As the summer winds down and the reality of the school year begins to set in, here's a few things to remember as you begin the next adventure!

1. All You Can Do is Your Best

Every year it seems that the pressure put on students by both adults and themselves only increases, especially as you get older. Everything is about the resume and getting great grades to get into your top school. You have to be that well-rounded student colleges are looking for. Ace the tests, make the honor role and the National Honor Society, and spend hours preparing for the SATs. Then what happens in college? You have to be the person employers are looking for, make the dean's list, be involved. All this being said, ALL YOU CAN DO IS YOUR BEST! One bad grade isn't the end of the world. A report card short of straight A's isn't going to throw the course of your world off. My mom always says, as long as you did your best, that's all you can do.

2. Don't Compare

I did a lot of it the past two years of college, so I can personally attest to how bad this is. My self-confidence plummeted and I got in my head. So remind yourself that its not a race its a marathon and that slow and steady wins the race. If someone gets something in two tries and it takes you five, who cares! You still got it. Don't focus on the grade the person next to you got or how easy it seems that they can do things. Do what works for you, not what works for someone else.

3. Try Something New

Every year is a chance to try something new! Join a club or organization that you've been interested in or challenge yourself to learn a new skill. You'll learn new information or a new talent and meet people that you might not have otherwise gotten the chance to!

4. Smile

I am very much a believer that it is the small things that make the biggest difference. So "Say cheese!" and smile! Not only does it make you happy but it makes others around you happy as well! You never know what someone is going through, so take the time to smile to someone in passing on campus or in the halls.

5. Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover

There are so many ways to apply this to the new year. Maybe you're starting at a new school, or there is anew student in your class. I know its hard to do, but try to not make judgements about someone before you get to know them. You never know why someone is they way they are, why they talk or dress a certain way or believe what they do. As far as you know, that kid standing in the corner with the purple polka-dot sweater could turn out to be your best friend. Its also important to remember that some people might look like they have it all together, but you never know what they're going through or struggling with.

6. Take Time For You

Society today is one that is constantly going. We finish one thing and move right onto the next without stopping to take a break. We aren't aware of the world around us, not present where we are. Taking time for yourself is always important, especially during the school year. I know its hard to do but you really really really should try. Its very easy to get bogged down with homework, studying, work and other commitments that our schedules are wake up, eat, work and go back to bed. Take a break separate from all the stress and read a book, watch a movie, take a walk or go on a run, go grab food with a friend, call home or listen to music. Even if its just for a few minutes, it will make all the difference.

7. Have Fun

The school year tends to be the polar opposite of summer. Summer time is a time of vacation, laughter and lots of fun! At least when I think of school, I think of hard work and studying and a schedule. But why not have fun during the school year! What good is it to spend the next ten months serious and studying? Hopefully you're able to make time to do something fun, but if not, use the trying something new experience or the time you take for yourself to do a fun activity or do something that will make you laugh!

8. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If I've learned anything this past year, its to take advantage of the resources that area available to you. If a teacher has office hours-use them... ask questions, clarify points or topics and go over tests. Not only is this beneficial to you, but it shows your commitment and determination to doing well in the class. But asking for help doesn't just apply to the academic aspect of the school year. School is stressful. I don't know anyone that would argue in disagreement. There are so many options when the stress becomes a lot-taking to family, friends or any other resources and people that are available to you on campus or back home. And its not just stress, but any other thing that is on your mind. Just ask!!

9. Manage Your Time

I'll be the first to admit I do NOT manage my time well. No matter how many lists and day organizers I have, stuff always seems to get done much closer to the due date than I had hoped. ( I have a lot of organizers by the way-my planner, a wall calendar and sticky notes galore) If you are able to plan out your time, it will eliminate a little bit of stress and open up time to allow you to take time for yourself and to try something new!

10. Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Give yourself credit! School and work are a lot on top of everything else going on in life. Balancing it all can make you feel like the circus clown trying to juggle bowling pins on top of the giant red ball. But you've survived another day and are doing a great job! Don't sweat the small stuff, smile and do your best and you're all set.