Happy 2017! I hope you had a wonderful week or two off from school. I hope you caught your breath, saw some friends, and even took a trip to somewhere sunny (it’s been so gray here in NYC!).
And I REALLY hope you took a moment to recoup your energy, because now’s the time to get going again. To help you figure out how to use that energy, I took it upon myself to write you a very short list of New Year’s resolutions with a specific aim: to get you into your dream school! So, whether you’re a senior, junior, sophomore or freshman—or a parent of one of the above—I’ve got you covered.
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors
1) I will not be a head case if I get deferred from my early decision school.
Please repeat after me: deferred does not mean rejected. If your dream school wanted to reject you, they would have rejected you. They just opted to wait until regular decision to see who else applied before making any commitments.
Complete the rest of your applications. You can still check in, keep the college’s admissions office abreast of any new test scores or accomplishments—and you might be accepted after all. I know PLENTY of students who ended up at Stanford, Brown, and other great schools after being deferred early decision.
2) I will wrap up any outstanding college applications.
If you’re not sure already where you'll be starting school in the fall, do NOT procrastinate on this one! If there are any applications you haven’t completed, even if the due date seems ages away, take care of them now. Do NOT wait until the deadline. Edit, proofread, get second opinions, put your personality out there, and submit them early!
3) I will keep up my grades and not succumb to senioritis.
Got into your first choice and now think you can phone it in for the next semester? Think again! I’ve known plenty of students who had their offers rescinded when their grades plummeted senior year.
4) I will make the most out of the rest of senior year.
Make sure to use your last semester to spend time with your friends, with your family, and doing the activities you love in your home town—especially if you’ll be moving in only a few months!
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Juniors
1) I will create a preliminary college list if I haven’t already.
Without this piece of the puzzle, you won’t know if you need to take the Writing/Essay component of the ACT or SAT, if you need to take SAT II Subject Tests or not, if your schools Super Score or allow Score Choice—or if you don’t need to take anything at all! So get that list together. It's the first step in any solid college-application game plan.
2) I will take my first attempt at the SAT (or ACT) no later than March (or April).
You should be in full force prep mode in January and February. Don’t wait. If you need to schedule follow-up test dates, you’ll be glad you didn’t.
3) If necessary, I will be prepared for SAT II Subject Tests in May and June.
Allow yourself 2-3 months to prep for these.
4) I will have the first draft of my Common Application essay done by Labor Day.
Use the summer to get ahead! Even better? Have your Common App finished by Labor Day, and then you can spend the fall finishing your supplemental essays.
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Sophomores
1) I will work twice as hard in school as I did last year.
Most people fall majorly behind during their sophomore years. But not you! Double down and get ahead of the curve. It'll set you up for success in the challenges to come.
2) I will take the time to find the activities that light me up.
Haven’t found your “thing” yet? Sophomore year is perfect for trying new hobbies and extracurriculars until you find the ones that get you hooked. Then drop the ones you’re not passionate about to create more space for the ones you love.
3) I will read at least 1 free-time book per month.
I mean personal reading, so this is in addition to anything you’re reading for school. Bonus points? Alternate between fiction and non-fiction so you’re well-versed for the ACT and SAT Reading sections!
4) I will try to do arithmetic by myself before I pull out my calculator.
At least attempt to calculate the tip at the restaurant yourself before grabbing your smartphone calculator. Bonus points for mental math—it's impressive, seriously. (Not to mention a big help when big tests roll around.)
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Freshmen
1) I will sign up for the most challenging classes that interest me.
I’d rather you struggle at something challenging and finally realize you can do it than opt for the easy classes where you can guarantee yourself an A. And so would colleges.
2) I will try new extracurricular activities, even if I suck at them.
Freshman year is all about spreading your wings and finding out what you like. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you hate an activity, great! Move on to the next thing. You’re now closer to figuring out what you love.
3) In fact, I will make myself try one new thing each week.
This can be as small as trying out Korean cuisine or as big as attempting to learn Gaelic. Just get used to trying, even if you fail.
4) I will read at least 1 free-time book each month.
(Notice a pattern here?)
4 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents
1) If my son or daughter is a senior, I will not turn into a crazy monster.
Instead, be the voice of sanity and reason while your high-schooler faces the ups and downs of being accepted, deferred, and even rejected.
2) If my son or daughter is a junior, I will not turn into a crazy monster.
Instead, be the voice of sanity and reason while your high-schooler creates a college list, prepares for standardized testing, and balances all this with a heavy course load and finals.
3) If my son or daughter is a sophomore, I will not turn into a crazy monster.
Instead, be the voice of sanity and reason while your high-schooler figures out what she loves— then support the passions she finds.
4) If my son or daughter is a freshman, I will not turn into a crazy monster.
It serves no one, least of all your high-schooler! Instead, be the voice of sanity and reason. Please. For their sake. And for yours.