Taking Stock

Written by Lisa Bleich

As you plan your schedules for the coming year, it is a great time to take stock of yourself and assess how you are spending your time and energy. It is also a great time to set goals for the coming year to shore up areas of weakness and go deeper into your areas of strength. So how do you know where to focus to prepare yourself for the college application process?

Leadership: Junior year is the year to pursue leadership in whatever you are involved in. If you are an athlete, can you become captain? If you are a journalist, can you become editor-in-chief? If you are a scout, what do you need to achieve Eagle Scout or the Gold award? Identify what you need to do to achieve your goal and develop a plan.

Academic: Are you challenging yourself enough in your classes? Are you getting the best grades you can, or can a little extra studying help you change that B+ to an A? Set a goal to improve at least one grade.

Standardized tests: Do you do better on the SAT or the ACT? Identify which test works better for your test taking skills. Set a goal to focus on improving either test by the equivalent of 50-100 points in the SAT.

Extracurricular activities: Are you enjoying your current activities? If not, find ones that you love? Are you doing enough? Are you doing too much? Set a goal to get involved deeper in something you love. This can mean taking a leadership position or spending more time practicing an instrument.

Athletics: If you are involved in athletics, figure out if you want to play in college. Junior year is the time to start contacting coaches. Set a goal to identify target schools and send out a letter and athletic resume to the team’s coach.

Special talents: Do you have a special talent? Are you a gifted musician, actor or artist? Do you have a facility with languages? Are you a natural entrepreneur? Whatever your talent is, set a goal to pursue it to the fullest and share your talent with others. Take a risk with your talent by auditioning for a state orchestra or choir or entering a writing contest.

Intellectual curiosity: Do you have innate curiosity for a particular topic? Do you find yourself researching topics outside of school? If you have a love a science, identify a way to pursue that further through a summer research opportunity. Develop a plan to learn more.

Financial: Speak with your parents about their financial commitment to your college degree. Understand how much they are willing to pay and what you will need to contribute. Set a goal to understand the financial differences among schools and which schools are in your financial reach. Identify schools that can give merit awards.


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