School is back, excitement is in the air as classrooms fill, teachers set their expectations for the coming year and then there is this thing called education – in all its manifestations, returns. Ah, school – classes, tests, exams, papers and all that learning to come. The enthusiasm is palpable!

Whether you are just entering high school or looking at the final year, there is a lot to do. One failing of most students is that they think they have time – “oh, I’ll do that (name just about anything: join a club, do a paper, prepare for an exam, write my college essay) later.” Few remember that school is cumulative i.e. the grades you earn from the beginning of high school count and are looked at when you apply to university. This also is true of clubs, organizations and sports you join. Find something that you like and are rewarding to you.

If you are starting high school or even in the second year, think about joining three different activities – Academic (Math/Science Clubs, Chess Club, Debate or Model United Nations as examples), Personal (other kinds of clubs that help you grow personally and socially – these could include sports teams, hobbies or other interests, competitions etc…) and something Social (where you need to interact with other people – student government, charity or volunteer or community service) to get to understand your role in a community. Enter these activities for the long run i.e. for your high school career. So do a little research before you commit and once committed, engage it.

With summer vacation quickly becoming a distant memory, it is important to think about what you learned this last vacation. Where did you go, what did you do and happened that was interesting? Think beyond the event or events and how did you think and feel? What did you learn about yourself and how is that important now? Remember that education or learning happens all the time, all around you. It is important to take time to reflect.

With school starting it is important to get off on the right footing. Get organized and stay organized. Plan ahead and complete tasks – studying for an upcoming exam, preparing for a paper you have to write, etc… You don’t need to wait for the deadline! Turn in things ahead of time. Set the Gold Standard for your coming academic year and follow through.

If you are in your final year of high school, there is a lot of things you need to do in addition to school – University applications! And everything related to applying to university: SAT, TOEFL, essays, applications, interviews… Set a schedule to complete tasks and follow through. Be aware of Deadlines!!!! You don’t have to do everything at once. Set small tasks everyday, in other words – multi-task! If you have not started you application personal statements you are already losing time. Start the application process. Most applications have been available since August 1 (Common Application schools and University of California) or October for some Canadian universities.

School is an exciting time. So much promise and yet so much to do! If you are well organized, manage your time well it will be a great year. But the difference between a great and excellent is how well you keep focused. Remember this – every year you start with an A+/A. your job is to keep those grades.

Have a great year!!!!