A lot of students are heading back to school today, so I'm suggesting 5 back-to-school resolutions to help you have a productive and enjoyable year.
1. Study better, not more.
Most students who get the best grades actually study less than everyone else. It's not because they're smarter–they're just better studiers. So rather than resolve to "get a 4.0" or to "study harder," set a goal to become a better studier. Here's one post that can get you started, and another to keep you focused.
2. Stop doing activities that don't make you happy.
Extra-curricular activities should be a welcome part of your day, things that make your high school experience more enjoyable. If you're doing an activity you hate just because you think colleges will appreciate it (they won't if you hate it, by the way), stop doing it. If you're going to club meetings every week and feel like all you're doing is meeting, stop going and find something else. If you dread going to track practice every day because you're broken down and it just isn't fun anymore, find something else to do that doesn't involve mile repeats. Productive, successful students find and commit themselves to things they really enjoy doing. They don't plod through life.
3. Find–and protect–your free time.
I don't know where so many students and parents got the idea that free time is a bad thing. No college in the universe wants you to schedule every minute of every day with school and activities. Successful people find and protect their free time, time when they can think, rest, or enjoy relaxing activities that can recharge them (like playing video games, hiking, or just reading something for pleasure). If you watch seven hours of TV after school, you've probably got too much free time. But there's nothing wrong with working hard during your work time, then enjoying free time for relaxing, thinking and having fun.
4. Get excited about college for the right reasons.
A lot of students work hard so they can "get into a good college." But they don't seem all that excited about the goal. I think that's because they're scared the work won't pay off with an acceptance to one of their dream colleges. The hard work that you're doing will mean more to you if it isn't tied exclusively to an admissions decision from one dream school. Be excited about the opportunity to attend any college. Have faith that your hard work will pay off in lots of ways no matter where you go. And if you need some suggestions, here are 50 reasons to be excited for college that have nothing to do with ranking or prestige.
5. Be nice to the kids other students aren’t nice to.
Once they get out of high school, most students realize that those kids who made fun of the socially less fortunate were secretly racked with insecurity themselves. So be nice. Say “hi” to the kid nobody else says “hi” to. Don’t join in when everyone else starts to make fun of the easy target. Your teachers and counselors will notice, the kid you’re nice to will appreciate it, and you’ll be in line for karma points later in life.