As the month of August commences, I find myself thinking how quickly the summer has gone and in a few short weeks we are all back to school. As both a high school college counselor and independent college counselor for the past ten years, admittedly, I still find myself sad to see the summer begin its conclusion, but I am also excited for a new school year to begin. I know many high school students feel the same and especially for those students in 11th and 12th grade, the topic of college will be ever more present than it was in the first half of high school. With that said, here are some useful tips for all high schoolers to consider as they prepare for what is hopefully a successful and meaningful school year.

  1. Evaluate (or re-evaluate) courses and teachers. Most students already know their schedule for next year. Remember that it is important to be challenged, but not overwhelmed. Teachers, counselors, and students all want to ensure an intellectually stimulating and motivating year, so be sure to re-evaluate courses and adjust your schedule if needed so you can do your best while enjoying your school year.
  2. Get involved in clubs, activities, sports, etc. The beginning of the school year is the best time for exploring interests. Take advantage of the clubs, organizations, sports teams, musical options, and more that your school may promote. If you were already involved and enjoyed your experience, keep going. Take on more leadership opportunities, if possible. If you did not enjoy your experience last year, try a new one this year. Remember that creating a positive out-of-class experience will also help to enhance your in-class ones too
  3. Work hard and also work smart. The one factor that college admissions officers most readily seek out when evaluating a student for admission is how well they performed in their classes. Bottom line: Grades are one of the most important components in the college admissions process. Classes are more than just doing well on a test or writing a good paper. Be sure to participate, do your homework, understand and show mastery of the content of the course, and build a relationship with your teacher. Working hard and working smart will lead to good outcomes.
  4. Try hard whether the teacher and the class are liked or not. In all levels of education, there are teachers and classes that will resonate positively with you and there will be those that do not. When you meet a teacher you do not click with or a subject that is more challenging that you want it to be, do not let them be excuses to not do well. Spend extra time with the teacher and give them a chance to know you better. Ask friends to help tutor you on subjects you just do not like. All of
    these things will help you learn how to work with individuals you do not always mesh well with and speak about your character to not let adversity impact your success.
  5. Think or do something unique that is personal to you. Sometimes there can be a lot going on both in and out of school that it seems you have no time to enjoy topics or experiences that you want to explore. Build into your schedule some “me time” and use that to expand personal knowledge or develop a skill. Once you do that, you might find connections between these skills or knowledge and what you are learning in school. This can help you when you seek out internships, mentors, and opportunities for the future you might not know were possible.
  6. Monitor and be cautious about your social media participation. Don’t put anything on social media that is embarrassing or even potentially embarrassing and definitely do not allow others to post your likeness without your consent. If a post is not something you would want your parents or grandparents (or the admissions director) to see or read, don’t post it. College admissions officers have been known to deny and rescind admissions offers based on controversial posts.
  7. Maintain a positive attitude. Not just at the beginning of the year, but all the way through it. Positivity will help with your personal and academic relationships and towards getting things done. Utilize your school counselors, teachers, parents, and friends to help you when you find yourself feeling more negative or unsure of things. Your support system is there to help and encourage you along.
    8. Understand the college admissions process. No matter what year in high school, if you need help learning about or navigating the college admissions process, consider hiring an independent college admissions counselor from NYC Admissions Solutions. We’re here to help not just to make sure you have a strong application, but to determine the right classes to take, the best way to explore your interests, and how to find the right fit for a college where you can be the best version of yourself.