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 (and they are), then they should be yours, too. Concentrate on making the most out of your classes and assignments, so that admissions officers see the full scope of your rigor, dedication, and potential to excel in your academic performance in college.
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. Then, the student’s work takes longer to complete due to fatigue, 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—but this means missing out on other important activities, hobbies, social engagements, or family time. The key to healthy sleep is a consistent routine.
So, how can you avoid this? Exercise time management. Create realistic deadlines for yourself, set aside specific times to work (with your phone away and on “do not disturb”), and give yourself a bedtime you can stick to. And remember—it’s okay to ask for help to keep you on track. Some caring reminders from Mom, ad, or a sibling can go a long way, 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 college admissions and for your own happiness.
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. So, find ways to deepen your relationship with your favorite extracurriculars, rather than spreading yourself thin by trying to do it all.
Know Your College Prep Timeline and Evaluate Your Goals
During this time of year, different grades will focus on different priorities to prepare for college.
- Focus on finding and engaging meaningfully with extracurricular activities you enjoy.
- Keep building good study habits and exploring intellectual curiosities.
- Keep up your grades.
- Plan to take an ACT/SAT diagnostic test to find the test best suited to you.
- Continue to explore extracurriculars. Don’t just show up to the meetings—lean in and look for opportunities for more responsibilities and leadership positions.
- And if your current extracurriculars are not feeling right to you, don’t get stuck—explore some new opportunities!
- Be on the lookout for opportunities to visit colleges on spring break and the coming summer. Do you have a family vacation coming up? See if there are any colleges nearby or on the way you can plan to visit! If your options are limited to virtual tours, then start now! See if the schools you’re interested in have any other online opportunities for you to interact with admissions officers or current students. Come to virtual sessions prepared with questions, and show your level of interest by speaking up.
- Make grades the first priority.
- Ease test anxiety by having a test prep plan, if you do not have one already. Know your test dates and factor weekly study sessions into your spring schedule. Consider seeking out a tutor to help you identify your weaknesses and build on your strengths.
- Cultivate relationships with teachers and mentors; consider who you could ask to write your recommendations.
- Start scheduling college visits for long weekends, spring break, and/or the coming summer. Make sure you sign up for tours and info sessions in advance.
- Start to plan a timeline for writing college essays and completing applications.
- Keep your grades up! First semester grades are still very important and show your colleges you are continuing to work hard and grow.
- Wait patiently for college news, and continue making time for your hobbies, time with friends and family, and self-care.
- Embrace and enjoy your last year of high school!
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, and don’t forget to take some time every now and then to reflect back on all your progress throughout high school and feel proud of your successes, the relationships you’ve built and strengthened, and how you’ve grown. Be honest with yourself about what you want to continue to achieve and the work still ahead, stick to your daily routine and hold yourself accountable for your objectives, and you will be in a great position to achieve your goals.
Happy New Year from Ivy Experience!