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!

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.

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!

Ways to Avoid Summer Brain Drain

Summer is meant to recharge and unwind, obviously. But we have to keep it real, you run the risk of catching what we call the “Summer Brain Drain” by not exercising your mind while you’re out of school. Keep reading to see how many items you’ve accomplished this summer.

Dive into a good book

You probably already know, reading is one of the best ways for you to keep your brain sharp. During the school year, reading is part of your daily to-do list, but in summer – it’s easy to forget – we get it. Just be mindful to schedule some time before bed or first thing in the morning to read (even if it’s just 10 minutes at a time).

Go to summer camp

Summer camps are an awesome way to stay interactive with your peers, make new friends, learn some new skills, and keep you from being bored! Consider volunteering or becoming a camp counselor as a resume booster!

Stay moving!

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Make it fun and find some friends to hike or kayak with. Note to self: walking is good for the soul.

Schedule a weekly game night

Board games designed to help you sharpen your problem solving skills, discover patterns, and reach goals. They also help to prevent you from feeling foggy when coming back to school in the fall.

Take a break from technology

Reset and spend time making connections with family and friends without a screen in front of your face. You can set limits on your phone for screen time and monitor it in your settings. 

Practice journaling

Literally about anything. What made you happy that day, a cool thing you learned, a letter to your future self. Have something good? Share it with us on IG! @encourage_app

Visit museums

So much to learn. And an ideal instagram-worthy moment.

Go on tours

Ever wonder how orange juice is made? There’s a tour for that. Whether it’s an orange juice factory or a glassblowing studio, take advantage! They’re typically very affordable and can offer a perspective on how things are made!

States and national parks

Hiking, chilling, photography – whatever! You can hit up your local parks to experience a mind-soothing outdoor sesh.  Don’t forget comfy shoes, water and a buddy!

Go camping

Ah, nature. Learn to start a fire or pitch a tent and connect with family and friends. Don’t forget your bug spray!

Plant a garden

By planting a garden, you have the chance to learn about nutrition and general green thumb lifehacks. Your future plant-parent self will thank you.

Make a bucket list 

Create a photo journal of your activities with a polaroid cameras and make a scrapbook of all your adventures!

5 Reasons You Should Download the Encourage App

So many things to do and SO little time. Trying to balance planning for the future and living in the present? We found a way to optimize an interactive, low-stress tool to make sure you’re covered for life after high school. We’re more than your average college planning app.  

Keep reading to learn more about why you should be sprinting to your app store after reading. 

We celebrate each step of your journey with milestones

The journey takes a lot of planning and a lot of steps, and this can seem really overwhelming. We’re ready to bake a cake and celebrate each step you achieve when planning for college; do you like chocolate or vanilla?

Match with colleges directly

You’ll create a profile and list preferences about cost, lifestyle, majors, and more to customize your college matches. Find the school that makes sense for you while you’re chasing your dreams. You’ll have the option to save schools that pique your interest and get to know them more.

Match with scholarships

No joke, college is expensive. Answer simple questions about your preferences, priorities about affordability, and other interests, and we’ll match you to your best-fit scholarship opportunities.

It’s basically a to-do list laid out for you! The guesswork is over.

Half of the battle is simply wondering what you need to do to make it work. Thankfully, we’ve designed your to do list for you depending on preferences and goals. Sounds like a win to us.

We’ve got the experience to make a difference

Long story short, we’ve got over 100 combined years of research experience to build a unique app experience that high school students love to use when planning for college. For the past 50 years, we have been evolving the way we do things by listening to the student experience and implementing changes as needed. In a nutshell, you can trust us to guide you in the right direction when painting a picture of your future!

Intrigued? We can’t blame you. Download the app below and take flight! We’ll be on standby with your cake.

4 Reasons Why Volunteering is Good for You

While hectic schedules, classes, jobs, and extracurriculars might make it hard to find time to volunteer, there are plenty of advantages to offering your time, energy, and talents to service work. Here are a few reasons to do good and feel good:

1. Give Back to the Community & Make an Impact 

You don’t have to go far to make an impact. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in your community. Not sure of where to start? Check out the local animal shelters, food pantries, libraries, art museums, retirement homes, and hospitals. Choose a place that interests you, and go for it! There’s always room for helping hands. 

2. Gain Valuable Experience 

Volunteering helps you build valuable skills that will help you as you prepare for college and your future career. Public speaking, project management, and teamwork are skills you’ll use throughout your life. Volunteering requires passion and positivity, so when you include it on your college applications or resume, you give colleges and potential employers a glimpse into a more personal side of you.

3. Meet New People 

Whether you volunteer at an animal shelter or help at a food bank, you’ll find people who share your interests and values—and want to help others too! When you volunteer, you’ll make new friends, network, and expand your support system.

4. Improve Your Health 

Researchers have found that helping others brings us great joy. Volunteering gives you a greater sense of meaning and purpose and can even lower your stress and anxiety. You’ll build your self-esteem and develop more self-confidence. It may even improve the mental health of people who suffer from addiction and various mental illnesses. 

Before you choose a volunteer position, ask about time commitments, training, and the volunteer team. If one opportunity doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to explore other options. There are plenty of people and organizations that need your help! Volunteering is a fun and rewarding way to help your community and be part of something bigger than yourself.

7 Ways Your Counselor Can Help

Your school counselor is one of the most helpful resources you and your family have during your high school years. They provide support and help you plan and succeed in your future, even beyond academics. While it’s normal to feel nervous about meeting your school counselor for the first time, don’t let that stop you. Start visiting your high school counselor early, get to know them, and visit them often. They are there to help! 

Still not sure if you need to meet with your high school counselor? Here are seven reasons why you should make time in your schedule to have a chat.

1. They help you choose courses you’ll love and ones that will fulfill graduation requirements.

Have questions about class schedules, transcripts, graduation status, college, or just about anything? Your counselor has your back. They can help you balance your schedule and align you with challenging coursework and electives that match your goals. They also make sure you check off all your graduation requirements on time.

2. They help you talk through the tough stuff.

Sometimes stress goes beyond the books, and it looks different for everyone. It can come from challenges at home, trouble with interpersonal relationships, or it might come from a mental health funk. If you’re struggling, your counselor is certified and trained to guide you through managing emotions, relationships, and hardships.

3. They help you strike a balance.

You’ve got a lot going on, and we commend you for all the awesome things you’re doing! Maintaining a balance with schoolwork, meetings, sports, part-time work, volunteering, and social commitments is hard! Your counselor can help you work out a healthy balance so you don’t burn out.

4. They help you plan for your future.

Your school counselor isn’t just for college-bound students. They know everyone takes different paths after high school. Want to join the military? They likely have contact information for a recruiter. Need a job right after high school? They can help you build your resume. Want to attend college or trade school? They can help get you there!

5. They’ll provide an awesome reference.

It’s always nice to have someone vouch for your excellence. School counselors write recommendation letters for college and can be a reference for a job interview. A school counselor is an adult in your corner who can attest to your character, work ethic, and grades

6. They help you make big decisions.

You have a lot of huge decisions to make in high school. While the final decisions are always in your hands, your counselor can walk you through decision-making tips so you can feel confident in making informed decisions.

7. They encourage you!

Most importantly, your school counselor is your biggest fan and cheerleader. It takes some patience, kindness, and a whole lot of love to be a counselor. They’ll empathize with you in difficult times and clap for you when you win.

The more effort you put into something, the more you will get out. Your school counselor has so much to offer. Just let them know what you need. As you build a relationship with your school counselor, don’t forget to thank them for all their help and hard work.

High School Juniors: Questions You Should Be Asking Your Counselor

If you didn’t already know, your junior year is your time to shine! It can be stressful, overwhelming, and scary all at once. Thankfully, your school counselor is available to help put your mind at ease by guiding you through the process and help you overcome some of these challenges. Not sure where to begin? Start by making an appointment and consider these questions when working with them.

1. Am I on track to graduate?

This should be the first question you ask every time you see your counselor. Why? Well, it’s kind of the whole point. Prior to making an entire gameplan about college planning and test prep, make sure you’re on track for graduation. You counselor is the one person with the access to transcripts and schedule to remind you where you stand.

2. Which electives do you recommend for me?

As a high school junior, your studies are KEY for success. This time next year, you’ll be swimming in college applications, final classes, and creating memories with your peers as a senior. For that reason, consider taking your challenging classes this year. Your counselor can evaluate your GPA and course load from transcripts and help create a balanced, yet challenging schedule.

3. How should I study for the SAT/ACT?

Junior year is the year to prep and sign up for the ACT or SAT. (Sometimes, both!) Your counselor likely has some test materials with strategies to help you practice. Don’t be afraid to ask about free resources as well, like how to take the test for free with fee waivers. The ACT and SAT have some free materials as well like Khan Academy and test prep centers.

4. Should I be attending college planning sessions or college fairs? If so, where?

You high school likely has college fairs or college planning events for you to attend – score! These are SUPER beneficial to get you started on your journey without making you feel overwhelmed. The more prep you do now, the smoother your senior year experience will seem. Don’t forget to find your best outfit to join in!

5. What if I don’t feel like college is right for me? Do I have options?

Success isn’t one-size fits all! If a four-year college program doesn’t feel right for you, then be sure to ask about other options. Some other options include community college, certificate programs, trade schools, gap years, going straight to work, and more! Remember: do what’s best for YOU.

Asking these questions as a high school junior will not only impress your counselor but will also help set you up for a productive, rewarding school year. Don’t forget to stop by and thank your counselor with a fist bump and maybe some of their favorite iced coffee next time you pass the front office for all their hard work and care!