacation is a popular time to load up the car and hit the road in hopes of finding your dream school.

As a self-proclaimed college application enthusiast, here are my tips to make the most out of your trips year round.

1. Beware of Summer

While June through August is a nice time to travel without missing school, remember that college students are also on vacation; it’s difficult to get the vibe of a desolate campus. Don’t cancel your plans just yet, but keep this missing piece in mind when comparing different schools.

Schedule permitting, you may be able to visit certain colleges during one of their first weeks of class and before you’ve gone back to school yet.

Also take note of weather traps: August in Vermont is beautiful, but you’ll likely spend that month next year at  home, not at college. This goes the opposite way (a word of encouragement, not warning!) for extremely warm weathered schools.

2. Observe

If school is in session, make like Inspector Gadget and spy. Do students use the school’s common spaces? Are they constantly on the go? Do they sit in groups or by themselves? Do they seem happy?

These things are sometimes difficult to assess from afar, but they can help differentiate schools with otherwise similar offerings on paper.

3. Blend in

Another way to get a picture of a college beyond a basic information session and campus tour is to pretend like you’re a student. Bring a book, find a crowded place like a library or coffee shop and just hang out.

Say hi and even make a friend or two, if you’re feeling bold. Again, it’s a small gesture, but it can help you get the feel of a place and figure out what students are like when they’re not trying to recruit you. Sneaky.

4. Find a friend

If possible, do an overnight visit. It’s not a perfect way to picture life as a student, but it’s probably as close as you’ll get. Oftentimes, colleges will set you up with an overnight host if you just email the admissions office (did someone say demonstrated interest?) Otherwise, ask around for a friend of a friend.

5. Discern

Let’s face it: it’s the college’s job to sell themself, so they’re going to be biased. To help make the best decision for you, go in knowing a few things that are important to you and a few that aren’t.

Brown University may be proud of their open curriculum, but if you like the structure that General Education Requirements provide, that’s great too! UNC Chapel Hill may love their sports teams, but if athletics aren’t your priority, that’s okay! Just bcause a college is excited about something doesn’t mean you have to be excited about it too.

Remember, every admissions officer will tell you that they love their college. Don’t judge how they present their information, but rather the things they choose to emphasize. That being said, don’t be afraid to change your mind about things you think wanted or didn’t.

Finally, the information session isn’t everything; some good old fashioned internet research at home will augment your information and prove just as helpful.

6. Don’t overthink it

Some places will just feel right. Some places won’t. But for a lot of schools, you may not feel strongly either way. That’s okay. Whether or not you leaving convinced you’ll apply Early Decision somewhere or your list of applications now numbers more schools than you have digits, you’ve gained valuable insight and are one step closer to dining hall food and doing your own laundry (hooray!)

Roommates 101: To Pick or Not to Pick

Receive the email. “Your application status had been updated.” Open the acceptance letter. Scream a little. Then join the college Facebook group.

It’s a process familiar to most seniors who choose to apply to college. Today, insert-college/university-name-here Class of 2022 Facebook groups, as well as websites such as roomsurf.com, help prospective students connect and, oftentimes, find freshman year roommates.

Yet how much about a person can really be gleaned from one social media post? Moreover, by what criteria do students evaluate potential roommates, and how does this affect their first year experience?

In light of this recent trend, some universities have taken action. Notably, Duke University announced in March that next year’s freshman class will no longer have the option to select a roommate before enrolling. Other local universities that have opted to end roommate choice include High Point University and Wake Forest University.

Rachel Jensen, a first year at UNC Chapel Hill, estimates that almost all her classmates found their first year roommates on Facebook.

“In my experience, 90 percent of people go in choosing their roommate…it’s definitely far more common,” said Jensen.

While in the minority, Jensen — who was assigned a roommate randomly after filling out a short survey — says she and her roommate live well together.

“We are able to balance each other out,” said Jensen. “I’m lonely when I go home and I have my single-person room.”

Anna Kemper, a senior at CHS, says the number of people who “go random” at Butler University, where she will be a student next year, is a lot larger. She trusts the system and isn’t too worried about not having control over her roommate.

“Even if I’m not best friends with [my roommate] I don’t have to see them all the time,” said Kemper. “There would only be a huge issue if she’s really mean or doesn’t have good hygiene.”

Savannah Dolan, a senior at CHS, and Maura Holt-Ling, a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill, both chose their freshman year roommates before matriculating.

Dolan choose her roommate through Facebook so she wouldn’t have to worry about being put with someone she isn’t compatible with.

“You don’t have to stress out about being put with someone you don’t have similarities with, or someone you don’t think you’re going to be able to be good friends with and live with for a year,” said Dolan.

She and her roommate were immediate friends and Facetimed for three hours before committing to room together.

Holt-Ling also felt an instant connection with her roommate after meeting online and going through what many students dub “roommate dating.”

“We just hit if off right away,” said Holt-Ling.

Kemper opted for a random roommate since she doesn’t know anyone else going to her college and since the university strongly encouraged it.

Jensen, on the other hand, said the decision was basically made for her.

“I decided where I wanted to go to college kind of late,” said Jensen. “I missed the wave of people looking [for roommates] on Facebook.”

Duke University cited diversity as one of the main reasons for their recent policy change. According to a university statement, when students have the option to choose their roommate, they generally gravitate towards students with “very similar backgrounds to their own.”

“Research shows that the more diverse the interactions among students, the better equipped they are for life after Duke,” the letter continued.

Holt-Ling and Dolan both say they have a fair amount of similarities with their respective room-
mates.

“I wanted to find someone who shared a lot of the same interests as me,” said Dolan.

“I reached out to [my roommate] initially because we had some of the same music tastes and liked the same TV shows,” echoed Holt-Ling.

Still, they also emphasized that they and their roommates are distinct people.

“My roommate and I have some things in common, but not everything,” said Holt-Ling.

Jensen feels she and her roommate are less similar.

“We’re pretty different personality wise,” said Jensen. “She’s definitely more outgoing than me … I appreciate that, because I feel like it encourages me to put myself out there a little more.”

Kemper added that similarity does not  equal compatibility.

“A lot of friends I have now I’m complete opposites with,” said Kemper.

All four students emphasized that whether or not someone chooses their roommate before college or is assigned one randomly, they can gave a great first year experience.

In Appreciation of Canine Companions

Let’s talk about dogs. Is there a better animal on this earth? No. And this is why.

Sometimes I stare into my white lab mix’s face while she’s sleeping beside me and lovingly tell her, “you are descended from wolves.”

Abbey, my dog, is the calmest and sweetest creature on the planet (of course I’m not biased), emphasizing to me the irony of her razor sharp canines and causing me to inform her every so often of my incredulity.

Abbey’s useless canines are thanks to the phylogenetic history of her species, and they highlight how similar and yet so different she is from from her evolutionary predecessor, the wolf.

For a long time I failed to appreciate the fact that dogs evolved to be human companions. (As a human, I am incredibly honored.)

Most scientists think the modern dog emerged around 30,000 years ago from “proto-dogs,” ( look them up — they’re both cute and terrifying) the population of which consisted of all the wolves whose fear and aggression levels were low enough to allow them to follow migrating human civilizations and eat their trash. Gross, but an effective domestication strategy.

Ever since, dogs have been integral to the success of the human race. No exaggeration. Dogs likely helped humans hunt their first big animals, such as woolly mammoths. In fact, the effectiveness of hunting dogs may have been the reason humans were able to driveNeanderthals out of Europe roughly around this time same period.

But dogs are more than just a human tool. Dogs and humans share a unique bond, a bond emphasized by pet owners for centuries but just recently proven by science. A 2016 study from the University of Lincoln in England found that dogs can recognize human emotions by looking at pictures of strangers’ faces. They, like people, gravitate towards the left side of the face, which is often more expressive. No such ability was found for dogs and any other animal, including closely related primates.

Though few societies today rely on dogs for hunting food, the species continues to provide humans other ways. Drug sniffing dogs can detect unexploded land-mines in areas with a history of conflict. Dogs are even being trained to smell the early stages of cancer in patients’ pee or notify diabetics when their blood sugar is too low. When was the last time your cat saved your life?

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how grateful I am towards the dog. They are truly an incredible species in both history and ability. I challenge you to name an animal so loyal; so diverse; so helpful and yet so kind. (Frankly, I know dogs with better values than some humans.)

On a slightly different note, dogs are a delightful case of evolution in which cooperation and domesticity were considered fitter than aggression and strength.

I don’t mean to be a cat hater, I swear, but in my mind there is no comparison.

Seven podcasts you should check out

Podcasts are a totally underrated form of entertainment and education in my opinion. They’re perfect for long road trips and plane rides, or even just for a fun distraction on a more everyday basis. And, I promise, podcasts are not as boring as you may think. Here are the JagWire’s suggestions.

Up First

Want to feel like you have life on the ropes and not the other way around? Listen to Up First while you get ready in the morning or on the way to school! This ten minute podcast from NPR runs down the top three stories of the day every weekday morning in a way that is comprehensive yet accessible. It’s a great way to stay informed without becoming overwhelmed by the countless headlines you find as you scroll through the news on your phone.

Episode suggestion: whichever one is most recent!

This American Life

Is there a voice more soothing than that of Ira Glass? I think not. Besides helping me fall asleep at night, Glass (the host of This American Life) is a wonderful storyteller. His radio show is intriguing, genuine, funny and poignant. This American Life sometimes covers stories that are fairly obscure (like the true meaning of summer camp or the tale of a car dealership in New Jersey trying to meet its monthly quota) and other times shares ones that are equally relevant (for example, differing views on immigration or Trump’s America).

Episode suggestion: “No Coincidence, No Story!”

The Moth Radio Hour

Another fantastic podcast for story-lovers is The Moth Radio Hour. Storytellers switch every week, and you never know what a story is going to be about until you listen. Sometimes the recordings are live, sometimes the episodes are themed and sometimes it’s just a stranger telling you something crazy, terrifying or emotional that happened to them — but it’s always good.

Episode suggestion: “The Prince and I”

Modern Love

The sister podcast to its namesake column in The New York Times, Modern Love is a guilty pleasure for all us hopeless romantics. Modern Love the column features new write-in essays every week on, in their words, “love, loss and redemption.” The podcast version includes a reading of a particular essay by a well-known actor, as well as a follow up with the essay’s author and comments by column editor Daniel Jones on why he chose to print this particular essay. The follow-up makes the podcast  stand out from the column to me, especially for essays that may be decades old.

Episode suggestion: “An Empty Heart”

Foreign Language (Radio Ambulante)

This suggestion is a little more broad. If you’re taking a foreign language class or just trying to keep up a particular language, find a foreign-language podcast that suits your fancy. Even if you don’t understand everything, following how real people speak will improve your skills. For Spanish speakers I suggest Radio Ambulante, a longer weekly podcast that follows interesting stories in Latin America and the rest of the Spanish speaking world (including the US).

Episode suggestion: “In the Dark”

FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

I’m a junkie for FiveThirtyEight in general, and their new-ish politics podcast came as a blessing during the most recent election. It’s conversation style, and I like how the informality takes a certain edge off of pressing political issues.

Episode suggestion: “Does Trump’s mood matter?”

S Town

While I never got into Serial, this podcast follows a similar story-like format. And boy, is it a weird story. Forc those of you who like dark, real-life mysteries, this is 100 percent up your ally. Morbid, a little sweet and certainly complicated, S Town will keep you on your toes and possibly awake at night.

Episode suggestion: Episode I

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson

Student Athletes Commit to College

On Wednesday, April 11 three seniors committed to continue their careers as student athletes at the collegiate level. Gabby Addams will play soccer at Carlow University, Quincy Monday will wrestle at Princeton University and Penny Newall will play volleyball at Bryn Mawr College.

All three students were captains this year on their respective sports teams.

Gabby Addams is an Iron Jag, meaning that she participates in at least three sports a year. Addams plays soccer and basketball, runs track and is a cheerleader. She also started a club called Kickin’ it Back, which raises money for disadvantaged soccer programs.

Addams will be missed by her temmates next year.

“She’s been a key for two of our championships so far,” said women’s soccer assistant coach Catherine Duncan during the ceremony.

Quincey Monday is a four-time State Champion in wrestling: twice in Texas, once in Oklahoma and once in North Carolina. He was a member of Carrboro’s first ever State Champion wrestling team last year.

Monday has wrestled a several schools, but Carrboro has a place in his heart.

“I’ve only been here for two years, but I’m glad I got to end here at Carrboro,” said Monday.

Penny Newall coaches a CHAVC club volleyball team in her spare time. She also volunteer with the Unified Volleyball program.

Newall’s coaches and temmates alike admire her dedication to and passion for the sport.

“Every day she comes to practice she’s focused, she’s intense, she’s looking to improve,” said head volleyball coach Steve Scanga.

Addams, Monday and Newall eached thanked their families, coaches and teammates for their support over the past four years

The Jagwire wishes all the athletes success in college.

Photo by Niya Fearrington.

Behind the Scenes of the March 14 Walkout

At 9:55 am on Wednesday, March 14, a number of students will leave their classes to stand in the courtyard in silence for seventeen minutes.

The walkout is a protest in support of stricter gun legislation and meant to honor the seventeen victims of the Marjory Stonemean Douglas (MSD) shooting in Parkland, Florida a month prior. Students from all four local high schools, several local middle and elementary schools, and a number of other schools across the country will participate.

Plans for the CHCCS protest began four days after the Parkland shooting as a combined effort between local parents and high school students. Since then, however, it has been almost entirely student run.

“We have adult support, but we plan these meetings; we make sure people show up; we organize the roles,” said Ella Atwater, a CHS senior who has worked alongside roughly 30 other local high school students to plan the walkout.

Jonah Perrin, one of the coordinators of the Carrboro walkout, echoed Atwater.

“All of the speakers will be students; everything related to the protest will be student run,” said Perrin.

Perrin thinks being student-led will give the movement a fresh perspective.

“Adults have had this in their hands for a long time…it’s about time for the students to step up because [the adults] lost their chance,” said Perrin.

Max Poteat, a sophomore and leader from East Chapel Hill High agrees. He also sees this movement as indicative of a larger trend.

“It shows how powerful students can be and that the next generation of voters is eager to get involved,” said Poteat.

Even though the teenagers organized and will run the the walkout, they have worked closely with adults in the town police departments and school administrations to make the protest safe and effective. Each participating school will see increased police presence during the walkout, and students will not be counted as absent if they choose to participate.

“The administration has been really helpful,” said Jackson Asarso, senior and leader at Carrboro alongside Jonah Perrin and Class President Niya Fearrington. “It would have happened with or without their cooperation, but it’s going to be a lot more safe and have a lot more impact [because of them].”

The protest will largely be silent, except to read the name of one of the Parkland victims every minute. There will also be spoken word poetry as students are walking out of the building.

Two of the movement’s organizers have personal connections to the issue of gun violence. Perrin’s cousin attends MSD (she was not injured in the shooting,) and Charlotte Ellis, sophomore, lived one town over from the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting when she was in fifth grade.

Most, however, think that gun violence is relevant to almost everyone.

“I feel like anyone could have been in the situation of the Florida students, and it’s just our luck that we weren’t,” said Anna Kemper, senior.

Paloma Baca, junior, agreed and lamented the partisan division the issue has been subject to recently.

“Gun violence doesn’t stop at party lines,” said Baca.

The students outlined six goals for the protest, including to honor the seventeen lives lost in Parkland, to persuade legislators to reflect the values of their constituents, and to advocate for certain policy changes: universal background checks, a federal minimum age to purchase a gun, a ban on civilians owning weapons of war, and school safety protocol that does not involve arming teachers. Many students resonate with some of these goals in particular.

“For me, the main thing is having enforced background checks because there are a lot of reasons people shouldn’t have guns,” said Atwater. “A lot of control about guns is left up to the states … in order for everyone to be safe it should be the federal government’s job.”

Other goals are more broad.

“I’m a student, and I want to go to school every day and feel safe,” said Kemper.

Still others see the walkout as part of a growing movement.

“[The protest] is about teenagers being able to mobilize and being able to change their country, their state, their town, for the better,” said Baca.

Fearrington agreed, and she hopes CHCCS students can continue to use their influence to advocate for other causes.

“I think this is setting a precedent for the things all the high schools can do together in terms of advocating [against] more than just gun violence,” said Fearrington

While they have high hopes for the impact of the March 14 walkout, the students also stressed the importance of keeping the movement alive after the protest is over.

Specifically, they are organizing a group to participate in the nationwide March For Our Lives protest on March 24 in Washington, DC. For more information about that initiative, contact Jackson Asaro.

CHCCS students plan the March 14 walkout at Youthworx in Carrboro. Photo by Caitlin Grubbs, 11 (CHHS)

Which English Teacher are You?

Do you ever lie awake at night, counting sheep and wondering which CHS English teacher is your spirt teacher? Well, wonder no more! The Jagwire finally presents a way to answer your most burning question! Sleep happy knowing the truth is only a quiz away.

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Darkest Hour Does Not Deserve the Limelight

Darkest Hour, the 2017 drama which follows Winston Churchill’s first weeks in office, won two Oscars Last night — Best Actor (Gary Oldman) and Best Makeup. It was nominated for four more awards, including Best Picture. I enjoyed the movie alright, but in my opinion, Darkest Hour was overrated.  

As my friend pointed out to me after the final scene, Darkest Hour is a war movie without the fighting — a concept I can stand behind, in theory. Yet at points the film was too slow, and as someone who likes slow movies that’s saying a lot.

There were only two conflicts throughout the entire two hours: who should succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister and whether or not Great Britain should engage in peace talks with the Nazis. This sounds fine, until you realize every scene is the same argument played out between different characters in different locations.

Darkest Hour also contains quite a few WWII cliches: the young, bright typist whose brother is killed in the war; generals constantly huddled in the War Rooms around a giant map with colorful tacks on it; Winston Churchill reading important documents in the bathtub or eating an absurdly large breakfast; Parliament dissolving into yelling matches out of frustration, etc. Alone none of these is problematic, but in order for a film about WWII to receive such critical acclaim, I thought it would be a little more unique.

One thing that did make Darkest Hour stand out from similar films was its cinematography. Much of the movie was shot and edited to be deliberately beautiful, with its clean lines and calculated color scheme, unlike most historical films I’ve seen. However, personally the artistry trivialized the brutal, inhumane war happening off camera. While it was lovely to watch aesthetically, to me Darkest Hour romanticized the war as puzzle for Churchill to solve rather than recognizing the sheer loss of life it meant for most Brits not in his position of authority.

Finally, imagine my disappointment when I learned that the most powerful scene in the movie — the one where Churchill rides the Underground and talks to Londoners about whether to negotiate with the Nazis — never actually happened! Did I mention this is the climax of the story?

Overall, Darkest Hour was fine, and I’m sure historical junkies enjoyed it more than I did. But its lack of excitement, creativity and tact left me wanting so much more.

GMOs: our friends, not our foes

Whether I’m getting coffee with a friend, grabbing a quick bite for lunch or just picking up some groceries, I spend a lot of time at Weaver Street Market. (I know I’m boujee, but have you tried their tofu spring rolls?)

For those of you who somehow have not made it to this classic Chapel Hill/Carrboro institution, Weaver Street is a health food co-op which, like many higher-end grocery stores, prides itself on foods that are high quality, organic and non-GMO. I love Weaver Street, but this third criterion bugs me — a lot.

GMOs have been a topic of hot debate over the past decade, but especially in recent years. Still, many Americans are fairly uniformed on the topic.

A 2016 study from the University of Florida found that while 84 percent of those surveyed were in favor of labeling products containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients, 80 percent were also in favor of labeling foods containing DNA. (Ironic, because all plants contain DNA.)

Let’s start with a simple question: what are GMOs? GMO stands for genetically modified organism. GM plants have had new genes inserted into their DNA, oftentimes to make crops larger, pest/drought resistant or healthier overall.

In 2016, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a far reaching report asserting that there is no evidence for GM foods being less safe or healthy than foods that are not genetically modified. Almost all contemporary research agrees. However, some individuals are still skeptical.

The stigma against GMOs may come largely from a perception that they are unnatural and therefore unhealthy. Though we can wrap our minds around transfusing blood from one person to another, it’s too far-fetched, apparently, to transfer DNA between organisms.

To all the anti-GMO activists, I hate to be the one to tell you, but we’ve been modifying crops for way longer than genetic engineering technology has existed.

Take a moment to Google “watermelon painting, 17th century.” Looks nothing like the fruit we know and love, right? Watermelons are just one example of how crops have changed drastically thanks to humans. Like genetic modification, other well-accepted plant breeding techniques, such as artificial selection and hybridization, fundamentally change a crop’s genome. Without them, your dinner table would look incredibly different — in a bad way.

I find it disconcerting that people can look at all of the scientific evidence proving that GMOs are safe and effective and still think they’re scary or dangerous.

To the anti-GMO activists: you cannot pick and choose which scientific literature to believe and which not to. You cannot yell at anti-vaxxers or creationists to “believe in science” or “come into the 21st century” while also asserting that “Monsanto is NOT going to put that gene in my tomato,” without being a hypocrite.

Another thing anti-GMO activists should know is that their actions have real consequences. One huge point in favor of GMOs which has not been brought up yet is their ability to save literally millions of lives in developing countries.

Foods like rice and sweet potatoes can be fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients, preventing malnutrition in susceptible populations. Anti-GMO rhetoric not only ignores these life saving advancements, but decreases their popularity and likelihood to be funded.

Like with any technology, there are ways for GMOs to be abused. For example, wind can spread pesticides intended for crops that are engineered to be resistant to the pesticide to non-GMO crops, killing them. However, this is not an argument against GMOs as a whole, it’s an argument about one way they can be used: an important distinction.

While I’m always one for a good discussion, in recent years that of GMOs has been dominated by fear, misinformation and unhelpful Gwyneth Paltrow ads. Let’s believe science on this one and start worrying about more important things.

Illustration by Ruby Handa

Jagwire Judy

How can I prevent myself from sleeping through my alarm or hitting snooze a thousand times? No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get myself out of bed in the morning — help!

-Ms. Morning Misery

Ms. Misery,

Great question! Even as a self-proclaimed morning person, I too find getting out of bed a difficult and overall unpleasant experience, especially during these winter months. I could advise “adopting a regular sleep schedule” or just “sleeping more,” but I’m guessing you’re a smart cookie and you don’t need me to tell you that. Instead, here are three (hopefully) more helpful ways to unleash the morning person in all of us, or at least make sure you’re never late to first period again.

1. The light trick. Set two alarms: one for when you need to get up and one 15 minutes earlier. When the first alarm goes off, open your curtains and turn on a dim light source. (I have string lights around my window, but a small lamp works too.) Now, crawl back into bed! Enjoy the coziness, grab a few extra minutes of sleep, and by the time the second alarm goes off the light will have started to wake you up gently.

2. Charge your phone across the room. Getting out of bed to turn off your alarm will wake you up quickly and effectively as well as, uh, get you out of bed. You also eliminate the risk of accidentally hitting snooze while half asleep. This strategy has the added bonus of keeping you from using your phone right before you go to bed, which will improve your sleep quality. Maybe you’ll even crack open a book before catching some “Zs”. Who knows?

3. Befriend mornings. There are ways to making the morning a time of day you look forward too, not dread. Try completing all your arduous tasks the night before, like packing your lunch and getting all your school supplies together. Reserve the early hours for things that relax you and prepare you for the day ahead, like drinking a mug of coffee or tea, reading the paper or scrolling through social media. Ideally, mornings should not be for rushing around half-asleep, and recognizing this will make conquering them a little more enjoyable.

Sweet dreams,
Jagwire Judy

How can I get off Nicotine?
– Anonymous

Anonymous,

Addiction is a serious issue. I am neither a counselor nor a physician, so if you think you or a friend is addicted to anything, please seek professional help. I can tell you that when it comes to addiction of any kind, friends play an important role in recognizing when someone needs help. Please look out for each other, and know that there is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. If you ever wan to talk about addiction related issues, Linda Karcher (in the CIC) is qualified.

Best of luck,
Jagwire Judy