Two students working together.

You’re already heading back to school and stressing about what classes to take and what internships to be a part of. You may be planning out your next few years or headed into the last part of your high school career. It’s important to take some time now to think about how you want to make the most of this time, and what you can do to better prepare in the application process. Think about what might be important to you in the future. What sorts of high school programs might you want to participate in? What are your passions? Are you looking to learn something new? Now is the perfect time to start exploring programs offered to students outside of your high school.

The first step is to make your plan. You’ve already started working on your academics and might think about participation in extracurricular activities at your school. Time management is key. Knowing when you have time to work, study, and pursue your interests will help you be consistent. When you know you’re able to spend time doing what you want, you’ll be able to focus on what interests you. Time management will also help you make sure you find a good balance between your academics and extracurriculars. Remember, while it’s good to pursue your interests, you don’t need to do everything to stand out. And, doing what interests you can help not only shape your talents but to give you the experience to talk about it, too.

And, this also might look different depending on what year you’re in. Someone starting as a first year student in high school would be in a different place than a senior. Make sure you take into account where you currently are, and to be patient as to what might be available to you.

A student working on a laptop.

So, you’ve set aside time and know how many hours you have to dedicate outside of school, home, or work. What now? Well, you’ll need to start looking at what interests you, and what might help you discover what you’d like to do. This means taking the time to research available opportunities. You could start by searching for high school programs in your area of interest. Maybe even research topics that might be similar to what you like to study. Know that for a lot of students, the academic year might prove a challenge to find programs that fit into your schedule. However, don’t be discouraged, as they’re out there. And even if you don’t find one, there are certainly plenty of summer high school programs. 

Where do you start? A lot of universities have dedicated offices to high school programs, as well as websites. You’ll find at New York University there are 100+ programs for students to participate. Programs take place in both the academic year and in the summer. And, depending on what type of high school program you want, may be completely free or offered at a specific price. 

79 Washington Square East on West 4th Street, the Paulette Goddard Residence Hall
79 Washington Square East on West 4th Street, the Paulette Goddard Residence Hall

Some students specifically look at college preparatory programs. Or, high school programs that help them navigate the college process. These programs encourage students to think more deeply about how they are applying to college. They also speak to the necessary skills of college students. ASPIRE and NYU CALI are such programs. You may want to take some time familiarizing yourself with the program websites to know more about the application process. In this way you can track deadlines, see the program requirements, and know what a student can expect. 

Also, students are hungry for programs that take place during the academic year. Checking the calendar of when high school programs are offered is important. At NYU, dozens of programs take place during the academic year. In particular, students might want to check out Weekend Workshops offered by our School of Professional studies. Or, our online Tisch High School Programs. Whether you’re looking for non-credit seminars or to earn college credits, NYU has choices for you. As you’re working through high school classes, you could also be in a program with students from around the world. It’s all about making the right plan. 

Finally, even if it is the start of the school year, it’s never too early to start preparing for the summer. High school programs abound at NYU in the summertime. We over 60+ programs for students in a range of subjects. From our Precollege Program to Career Edge to our STEM based Tandon offerings, students have an overwhelming amount of choices. That’s why it’s so important to take your time and figure out what is important for you. A proper plan will help you determine what is the best fit.

Students looks out the window while sitting in a lounge at NYU Shanghai

And no matter what you choose, it’s about highlighting who you are and what matters to you. Whether that’s showing your courage to explore new passions and interests, or diving deep into something you’ve always been a part of. The best made college plans are those that leave a student the most fulfilled. But that means taking time to set aside what’s important to you, and asking the hard questions. Only then will you find the right high school program for you.

Andrew LaVenia is Associate Director of Operations for University Programs. When he’s not introducing middle and high school students to summer programs at NYU, he’s writing short stories or on the field as a part of the NYC Ramblers, the country’s oldest LGBTQ soccer league. He earned his BA in Psychology from Boston College and completed an MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at NYU.