5 Ways to Celebrate Yourself + 3 Ways to Celebrate Your Friends

You are one-of-a-kind and totally worth celebrating! Don’t wait for a holiday to remind yourself of how special you are or a special occasion to tell your friend how much their friendship means to you. Here are a few ways you can celebrate yourself and your friends today.

5 Ways to Celebrate Yourself

1. List five things you’re most proud of. 

Think about some of your recent accomplishments. Maybe you gave your first speech in front of a large audience or learned a challenging song on the piano. You can also be proud of how you forgive easily, your unique style, or how you stand up for yourself and your beliefs.

2. Let go of negative self-talk.

Did you know that positive thinking helps you cope better in times of stress and may even lower rates of depression? Negative self-talk is harmful and can affect how you view yourself and the world around you. You are not your thoughts. If a negative thought enters your mind, don’t worry about trying to stop it. Instead, recognize it’s a thought, not who you are, and follow it up with an affirmation to yourself. Remind yourself of your worth and the things you’re thankful for in your life.

3. Take time to do something that makes you happy every day.

Think about what makes you happy. Do you love good music? Then crank it up! Do you love nature? Set aside time each day to spend time outdoors and soak in some fresh air. Doing activities that make you happy will help you stay motivated, improve your mental health, and give you more energy to tackle your schoolwork.

4. Let your inner child run free!

When school, tests, and extracurriculars start to get overwhelming, take a break! Think back to your younger years when life wasn’t so stressful. What did you enjoy doing as a young kid? Maybe you danced around the house, rode your bike, or just laughed about absolutely nothing. It’s ok to let your imagination run wild.

5. Treat Yourself

Don’t wait for your birthday or special occasion to treat yourself to something special. Take yourself out for coffee or ice cream. Ask your parents or guardians if you can take a day off from activities and have a self-care day. Take a relaxing bath or binge-watch Netflix. You deserve it!

3 Ways to Celebrate Your Friends

1. Send a gift (or leave it on their doorstep)

Everyone loves gifts, especially if they’re sent on a random Tuesday. Here are some simple gift ideas:

  • Warm cookies
  • Tickets to a sports game
  • A photo of your favorite memory
  • Coffee or a milkshake
  • A gift card to their favorite store
  • Flowers
  • Candy

2. Write them a card

A few kind words can go a long way. Tell your friend what you love about them and what makes your friendship special. Throw in a gift card, and you’ll really make their day!

3. Plan a special day out.

Think about the activities your friend enjoys, and plan a day around them. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. What’s important is spending time together doing something they love. 

Every day is the perfect day to celebrate yourself and your friends. Don’t let the stresses of school, work, or even your future take away from enjoying the present moment. Practice self-compassion, exercise, tell your friends how much they mean to you, and most importantly, don’t forget to laugh!

Finding Your Passion

Most high school students are searching for their passion – that thing that sparks their curiosity and helps them choose a college and career. High school is the perfect time to start exploring your interests and figuring out what motivates you. Understanding yourself and your values will help you make big decisions later, especially when choosing a college and career. If you’re ready to find your passion, we’ve got some helpful tips to get you started. 

Recognize your Strengths

Own your strengths! Recognize the unique qualities you bring to this world. What comes easy to you? What are some of your unique personality traits? Do any of these characteristics translate into an area of study? A career? There is something out there for everyone. Don’t be afraid to pursue a dream, even if others might think it’s crazy. You have everything you need to become the best version of yourself.

List Everything that Brings You Joy

Whether you have many interests, or just a few, everyone can identify something that sparks joy. Make a list of everything that makes you happy, and then determine if those activities could become lifelong careers. Think about the hobbies you enjoyed as a child and how they might translate into your adult life. Follow your curiosity, and you may find your passion! 

Choose What Makes You Happy

Some people choose a career because they can make a lot of money. While supporting yourself is important, money doesn’t always equal happiness. Joy and personal fulfillment feel better than any amount of money you could ever make. If your passion isn’t known for its high salary, don’t give up. Have faith in your choice because the world is waiting for someone like you to try something extraordinary.

Be Patient

You will find your passion, but it takes time. You will have ups and downs, and that’s OK. When in doubt, ask yourself: What makes me happy? What kind of impact do I want to have on the world? What legacy do I want to leave behind? Then trust yourself. Everything will work out.

These tips are just a starting point to discovering your values and passions. Enjoy the journey and happy soul searching!

6 Tips to Help You Set Goals

It’s easy to move through high school just going through the motions. If you have big dreams about college or a career and don’t know how to reach them, it’s time to set some goals! But first, you need to learn how to set a goal. Here are six tips to get you started!

1. Keep goals specific.

Details are key when you’re setting goals. Think about what you want to accomplish, when it should happen, where it should happen, why you want to achieve those goals, and the limits or obstacles you may need to overcome. When your goals are specific, you’ll be motivated to stay committed to them.

2. Measure your progress.

Keep track of your progress with measurable goals, and celebrate small victories because they help build momentum and help you meet deadlines.

3. Set achievable goals.

While there’s nothing wrong with big dreams or challenging goals, you should also be realistic. When you set achievable goals, you can identify opportunities and resources to help you reach them. 

4. Set appropriate timelines.

Timelines help you see the big picture and the smaller steps you need to accomplish your goal. When you set goals, a timeline gives you something to work towards and helps you stay on task.  

5. Find someone who achieved your goal.

Find people who’ve already accomplished a similar goal. Draw inspiration from them, and ask them for their tips and tricks. Their insight will help you progress quicker than if you started from scratch and figured things out for yourself. Consider joining a group of people who have similar ambitions. They can help hold you accountable.

6. Stay positive.

If you start to doubt your abilities, acknowledge your feelings, then remind yourself why you set the goal in the first place. Visualize yourself succeeding so you can let go of the fear of inadequacy. Stay open-minded if plans don’t go exactly the way you hoped. Consider organizing your thoughts and writing down your action plan. This exercise will help make your dreams feel more tangible.

When you identify and establish specific goals, your dreams can turn into your reality. There are many paths to success. If you have a vision and work hard, you can achieve anything!

5 Tips For When You’re Struggling in Class

Classes don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you fall behind in your reading or get stuck on a tough math concept. If you’re struggling with any of your classes, here are some tips to help you turn your grade around!

1. Ask for help

Meet with your teacher and let them know you are struggling in class. Since they give the exams, they likely have some helpful insight you can use on test day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know what to ask, here are some ideas. 

  • How can I prepare for future tests? 
  • Do you offer extra help outside of class? 
  • Do you have any recommendations for tutoring? 

Show your professor your class notes. They can tell you if you’re focusing on the relevant information or if you’re stuck in the details.

Get help from your classmates. Start a study group or ask if they can spend a couple of minutes explaining a specific concept to you. If your class has a teacher’s assistant, ask them for help. Check around. Most schools offer extra support when you’re struggling in a class.

2. Evaluate your priorities

If school isn’t a priority, consider moving it higher on the list of priorities. We understand life happens and schedules get busy, but you shouldn’t ditch your schoolwork. Remind yourself of your future goals and why prioritizing school now will help you reach them.

3. Learn from your failures

Review the mistakes you made on your last exam. Read the comments on your graded essays. Identifying where you made mistakes will help you understand the material better the next time you take a test. Reviewing what you did wrong feel disheartening, but look at it as a learning experience! Instead of dwelling on the mistakes, use them as a way to improve.

4. Put in the extra effort

Not all teachers offer extra credit, but if they do, take advantage of it! Not only will the points combat a bad grade on a major test or assignment, but your teacher will see that you are serious about succeeding in their class.

5. Don’t give up

Abandoning hope will keep you from succeeding. Continue working hard, and don’t give up! Even if you don’t get the grade you wanted, you will know you did your very best. If a professor sees your extra effort, they might even give you the boost you need to pass the class.

While it’s completely normal to struggle in your classes, help is available. If you’re having a hard time in more than one class, you may need to drop an extracurricular activity or evaluate your priorities. Try not to stress. Eventually, you’ll find a balance that is right for you!

5 Tips to Cure Senioritis

Most students define senioritis as an “ailment” that affects graduating seniors. Symptoms may include a lack of motivation, excessive stress or panic, putting things off until the last minute, and an overall sense of blah. Some would argue that the only cure for senioritis is graduation. But here’s the good news! If you feel senioritis creeping in, you can combat it by following these five simple tips. They will help motivate you to finish high school strong and prepare you for college or a career after graduation.

1. Fill your schedule with classes and activities that interest you.

Consider taking a challenging class or an elective that sounds interesting. Apply for an internship or another career-focused activity. If you keep yourself busy, you are less likely to fall into an unproductive slump.

2. Set clear goals.

What would you like to accomplish before go to college or start a new career? Make a list of goals, and write out specific steps to help you reach your goals. For example, your last semester grades still matter, especially if you’re going to college. How will you stay motivated to maintain your grades? Setting clear goals will help you be more prepared for whatever path you choose after high school. 

3. Take one day at a time.

The big picture can feel overwhelming. Your senior year is full of tasks, deadlines, stresses, and many different emotions. If you’re struggling to keep up with it all, focus on one task at a time. Try not to think about your entire checklist but break it down into smaller bite-sized pieces. The Encourage app can help you manage your to-do list and remind you of important dates and deadlines.

Make a bucket list.

Write down the fun things you would like to do before graduation. Even if you’re ready to start your next chapter, don’t forget to enjoy the present moment. Take advantage of the free time! If you’re planning on moving out after high school, plan some quality time with your parents or guardians. Enjoy your last few months living at home!

Stay physically active.

When you’re unmotivated, it can affect you physically. Working up a sweat will increase your energy. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, walk your dog, toss a football with a neighbor, or throw a dance party with some friends. The choices are endless!

While senioritis is most common in high school seniors, it can hit at any time. Maintaining motivation at any age is tough. College tends to be more academically challenging than high school, so use your senior year as an opportunity to prepare before you step foot on a campus. A new career requires motivation, organization, and discipline. Your senior year is the perfect time to build positive habits you’ll use throughout your life. You’re so close to the end! These tips will help you stay motivated and make the most of the time you have left in high school.

Handling Stress in Your College Search

Searching for the perfect college takes time, energy, and a lot of patience. If you’re feeling stressed, here are some ways to reduce stress and channel it into something positive!

Steer clear of caffeine

Drinking more caffeine than you are used to affects your nervous system and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Trade your coffee mug for a (reusable) water bottle to stay hydrated and productive.


When the college search starts to feel draining, get your body moving. Seems counterintuitive? As it turns out, exercise improves your cognitive function, including alertness and concentration. Countless studies reveal that exercise reduces stress.

Keep a diary

Write an entry each day expressing your feelings about the college search process. Reflect on the process and pinpoint your struggles. As the search process evolves, look back on your entries and see how you’ve overcome struggles and identify areas of the process that are beyond your control. 

Try relaxation techniques

Whether you’re painting a masterpiece or practicing yoga poses, set aside some time for an activity that relaxes you. Instead of watching Netflix in your bed, consider an interest that sparks your creativity.

Go to bed earlier

A consistent sleep schedule can improve your health, sharpen your memory, rejuvenate your attention span, and alleviate daily tension. It may even help reduce the anxiety of the college search process. 

Talk to someone

Plenty of people, including your friends, parents, teachers, and school counselor, care for you and want to see you succeed! They will be the first to tell you that worrying about your future is normal and encourage you to keep moving forward. Everyone’s journey looks different. It’s okay to stress during the college search, but trust that your hard work will lead you to where you are meant to be. Everything will be okay.

Top 10 Tips for an Epic College Campus Visit: Plus 8 Questions to Ask During your Tour

Visiting a college or university campus is one of the best ways to get a feel for a school and one of the most exciting parts of the college search process! This interactive experience helps you decide if a particular college is right for you. We want your college visit to be the best, so we put together a list of 10 tips to make your experience epic! Here we go!

1. Take Virtual Tours First

If touring every college on your list isn’t an option, take a virtual tour instead! Check with each school’s admissions office to see if they offer live, virtual tours. Some may even include webinars, virtual panels, and video presentations. If a school on your list doesn’t offer a virtual tour, you can still get an idea of the campus vibe by checking out the school’s website. If your “dream college list” is long, taking virtual tours may help you narrow down your search and help you decide which colleges you want to visit in person.

2. Sign up for a Group Tour

All colleges and universities have admissions offices that can help you plan your visit. Most schools publish a calendar of their scheduled group tours online. If you can’t find the calendar, contact the admissions office by email or phone to schedule a visit. Sometimes, high schools offer organized campus tours. Check with your counselor to see if your high school offers tours.

3. Don’t Skip the Introduction and Information Session

Most school tours start with an introduction and information session. While it might be tempting to skip this part, we don’t recommend it! This session is typically led by an admissions representative and covers the criteria for admission, financial aid, campus history, and an overview of what to expect on the tour. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions and learn some “insider information” about the admissions process. 

4. Take the Official Campus Tour (Ask to See your Housing Options)

Campus tours typically range from 1-2 hours, and current students often lead the guided tours. While they work off a script and start by showing the most popular places on campus, they have the flexibility to show you specific areas that interest you. For example, maybe you want to major in engineering. Ask to see the engineering building! While seeing housing on your tour isn’t guaranteed, ask if you can see a room. It’s nice to get an idea of where you might be living. Your guide wants you to have the best experience possible, so the college stands out when you’re ready to fill out applications.

5. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions that aren’t answered during the tour. If you’re stuck on what to ask, here are 10 questions you can ask your tour guide. 

  1. Do all first-year students live on campus? 
  2. What’s your favorite tradition at this college/university? 
  3. How do students get around campus? 
  4. Does the school offer study abroad programs? 
  5. What kind of on-campus jobs are available? 
  6. What campus safety resources exist? 
  7. What is there to do on the weekends?
  8. What do you wish you knew about the school before you came as a first-year student? 

Don’t forget to take notes and ask your guide for their name and email so you can follow up with any additional questions.

6. Go on Your Own Unguided Vibe Check Tour

Guided tours are awesome but don’t forget about the benefits of just wandering the campus. You can revisit your favorite tour spots or check out some new locations like coffee shops, the library, or the campus store. Picture yourself as a student. How does it feel to walk on campus? Your unguided tour might be the deciding factor when it comes time to choose a college.

7. Visit Your Future Academic Department (or Wander into a Few!)

If you already know your major, find out if the department offers information sessions or allows you to sit in on a class. If you’re still deciding on a major, check out a few departments that interest you. Talk with students in the departments and find out what they like most about their major and if they have any insight they’d like to share.

8. Eat a Meal (or Two!) On and Off Campus

Food is a huge part of the campus experience. Many larger campuses offer multiple restaurants, dining facilities, and grab-and-go options. Ask students about their favorite places to eat on campus and the local favorites off campus. You’re going to eat a lot of meals. Make sure you like the options!

9. Spend Time Around Town

Do you like big cities or small towns? Check out the area that surrounds the school. Find some local coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants. Do a vibe check. You’ll spend a lot of time in the town around your college.

10. Have Fun!

Choosing a college should be fun! While it’s important the school offers the academics you need for your future career, don’t forget college is also about the experience. This new chapter should be exciting. Delight in the process and enjoy the ride!

5 Tips to Help you Choose Your High School Classes

Choosing your classes is an exciting part of the high school experience. While most high schools require you to take specific courses to graduate, you can also pick classes based on your interests, passions, and goals.

If you’re planning on attending a university or college, you’ll need to choose classes based on that school’s admissions requirements. If you’re planning on attending a trade school or getting a job right after high school, it’s better to choose classes that will help you succeed in that specific career.

Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you want to do right now. Just choose a few classes that sound interesting. You can always narrow down your interests over the next few years.
Still unsure which classes to choose? Here are five tips that will help you choose your high school classes.

1. Think about your interests and match them to a class.

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a great question to ask yourself, especially when it’s time to pick your classes. Most students take math, English, and science classes during their first few years of high school. But, many schools also offer electives to supplement those classes. Choose those classes based on your interests, curiosity, and hobbies. Do you enjoy art? Consider taking painting, drawing, or even a theater class. Do you like animals? You may enjoy an animal behavior or anatomy class. Electives balance your class schedule, giving you the opportunity to explore your interests.

2. If you’re considering college, think about taking advanced classes.

Colleges love to see that you are challenging yourself and taking harder classes. Advanced classes might include Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or dual enrollment. You can typically take these classes starting in your sophomore year. Another way to stand out to a college admissions team is to take four years of the core subjects (English, math, science, social studies, and world language). Colleges usually rate students higher when they go above and beyond the minimum high school requirements.

3. Prioritize your mental health. (You don’t have to take every hard class.)

Don’t sacrifice your mental health or extracurricular activities because you think you need to add one more tough class to your schedule. Your outside commitments, family, part-time work, and hobbies still matter. It’s better to do well in one or two AP classes than poorly in three or four. High school stress and anxiety can be difficult, so it’s important you take care of yourself first.

4. Choose a few classes that sound fun!

It’s ok to take a few classes that just sound fun! Most high schools offer lots of extracurriculars like music, creative writing, painting, woodworking, and acting. These classes allow you to take a break from your regular classes and explore unique subjects or skills. Who knows? One of these classes might even help you figure out your future career!

5. Check in with your school counselor often.

School counselors have many roles. They can pull up your transcripts and make sure you’re registered for the classes you need to graduate. Counselors help you choose classes that make sense for you and find a time in your schedule to make them work. They’re also a great resource as you explore AP courses, colleges, trade schools, and careers. Get to know your counselor and check in with them often! 

You’ve officially entered a new phase of your education. You have more control over your classes and can choose courses that fit your interests and goals. Remember to check in with your school counselor, take care of yourself, and enjoy the ride!