Striving for Success: The Power of Being Your Best in High School

As a college counselor in San Diego, I understand the importance of guiding students through the college application process. And, as the school year draws to a close, it’s a pivotal moment for 11th graders gearing up to submit college applications in just six months. The looming question of how to submit a strong college application may weigh heavily on their minds. In the midst of this anticipation and uncertainty, the sage advice of Rick Clark, Director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech, offers a guiding light: “Focus on being the best high school student you can be. It’s that simple.”

At first glance, these words may seem deceptively straightforward. However, beneath their surface lies a profound truth: the key to success lies not in frantic over-planning or succumbing to stress, but rather in a steadfast commitment to personal growth and authenticity.

In a world inundated with pressure to excel academically, socially, and extracurricularly, it’s easy for students to lose sight of what truly matters. As a college counselor and college essay coach, I encourage students to prioritize their well-being and authenticity throughout the application process. The pursuit of perfection can quickly become a daunting and exhausting endeavor, leaving many feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Yet, amidst the chaos, there exists clarity: the realization that genuine fulfillment stems from aligning one’s actions with their values and aspirations.

To heed Rick Clark’s advice is to embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It’s about embracing one’s unique strengths rather than striving to fit into a predetermined mold of success. But what does it truly mean to be the best high school student one can be? It’s not about chasing after accolades or accolades, but rather about cultivating a holistic approach to personal and academic growth. It’s about setting realistic goals, staying committed to continuous improvement, and embracing the inevitable challenges and setbacks along the way.

What does success in high school look like?

At its core, being the best high school student entails a multifaceted approach that encompasses academic excellence, meaningful extracurricular involvement, and a commitment to personal well-being. It’s about finding balance, seeking challenges, prioritizing self-care, and fostering genuine connections with peers and mentors.

Moreover, it’s about understanding that the college application process is just one chapter in a much larger narrative of growth. While it’s natural to feel apprehensive about the future, students can take comfort in the knowledge that they hold the power to shape their own destinies.

What Should I Focus On In High School?

By focusing on what they can control—namely, their academic performance, extracurricular pursuits, and personal well-being—students can navigate the college admissions journey with confidence and resilience. Rather than fixating on external validation or comparing themselves to their peers, they can chart their own course and embrace the unique opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

In the end, Rick Clark’s advice serves as a poignant reminder that true success is not measured by the number of acceptance letters received, but rather by the depth of one’s character and growth during the process. As a college counselor in San Diego, I am here to help guide students on this transformative journey and empower them to achieve their goals.


“Sylvia is a phenomenal college counselor. She is patient, kind, organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the college application process." - Susie

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