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How to Set Academic and College Prep Goals for 2015

Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 11:24 AM

Academic Goals for 2015Set Attainable Academic New Year's Resolutions That Will Help You in the Admissions Process

As the New Year approaches, many people are setting goals and resolutions to accomplish in 2015. The onset of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year and determine what improvements to make in the coming months – whether personally, professionally, or, in the case of many high school students, academically.   

As 2015 approaches, students should think about what they hope to accomplish in the spring semester and beyond. Especially for current high school juniors, this next year is important as they finish up their last school year before applying to college. 

Here are some academic goals that students should consider setting for 2015: 

Grades

One of the easiest academic goals to set in the New Year is to improve your grades. Colleges look at your grades from all four years of high school and like to see an upward trend – that is, your grades getting better with each year – so look at your mid-year marks and see where you can improve. 

If you’re struggling with bad grades, take some time to look at your work and identify the problem. Are you having trouble understanding the content of your classes? Are you practicing poor study habits? Identify the issue and make a goal to resolve it in 2015. 

Seniors: Make a resolution to keep senioritis at bay! Even if you were accepted to college in the early round, colleges will ask to see your spring semester grades and can rescind offers of admission if your grades take a significant nosedive. Work hard through the end of the year and set smaller, manageable grade goals to carry you through the spring.   

Outside Reading

Chances are most students are doing as much outside reading as they should. Another easy academic goal to set for 2015 is to read more! You don’t have to drag through books you don’t like – read about the things that interest you. Not only will it help you become more informed about a topic about which you’re passionate, it can help when it comes time to apply to college because some colleges will ask what you’re reading in your spare time.

 Here are some reading lists to consider:

 Standardized Tests

Many colleges require students to submit SAT or ACT scores with their applications, and while standardized test scores are not the only factor colleges consider, they are an important piece of a big admissions puzzle. 

Sophomores: If you haven’t already, start the New Year by setting test prep goals. Begin by taking a practice test or two to determine which test best suits your skills, and start diving into test prep materials to help you improve upon your initial practice score. 

Juniors: If you haven’t already, sign up to take either the SAT or ACT, or both, this spring. Set a score goal and work hard to prepare and achieve it on test day. By taking the test this spring, you’ll know your score before the end of the school year and will have time to retake it during the fall if necessary. 

Activities

Extracurricular activities are another important part of the admissions puzzle that many students mistakenly overlook because they’re too focused on grades or test scores. However, colleges aren’t just looking at the numbers. Admissions officers are also looking at “soft factors” and want to see what students are doing in their spare time to pursue their passions and make an impact in their communities. 

This year, assess your extracurricular activities and determine if you need to focus your interests more. It’s about quality, not quantity, so if you’re in seven clubs but really only enjoy participating in two of them, drop the others and deepen your involvement in the two that you’re really passionate about. Make an impact by gaining a leadership position or creating new initiatives. 

Can’t find a club or activity at your school that meets your interests? Then set a goal to create your own! 

College Applications

While the college admissions season may seem far off to current juniors, it will be here sooner than you think – and it’s never too early to prepare. This year, set academic and college prep goals throughout the year to help you be better prepared come fall. 

Foster relationships with the teachers and counselors who will write recommendation letters. Keep an eye out for Common Application essay prompts and start brainstorming topics to write about. Begin planning a challenging senior year course load. The sooner you get started on the college application process the better.

What academic goals or college admissions resolutions are you setting for 2015? Tell us in the comments below!

IvyWise

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