Now that high school seniors are graduating, the class of 2019 is ready for college. Some are headed to Harvard, MIT and other prestigious institutions out of state. Others are staying closer to home, attending Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, among others. These graduates featured here have worked hard to achieve academic success. Here they share some advice. (In some cases, responses were edited for length)
High School: South Gwinnett High School
Extracurriculars: Vice President of Future Business Leaders of America, Co-President of National Honor Society, and National Beta Club
College: Louisiana State University
Intended Major: Infectious Disease
Advice for succeeding: One of my teachers had a quote that essentially said that talent is nothing without hard work. You have to put in the effort to use your talent to its greatest potential. Do not be discouraged. Keep putting in the work, and you will achieve wonders.
Advice for freshmen: Sometimes you may feel that all you want to do is go home, sit in bed, and stay on your phone, but my advice is to go out and try something that is outside your comfort zone. Four years seems like a long time, but it will fly by. Take these few years to gain more experiences and meet new people to hopefully broaden your view on the world.
High School: Archer High School
Extracurriculars: Spanish club, Spanish Honors Society, English Honors Society, Beta Club, AP Club
College: University of Georgia
Intended Major: Actuarial Science
Advice for succeeding: Don’t focus on being successful or reaching a goal in the future. Work hard now at whatever you do and success will come naturally in response to your efforts.
Advice for freshmen: Start building your résumé early by joining clubs and taking challenging classes. Find a balance between school, work, and family so you can put yourself in a position to succeed while enjoying life.
Extracurriculars: Hispanic Organization Promoting Education (VP of Development), Emory Math Circle, volunteering as a tutor at a Gwinnett County Public Library, National Art Honor Society
College: Georgia Institute of Technology
Intended Major: Applied Mathematics or Engineering
Advice for succeeding: Succeed in silence.
Advice for freshmen: Extend your comfort zone and be engaged.
High School: Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST)
Extracurriculars: Math Team President, Science Bowl Captain, Mu Alpha Theta President, Head Organizer of GSMST's 1st and 2nd Statewide Math Tournament, 1st Statewide Science Bowl Tournament, and Annual Students vs. Teachers Quiz Bowl, Computer Vision Intern at Flock Safety
College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Intended Major: Computer Science (focusing on Machine Learning)
Advice for succeeding: Setting success as the ultimate goal is an easy trap to fall into. What happens if you don't "succeed"? All your efforts will have been wasted. By instead working hard at what you enjoy and what you find interesting, regardless of whether you earn recognition or not, you will have succeeded in expanding your horizons and growing as a human being.
Advice for freshmen: Explore all kinds of subjects that could become your new passion, but choose a few activities that spark your curiosity and dive deeper. Stop comparing yourself to others. Their life is theirs, your life is yours, so move from beating yourself up to being a better person than who you were yesterday. Finally, after working hard, relax and have fun!
School system: Fulton County Schools
High school: Tri-Cities High School
Extracurriculars: VPA Magnet Program (Theatre), National Honor Society, National Beta Club, Student Government Association, Yearbook Club
College: University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Intended Major: Design and Production, with a concentration in Lighting Design and Technology
Advice for succeeding: My gymnastics coach, Reggie, taught me a really valuable lesson a few years ago. I was at the gym … and we were both getting frustrated with how I was performing. He pulled me aside and gave me this long lecture, during which he said, "trying is just honest failure," and it just stuck with me. It has been something that I live by nowadays because I realized that it's completely true.
Advice for freshmen: You either do or you don't. If you want something, go get it, and if you're not willing to go get it then maybe you didn't truly want it in the first place. You have to make sure you sit down and reflect on what it is that you really want in life, and whether you want to do something simply because others are doing it or you want to do something out of your own pure desire to do it. Once you figure out the motivation behind your actions, you can start more efficiently navigating your path toward success.
Extracurriculars: Golf Captain, Academic Team, STEM Club
College: New York University
Intended major: Finance
Advice for success: Find your passion. Find your why: the thing that motivates you to wake up every morning. And once you've found it, pursue it with relentless conviction and dedication.
Advice for freshmen: Freshmen, you guys have probably heard this a million times before, but prioritize getting good grades. Do not slack off. Take your academic career seriously. Your future 12th-grade self will thank you for it. And another word of advice: Don't worry if you don't have all the answers right now, if you don't yet know what you want to be or study after high school. Take it from me, you will probably change your mind a thousand times before you finally decide who you want to be once high school is over with.
Extracurricular activities: Band, Varsity Tennis player, National Honor Society, Beta Club, and National French Society.
College: The University of Georgia
Intended major: Psychology
Advice for succeeding: "Being successful isn't about being perfect; it's about effort. When you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation comes. That's how change occurs" — Jillian Michael
Advice for freshmen: Freshman year is your foundation to a great four years. Start your high school journey off the right way because you are not guaranteed a second chance. The worst place to be in school or life is behind, so always put your best foot forward.
School system: Clayton County Public Schools
High school: Elite Scholars Academy
College: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Intended major: Chemical Engineering
Extracurriculars: Founder of Student Leaders Club at Clayton State University; National Honor Society; Science National Honor Society; Math Honor Society; Calculus and Chemistry Tutor at Clayton State University.
Advice for succeeding: You are not required to be the best at anything to lead a successful life, so focus on getting involved in things that interest and excite you. Always strive to do your best and accomplish things not for any sense of others' approval but for your own benefit and personal satisfaction.
Advice for freshmen: It's never too early to start picking out a dream school. Start planning now, and ensure you're on track to meet the entry requirements of a couple of universities that you'd like to attend. Participate in activities and events that align with your interests, and remember to make some friends along the way.
School system: Fulton County
High School: Alpharetta
College: (Hopefully, she said) Brigham Young University
Intended major: Molecular Biology
Extracurriculars: 2017: FBLA state qualifier/ region winner (Intro to Business Communications); 2018: FBLA state qualifier/ region winner (Management and Decision making); 2018: Georgia Certificate of Merit; 2015: Selected to represent French 2H class at annual Fulton Forum language competition; 2015: National laureate for The National French Contest, ranking 10th in the state receiving silver medal and 12th in the nation; AHS women's varsity lacrosse team.
Advice for succeeding: The best advice I've been given about succeeding is to always do the best you can and push through. You never want to look back with regret or thinking you "could have" done more, so give it all you've got.
Advice for freshmen: I would tell freshman to focus on the present. Don't be so hyper-focused on where you'll be in 4 years that you're super stressed out all the time and aren't enjoying your life now. Do what you're interested and do your best in all you do, so you can be comfortable knowing you've done your best.
School system: Fulton County
College: University Of Georgia
Intended major: Sports Medicine Minor: Pre-Med
Extracurriculars: Varsity football, varsity track & field, governor honors, FCA(Fellowship Of Christian Athletes), project destined(real estate development program), National Society of High School Scholars, and urban League of Greater Atlanta
Advice for succeeding: Exceed all expectations. As a wise man once said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."
Advice for freshmen: Build your foundation because freshman year is the most critical time in your high school career.
School system: Fulton County
College: Davidson College or Vanderbilt University
Intended major: Neuroscience and Psychology
Extracurriculars: Past Candidate and Current Board Member on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS), Emory Winship Cancer Institute's Summer Scholars Research Program, National Merit Finalist, piano for 10 years, customer service rep at Scottsdale Farms
Advice for succeeding: "Your greatest fear should not be failure but succeeding at things in life that don't really matter. " — Francis Chan
Advice for freshmen: Do your best and know that your best is enough. Find your balance with school and friendships.
High school: Langston Hughes
College: Hampton University
Intended major: Computer Science and Information
Extracurriculars: Spivey Hall Children's Choir; Marching & Concert Band; National Honors Society; Tennis; Future Business Leaders of America.
Advice for succeeding: The best advice I got about succeeding was to be true to yourself and to never conform to what other people wanted you to be. That people and their opinions are going to come and go but you have to live with how you see and feel about yourself forever, so don't waste all your time trying to please others.
Advice for freshmen: I would tell a freshman not to overload themselves. That they need to pace themselves and not try to do everything at once. Be great at what you are good at, don't try to be the best at everything. Perfection is unattainable.
High school: Milton
College: University of Notre Dame
Intended major: Mathematics
Extracurriculars: National Honor's Society President; Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society) Vice President (11th), President (12th); Parish School of Religion Teen Aide; All State Orchestra; Beethoven Chamber Orchestra, Principal Bassist; Instructor at Mathnasium.
Advice for succeeding: My dad always taught me that being successful means knowing that there will never be a point where you will stop learning and growing. He also taught be that being successful comes from doing what you love.
Advice for freshmen: My advice to freshmen would be don't sweat the small stuff. Also, always challenge yourself but make sure you're still having fun! Another piece of advice that my dad always tells me is that happiness is a choice.
High school: North Springs
College: Georgia Tech
Intended major: Computer Science with a minor in Business
Extracurriculars: Future Business Leaders of America; UNICEF; Mathnasium Lead Instructor; Yearbook Editor; Young Life Leader; Science Olympiad
Advice for succeeding: Nothing is going to be simply handed to you. You have to earn it. You have to put in the work in order to get results, but in the end, that hard work will pay off.
Advice for freshmen: Time management is the key to success. It may be difficult at first, but staying organized and maintaining an accurate and detailed agenda, calendar, and notes will help you manage school, work, extracurriculars, and any other aspects of your life.
High school: Riverwood
College: Georgia Tech
Intended major: Chemical Engineering
Extracurriculars: National Honor Society; Black Belt in Taekwondo; Thespian; Beta Club; Chemistry Club; Science National Honor Society
Advice for succeeding: Act so future you doesn't hate present you. Short-term gratification is a big vice for me, as I'm sure it is for many teenagers, but I just do the best I can to make sure the Michelle of tomorrow isn't screwed.
Advice for freshmen: Keep your head down and your chin up. You're going to have to jump through a lot of hoops in the next four years, but you'll change and learn a lot. Don't burn yourself out too early and try to have as much fun as you can along the way.
High school: Centennial
Intended major: Foundation Fellowship to study intersection of child development, language acquisition and education methodology
Extracurriculars: President of Roswell-Alpharetta's National Charity League chapter; CHS Thespian Troupe; National Spanish Honor Society. Proudest of the tutoring and mentorship program she has established for elementary school ESOL students, as she moved from Quebec at the age of 5 not speaking a word of English herself.
Advice for succeeding: As a sophomore, I read a book about overachiever culture that encouraged me not to waste time doing things I didn't enjoy just for the sake of success. I think that was a really important realization for me: just because I had the potential to be good at something, it didn't mean I needed to devote energy to it if it left me unfulfilled. To me, success now means more than just achievement. This helped me in deciding future career paths, as well! I realized that our time is short and I want to spend it on extracurriculars, classes, majors, and careers that I love.
Advice for freshmen: Don't be afraid to be "extra." Dress up for all the spirit days without caring if other people do. Do that extra-credit assignment if you want, even if you didn't truly need it. Work hard, even if it's not cool. Go to Homecoming and don't be afraid to do your crazy dance moves. Be friends with everyone. Ask lots of questions in class. Join every club you want. High school flies by — it's too short not to do the things you love and be unabashedly yourself, even if that means breaking the norm!
High school: Chattahoochee
College: Brown University
Intended major: Biology or Economics
Extracurriculars: Quiz Bowl; Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony; wind ensemble; All State band; Beta Club; vice president and webmaster of the Science National Honor Society; National Honor Society.
Advice given for succeeding: If you commit to doing what you love, the material reward will come in time.
Advice for freshmen: I would tell freshmen to try anything they think they might be interested in (however strange it may seem) during their first couple years in high school. However, once they find the few activities they are passionate about, they should prioritize and devote their time to them. I believe putting your effort into the things you are truly passionate about will pay off much more in the long run compared to doing what you think you are supposed to do or pressured to do by others.
Tyer Beirfreund (valedictorian)
High school: Johns Creek
College: Georgia Tech
Intended major: Electrical Engineering
Extracurriculars: National Merit finalist; Latin; Orchestra.
Advice for succeeding: Success is all about capitalizing on opportunities. Prepare yourself as well as you can for those opportunities and you will be successful.
Advice for freshmen: High school is a time to explore. Find what you love and do as much of it as you can.