Set College Goals and Create your College Calendar Now
When you have clear goals, when you have them written and posted where you see them every day, you are more likely to read them. When you have a simple calendar describing the tasks you want to do each week, you are more likely to get them done.
Setting College Goals
Your goals might be very simple: I will go to college. I will make good grades.
Your goals might not be so clear. I will think about going to college, to a vocational school, or getting a job.
The picture below is of the University of Pittsburgh. The building is appropriately called the “Cathedral of Learning.” Can you picture yourself attending a college like this?
As you get older, you should set more specific goals for each year: They might look like these.
- I will apply to five colleges: two dream schools, two where I have a good chance of being accepted, and at least one backup school.
- I will study for the entrance exams for five hours a week.
- I will learn ten new vocabulary words every week, and review regularly.
- I will make a list of 100 scholarships I can apply for, marking the ones I have the best chances of winning. I’ll keep my notes in a notebook and have file folders for saving copies of the applications and other information.
- I will begin doing research on colleges, keep a file of information on about 30 colleges that look most interesting.
- I will work hard on improving my writing skills and ask my English teacher to help me.
Create your College Preparation Calendar
You can buy calendars, maybe two-year calendars or make your own. Now look at your goals, and look at other important dates. You might want to use four or five pens in different colors.
1. Personal Dates:
You can use one color pen to note birthdays for family and friends, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other dates you want to remember. You can even include appointments with the doctor and dentist, days you play soccer or take music lessons, and parties or other activities you plan to attend. You could also include shopping trips, time for volunteer work, church activities, etc.
2. School Work and activities
Use another color pen and add school assignments you need to remember… when an essay or book report is due, dates for important tests, etc. You can also add special school events such as a dance, a play, a special speaker, school vacations, etc.
3. College Preparation
With another color pen, write important dates to help you reach your college goals.
Include an appointment with your school counselor and a time for talking to your English teacher about how to improve your writing. Add dates to go to a library and get books on colleges or scholarships, or to get a challenging book to read.
You can add reminders: 10 vocabulary words. (It’s OK to skip these when you’re really busy with school work or on vacation trips.)
You can add Saturdays 2-4 hours for SAT preparation.
When you find out about a college fair or when you want to plan college visits, write them in too.
When you start high school, you might plant to do research on 3 colleges a week. Do this for 40 weeks and you will learn about 120 colleges. You might not keep detailed notes on some of them, because you’ll realize that you wouldn’t want them on your list of potential colleges. Maybe you know for sure you couldn’t get in or that it is too far from home…. like in Alaska or Hawaii. The college might be in a high crime area. It might be run by people of a different religious group where you wouldn’t feel comfortable. There are many reasons to choose not to consider a college.
You will want to keep a list, either alphabetically or by State in the US, by countries elsewhere, so you know which colleges and universities you have already studied. You could print a list of US colleges – or colleges in the country where you live. and then check off the schools as you read about them.
You might search through books on scholarships and add 5 potential scholarships a week to your notebook. If you do that for 40 out , you’ll have a list of 200 potential scholarships.
When the time comes for taking college entrance exams, you’ll want to mark the registrations deadline on your calendar, when you plan to register, and the test dates. If you are taking these tests in a place where you have never been, add a date to make a quick visit and see how long it should take you to get there.
When you are filling out applications for colleges, you’ll want to write in the deadline for mailing it, when you plan to mail it, and earlier steps like filling out the facts on the application, writing the first several drafts of an essay, showing it to a teacher, and writing the final draft.
You will be doing the same thing when applying for scholarships.
Add a different color pen to check off each item when you have done it. This gives you a sense of accomplishment. But if you start skipping some of these plans, you will see clearly that there is a problem. Either you are being lazy, or you made plans that were too difficult
How Far Ahead should you plan?
That’s up to you. The calendar is to help you plan your time and reach your goals.
I’d suggest listing all the birthdays of friends or family members for the next year, and anything else you want to plan in advance. Then, you might add the little details one month at a time.
AND A BONUS. Learning to manage your time well in high school – or earlier – will make it easier for you to manage your time in college… an extremely important habit.
The next page is How can I be the person colleges are looking for?