12 Tips to Start the High School Year Off Right

Wide-eyed freshmen to confident seniors, this is the time to commit to making the most of the year.  Four years may sound like a lot, but it’s not, considering high school is time to set the groundwork for the next phase of your life. The goal is college. And not just any college, but the right one.

To help start the school year right, International College Counselors made a general Top 12 Checklist.

  1. Consider courses and teachers and decide if the right choices were made. Students want to be sufficiently challenged, but not overwhelmed. It’s important to take challenging courses, but it’s just as important to do well in them. Now is the time to switch classes and strike the right balance for the year.
  2. Look at the school’s clubs, activities, sports, and classes. The beginning of the school year is the best time for exploring interests. Once a student decides what to try, the next step is finding out how to get involved in those activities and organizations. Students who did not like what they were doing last year should make a change. Try something new.  It’s impossible to know if something is liked, until it is tried.
  3. Start looking into scholarships.  Write down the deadlines and stay on top of them. Don’t wait to see how much school costs.  Scholarships can be a very helpful tool for making the eventual tuition bill more affordable.  International College Counselors Annual Scholarship for 9th-11th graders will start accepting applications for its 2017 scholarship contest in October.
  4. Make a commitment to work hard for good grades.  If help is needed, seek that help before falling behind.
  5. Do the homework and try hard whether the teacher and the class are liked or not.  Even if a certain teacher is not your personal favorite, do your best and make the most of the class. Every teacher has knowledge to offer.  It’s good practice for a future career to try to get along with people of all types.  Plus, when it comes time to ask for college recommendation letters, you’ll want your teachers to write about your academic skills and classroom contribution in a meaningful way.
  6. Build a great vocabulary. READ. READ. READ. Doing well on the PSAT, ACT and SAT all require a good vocabulary. It is much easier to build this slowly and naturally than to cram it. Reading will also help with writing, thinking and speaking.
  7. Stay organized. One of the easiest ways to keep from getting stressed is to keep everything organized.  Organized people can avoid those feelings of dread that they missed an exam or homework assignment.
  8. Work on a unique skill or develop a unique mindset. Determine to be really good at something, and set aside some time for it each week.  Expand personal knowledge by surfing wherever current whims and inspirations may lead: become an expert on the Black Plague or knot tying.  Learn to make sushi. Learning new things can be fun and exciting.
  9. Don’t put anything on social media that is embarrassing or even potentially embarrassing. Give it the grandma check. If a post is not something grandma (or the admissions director of a favorite college) should see or read, don’t post it.
  10. Make smart decisions on alcohol, sex and drugs. And don’t text and drive, Pokemon Go and drive, or drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  11. Maintain a positive attitude.  Not just at the beginning of the year, but all the way through it.  Positivity will help with your personal relationships and towards getting things done.
  12. Be nice to your parents. They mean well and want the best.

About International College Counselors

The college advisors at International College Counselors help students from all over the world find, apply to, and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert educational consultants at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college admission process.

Additional Resources 


From Public School to the Ivy League: How to Get Into a Top School Without Top Dollar Resources by Mandee Heller Adler and Aimee Heller, International College Counselors


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