By Thomas Broderick
Happy 2019! It’s a new year, which means new challenges and new opportunities. As a high school student, you certainly have a lot to do over the next 12 months. No matter what lies ahead, I want to help you start your year on the right foot.
Let’s talk resolutions!
Should You Set a Resolution?
You probably know the story by heart: a well-meaning person sets a new year’s resolution only to give up on it within a month, week, or even a day. With so many people unable to keep their resolutions – and feeling bad about themselves when they do – does it make sense to make one at all?
First off, no, there’s nothing inherently wrong about setting a new year’s resolution. It’s just that for most people, they set their sights too high. I’m going to the gym every day isn’t an impossible task, but for someone who never works out, that goal is too big. Missing a day makes people feel like they failed, and then they give up entirely.
Let’s make sure that you don’t fall into the same trap by picking a reasonable resolution and seeing in through to the end.
Picking a Resolution
You’ll have different priorities depending on whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. That said, your resolution should relate to one or more academic or personal milestones the next 12 months will bring. Maybe you’re taking the SAT/ACT for the first time or going on your first college tour. How can you tie these events into a resolution? Here’s a sample resolution for each grade level:
- Freshman: I will select a new extracurricular activity this year or continue one that I enjoy.
- Sophomore: I will go on at least two college tours this summer.
- Junior: I will take three ACT/SAT practice tests before attempting the real thing.
- Senior: I will maintain my grades until graduation.
Each of these resolutions requires a different set of steps. However, no matter which resolution you set, achieving it boils down to the same strategies.
Achieving Your Resolution
Break Up Your Resolution Into Smaller Goals
If you want to increase your chances of success with your new year’s resolution, break your goal into smaller, more manageable goals. Let’s use the same resolutions from the previous section as an example.
- Freshman: 1. I will write down what I like and don’t like about my current extracurricular activity. 2. I will research what new activities I can join this semester. 3. I will decide on whether to change to a new activity or keep my current one.
- Sophomore: 1. I will research at least 10 colleges by exploring their websites. 2. I will talk to my family about which ones they think would be a good fit. 3. We will go on the tours this summer.
- Junior: 1. I will pick an ACT/SAT study guide to use for my test prep. 2. I will see if I can find a free one at the library or a used copy online. 3. I will take three practice tests.
- Senior: 1. I will continue to prepare for tests and assessments. 2. I will ask teachers how I can maintain my grades during this crucial time. 3. I will research how having good grades as a senior can qualify me for merit-based scholarships.
If you set the same resolution as in the last section, you may not follow these steps exactly. Everyone is different and may need extra or modified steps. The point is that you need to break down your big resolution into 3-5 smaller pieces.
Set Dates for Completion
Once you have your smaller goals, give each one its own ‘due date.’ Keep in mind that even if you and your best friend have the same resolution and goals, you may have different completion dates. No one is the same, and you want to ensure that you give yourself enough time while still completing everything by the final deadline.
You’ll have a lot to do this year, but give your resolution the time and attention it deserves. Yes, it’ll be a lot of hard work. However, when you see it through, you’ll be one step closer to attending your dream college.
Good luck in the coming year!