Brittany & Bianca Beckwith ~ Cornell Bound!

Brittany & Bianca Beckwith 

Bianca, Mr. L, & Brittany

Today we feature Bianca and Brittany Beckwith, two senior members of the Apopka Bands! They have recently been accepted to attend Cornell University in New York on full academic scholarships! We are proud of you both! These accomplishments represent a tremendous amount of dedication and effort to your goals!

Read on to learn more about their path!

  1. At what age did academics become a point of focus for you?
    • Bianca: Focusing on school was instilled into me at a young age because my parents put Brittany and me into a good preschool that gave me a really strong foundation and taught me to enjoy learning. I started taking a more personal accountability with my academics in middle school because I had to learn how to adapt to Honors courses and show that I was mature enough to handle the workload.
    • Brittany: I feel like academics have been a focus for me since before elementary school. My parent and grandparents were always encouraging my sister and I to learn, no matter what the subject was. I was always excited to learn about something new in the world, and even though academics have gotten slightly harder since elementary school, my excitement for learning new things hasn’t diminished.
  1. How have you set up your daily schedule to help achieve your goals?
    • Bianca: My daily schedule has changed frequently throughout high school. I always try to prioritize work, but this largely depends on whether you have a job, any extracurricular activities, and how often you spend time with family/friends. The healthiest schedule I’ve had is:
      • Take a break for about an hour after school (nap, have a snack, watch something, read something, talk to a friend)
      • Start homework within an hour and a half of being home
      • Work for at least an hour before taking a break (but if you’re feeling overwhelmed take breaks as you need!)
      • Chores/errands/other demands
      • Work a little more, break a little more
      • Eat dinner when I feel like it
      • Sleep between 10 and 1 (depending on whether I napped in the afternoon)
      • Wake up between 3 and 6 (depending on whether I have more homework to do)
      • Sleeping continuously, even if it’s not at a consistent time across days, is the best way for me to maximize my time without getting too burnt out. I typically catch up on sleep over the weekend.
    • Brittany: When I get home from school, I only set a strict homework schedule on days where I am really busy and have multiple time sensitive tasks. But I try not to put too much pressure on myself, because then I will only get stressed and end up doing less work that night. So most days I just loosely plan out the work I will do, and take multiple breaks throughout the night. I know that this plan wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.
  1. How has music benefited your work towards your goals?
    • Bianca: I always listen to music when I’m working; lyrics are okay with math work but I stick to classical instrumentals or lo-fi chill hop when assignments involve reading. Music helps me stay focused and gives my mind something to hold onto so I don’t feel bored. Participating in this music program has prompted me to stay on top of my time management and learn how to devote enough time to practicing and homework. I’ve also learned how to apply the same focus I developed in band to working on assignments for academic courses.
    • Brittany: To me, music has never been about getting an A, or being the best in the class. Although it was nice receiving superiors at MPA and S&E, what mattered to me more was that I could feel proud of myself for just playing well and playing what I love. Music helps keep me grounded, and taught me that goals can be achieved with a ton of practice, but the time spent practicing can be fun and enjoyable.
  1. How has leadership benefited your work towards your goals?
    • Bianca: Being in leadership has taught me a lot about how to work with people and how to work with myself. I feel very prepared to have to work with many different types of people in college and I feel that I’m professional enough to keep personal dramas/conflicts out of my group responsibilities. After being in such a large section, I am more comfortable talking to people and building significant relationships (you can’t live off of small talk). I also learned that I really like precise planning, which has encouraged me to plan out my work and other responsibilities- always stick with a plan and be flexible to changes.
    • Brittany: Being in leadership has definitely taught me how to manage my time and manage my stress/ other emotions. It is hard to not get caught up in helping your section, and it is hard not to get too caught up in your school life. Some days I would go home and be extremely stressed out about something that happened in rehearsal, and on other days in rehearsal I would be distracted by a bad grade or a missing assignment. But as a leader, it is your job to push away that anxiety, and get to work. Every problem is resolvable if you just stay calm, take your time, and think it through.
  1. Throughout the collegiate application process, what lessons did you learn that could be of help to those reading this interview?
    • Bianca:
      • Even if you can’t start as early in senior year on your essays as you want to, have an idea about what you want to write for your Common/ Coalition essays and all of the supplemental essays for each of your schools. Prompts are released months before apps are due so you have plenty of time. I wrote all of my supplementals and revised my UF essay to use on other Common app schools over winter break, which was REALLY NOT FUN, don’t subject yourself to that stress.
      • Start on scholarships over the summer, October at the latest. And listen to Ms. Metts if she approaches you about any scholarships or programs. I wouldn’t have signed up for QuestBridge if she didn’t convince me to, and I ended up getting into Northwestern, UVa, and Emory with huge financial aid packages through QuestBridge. Even if you don’t qualify for a lot of aid, so many merit/talent/service scholarships are out there, you just have to look!
      • Financial aid can be a very taxing process if the schools that admit you request any additional verification documents. Work with your parents so that everyone understands what information is needed and you can submit accurate documents as soon as possible. Don’t let frustrations make you forget your family is your team.
    • Brittany:
      • Be tenacious. No matter what school you are applying to, 99% of the time there will be some complications. They may not receive your transcripts, or you have to refill the same financial aid documents three times before they receive them. It may take you weeks to finally be satisfied with your application essay. But what you put in is what you will receive, so do not give up. The stress and time put into this process will all be worth it in the spring.
  1. What advice can you offer to help others create a path towards higher academic achievement and success?
    • Bianca:
      • If you have a dream about going to a certain institution, claim it. Talk about it to your friends, your family, your teachers, even yourself. I’ve been saying I’ve wanted to go to Cornell for the past 7 years so it really just feels like the universe followed suit.
      • Even if you’re a freshman, explore your colleges’ majors and academic programs in your free time. This could give you an idea about what you want to study and any careers you might pursue. This also helps you plan appropriate classes to take in high school.
      • Don’t be afraid to take AP! Know your limits and don’t overload yourself the first year you do take AP classes, but if you’re planning to go to a tough school these classes are your best friend. AP teachers can also be really sympathetic if you’re overwhelmed or struggling, so be open about needing help when you do and be willing to attend tutoring/ do extra studying on your own time. AP isn’t easy, but colleges like to see you challenging yourself.
      • Most importantly: always take care of your physical and mental health. It might not always seem feasible but it’s definitely worth trying. Being able to handle hard classes in high school gets ten times easier when you’re not super stressed or depressed. Learning how to take care of yourself now will ensure that you can do the same once you go off to college.
      • Thank you to my band family for all your support and love, it really means the world!!
    • Brittany:
      • I have a poster on my wall that says ‘Go to sleep satisfied’. If you want to be successful in  any aspect of your life, it is up to you to find the motivation to put yourself to work. No one is going to give you any handouts, and the closer you are to your goal, the more you will feel the pressure to give up and do something else. But if you find subjects in school that you love (or at least can tolerate), or have a bigger picture in mind, it is easier to motivate yourself. And celebrate every small achievement, because this will give you motivation to be successful in the next chapter.

WOW! There is so much to glean from the tenacity and diligence of these two young ladies! Thank you for sharing your insight and knowledge for our future generations of Blue Darters! Best of luck at Cornell! We can’t wait to hear all about it! #iegyb

In Everything, Give Your Best!