2018 College-Related New Year’s Resolutions

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No matter whether you’re a freshman or a senior, the New Year is a great time to think about your future and assess your goals. As a freshman, you’re just starting out high school, but before you know it, you’ll be applying to college. Sophomore year, you’re a more seasoned high schooler and are starting to refine your academic and extracurricular profiles. Juniors are looking ahead to college application season right around the corner. Seniors are sending out college applications and thinking about their upcoming transition. So, as you ring in 2018, set resolutions based on your personal goals and ambitions. Read on for our ideas.


Resolutions for All Grades



  • Put your free time to good use. That means developing a strong extracurricular profile to complement your plans and ambitions. You might also volunteer or secure an afterschool job. Make sure you’re using your summer effectively as well: Take classes, attend a program, get an internship, or do something entirely of your own making. Check out some of our other ideas for how to spend summers in high school.


  • Pay attention to your academic performance. You may have a hectic schedule, but be sure to carve out enough time for schoolwork and studying. If you have standardized tests looming, factor in practice time. Never procrastinate—that just delays the inevitable.  


Don’t stress yourself out! Remember to relax. Read 6 Techniques for Dealing With Stress in High School for our stress-management tips.


Freshman Year Resolutions


  • Seek out new opportunities. You probably joined some activities in fall semester, but they may not all be ones you enjoy. Figure out which extracurriculars are aligned to your interests and ambitions, and join new ones that appeal to you. Check out A Guide to Extracurriculars for Grade 9 for more advice on figuring out your life outside of school.




Sophomore Year Resolutions


  • Take on new roles and challenges in extracurricular activities. By now, you’ve probably figured out to which activities you’re most committed. Seek out leadership roles, or if they’re not available to sophomores, find out how you can take them on later in high school and do the prep work. For more information, read A Guide to Extracurricular Activities: Grade 10.


  • Develop an ACT and SAT testing plan now. If your school offers the PSAT to 10th graders, take it now. That way, you can figure out the areas in which you need to improve and base your practicing around them. Keep in mind that while PSAT scores don’t necessarily predict SAT scores, they can help in indicating your strengths and weaknesses. You should also look up test dates and determine when you’ll first sit for the SAT and/or ACT.


  • Start thinking about the kind of college you’d like to attend. It’s not too early to visit schools! Consider what you’re looking for in a college, paying special attention to fit (how well a school supports and aligns with your personality and interests, and whether you feel comfortable there).


  • Demonstrate interest in colleges. While it’s not the top factor in admissions, colleges do pay attention to how much interest you’ve shown. Solicit materials, visit schools, get on email lists, and sign up for interviews to demonstrate that you’re invested in the schools on your list.

Ready to conquer 10th grade?

Our free guide to 10th grade goes in-depth about subjects like how to build a rigorous course load, standardized testing, extracurriculars, and more.

 Junior Year Resolutions


  • Create your college list. By now, you’ve probably visited a few schools. Finish up your research and college visits. By the end of this semester, you should have a complete list of 6-10 colleges to which you’ll apply. Check out Seven Tips for Creating Your College List for advice on what to include.


  • Start looking for scholarships. Many scholarships require planning. You may even be able to apply junior year. If you do the legwork now, you’ll save time senior year.


  • Start college applications two months earlier than you believe you should. That likely means over the summer. The Common App isn’t available until August, but you can still start gathering materials. Make a list of requirements for every school on your list, and begin the work that isn’t application-specific, such as listing and describing your extracurricular activities. Once the application is available, look up the essay prompts, including individual school supplements, and start outlining your responses.

Senior Year Resolutions


  • Stay positive. Whether you end up at your first-choice school or your safety, you’ll have a world of new opportunities and exciting firsts when you matriculate. Remember that admissions decisions do not solely determine your intelligence or future, and that college is what you make of it. You know how hard you’ve worked, and no one can take that away from you. Also keep in mind that ultimately luck plays a role in these decisions.


  • Don’t succumb to senioritis. Contrary to popular belief, your grades still matter after you’ve applied to college. Colleges will see your second-semester grades, and if they drop too low, they might rescind your acceptance. Some awards or scholarships might also depend on you keeping your grades up, and doing well on AP exams could get you course credit or placement.


  • Apply for scholarships. Depending on your personal circumstances or goals, you might set a goal as to how many you want to finish by a certain date. Be sure to stay on top of all deadlines. For more scholarship advice, check out 15 Scholarship Resources.


  • Celebrate the end of high school and let yourself relax. You’re almost to the finish line! You’ve worked hard and deserve a break.



New Year, New You


The New Year is a great time to reflect on and consider what you hope to get out of the rest of high school. It’s also a time to think about your accomplishments and the progress you’ve already made. Take some time to formulate personal goals, and congratulate yourself on your successes.


Happy New Year from CollegeVine!


Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Check out the CollegeVine Mentorship Program. Our mentors drive significant personal and professional development for their high school mentees. Combining mentorship with engaging content, insider strategies, and personalized analyses, our program provides students with the tools to succeed. As students learn from successful older peers, they develop confidence, autonomy, and critical thinking skills to help maximize their chances of success in college, business, and life.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.