Dear Hank Vol. 5

Dear Hank Vol. 5

“Dear Hank, I am retiring soon and know I will miss all of these students. How do I get over this?”

Dear Retirement,

Congratulations on your retirement! While you’ll miss your students, I have no doubt your students will miss you too. Some solutions could be organizing “visits” or “meet-ups” (physical or virtual) with old students to catch up, exchanging emails with students, or even following a few students on social media. In today’s world, it is almost too easy to stay in contact with people, and I wish you the best of luck as you enter the next phase of your life!




“Hank, I was wondering if you had ever taken an AP exam, and if so what subject or subjects? Do you have any advice for preparing? Also, if there is any more news relating to the Hank politburo and how to join, let me know. Thank you”

“What is the best way to study for an AP or any test? How many hours a day/ times a week/ months before the test do you study?”

Dear AP Exam and Testing,

I have taken many AP exams in my lifetime, most notably AP Napping and AP United States Government and Politics, because I am an informed pug. To prepare, I would suggest creating a study schedule for yourself. Mine looks something like: nap for two hours, study for 15 seconds, eat food, run around, obtain a belly rub, and then return to sleep. Make sure you’re covering all the important units; unlike me, your scores might help you out later on in college. I enjoy taking APs because they provide a quiet place for me to nap.

Plans to create the Hank politburo, like many other important projects, were placed on hold when quarantine began. However, I am working with a team of experts (me) to formulate a clear path forward on how to initiate, indoctrinate, and control my politburo’s members. Right now, I am thinking that initiation should involve a worthy test of loyalty, such as providing free belly rubs to me for an indefinite period of time before you are deemed trustworthy by me. Perhaps in the future I will collaborate with my most loyal supporters to make sure the process is fair and reasonable.

(In seriousness, to prepare for an AP exam, you need to assess how prepared you are. For example, if you are confident with two out of six units of the material, then you will need to create a schedule to refresh yourself on the other four units. You can review using Quizlets, past homeworks and tests, or by calling a friend and discussing concepts with them. This all depends on your learning style and what helps you retain information. Try to break up the material into reasonable chunks, maybe 30 minutes of studying per day leading up to the exam.This will all vary depending on how comfortable you are with the material, but the most important thing here is to create a study schedule/routine and stick to it.)




“Hey Hank! Do you think that when January comes around next year, any of the j-terms listed won’t be able to happen because of corona or do you have hope that things will be better then? Also! Which j-terms are you excited for?”

Dear J-Terms and Corona,

We live in a very uncertain time where the future can often feel very confusing and unpredictable. While we see different types of progress every day, we have no idea when any of this will blow over. Although I’m optimistic that we will go back to school in the fall, and hopefully travel in January, it’s just really too soon for anyone to know that for sure. I know that University’s primary concern is the student’s safety and any decision made is in the interest of the safety of the community. If the world comes back together by January, I am really excited for the Independent Film J-Term! Hopefully there will be some famous dog actors at Sundance that I can bark with.




“What happened to stressful AP tests?”

Dear APs,

As far as I’m concerned, stressful AP tests are still alive and well. The format may be different this year, but depending on your perspective the tests can still be just as stressful as ever. Most universities are still counting this year’s exams for credit. The estimated cost of a college course at a private college is between $2-3000 per lecture, so getting credit from an AP exam could save you a significant amount of time and tuition money. In my experience as a pug, humans always get stressed whenever money is on the line.

It is tempting to see this year’s exams as meaningless, but I strongly encourage you to still take them seriously. Unless you are a senior and you know your college doesn’t accept credit from a certain exam, then there is no way for you to know if a good exam score will be useful to you later on down the line. And because of that uncertainty, it’ll always be better to have too many good AP scores than too few. You never know if or when they will come in handy.




“What should I do to get ahead for the college application process as a rising senior (junior)?”

Dear College,

The summer between your junior and senior year is a great time to get started on the college application process! Hopefully by now you’ve got some idea of where you might want to go, and perhaps you’ve visited some colleges as well. If you haven’t, that’s okay! Especially because of the pandemic, many students have been unable to visit schools. Many colleges have virtual tours on their website, so you can get a good look at campuses that way. Additionally, make sure you do lots of research on the schools you want to attend. If you know where to look, college websites provide a lot of important information that can help you when making your decision to apply or not.

Another thing you should do during the summer is start brainstorming and maybe even outlining or writing your Common Application essay. The seven prompts are on their website here. Since you’ll be submitting this essay to every college you apply to, you should make sure that you start it early and make it as good as possible. Make sure that this essay shows who you are. There are hundreds and thousands of articles and websites that have tips and tricks on how to write your Common App essay, so look at those during the summer so you can get a good idea on what to write.

One helpful tip is to ask yourself a lot of questions. There are sites that have lists of questions that can be a good basis for what you write about. Some people write about specific experiences that they’ve had, other people are more general. There’s no one right topic that will get you into college, so make sure that you care about what you’re writing about. Another reason it’s a good idea to get started on your Common App essay early is because senior year is a very busy time. If you already have quite a bit of your essay done, that’s one less thing to worry about.

On the topic of essays, if you know what schools you want to apply to, consider looking at their supplements. Most of the prompts don’t come out until later in the summer, like July or August, so you should probably focus on your Common App essay first. But getting a head start on your supplements isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’re applying to a lot of schools or schools with a lot of supplemental essays (many have 1-3, but some have even more).

You’ll be juggling a lot during those beginning months of senior year, so it’s best to do a lot to take some of the load off. Beyond these tips that I’ve given you, there are plenty of websites out there that can also give you ideas as to what you can do during the summer, so I encourage you to check those out so you can get a more comprehensive idea of the actions you can take.

Best of luck on preparing for the application process,



“Hi so on snap chat there’s this one person that I can’t stand and all they do is randomly snap me and say hey and ask how I am and stuff. I don’t want to be friends with them at all, I just don’t like them but obviously I’m not going to tell them that. do you have any advice on how to let them know I don’t want to talk to them without sounding really rude?”

Dear Clingy,

For your situation, I offer two ideas.

If you feel pestered or burdened by someone’s messages, there is always the option of ignoring, muting, or blocking. Telling them directly that you don’t want to talk to them will come off as mean no matter how you put it, so in this case, it may be better to just say nothing. If they confront you about ignoring them, then you can make up excuses that you were too busy to answer, your notifications are messed up, your phone is being weird, etc. They will probably get the message pretty quickly.

However, while ghosting like this is an option, it’s rude and can hurt the other person (not to mention the unnecessary drama that it can cause). I recommend that you gradually wean them off of you, so it seems more mutual. Respond to this person’s messages but be polite and cordial, and most importantly, keep your responses short so you don’t further the conversation. By being polite, cordial, and succinct, you’re building distance between you and the other person, and hopefully, they’re able to pick up on that distance. If they want to make plans with you or they keep trying to engage in a conversation with you, tell them that you’ve got homework to do or an essay to write—use school as an excuse.

This is a difficult and tricky situation that can easily lead to the other person being hurt, so I urge you to tread lightly and to please consider the other person’s feelings when doing whichever method you choose.




“So all i do nowadays is shop online for things i don’t need what should i do to distract me or stop me from doing this?”

Dear Shopping Addiction,

I completely understand your plight. I can spend days looking at dog beds, dog food, dog treats, and all I want to do is buy them all up. You’re right in your assessment that you need a distraction, because clearly you know that you’re addicted to shopping but you still find yourself doing it. This distraction can be anything (hopefully something positive and/or productive, not something worse) as long as it keeps you from online shopping. Use your computer to do other things, like browse YouTube, or read the news, or maybe learn something new, which will fill your time up even more. “Out of sight, out of mind” easily applies here to your situation. You may have to go a little more extreme as well. Close all tabs related to online shopping. If you have any tabs bookmarked, get rid of those. If you have to, delete your history to stop stores from auto-populating in your feed. You need to get your mind off of online shopping in order to stop doing it.

While you also try to not think about online shopping, you also need to make it less of a positive thing for you. So if you use it to relieve boredom, you need to find something else to do to relieve that boredom (the distraction perhaps), and then you need to start associating online shopping with something less positive. With your acknowledgement that you have a shopping addiction, I’m confident that you’re on the right track. You can also think about it “logically,” as in every time you want to shop online, think about how much you’re spending, and how that money can be used elsewhere.

Be sure not to be a Debbie Downer though. You should give yourself some sort of incentive, associate not shopping online with something positive. So say, for example, you set up a budget for yourself, and you only allot a tiny bit of your money to online shopping (or better, none at all). If you stick to that budget, reward yourself with something, whether that be something you buy online (this could possibly be counter-productive though) or something like a dessert or really anything, as long as it works for you.

In short, the solution lies in a mix of keeping online shopping off your mind, associating it with something more negative (like the money you lose from online shopping), and associating not doing it with something more positive (like some sort of reward).

Best of luck in curbing your online shopping addiction,



“These days there have been so many people that are getting attacked by online bullies. a lot of my friends are having to deal with very cruel people telling them horrible things, tearing them apart just because they are bored. it’s getting bad, to the point where I’m really worried about some of my friends. is there any advice you can give to anyone who might be going through this?”

Dear Online Bullying,

Bullying is always such a tough situation, and I’m glad that you’re ready to support your friends. I know you asked what they can do, but it’s also important to consider what you can do for your friends. Something that can be very helpful is just supporting them like you already are and letting them know you’re there for them. Show them that the bullies are wrong by giving them support when they need it and by simply being their friend.

As for what your friends and others in such a situation can do, a good idea is for them to try and disconnect as much with the situation as possible. Particularly with online bullying, responding to the bullies and telling them to stop rarely works. Online bullies have the protection of either anonymity or just not being around the actual people they are bullying, which makes them more unlikely to change. If you’re being bullied online, be careful as to not respond to the bullies, and if possible, block and mute them so you don’t even have to engage with the bullying.

If the bullying is very serious, consider making a new profile that the bullies can’t find (this is mostly assuming that the bullies don’t know you well enough to easily find the new account). Don’t put any of your personal information on the new account, and only let trusted friends follow you. Depending on the platform, you actually have a lot of control in who can see or comment on your account, so use that control to your advantage. For example, if you are on Instagram, make your account private so you can monitor who follows your account. If someone who follows you is bullying them, just remove them and they won’t be able to interact with your posts anymore.

Best of luck to you and your friends,



“I’m always the one reaching out to my friends and new people and making everyone feel happy and loved but I literally get nothing in return… what should I do?”

Dear Friendship Problems,

It always sucks when you don’t feel appreciated for what you do. Because you’re feeling like this, to me the best advice is always to communicate. Even though it may seem intimidating, the best thing to do is tell your friends about how you’re feeling. Tell them that you don’t feel the friendship is equal, and this inequality makes you feel bad. Tell them how much it would mean to you if they put in a little more as well. I believe most people are understanding, and they will hear your concerns and hopefully adjust their actions accordingly.

When you tell them how you feel, be sure not to attack them. For one thing, they could get defensive and then all of a sudden you’re in an argument and nothing is getting done. Secondly, it’s very possible that your friends have no clue that you’re feeling like this. Everyone is different, and they may feel like they are giving you something in return when for you they aren’t. I’d like to believe that you have good judgement in your choice of friends, so remember that they’re your friends for a reason. There’s no need to get into an argument when you want to simply express your feelings. I’m not saying be passive about it and let it go, you should be assertive about your feelings, but don’t be overly aggressive either.

I’m positive that if both you and your friends act reasonably and none of you guys are secretly horrible people (which I highly, highly doubt by the way), everything will turn out fine.

Best of luck in communicating with your friends,



“These days I find myself getting really annoyed at people and what they are saying about the virus and quarantine. Sometimes I get really angry with them and say things I shouldn’t. What should I do when I feel like I’m about to say something I might regret?”

Dear Differing Opinions,

It can be very frustrating when people are spreading misinformation about anything, but especially when it’s about something as serious as this pandemic. From the wording of your question, this seems to be more about how to disengage from a frustrating situation and how to control your anger.

The best thing for you to do here is to disengage. If you’re texting with the people who are annoying you, just stop the conversation by either changing the subject or by distancing yourself (only responding with short messages so the conversation dies down, or through completely ignoring them). Hopefully, the people you are talking with will get the hint, and won’t bring up these topics with you anymore. If you feel as though you can do this without getting angry and saying things you’ll regret, you can directly ask them to stop talking about the virus and quarantine with you.

The next part of your response is about controlling your anger. Disengaging is a great way to prevent yourself from getting so angry in the first place, but it is also important to learn how to better control your anger for when you inevitably get into situations like this in the future. When you find yourself becoming increasingly angry, try different ways to calm yourself. Some people count down from 10 or 100, some people take deep breaths, and others may walk around. Just do whatever works for you to get you less tense and more relaxed so you can approach the situation calmly. When you’re calm, you can respond to the person in a less aggressive way. In a way, this is a lot like disengaging, except you’re still coming back to the situation after you’ve calmed down.

Best of luck in future annoying situations,



“I feel like I’m not important because my friends haven’t been talking to me during the quarantine. Can you help me?”

Dear Missing Friends,

I understand how you feel. Quarantine has been rough on everyone, and it’s been difficult to maintain our social connections (I don’t get to see any of you guys anymore!). Before I get to the advice, I’d first like to say that you are important, and don’t you forget it.

Now, my favorite thing to say to these types of situations is “communicate, communicate, communicate.” And that usually works. If your friends haven’t been reaching out to you, maybe it’s because they’re feeling hesitant, especially if your friendship was most centered around being in school together, and you guys never texted that often. If you have been reaching out and you notice that they aren’t really responding or never seem to keep the conversation going, simply let them know how you feel. You should ask them about it—maybe something is going on on their end that’s stopping them from being as invested in communication as you are. When you check in with them, let them know how you’ve been feeling as well.

I’ve said this in other responses and I’ll say it here: make sure you’re not phrasing it as an attack. It can make everything unproductive and maybe even worse. You don’t need to assign any blame at all, just a simple “I’ve noticed that we haven’t been talking as much and it’s been making me feel a little down” can work. You can get to causes and reasons and everything else later, the bottom line is you need to let your friends know how you’re feeling so the situation can change.

Best of luck in connecting with your friends,


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