The New Year is a great time to reflect on the changes we want to or need to make. If you’re a student looking at ways to improve yourself and make the transition to college easier, International College Counselors offers a few more resolutions you might want to add to your list.
1. Stop procrastinating. How often have you underestimated how much time it will take to get something done? Then, how sad are you when you don’t have the time to do your best. At some point, the procrastinator has to write four college essays in one night – on top of completing schoolwork. Usually, this doesn’t turn out so well. If you finish a project earlier than you thought you would, then consider yourself ahead.
2. Commit yourself to getting good grades. Good grades are entirely necessary to get into a good school unless you’re a top notch athlete. The best case scenario is that you have good grades from the beginning. However, if you start off badly and improve your grades, colleges will give you points for this. Many admissions officers won’t look at your application if your grades are too low or show a steady decline. Spending a night studying while your friends play Wii may not excite you, but you need to look at this long-term. Think of it this way, grades are a bridge. They will serve you to get into a college where you will have more freedom. In college, grades may not be as important as in high school.
3. Don’t do it all. It’s better to concentrate on a few things and excel in them than if you join every sport, activity and club that you can cram into your schedule. Anyone can join 10 clubs and be marginally involved in them all. Schools are looking for commitment that shows you’re willing to stick with something and make the most of it.
4. Keep a calendar. Deadlines creep up quickly. And the closer the date, the more you’ll feel the pressure. Most students don’t do their best under pressure. And colleges, scholarships, federal aid, and standardized testing services are not going to be sympathetic to any excuses you have about missing a deadline. If you miss a deadline, you miss an opportunity.
5. Take standardized tests early. You won’t know how high you can score until you take the test. Wait too long and you won’t have enough time to retake it. And many things can affect your test score on any given day, including the state of your health, and you can’t plan not to get the flu or food poisoning. Taking the test early will also allow time to take a test prep course if necessary.
6. Do your research. Know what the choices are when it comes to colleges. This way you can avoid any coulda, shoulda, woulda regrets later in life. Research could be as simple as visiting a school’s website.
7. Try something new. High school is a great time to spread your wings. It’s about new experiences and self-discovery. Want a certain internship, there’s no harm in calling up and asking if they have any room for an eager high school student to work there. Want to try a new sport or activity, go ahead and try it. You’re not expected to leave high school knowing exactly what you want to do, but this is a chance to start narrowing down your interests. You’ll never know what you like – or how good you are at something – until you try something.
8. Be excited about going to college. Wherever you go to college, you’re going to meet new people, learn new things, and have a great time. That’s reason enough to be excited whether you end up attending a first choice school or a safety.
9. Do what your college counselor tells you. Students: We at International College Counselors are here to get you what you want out of life.
10. Banish the self-doubt. Doubting your own abilities only holds you back from achieving what you want to achieve. Just say no to these thoughts and others like them:
“I can’t do this.”
“I’m not as smart as my classmates.”
“I’ll never get better than a 2.7 grade-point average.”
“I’ll only get into a community college anyway”
“There’s no point in thinking I’ll get into my first choice college.”
While students might feel like they are returning to the same old grind after a fun and relaxing break, January is a time for new beginnings. The New Year presents an opportunity for students to evaluate themselves in light of their goals. Below are some great practices for students at any level to keep themselves performing at their highest level.
Put Grades First
If grades are your admissions officers’ first priority (they are), then they should be yours, too. Make sure you prioritize your academic performance.
For most students, this means midterms or finals at the end of January. Take these tests seriously – they often have a huge impact on your final grade. When your teacher tells you what will be tested, give the list a quick run-through and identify the gaps in your knowledge. Start your studying there, and use any resources you have at your disposal. Whether it’s organizing a study group, going after school to meet with a teacher, or meeting with a tutor, do not be afraid to ask for help.
Manage Your Time Better, and Sleep More
These two go hand-in-hand. High school students are busier now than ever, and there are only so many hours per day. Sadly, the first thing to be sacrificed during busy periods is usually sleep. This feeds a vicious cycle: a student stays up late to get work done, and then has less energy and focus the next day. The next day, the student’s work takes longer to get done due to tiredness, and the student has to stay up late again. This continues until maybe the student catches up on sleep over the weekend – if they’re lucky.
So how can you avoid this? Good time management. Set realistic deadlines for yourself, set aside specific times to work (with your phone away on “do not disturb”), and give yourself a bedtime. And remember – it’s totally okay to ask for your parents’ help to keep you on track. Some caring reminders from mom or dad can go a long way to keeping you on track, especially if they were your idea in the first place!
Follow Your Passions – Especially in Extracurriculars
This one may sound cheesy, but it is good advice both for your own happiness and for college admissions.
Colleges do not want to see a student who dips their toes in everything, or is a member of every club and team. They want a student who has authentic passions and pursues them to the max. It is better for both your own well-being and your college application for you to give 100% only to the things you love than to give 5% to twenty different activities when you only truly care about a few of them.
Know Your College Prep Timeline and Evaluate Your Goals
While there is no one-size-fits-all timeline for when students should accomplish the various tasks necessary to apply to college, every student should have an idea of their short- and long-term goals.
Examples of short-term goals might include: get an A on my next Math test; achieve my goal score on the February ACT; help my club fund raise for a charity event this weekend.
Examples of long-term goals might include: improve my GPA to X; perform my very best on the SAT or ACT; become president of X club.
You can see from these examples how short- and long-term goals play into one another. If you want to raise your GPA, then in the short term you should work towards each A individually. If you want to become president of a club you care about one day, then you should work to put in the best effort you can to help the club achieve its goals.
January is a great time to take a step back and think about your goals, no matter where you are in high school. Start big – where do you want to go to college, and what will it take to get there? If you don’t know where specifically you want to go, think about different tiers of schools. Once you have an idea of the grades and scores it will take to get there, set short-term goals to help you reach those big objectives.
If at any point you need help deciphering a timeline or locking in on specific goals for yourself, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (267) 888-6489.
Believe in Yourself
January is a time for hope. Be optimistic and confident that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself. Be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve and the work required, and you will be in a great position to achieve your goals.
Happy New Year from Ivy Experience!