Enduring high school: your specialized survival guide with Melissa Baldino


Justine Zitman

Melissa Baldino is currently enrolled at Duke University in North Carolina.

Margaret Hynes, Writer

Are you a muddled freshman, steadily becoming immune to rigorous high school courses or still trying to figure out where that one room in the corner of the upstairs hallway is? Or are you a perplexed sophomore, finally learning the ropes yet still trying to cling to the tethered cords? How about a frazzled junior or a senioritis-stricken senior? If you are any of these, a recent OHS graduate’s high school survival guide may benefit you.

“My favorite TV shows are definitely Bones, The Flash, and Jane the Virgin,” says Melissa Baldino, graduate of the Class of 2016. “Here’s a ProTip – Do not watch Netflix during the school week. It’s not easy to stop watching once you start.”

Melissa, when she attended OHS, was a versatile and scholastically inclined student (and still is!). From Chemistry Club, Study Buddies, and Spanish Club to OHS Marching Band and Track & Field, Baldino made sure to involve herself in the school’s academic atmosphere.

“Everyone should join track (the throwing team is the best sports team). Outside of school, I volunteered with CMA and Tampa Bay Watch, both of which I would recommend. It never really seems like work when you are surrounded by the ocean and the incredible people trying to protect it,” says Baldino.

As the originator of Study Buddies, an expert operative in the food service industry at her parents’ restaurant, the original discus team “Mom,” and an active student at Duke University in North Carolina, Baldino knows more than her fair share about schooling, extracurricular activities, and work ethic.

“Duke became my dream school as soon as I stepped on campus for the first tour two summers ago. I picked it in the long run for the flexible academics, research opportunities, and the fact that the administration works very hard to make everyone feel special and have their own college experience,” explains Baldino. “The community and school spirit are incredibly prevalent on and off campus.”

Baldino also knows more than her fair share about Osceola High School.

“Osceola can be a great place to explore different aspects of your education and many subjects at higher levels, if you know how to plan out your schedule. I would push any student to try and take advantage of the classes and tutoring that Osceola offers (to their level of comfort). Don’t be afraid to try some out (especially track; everyone should join track).”

Melissa shared her top advice for students currently enrolled in OHS:

  1. “My advice to seniors applying to colleges right now – Do not, under any circumstances, apply to more than 15 schools. I did, with a favorable outcome, but it definitely caused some unnecessary stress during my senior year. Also, you are going to have denials and acceptances. Don’t take the denials too harshly. Some colleges have a lot of applicants and they aren’t looking for someone as incredible as you to be a part of their freshman class of 2021. There will be other colleges that love you or really want you to go to their school, so it will all work out. No matter if you are going to college or not, try not to rush your senior year. It will be as incredible as you want it to be, so don’t make it a sprint to the finish line.”
  2. “My advice to seniors coming into college is not to overload yourself. It is really easy to get over-excited and get into too many clubs and classes. Use this time to explore what you think you like or you want to try, but you should try and pick a few clubs and a reasonable number of credit hours to stick with. “Add drop” is a beautiful thing during your first few weeks at school. My other advice would be to pursue your passions. Even if you don’t major in what you really love, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to do what you love, though studying it as a minor or through clubs and organizations.”
  3. “Try and sleep a regular amount of hours consistently. It’s crazy how sleep can affect you.”
  4. “School-wise, if you are struggling with a hard class, there are so many online resources you can use to help you study (Crash Course and Khan Academy saved my life in my AP classes).”
  5. “If you are dealing with a hard teacher, ask them questions after class or over email. If they aren’t specific on their assignments, ask them to be clearer. If you get a bad grade on an essay, ask them how you can get better. If you show a real interest in getting better at whatever subject you have the hard teacher in, they will appreciate that and help you at least a little bit.”


Overall, Baldino suggests high school students take their four years slow and steady, and know that “when you love what you do, you do it well.”