New Year’s Resolutions for Current High School Students
I love new beginnings. I always make a note to seize any landmark moment or transitional time period to create productive change in my life. This makes January one of my favorite times of year, because it gives me a chance to step back and assess what habits and mindsets need to be altered, eliminated, or strengthened in the coming year.
In the spirit of the season, I would like to suggest a few New Year’s Resolutions for high school students who find themselves eyeing college admissions, no matter what stage of the process they’re in right now.
Seniors: All of our admissions deadlines have passed – along with the deadlines for most other universities as well – so for the vast majority of you who have completed this part of the process, congratulations! Take a moment to commend yourself on all the work you put into your applications, and relax knowing that it is now out of your hands. Begin working with your parents, guardians, and counselors on completing the FAFSA and CSS Profile for need-based financial aid. Be sure to contact our financial aid office with any questions you have about these forms and deadlines. In the meantime, do your best not to succumb to the tempting clutches of senioritis. There is a strong possibility that we will be reviewing your grades and involvement throughout the semester, so buckle down and finish strong!
(A cautionary tale: my senior year of high school, I thought it would be a good idea to skip out on our final reading assignment, Siddhartha, since we weren’t being tested on it and I had already received my offer of admission from Vanderbilt. Three months later, my first assignment as a college student was to read Siddhartha. If we don’t catch you, karma will.)
Juniors: If you have not already taken the SAT or ACT, sign up and begin studying now. If you are not happy with your score, think about a retest. Start researching the type of schools that interest you and build your application list. Use your parents, your older siblings, your counselor, your teachers, the internet, and whatever other resources you have available. Ask a ton of questions, and once you have the list narrowed down, VISIT VISIT VISIT. There’s no better opportunity to accurately assess a school than setting foot on campus and talking to the people there. Moreover, try not to let your grades slip – junior year is notoriously rigorous and downward grade trends are red flags in admissions offices – and pursue leadership opportunities in the activities you truly care about.
Sophomores: Stay in close contact with your school counselor and make sure your course schedule is as rigorous moving forward as it can possibly be. Keep an eye out for academic areas that you are really enjoying and make sure you are ready to take advantage of any honors, AP, IB, or dual credit opportunities available to you in those areas. Keep getting involved, searching out those activities you truly care about and can see yourself dedicating time and energy to over the course of multiple years.
Freshmen: Pat yourself on the back for making it through your first semester! Make sure that you have hit the ground running in every area. Let your teachers know that you are a serious student who’s going to make waves in the future. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to your counselor and let him or her know what your goals are for these four years and beyond. Try new things: sign up for clubs and organizations and activities and electives. Now is the time to stick your toes in the water and find out what your true passions are.
Most importantly, to all of you – HAVE FUN! You only get four years of high school, and they are years that you want to be able to look back on with fondness and pride. While I hope you are all thinking about the future, never forget that the things you are involved in – the classes you take, the clubs you join, the people you help – are not just ways to build your resume, but ends in themselves.
By: Carolyn Pippen