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Five Resolutions for High-Achieving Students

The start of a new year—or month, or even day—can offer a perfect moment to reflect, recalibrate, and reinforce your sense of purpose.

Whether your sights are set on earning college admission or delving deeper into a passion project, this list of resolutions can help you accelerate your journey toward personal success!

1. Embrace a new skill or hobby.

Dedicate time to exploring a new skill or hobby outside of academics. While scholastic pursuits are certainly important, so is becoming a well-rounded individual—and colleges agree! Stanford University practices holistic admission, in which all the parts of your application are considered as part of “an integrated and comprehensive whole.” The goal: “We want to see the kind of curiosity and enthusiasm that will allow you to spark a lively discussion in a seminar and continue the conversation at the dinner table.” Whatever your aspirations are—learning a new language, coding, playing a musical instrument, or practicing photography—diversifying your interests can foster creativity and personal growth.

2. Strengthen relationships with mentors.

Actively seek guidance from teachers, mentors, or counselors—these are people who the knowledge and experience to help guide you on your journey. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss academic goals, career aspirations, or any challenges you might face. Cultivating these relationships can foster support throughout your high school journey and beyond!

3. Engage in community service or volunteering.

Make a resolution to give back to your community by volunteering regularly. Look for opportunities aligned with interests or causes that resonate with you. Volunteering can also help you develop the social-emotional skills colleges value in their students. Georgia Tech cites “compassion for others” as one of eight character traits it values, while UCLA seeks “demonstrated concern for others and for the community.” Volunteering not only contributes positively to society, but also develops empathy, leadership skills, and understanding.

4. Seek out intellectual discussions and debate.

Challenge yourself to engage in evidence-based discussions and debates with your peers. The opportunity may arise organically as you work within a team and learn from others’ experiences, or you can choose to actively participate in seminars, discussion groups, debate societies, or online forums where you can exchange ideas on various topics. This practice sharpens analytical thinking and speaking skills while also providing insights into others’ perspectives.

5. Set targets for academic challenges.

Aim to enroll in advanced courses, online classes, or optional programs that delve deeper into subjects that intrigue you. Colleges look for students who challenge themselves in their coursework. Even if your school doesn’t offer a lot of advanced courses, taking a community college or other course will likely be viewed favorably—and if it covers a topic of interest to you, you will probably enjoy it, too. In all your studies, establish micro-goals for mastering challenging concepts, such as memorizing key dates for U.S. History or creating flashcards for vocabulary terms.

Consistent effort, curiosity, and a passion for learning are essential components of academic excellence. If you approach your resolutions with a growth mindset, track your progress, and stay resilient, you are likely to have a fulfilling and successful academic journey.

Interested in learning more about creating positive habits? Read our article: 4 Routines and Habits of Successful College Students.