The longest year of our lives is almost over! And while many of us are ready to dive into 2021 and forget most of the year, it’s important to pause and make some goals for the upcoming year. Each year of high school is another opportunity to prove to admissions officers that you are a smart, driven, and talented student. As we move into the new year, let’s explore some new year’s resolutions for high school students.
1. Keep those grades up!
9th grade is one of the most important years in high school because you are setting the foundation for your GPA. It is much easier to boost your GPA if it is already strong than to try to fix it after you started on the wrong foot. Aim for a 4.0. If you don’t make it, that’s okay; it is important to at least try for the absolute best. If you didn’t start out with the best GPA, use this semester to rectify poor grades and boost your GPA as much as you can. Although this may mean spending a few more hours studying, it will be worth it in the end.
2. Focus on your future schedule
4. Deepen your engagements
There is nothing colleges like better than dedicated students and nothing says “dedicated” like remaining in a club for four years. If you have found a club, volunteer experience, or organization you like, try to deepen your involvement by attending more meetings, volunteering to take on more responsibilities, or running for a position. If you haven’t found a club you like yet, use the second half of your semester to find something you truly like and stick to it.
1. Start exploring colleges
2. Consider taking more challenging courses
3. Start to think seriously about your major
1. Make an ACT/SAT Plan
- The latter half of your junior year is an ideal time to begin testing. Use your PSAT score report to develop a comprehensive study plan. Try to focus on areas where you relatively underperformed on the test. For instance, if you notice on your score report that you consistently answered algebra questions incorrectly, you may want to focus your study plan around that subject area. Prepory recommends taking the SAT in March for the first time in the 11th grade; the March SAT date gives you enough time to study while providing a good enough framework to understand how many times you may need to retest.
- You may also want to consider making a realistic SAT/ACT goal. Use your PSAT as a good jumping-off point. If you earned a 1320 on your PSAT, it is reasonable to aim for a 1400 on your SAT. If you know what schools interest you, you may want to use their average accepted students’ profile to determine what range of scores are considered acceptable. You can then match your target score to the range of scores at the colleges/universities of your choice. Testing blindly is ineffective. It is important to set a goal so you have a number in mind in which you are actively working. Not to mention, psychologists say setting goals leads to higher motivation and more self-confidence.
2. Begin thinking about your personal statement
- Students often underestimate the amount of time and energy needed to complete the personal statement. However, if done correctly, your personal statement should take a good amount of time. Students should take a considerable amount of time reflecting on their passions, interests, and goals before they put pen to paper. Think about it this way, the personal statement is the only time you, the student, get to control the narrative. In every other part of your application, college admissions officers get to know you through numbers: grades, test scores, number of AP classes, GPA, etc. The personal statement is the only time they get to know you. Who are you? What matters to you? How did you grow up?
- The personal statement is the only time you can answer these types of questions. As such, an early start is never a bad idea. In fact, the more time you spend writing and revising the personal statement, the better you will answer these questions. Spend a few days reflecting on what actually matters in your life and then tackle a rough draft. By the time application season rolls around, you will be ready.
3. Showcase leadership skills
This is your last summer to impress admissions officers. Try to do something extraordinary. Perhaps you could start a business or nonprofit, volunteer with a local organization, or attend a pre-college program. Whatever you do, do something that interests you or that you care about. Not only will admissions officers learn about what you care about, but they will also be impressed by your engagement.
1. If you have not started applying, apply
The most important application season has ended and rolling/regular admissions has started. If you have not applied to your schools of choice, you must apply as soon as you can. Colleges fill up most, if not all, of their freshman class by the end of the year. Therefore, you will be fighting for a limited number of spots. Try to have your application in as soon as you can so you have a fighting chance.
2. If you have applied, follow up
3. Check on your applications