My Top 4 Tips for Success, Taken from the “TOP 40” Songs of the Summer
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How music can inspire you

I got 99 problems, but you won’t be one. Like what!
“Problem” by Ariana Grande (feat. Iggy Azalea)

When I-G-G-Y delivers this rap, I think of my grandmother. She taught me the importance of choosing friends wisely.

If you want to be successful in school, you have to associate yourself with other successful students. You’ve got to surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you to do you best – whether you are in the classroom, on the stage, on the field, or at the place that you volunteer. Where ever.

I challenge you to respect yourself enough to know the difference between friends who can lift you up, versus those who will hold you down.

Perhaps you are at a point in your life when you can look back and see mistakes you’ve made in the past. It’s OK to make mistakes; it’s only human to do that. But when you know better, you must do better.

Make this the year that you do better for yourself. There’s no need to hold yourself hostage to the person you were yesterday. Treat each day as an opportunity to become the person you want to be. Surround yourself with people who can increase your capacity to learn, to love, to live life to the fullest, and to give back to the community.

Listen “Problem” on Youtube

I was left to my own devices. Many days fell away with nothing to show.
“Pompeii” by Bastille

Vine is easily the most addicting social media app on the market. If left to my own devices, I could easily spend days having giggle fits over the six-second video clips. (Alx James? Hilarious. Jerome Jarre? Not as funny. But he loves filming in all of my favorite NYC neighborhoods, which, for me, is enough to make any Viner follow-worthy). I am willing to admit, however, that each and every time I binge-watch the never-ending stream of videos, I am filled with Viner’s remorse.

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with similar types of guilty pleasures: League of Legends, Clash of Clans, World of Warcraft, Snap Chat, We Chat, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and Buzzfeed Lists!

The next time you feel the urge to spend an afternoon (or entire weekend) online, I challenge you instead to spend your time participating in something more constructive – offline.

Teach your sister how to play Fur Elise on the erhu. Film a 10-minute documentary on fracking in central California. Combat cyber bullying by writing and illustrating a children’s book. Donate it to an elementary school library while you’re at it.

Or, do something completely ordinary (but still constructive): organize a holiday toy drive, host a fundraiser at Chili’s, play the piano at a senior center. (I recently started playing the piano for a senior center choir and I love it!)

Not only will you be doing good for others, you’ll be doing good for yourself.

Listen “Pompeii” on Youtube


Saturday morning jumped out of bed and put on my best suit.

“Rude” by Magic!

First impressions matter. To illustrate the point, I want to tell you the story of my younger brother’s college admissions experience.

During the fall of his senior year of high school, my brother wore a suit to each college campus he visited. On one particular visit, an admissions officer complimented him on his outfit. A few hours later, that same admissions officer approached my brother with an offer letter that included an extremely generous scholarship. (He accepted and graduated this May with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Nursing).

Take pride in how you present yourself to the world, whether you are in the middle of your high school career, or professional career.

You don’t have to wear a suit per se, but here are some of my suggestions for making yourself instantly more attractive and likeable to others:

Make your health a priority – stay physically active, eat well, and get enough sleep. Stand up for yourself – and others – when you need to. Learn how to say “please” and “thank you.” Learn how to say, “I’m sorry.” Initiate genuine conversations with people in your classes – students and teachers. Listen to what they have to say. Smile.

Listen “Rude” on Youtube

You build me up from nothing into something.
“Ten Feet Tall” by Afrojack feat. Wrabel

Everyone has someone else to thank for where they are today. I am truly grateful for the string of incredible teachers I’ve had throughout the years. I think that it is very easy to name people that you look up to. But can you name anyone that looks up to you?

I want you to assess the skills and talents that you have been gifted with, and find one person in your life with which you can share it. I challenge you to help someone build himself or herself up from nothing into something.

Perhaps you can help a third grader gain self-confidence by helping him perfect his dance technique. Maybe you can help strengthen the courage of a group of fifth graders by leading them on a night hike through the woods as a volunteer camp counselor.

Listen “Ten Feet Tall” on Youtube

By Jon-Siapno , ThinkTank Learning Admissions Consultant and Academic Counselor