I've been part of In the Mix for a little over five years now. It's the best first job a teenager could have. I've met people and was a part of many experiences that I wouldn't have ever had if not for the show. One really memorable experience was when I got to testify before a congressional committee in Washington D.C. on Rap Lyrics and their meaning.
I've also been a part of several projects for Thirteen/WNET. I worked on "What Can We Do About Violence"? (a Bill Moyers special), co-hosted a Thirteen telethon, "Act Against Violence," and was involved in a couple of projects for Thirteen's educational department.
Because of the amount of involvement I've had in the pieces we create, In the Mix has been one of the biggest learning experiences that I've had. Producers always ask us if there is anything that we want to bring out in a piece or any questions that we have. The scripts that we receive have almost never been what has ended up in the final cut. I also have to say, coming to In the Mix at 15 was strange. I hadn't really dealt with that many adults so I was nervous about how to react to them. They gave me an immense amount of respect. I felt very at ease - which was essential to my performance on the show. This is not to say that everyone is always in agreement when it comes to putting a show together. There are many disagreements about the show content or even lines. And when we disagree...we disagree. The thing is, most of the time compromises are made to suit everyone.
When we did the show, "College: A Crash Course", I was so nervous about getting into the best college that I did not do a thorough job investigating what might be the best one for me. I had applied to three well-known schools and was rejected by two. The truth of the matter was that I applied to very competitive college with grades that were anything but perfect. I was satisfied with the school I was accepted to but decided that I needed to take time off before I attended and deferred admission for one year.
I applied for a travel abroad program for the summer after graduation and worked for the first semester of the new school year. It wasn't long before I realized that I wasn't ready to get up every morning and go to work. Don't get me wrong, I loved the job and the people, it was just that they were older than I was and I had a difficult time creating a social circle for myself. I was watching all of my friends get settled into college life, making new friends, living in the dorms, and having late night study sessions with their new friends. I began to want those same experiences, and started to feel like I was missing out on something that I needed.
It was that transitional experience between high school and "life", the kind of life I was already in. I missed school more than I ever thought I would and decided that before I would start the next fall, that I would take a class in my city during the spring. I applied for one class at Eugene Lang College, admitting to myself that I could handle one class and continue working. The class was great. It was small and intimate. I began to make new friends and felt somewhat a part of school life. As the semester went on I began to really appreciate the qualities of this small school. It was in the city that I had grown up in and loved, the class sizes allowed me to get to know my teachers, and the other students I had met were cool people. I applied after the term, and was accepted. I am currently a full-time freshman at Eugene Lang College.
I just finished my first semester with straight A's, grades that I could never have imagined I would pull. Although I am behind my high school friends in school years, I am glad that I had the opportunity to figure out the college deal on my own. It turns out that while I had thought I was desperate to move three states away to a big University, I found what I really needed only 30 minutes away. I have to say that in High School I can remember being overly impressed with the names of schools and what people would think of me if I had gone to them. The truth is that I am doing better at a smaller school than I would have a bigger one, and I love it.
So guys, be thorough when you are thinking about college. Explore all the options with parents and college advisors, and if you can, visit! Take your time with this process. When you are sure what's right for you, I guarantee you'll thank yourself for it.