Setting Goals for the Spring Semester

Whether this is your second semester of high school or your last, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the next five months of classes. Even if you feel like you’ve finally hit your stride after midterm exams and winter break, you can still push yourself and find new ways of expressing yourself and developing your skills. Here’s how to get started:

Underclassmen

Explore
Now that you’ve settled into the rhythm of high school, it’s time to start branching out. Try new clubs, volunteer opportunities, or jobs. Figure out how you want to channel your passions, both in and out of school.

Get ready for summer
How do you want to spend your time once classes are out? If you want to find a job, internship, or long-term volunteering position, start looking sooner rather than later. A good goal is to have your summer plans set by Spring Break.

Build connections
When it comes to the college search, having a mentor to guide you can keep you on track. But you can’t wait until fall of senior year to look for guidance. Reach out to teachers, counselors, or administrators who you feel close to. The better they know you, the more they can help you as you go through the college search and application process.

Juniors

Make a travel plan
Spring break of junior year is a great time to start college visits. But instead of diving in headfirst, make a list of schools you’re interested in, and do some research. Some colleges close during spring break and don’t allow visitors, while others have special spring break programming. Figure out ahead of time where you can visit when, and start connecting the dots.

Lock in your summer plans
While it feels great to relax during the summer, colleges appreciate students who push themselves even when school isn’t in session. Even if you don’t commit too many hours, find a job, internship, or volunteering opportunity that can keep you busy for a few days a week. Volunteer at a food bank. Tutor your neighbors. Work as a lifeguard. Find little  ways to show off your drive without giving up your entire break.

Take stock
Senior year can be a lot of stress. Do you like your extracurricular activities? Are you doing too many things at once? Keep in mind that, on top of classes, clubs, and sports, you’ll need additional time during senior year to fill out applications and find scholarships. Don’t over-commit and burn yourself out.

Seniors

You did it! Applications are in and you just have to wait for decisions to come out. But there are still a few things to keep in mind.

Don’t slack off
Colleges typically ask for a final semester transcript to make sure you didn’t just coast through the end of high school. Keep putting in the effort, especially if you’re taking AP classes. A good score on your AP or IB tests can help you skip core courses in college and save money.

Apply for scholarships
Speaking of money, now is the perfect time to look for scholarships. CollegeFindMe is a great place to start (especially with our next $1000 giveaway coming up in March), but many outside organizations have scholarship deadlines throughout the spring.

Enjoy yourself
Regardless of the stress, high school is a great time when you get to see your friends every day and do the things you love. College will be very different, and that’s not a bad thing, but be sure to appreciate the unique opportunities you have in high school.

Back to School Blues

Emily Sun ‘21, Boston Latin School

I stretch my arms and lean back in my beach chair. The sun is still shining brightly in the sky, and I can smell the slightly salty scent of crashing waves. I love summer!

As much as I’ve enjoyed my share of beaches, an entire month has already passed and now it’s August. To me, August means… school starts in a month! I bet many of you aren’t the most excited at the thought of going back to school. Me neither! After all, what’s waiting are nights of grinding away at homework and stressing over tests — even college app deadlines if you’re a senior. 

However, going back to school also means seeing friends and either playing sports or joining after-school club meetings. It was fun having tons of free time, and snacking whenever I wanted, but inevitably school is looming ahead. 

As I think about the good and the bad of returning to school, I have some suggestions for how you can make the best of your August before school starts.

Finish your summer homework

That might mean summer math packets, or books on a summer reading list, but either way you will need to complete it. I’m trying to spend an hour 2-3 days a week getting it out of the way so I’m not staying up late the night before school starts to finish everything.

Prepare yourself mentally and physically

  • Mentally: Each year of high school becomes more important and the courses get harder. Similar to finishing my summer homework, I’m also reviewing some of the notes I took in class last year. I’ll be taking AP classes this year, so revisiting some concepts that weren’t easy will help build my confidence. I’ll also know where to ask for extra help from teachers once school starts. Getting back into concentrating and homework mode is not fun, but I did this last year and it made starting sophomore year much easier. 
  • Physically: Since I’m free from getting up early for school I go to bed VERY late and therefore wake up VERY late. My summer sleep schedule has been quite… wacky. To avoid being overtired during the first few days of classes, I try to adjust my schedule the week prior to school so waking up at way-too-early-in-the-morning for school isn’t so painful. And now that I’ve finished binge-watching Black Mirror, I can get to bed at a decent hour too. 

Keep in touch 

Summertime is a great time to establish personal connections at jobs, internships, or summer school while exploring your interests or passions. I’m interning at CollegeFindMe, and I plan to keep in touch with my manager so if I need advice, a reference on my resume, or a recommendation letter for college, I’ll have someone other than a teacher or coach to help me.

Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Even as you prepare yourself for school, summer is still a time for you to have fun. Catch up with your friends, see a good movie or enjoy being outside – whatever makes you happy! Good luck everyone!