Every year, millions of people start off the New Year with a resolution to improve themselves, but how many of us set resolutions that are realistic and stick to them??? Well, I decided to do some research just to see what I could find. First off, I found out WAY more than I thought I would find about resolutions already set for 2021 on finder.com (https://www.finder.com/new-years-resolution-statistics to be exact). I must say, it isn't a surprise that Health and Self-Improvement are the top 2 resolution categories after the challenging 2020 year! However, less than 25% of those who set resolutions are expected to actually meet their goals and fight for the improvements that they are planning to make.
So, why do so many fail at reaching their goals? The same website has already released why people think they will not reach their goals. Responses include forgetting, lack of willpower, being lazy, and COVID. Really, COVID? We can blame a LOT of things on COVID, but reaching goals that you are setting with the knowledge that COVID is not leaving in the near future is just allowing yourself to fail. Set goals that are realistic and achievable. My advice for any of you with high school students - set goals that help them move toward their goals after high school graduation. These can be planned out, organized, and executed in a systematic way that is achievable and not overwhelming during 2021. To help you out, I have provided some ideas of different goals that can be set by graduating class.
Class of 2021: You are almost at the finish line! Don't give up is Goal #1! Senioritis is REAL (just ask my teachers from high school and my mom). It is tough to battle the urge to "just get by" during the last semester because you are focused more on moving forward with your adult life. It is time to finish strong, tie up loose ends with college applications and financial aid, and make your final college selection. Also, scholarships - apply, apply, apply! I have been a part of many scholarship committees and have seen many that do not have a large applicant pool. Why? Mainly because seniors do not commit the time to research scholarships and/or writing the essays that are required. College loans are a great help, but the payback gets expensive. Get as MUCH free money as possible! Work hard, and finish strong!
Class of 2022: You are in the most important and challenging year of your high school tenure. This year has a heavy course load, and you really need to get started on college research and preparation (if you haven't already). You can't afford to procrastinate. As you are starting your spring semester, commit to researching the AP/IB courses that are available and weigh your options for dual enrollment. If you are not an organized person, it is time to start a plan to get organized! You need to start gathering your college application materials and preparing for August/September. It is time to start researching schools and create a list of 10-15 schools that you might be interested in attending. If you want to be considered to play a sport and you haven't started with the recruiting process, you better jump on board quick. Also, if you have not started ACT/SAT testing yet, make it a priority to get registered by the time you return to school in January. Deadlines are coming up quickly.
Class of 2023 and 2024: Your focus needs to continue to be on your academics and creating a strong transcript. Plan your courses for the rest of your high school years so you know what is ahead. Review your student resume and get involved in areas that will help you develop as a person, leader, community member, and develop any other attribute that you want to develop further. Start a list of the important characteristics of colleges (the things that you want at the college you attend), and start researching colleges. Also, have you started thinking about careers? If not, you need to start NOW! If you don't have a clue what you want to do, reach out for personality testing, complete some job shadowing, interview people who are in careers that you think might be interesting. It is time to start thinking about your future. Finally, Sophomores - schedule your first ACT/SAT test so you are ahead of the game. Don't wait until the end of your junior year. That will limit you chance to re-take the test in order to raise your scores.
Parents of High School Students: So, I am writing this from the perspective of a mother of a senior and a sophomore, so I am planning to hold myself to these recommendations as well. Feel free to check back with me later in the year to see if I achieve my own goals. For those seniors, encourage them to seek out scholarships. Many times high schools post them on their website/social media page and email them to seniors. However, have you looked at your senior's email? I have, and I can assure you that he receives so many emails daily from colleges that it is hard to filter out the important emails vs. the college advertisements. Check with their school counselor to see where you can find the list. Have conversations about the final college selection and weigh out financial aid packages that are offered. As a parent, although it may be difficult, realize that the final college selection really needs to be their choice. Start talking about the transition plan to college life, especially if they are living at home during their freshman year. What changes are going to take place and what needs to happen before the fall? Finally, realize that these seniors are dealing with a major load (on top of the disappointment of a senior year during pandemic restrictions). It is an exciting, fun, and emotional semester for them. Stay tuned to my next blog on Advice for the Class of 2021 to get more information about that...
For parents of the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, my advice is to set a resolution that involves a commitment to college preparation and planning. Set a goal for each month or week. Have conversations about important factors when selecting a college. Start a list of potential colleges. Support your child's dreams and plans (while knowing that it will change at least 2-3 times before they graduate). Finally, reach out for help early on, before you get to your senior year and the process is overwhelming.
Finally, as a family, commit to your resolutions and support one another. If everyone is supporting each other's goals, your likelihood of being successful increases tremendously. Also, sit down and set up a timeline that you can check your progress from time to time. Any progress you make toward these recommendations will only help your preparation for the college application and admissions process, and any progress helps make your child's senior year much more manageable and enjoyable, not only for the senior, but the entire family as well.
So, now to answer the question posed in the title of the blog, "New Year's Resolutions: Are They Worth all of the Hype???" If you set resolutions that are manageable and realistic, and you commit to reaching these goals with others, then they are definitely worth the hype! Especially, if you are setting goals that lead to a more successful path for a teenager preparing for college. Go for it!!! You've got this!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below. Also, I would LOVE to hear about the resolutions that you are setting to help prepare for the college application and admissions process! I hope you all have a successful 2021!!!