3, 2, 1 … Happy New Year! The wonderful thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they’re an opportunity to set goals. This time of year is a good time for high school students to think about their priorities and the changes they can make to achieve even greater academic and personal success in the year ahead.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Put less pressure on yourself to do it all.
Reflect on the goals you worked toward last year and the goals you'd like to accomplish moving forward. Don't overdo it: you'll have more success if you focus on just 2-3 goals at a time. Think about what's most important to you this year. Make sure your long-term and short-term goals are clear and realistic—the more specific you are when setting your goals, the better chance you have of reaching them.
2. Improve your organization and time management.
Revisit your organizational systems and time management routines. Consider what worked and what didn't work well for you over the past year. Make adjustments accordingly—if needed, think about what you can do to simplify your processes. Remember, building breaks into your schedule can go a long way toward helping you achieve a healthy school-life balance, feel more in control of your daily routines, and tackle tasks with a clearer head.
3. Get more sleep.
Teenagers should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep every day. Decide on a consistent sleep schedule that feels doable to you, and make an effort to stick to it. Going to bed and waking up at the same times every day will benefit you physically and mentally. As bedtime approaches, reduce the amount of bright light you're exposed to and consider switching your devices to night mode.
4. Maintain good grades.
This is one of the most common New Year's resolutions high schoolers set for themselves—and for good reason. Your academic performance in high school is one of the biggest factors that will set you up to get into the colleges on your list as well as prepare you for the college-level work you'll be responsible for once you're there. Clear goals, organizational habits, time management skills, and a good sleep routine are integral components of a strong academic performance.
5. Have (and stick to) a test prep plan.
The key to balancing SAT/ACT prep with your other commitments is to understand your starting point and come up with a test prep timeline that makes sense for your schedule and learning style. Generally, we recommend that students plan to sit for 2-3 official tests to maximize their point increases and familiarity with the exam. It's important to engage in meaningful and targeted prep between each official sitting. (If you'd like help getting started, you can contact us here.)
6. Listen to your college counselor.
Your counselor should have a bird's-eye view of where you are and the progress you've made in relation to your long-term goals—not to mention tons of experience helping students like you navigate the complicated and stressful world of college admissions. Keep them in the loop, and heed their advice.
7. Ace your AP exams.
If you plan to take AP exams in the spring, now is the perfect time to organize your notes from your AP classes, review everything you’ve learned so far in your course, and try practice FRQs and multiple-choice questions. Reach out to us here to find an AP subject specialist who can help you prepare. Any work you do now will help lighten the load in the spring.
8. Read every day.
Reading every day is the best way to boost your verbal skills. Don’t stress about reading only “good” literature. Find something (anything!) you enjoy, from graphic novels to the book your favorite movie is based on to blogs about your favorite shows, sports teams, or musicians. If you’re looking for an extra challenge—or you’re planning to take the ACT, SAT, or PSAT—pick something from our Recommended Reading List.
9. Celebrate your successes.
Celebrating your wins, no matter how small, is a great way to keep yourself motivated and manage your stress levels. You can do this at the end of every day or as you check tasks off your to-do list, building short breaks and small rewards into your daily routine. Keeping track of what you've achieved and telling others—like family and friends—about those successes can boost your confidence levels, help you see the progress you're making, and motivate you to keep it up.
10. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Your parents, friends, and college counselor can be excellent resources if you need additional support at school or at home as you work toward the resolutions above. If you could benefit from extra help with a particular class you're taking, it's a great idea to talk to your teacher and/or reach out to a private tutor for one-on-one support.
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.