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Temperatures are rising, trees are lush with green leaves and summer vacation will begin very soon! Summer is the time of year most high school students spend the other nine months wishing for, but early and mid-May can often be the worst time as you’re overwhelmed with papers to write and exams to take. But when summer finally comes, the sweet feeling of freedom can be exhilarating! Until boredom strikes, and you feel unproductive. You went from being completely overworked to totally under-stimulated. So what are you going to do with all of this free time? Here’s a helpful list of things you should do during the summer before your senior year of high school.


It doesn’t matter if you’ve already taken the test once or twice already. Studying for the SAT or ACT over the summer and then taking one or both tests again in the fall can be a really good idea. If you took the SAT/ACT in the spring, chances are that you studied for it on the weekends between writing papers, studying for tests and going to practice for your extracurricular activities. Even if you have a job during the summer, you probably still have more free time than you do during the school year. Take advantage of it and study for a little bit each day — it will pay off come the fall! If you need some help developing a study plan, the College Board has some incredible resources. Check them out here. Be aware that at Marymount University, we don’t consider SAT/ACT scores for admission or scholarship purposes.


As the fall draws near, it’s important to figure out where you may want to apply for college. Use the summer to narrow or grow your list of schools. We recommend coming up with a top five list and doing a good amount of research on the five schools you’re most interested in attending. Learn about their programs, their resources for incoming first-year students and more.


After you’ve made your top five list, visit as many of the schools as you can. The campus visit is a must, and plays a very important role in the college decision process — you’re choosing your home for the next four years. If you talk to any college student about why they chose their school, they might say something like, ‘it was the perfect fit’ or ‘it just felt right.’ How did they find this perfect school? By visiting! Although the fall might be a more lively time to visit, it’s also very busy. Take advantage of the extra free time that summer offers and go on a college road trip with your friends and/or parents.



Remember those things called books? Challenge yourself to read more this summer (whether you use physical or digital books), not just for academic purposes but for pleasure. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a reader or not — take some time to relax on the beach or wherever your sweet spot is, and get lost in the pages of adventure, romance and science fiction. 



The typical high school curriculum focuses on fundamentals you need to know before going to college. You may have had a few opportunities to take elective classes, but learning a new subject on top of all the other stressors of high school probably isn’t at the top of your list. Being exposed to new areas of study before graduating from high school can help you decide what to focus your college studies on (even if it’s by process of elimination).



Finally, don’t forget to have fun! If all you do this summer is stress and work, work and stress, by the time the fall rolls around you’ll be exhausted. It’s essential that you take some time for adventure. Go exploring to a new part of the country with friends, go on a camping trip, take a dance class at a local recreational center, etc. 

Make this summer one to remember and not one to regret. By balancing productivity with joyous adventures, you are sure to have a delightful three months. Take advantage of the opportunities for internships, jobs and volunteer work that will likely come your way, but be sure to not overwhelm yourself. Your senior year is just around the corner, and you’ll want to enter your last year as a high school student with gusto! The future is exciting — be diligent, seek adventure and embrace opportunities, and you will have nothing to worry about.


Shopping for College

As the end of this school year approaches, many of you are preparing to go off to college in the Fall to begin a new chapter in your life. However, some of you are just beginning to think about college and where to go. The following video contains some tips and things to think about to help you get started, but your Upward Bound Adviser is always happy to help answer any questions you may have!

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Don't Miss Your Pot of Gold!

The FAFSA deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1st! Many of you have completed yours, and that's great. If you haven't, be sure to do so today!


This is also the time to be looking for scholarships and ways to help pay for college. Seniors, many of you are already receiving award letters, but you may still need 

help paying for college. Juniors, it's also not too early for you to begin looking for ways to help pay for college.  

The following article, 3 Strategies Can Get You More Financial Aid for College, has some tips that could be useful in your search.

In honor of Valentine's Day, here are two recipes that you can make for that special someone or anyone you think might like a sweet treat!                

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New Year’s Resolutions for Teens

Happy New Year! During this time of year, we hear a lot about making resolutions, which are usually things we would like to improve about ourselves or accomplish during the upcoming year. Whether you want to affix the words “I will” or “I will do my best to” or “I’ll try to” or whatever else in front of these resolutions or keep them as is, the key is to pick a few of them (or even just one) and then stick to it with a clear-cut path to success. Hopefully, you’ll find a good place to start here.

1. Unplug from social media for at least 24 hours each month this year. Whether it’s Tiktok, Instagram, or another social media account that keeps you scrolling on your phone, do you think you can live without it for 24 hours per month? Pick one day each month, that’s it, and do this for the entire year, and you’ll have accomplished this resolution. That’s 12 days a year without social media.

2. Read at least 12 books this year. This is an average of one book each month. You can pick your reading list for the year ahead of time, or you can choose as you go, depending on how much you feel like reading. During months where you won’t be reading as much, you could choose shorter books. If you feel like reading a lot, pick a longer book. And it doesn’t have to be done on a month to month basis, either.

3. Drink enough water each day. The specific amount of water that you need to drink each day for this resolution will vary depending on a lot of factors. Some of the things that determine how much water you’ll need to drink include how hot is it where you are, how much you’re sweating or working out, if you’re drinking tea or coffee and getting hydration through that, your size, and more.

The common amount of water you’ll hear is to aim for 8 glasses of water each day, and that’s not a bad goal. It’s better than drinking a lot less water than this, but if it’s very hot out or dry, or you’re exerting yourself a lot, make sure you compensate by drinking a bit more water.

4. Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is very important. Make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to get a full night’s sleep. If you’re staying up too late, then it’s already going to be a problem. You might end up being tired in class or napping after class, which will make it hard to fall asleep that night. To improve your sleep routine for this resolution, try to avoid looking at your phone screen for 30 minutes before going to sleep and don’t keep your phone right next to your bed so that you end up checking it if you wake up in the middle of the night. Also, having a good ritual before bed, like getting into a fresh pair of pajamas, cleaning your face, brushing and flossing your teeth, can also help you establish a routine that will help you get ready for bed.

5. Make a daily effort to engage in positive self-talk.






The way that you talk to yourself can have a huge impact on what you’re able to accomplish and achieve. Having negative self-talk and generally being hard on yourself can stop you from doing things you might otherwise be able to accomplish. A resolution to stop negative self-talk is something that will take a lot of time and effort to perfect, especially if you’re someone who is generally quite hard on yourself. You can look at positive affirmations to think of some nicer things to fill your mind with, however a big part of this is to cut out the negative self-talk to try to pay attention to the thoughts you have about yourself and the things that you think about yourself.

6. Speak up when you’re unsure about something. Imagine someone explains how to do something to you, and you don’t really understand. Are you the type of person who would speak up and have them repeat it or would you quietly nod along and pretend that you understand because you feel awkward or you’re embarrassed to say that you didn’t get it?

Speaking up when you don’t understand a lesson or how to do something is an important skill to have, but there’s another similar example of speaking up that’s also super important.


Another time you should learn to speak up for yourself is when you’re unsure about something, like if your friends are planning to do something and you think it’s a bad idea. Would you go along with the group no matter what, or would you be willing to speak up and express your concerns, even if it means being excluded to some degree?

This takes a strong sense of self. It’s not easy to speak up for yourself when you think something is wrong or when you don’t understand something.

7. Do a great job with hygiene and other forms of self-care. Good hygiene is an important part of taking care of yourself. You’re probably going to need to shower every day, and people are going to know if you don’t. You also need to be mindful about wearing the same clothes for multiple days, taking care of your hair, finding a style for your facial hair that works for you, or even just soaking your feet and moisturizing your skin sometimes. If you’re into aromatherapy, getting nice smelling bath products can be a great way to practice self-care and good hygiene at the same time.

8. Boost your GPA.








Does having a higher GPA help you out? The short answer is, yes, it can be very useful as you sort out the next few years of your life. A higher GPA keeps more opportunities open for you, and it can help you save money by getting scholarships and grants. If you are struggling in certain subjects, talk to your adviser or guidance counselor for help. Tell them that you want to improve your GPA and that you need guidance on the best strategy to accomplish that. They should be able to help you come up with a plan, or at least point you towards the resources that you need.

9. Use a planner. Each year, Upward Bound students are given a planner to help keep track of assignments, important dates, and other items that you need to remember. You should make it a habit to fill in any permanent due dates (like one for a final Language Arts paper), sports practices, club meetings or goals for the week, and remember to check your planner every day. You can check for items for the next day before going to bed or first thing in the morning. Using a planner will keep things from getting lost throughout a busy week.

10. Learn a new skill. Is there a skill you’ve been wanting to learn to do well? Maybe it’s learning to draw, paint, play music or something athletic. Maybe it’s something more academic. Maybe you want to learn to code.

Whatever it is that’s caught your interest, there’s never been a better time to dive in and learn as much as you can. You will be stunned at how much you can progress in just a year when you put a little bit of time into it each day.

Whatever skill you’d like to have, look up some resources on how to learn it, and you can spend an afternoon putting together a road map/lesson plan for yourself, for free, that you can work your way through.

With a lot of practice and some careful planning and preparation you’ll be on your way to making huge progress towards a new skill. Even an hour or two a few nights a week is plenty of time to get really, really good at something if you’re practicing smartly.


On Saturday, December 9th, eligible Upward Bound students will visit Tanger Outlets in Pigeon Forge, and then attend Dolly Parton's Stampede Dinner Attraction. This day counts as the December Eagle Day. For more information, check out this month's newsletter.

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The new 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is now available. Seniors, see your adviser for help filling out this important financial aid tool. Funds are limited, so don't delay!

For more information about the FAFSA, visit

You can also watch the following video to learn more:

Eagle Day

Our next Eagle Day is October 29, 2022, and it will be Halloween Costume Day! 

Eagle Day Attendance Policy:

As stated in the student handbook, page 15, students are encouraged to attend as many Eagle Days as possible. For the Christmas trip, students may have missed no more than 1 Eagle Day during Sept, Oct, and Nov. For the Spring trip, students may have missed no more than 2 Eagle Days during Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, and Mar. See page 15 of the student handbook for all eligibility requirements.

If an absence is due to an illness and you have a doctor’s note excusing you for the Eagle Day date or if the absence is due to a school related function and you have the teacher sign a school-related absence form, the absence will be excused and will not count against your trip eligibility.
Please like us on Facebook ( In the event of a weather-related cancellation, this is where the information is posted first.



Fee Waivers

Exam costs should never be a barrier to student success, so Upward Bound will provide one ACT test fee waiver to any high school Junior in our program who needs one. (Seniors may be able to get one if there are any left after the juniors get theirs.)


ACT's fee waiver program strives to ensure students who need financial assistance can access the ACT test to support their college readiness. Please check with your UB adviser to get a waiver or if you have any questions. You can also click Fee Waiver Program | ACT for more information about the program.

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During the November 12th Eagle Day, we will be completing a service learning project during 2nd and 3rd period workshops. During these workshops, students will be making snuggle blankets. The blankets will be divided up and donated to animal shelters in Grainger, Hawkins and Morgan counties. Students will earn 2 community service hours for this project. Students can also earn more hours by donating small-breed dog food or cat food (8-10 pounds = 3 hours, 11-20 pounds = 6 hours). 

Service Learning is a way to apply knowledge and practice new skills through helping the community. It is a way to learn and address issues/needs that you have seen in the community. Here are the most common steps to follow when doing a service learning project.

  1. Determine what problem needs to be addressed.

  2. Research the problem and think of ways to help solve it. Then, reach out to others who may be able to help.

  3. Develop a plan to address the problem.

  4. Implement your plan and adjust it as needed in order to complete your project.

  5. Reflect and discuss what you learned and accomplished from working on the project.

Upward Bound students need 5 community service hours for the program, and seniors need 8 community service hours for TN Promise.

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We all know that high school and the teen years can sometimes be difficult and stressful. However, finding a hobby can help. Some hobbies you do for fun, and some can actually help you earn extra money. Some can lead to careers, and some can help you find new friends. Here is an article with some great suggestions for hobbies that you might want to try. Enjoy! 

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