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September marks the start of the school year for high school students around the country. A time for a fresh beginnings whether in the classroom or in the community, on the sports field or on the dance floor. Give it your best shot as you begin a new chapter. For freshman, the best advice I can give you is to set your short and long term goals on what you want to achieve with your coursework, but also on joining the clubs and activities that make the most sense given your interests. From a college admissions perspective, the most attractive applicants have strong grades in their most rigorous courseload, while demonstrating dedication and special talents in a few activities. Are you a history buff and love to debate? Consider joining clubs such as Mock Trial, Model UN and or Speech & Debate. Sophomores and juniors, stay committed to your goals with positive grade trends as well as demonstrated growth through leadership within your interests. For rising seniors, the finish line is approaching, so don’t lose steam. Colleges will carefully examine 12th grade academic performance and continued focus on primary activities. Remember, in the final analysis, colleges are looking for smart, happy, balanced students. So make sure that whatever your choices, they are the right ones for you to encourage challenge and fulfillment, but not unhealthy stress. This will allow you to maintain that same feeling of enthusiasm long after the September school bells have stopped ringing.