How to Pay for College

Hi, Shmoopers!

The clock is ticking for you to decide which college will be graced with your presence next fall. But we have a sneaking suspicion that, as you make your decision, you’ll also be wondering how in the world to pay for it.

The deposit you send in with your decision is only the beginning—the tuition, room and board, and textbook costs (among plenty of other things) are still to come. Yeah, people say that education is priceless, but apparently colleges and universities didn’t get the memo.

Don’t freak out yet, though: a little planning can mean not graduating with a pile a debt. Or at least not one so big you could swim in it.

We’ve cooked up a boatload of articles that give you the lowdown on all sorts of ways to pay for college—and a few ways to not have to pay.

Bottom line: if you do your research and plan ahead, you can be sure your dream school comes at a dream price…and not just in your dreams.

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Quote of the Week

Why they came East I don’t know. They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.

~ The Great Gatsby

Maybe you can ask these guys for a loan.

The Top 12 Things The Giver Has Taught Us About Life

Hi Shmoopers,

We’re reflecting on one of our fave books, The Giver, so let’s get in the mood by having our own Ceremony of Twelve. Or as we like to call it… 

The Top 12 Things The Giver

Has Taught Us About Life

 

                  1. Colors are beautiful.

                  2. Taylor Swift can pass for a 16-year-old. (Check the movie, or don’t.)

                  3. You can’t pick your family. 

                  4. The elderly are out to get you.

                  5. So are your parents.

                  6. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain.

                  7. Sleds are a great metaphor.

                  8. The truth hurts.

                  9. Stirrings are just a part of growing up.

                  10. Looking out for your siblings pays off.

                  11. Drugs are bad.

And last but not least:

                  12. The book is always better than the movie.

Giving it our all,

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Quote of the Week

The worst part of holding memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.

~ The Giver

Sharing is caring.

12 April Fools’ Day Tricks from History

Hey, Shmoopers,

April Fools’ Day has a long, storied history. Archeologists recently discovered a cave painting in western Asia depicting a caveman dressed in the skin of a saber-toothed tiger sneaking up on another to scare him for laughs. Dating back to 38,000 BCE, this prank began an annual tradition roughly translated into English as Stupid Tiger Day.

The yearly ritual of tricking our friends, neighbors, and younger siblings has thrived over the millennia since then. And in recent years, it has taught us a valuable lesson: you shouldn’t trust a single thing you read on the internet.

So, before you start planning your pranks for Friday, let’s look back at some famous tricks, gags, and general April Foolery throughout history. Cue the laugh track.

April 1, 1776

Martha Washington lightens the grim Revolutionary War mood by replacing George’s teeth with wind-up chattering chompers. He is not amused.

April 1, 1820

Jane Austen glitterbombs the Brontë Sisters. Like all young goths, they dryly respond, “She’s still alive?”

April 1, 1876

Louisa May Alcott shakes up Mark Twain‘s bottle of sarsaparilla, which promptly sprays him in the face. His mustache is sticky for days.

April 1, 1917

Ezra Pound finds the fork in the woods that inspired Frost’s famous poem and carves another path through the trees. During his next hike, Frost discovers there are now three paths from which to choose. He is forced to rethink his entire poetic philosophy.

April 1, 1927

Katherine Mansfield sneaks into Virginia Woolf‘s room of her own and balances a pail of water carefully over the door. Drenched, the wet Woolf chases Mansfield all the way to the lighthouse.

April 1, 1951

J.D. Salinger, notorious recluse, pees on a paper plate, freezes it, and slides the frozen disc of urine under the door of another notorious recluse, Howard Hughes…where it melts into a puddle on his carpet. After Hughes steps in it, his hypochondria worsens and he starts to wear diapers around the house. The scene was filmed for the Hughes biopic, The Aviator, but was cut—and the footage was lost forever.

April 1, 1956

Martin Luther King, Jr. fills Rosa Parks lotion bottle with mayonnaise. She later retaliates by spraying him in the face with a squirting flower before he delivers a speech.

April 1, 1978

Koko the sign language gorilla, a scholar of Neanderthal humor, recreates the first known April Fools’ Day prank, dressing in tiger skin to scare the elephants who live in the next pen over. They never forget this prank, and are still waiting for the perfect opportunity to get her back.

April 1, 1986

Mr. T celebrates April Fools’ Day by quietly announcing, “I commiserate with the ignoramus who does not put the apostrophe in the right place in April Fools’ Day.”

April 1, 1992

To break the ice on a diplomatic visit to Japan, President George H.W. Bush plans an elaborate prank involving fake vomit. Upon landing in Tokyo, Bush realizes he forgot to pack the rubber barf. Committed to the gag (pun intended), Bush produces the real thing all over the Prime Minister. To this day, April 1 in Japan is known as Bushu-suru, or Bush Day.

April 1, 1998

During a rare year in which Meryl Streep was not nominated for an Oscar, she reveals that Roberto Benigni, that year’s Best Actor for Life is Beautiful, was actually Streep disguised as a man. Turns out she had been nominated and won after all.

April 1, 2016

Spoiler alert: Leonardo DiCaprio will learn, via a warm spring season in Los Angeles, that his long-sought-after Oscar was actually made of chocolate. 

What tricks will you pull on your friends this year? See if you can come up with one that’ll go down in history. Just…play nice.

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Quote of the Week

“April is the cruellest month.

~ The Waste Land

Especially the first day, eh?

 

8 Symbols of Light That Have Burned Into Our Brains

Hey, Shmoopers,

We thought it would be a good time to celebrate some symbols of light that have burned into our brains.

We’ll give you the rundown on eight of our faves and show you the light. 

8 Symbols of Light That

Have Burned Into Our Brains

1. The Green Light in The Great Gatsby

Who would have thought that a weird green light at the edge of someone’s dock would have become one of the most memorable symbols in western literature? To be fair, Fitzgerald does kinda hit us over the head with it—it’s basically the first and last thing we see in the book—so it makes sense that we remember it nine decades later. 

2. Light in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love

Okay, no one’s surprised that MLK said something people remember. Here’s what he wrote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Light as a symbol of love? Sounds about right.

3. The Red Candle in The Joy Luck Club

Turns out candles are meaningful in just about every culture out there. In The Joy Luck Club, the candle is a symbol of marriage: if the two ends remain burning during the entire marriage night, the marriage bond is considered complete.

4. “Let there be light” in The Bible

Talk about standing the test of time. This line, which was written three-ish millennia ago, is still everywhere you look. And sure, it wasn’t written in English, but no matter how you translate it, we’re talking about light.

5. The Spark in Frankenstein

There’s plenty of light and dark imagery in Shelley’s novel, but it’s that spark we remember. Why? Because…Hollywood. The book describes the spark, but it’s the 1931 movie that burned it into our brains with an added bolt of lightning.

6. Matches in Like Water for Chocolate

According to a woman named Morning Light (again with the light imagery), every person has a box of matches inside them that must be lit. That’s a metaphor if we’ve ever seen one—and one that we’ll probably be talking about for a while.

7. The Candle in Othello

Most people have a pretty positive association with blowing out candles: it’s what we do on our birthdays before chowing down on some delicious cake. Well, sorry to put a damper on your b-day traditions, but in Othello, blowing out candles is synonymous with strangling your wife to death. No wonder we still remember that candle.

8. Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”

If it didn’t stick the first time, Elton’s reprisal of “Candle in the Wind” for Princess Di’s passing made this one stick. As the musician himself said, the “candle burned out long before [the] legend ever did.”

Here’s to our faves that are dripping with light symbolism,

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Quote of the Week

Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

~ Albus Dumbledore

Subscribe to Shmoop and be…enlightened.

6 Movies That Deviate from Text to Screen

Hi, Shmoopers,

We’re always looking forward to a book-to-movie adaptation, even if the movie trailer and its source material have less in common than a walrus and a carpenter. But, hey, differences can inject some spice into what might otherwise be a pretty stale movie.

Here are six other movies that deviate from the text on the page…with varying levels of success.

1. Forrest Gump

Winston Groom’s novel sees Forrest Gump as a six-and-a-half-foot tall idiot savant with a foul mouth. The Robert Zemeckis film reimagines him as a gentler soul who’s roughly the size of Tom Hanks. In the novel, Forrest blasts off into space with an ape and is later captured by cannibals in Papua New Guinea. Both versions of Forrest start a shrimp business, although the movie proves that the most effective bait for shrimp is of the Oscar variety.

2. The Wizard of Oz

As Cinderella, Carrie Bradshaw, Tom Cruise, or anyone else who wears shoes to transform themselves into a princess would attest, footwear is the most important part of any outfit. Considering that fashion wisdom, it’s not surprising that the most striking difference between the Technicolor classic and L. Frank Baum’s original story is what’s on Dorothy’s feet. In Baum’s story, Dorothy’s shoes are silver. But to take advantage of color technology, the shoes in the film are an eye-popping sparkly ruby. There’s no place like home…except for a shoe store.

3. Jurassic Park

The Steven Spielberg film set the bar astronomically high for blockbuster action. But it’s not just the lack of CGI that makes the book seem tame in comparison. After all, in Crichton’s novel, Ian Malcolm is words on a page. In the movie, he is Jeff Goldblum. Need we say more?

4. Blade Runner

We’re guessing the original title of the Philip K. Dick novella—Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?just wouldn’t fit on a poster…the text would obscure the chiseled profile of Harrison Ford. But we should be thankful there’s just one title (Blade Runner) because there are seven different versions of the movie. If you get your mitts on all of them, you’re in for an all-day one-movie marathon.

5. The Fellowship of the Ring

Before Peter Jackson made three films from one small book, he made one film each from three large books. Without making any cuts, the films would be like Gandalf’s untrimmed beard: unruly, unkempt, and with week-old crumbs of stale honey cake buried within. Jackson made one major excision from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring: the singing woodsman Tom Bombadil. In the film, Bombadil is notoriously missing. He’s kind of like Alex Trebek’s mustache: once it’s been gone long enough, you forget it was ever there. Sorry, Tom.

6. A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess’s original novel was infamously censored in the U.S.: the twenty-first chapter got the boot. Kubrick only read the twenty-chapter version, so his ending is a bit different. The novel shows Alex grow up a bit, whereas the movie brings him back to square one. Kubrick’s ending puts us in the awkward place of rooting for a violent murderer. Thanks, Stan.

Next time you head to theaters for a book turned blockbuster, make sure to read the book, too. Just be sure to wipe the popcorn butter off your hands first. No one likes a greasy e-reader. 

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Quote of the Week

My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

~ Forrest Gump

Life and film adaptations, that is.

8 Common Grammar Mistakes and Why You Should Avoid Them

Hey, Shmoopers,

Whether you are a grammar stickler or you hate grammar sticklers, it’s good to know when you need to be on point and when you can play a little fast and loose with those pesky rules. Our Grammar Guides will let you in on grammar’s biggest secrets while still helping you pass your next grammar quiz. Here’s a sneak peek.

8 Common Grammar Mistakes 

and Why You Should Avoid Them

1. Its vs. It’s, Your vs. You’re, and Their vs. There vs. They’re

You know the moment: you click send on the email, and then realize that you messed up a their/there/they’re. It happens to the best of us. Start by learning tips and tricks from yours truly, and then…implement the “undo send” function in Gmail. You can thank us later.

2. Dangling Modifiers

Dangling modifiers are just as gross and ridiculous as they sound. And they’re pretty easy to avoid, too. All you have to do is make sure that the word you’re modifying is actually in your sentence. (And, you know, in the right place.)

3. Comma Splices

The comma has absolutely no business joining two independent clauses together without a conjunction. It’s simply not strong enough. (Sorry, comma.) Find out how to fix comma splices in our Punctuation guide.

4. Compound Possessive Pronouns

This one sounds complicated, but we can explain it in terms of The Bachelor, which means…it’s not. Here’s the sitch. You know how the bachelor (or bachelorette: grammar mistakes are equal opportunity) always says stuff like “she and I’s relationship” or “her and I’s relationship” or “she and my’s relationship” or “her and my’s relationship” or omigodpleasemakeitstop? Yeah, those are wrong. What he’s looking for is “her and my relationship.” Or, you know, “our relationship,” but that would be too easy. Want more deets? Dig it.

5. Comma after But

Nope. Just no. With one tiny exception, you should never put a comma after the word but. We know it looks pretty, but…it doesn’t, actually. So you now have zero reasons to do it.

6. I vs. Me

How many times have you seen an Instagram post with the caption “LeBron James and I at the game!” Okay, maybe not that exact caption. We’re talking about the “[name] and I” construction. It’s…wrong. How can you tell? Well, would you ever caption it with “I at the game”? We sure hope not. So don’t add LeBron into the mix. What did he ever do to you anyway? Here’s more.

7. Double Prepositions

The who vs. whom debate will never end. That’s for sure. But one thing we can all agree on is that you should never double up on prepositions when using whom. “To whom would you like to speak?” Perf. “Whom would you like to speak to?” Also fine (according to common usage, at least). But “To whom would you like to speak to?” No thank you.

8. Homophones

Yeah, spelling is part of grammar. And yeah, it’s hard. The worst? When words are pronounced the same (or…close) but spelled differently. Accept and except, we’re looking at you. You and 21 other common homophones. (And those are just the ones we could do before we ran out of breath.)

Still itching for more? Try our Common Grammar Mistakes video playlist.

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Quote of the Week

Mr. Allen, this may come as a shock to you, but there are some men who don’t end every sentence with a proposition.

~ Pillow Talk

Yowza.

7 Classic Books Brought to Life

Ever wondered what Jay Gatsby looks like when he isn’t being played by Leo? Trying to map Holden’s travels in The Catcher in the Rye? Not sure what a Nazgûl actually is? Shmoop infographics have all the answers.

7 Classic Books

Brought to Life

 

Lord of the Flies

What the stink is a conch?

Hint: it’s not the nickname our brother gave us in 3rd grade. We swear.

The Harry Potter Series

Is Hermione’s hair really that fabulous?

Yes. And don’t try to disagree with us.

Romeo and Juliet

Do opposites really attract?

Sometimes with deadly results.

To Kill a Mockingbird

What did Boo Radley’s porch look like?

It was actually kind of inviting, if you ask us.

The Lord of the Rings Series

What did Hobbits look like before Hollywood got its hands on ’em?

Er, don’t blame the messenger.

Animal Farm

What does it all mean?
It’s an allegory with a capital(ist) A. To each pig his own, you know?

Pride and Prejudice

Who loves (and lusts) whom?
It’s complicated. Like, really, really complicated.

Oh, and in addition to full Learning Guides on each text, our most popular infographics have corresponding Online Courses, which you can access via a Shmoop subscription.

Feast your eyes,

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Quote of the Week

“Who are you wearing?

~ Joan Rivers

We think we heard Daisy ask Gatsby that, too.