By Tony Natelli

As you embark on your next adventure, high school, there are some concrete things that you can do to make your high school experience run smoothly and productively.

Freshman year in high school is the time to become acclimated to, for most of you, a new environment. Embrace all the new opportunities that will be presented to you. Yes, you will need to continue studying and learning as you have in middle school, but know that many of you will be facing different challenges in high school. Some of you will be making new friends. Some of you will be facing increased levels of homework, and some of you will be traveling where you haven’t had to travel before. Embrace all these new experiences and opportunities with gusto.

If there is an activity, club, sport or volunteer organization that you think you might be interested in, now is the time to involve yourself in an endeavor that is outside of your academic interests. Each and every one of you has a passion for something. Use your passion to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Challenge yourself to be the best student you can be by making sure you use your time wisely. Time management will be your best friend in high school and beyond. By using your time efficiently, you will be able to stay ahead of the work, and you will be able to participate in extracurricular activities without the stress of homework and projects hanging over your head.

The last thing and maybe the most important aspect of good time management is you will have more time to cultivate and develop friendships. Your school work is important. Your extracurricular activities are important. But your friendships, some that will last a lifetime, could be the most important part of your high school experience. So, here are some of the things you want to think about as your start high school:

  1. Make sure you manage your time well from the first week of school during freshmen year until you graduate as a senior. That means doing your homework in a timely manner and working on long-term projects way before the due date. This is a skill that will last a lifetime.
  2. Join a club. If your school does not have a club you are interested in take the initiative and find out how you can start your own club. Follow your passion and make it happen.
  3. Join a sport. Even if you aren’t very good you can learn to become part of a team. If you can’t play then maybe you can help manage the team or be a student coach (if your school allows it).
  4. Make new friends. This will allow you to enjoy school and to enjoy activities outside of school with a group of people that will be in your life for many years to come. Since many of you will be traveling to your new high school, try finding someone in your area to travel with. Traveling together can create long-lasting friendships.
  5. Make sure you connect with your teachers. They are an invaluable source of information and inspiration, and some of them will be writing you recommendations letters throughout your high school years. Make sure they know who you are.
  6. Have fun. Yes, high school can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be stressful all the time.

I believe these steps will help you better acclimate to a new school environment, put you in a position to be successful, to grow and most of all be the best person you can be.

Best of luck.

Tony Natelli is College Admissions Counselor for NYC Admissions Solutions. Previously, a college placement advisor at Hunter College High School in NYC and currently college placement counselor at one of the top 50 public high schools in the nation in northern NJ, Tony has many years of experience counseling students and families on competitive college admissions. Beginning in the freshman year, he advises students and families on course selection, extracurricular activities, and employment and internships to help build the college application. Ultimately, he plays an instrumental role in identifying the best fit schools and optimizing students’ candidacies for their schools of choice – helping families save time and stress managing the often overwhelming college application process. Tony is also a guru on scholarship research and Naviance, a premier technology used by high school administrators and families for college placement services.