Your Game Plan for Crushing the New Year + Prepping for College Along the Way

Resolutions, resolves, to-do lists, fresh starts, reminiscing, planning or just recovering from the holiday season. Ya, it’s a lot. And by the way, school starts back up fairly soon if not already. So maybe you’re hitting the snooze button more than the books, BUT it’s okay, because there are a few easy things you can do to get back into the Spring semester with a purpose and a drive for whatever your future holds.

That looks like prepping your study space and calendar, thinking a little more about your extracurricular commitments and if they’re worth or not, and getting on a sleep schedule that doesn’t leave you falling asleep on your desk, or your AP Calc book. Ya, we can sneak some college tours in and an official SAT or ACT, but the reality is that will all come, but what takes a bit more time is the simple daily tasks that help you manage it all. I’m talking to you Juniors. The grade level that tends to feel the heaviest. Trust me, pause for a moment and take into consideration the following:

Study Habits + Balancing Workload

Study smarter, not harder. Really. Set a consistent work space that’s clear of clutter, away from distraction and not your bed. Prioritize your hardest homework first (the workload that takes the most brain power) and crank it out first. Save the work that’s easier for you later on when your willpower starts to shorten out.

Set a timer on your phone, put it in airplane mode and take breaks in between. If you can focus on one thing at at time and allow yourself to step away, you’ll not only get your work done in a clearer way, but you also won’t feel as flustered.

Your time is precious, spend it wisely and showcase your best talents outside of the classroom

I like to have my students reflect on their activities at the start of each semester. Maybe you joined a new club, or took on a new role within an organization. Maybe you’ve been playing Lacrosse for forever and never really thought of changing the sport even though you’re hearts kind of not in it anymore.

The WORST thing you can do is continue an activity because it will “look good” for college. Let me remind you that it’s your job to find your strengths and interests and find spaces to showcase your talents. That doesn’t happen when you join things that you’re not really into. It’s also okay to drop something if you really are over it. Think of where you can spend your time in a more focused way so you can start going deep with your activities instead of wide.


Ahhh my favorite. Just writing the word sleep makes me happy. Honestly it’s insane the average amount of sleep a typical teenager gets. According to the Sleep Foundation only 15% of teens reported getting an average of 8-8.5 hours of sleep per night (the recommended amount). Insane. But I promise you that Calc homework and Comp Sci will look a tad bit clearer if you’ve put in an extra hour or two. Make time for this. If anything at all. You’ll notice a world of difference!

If you have trouble sleeping creating a consistent routine for getting ready for bed. If you do the same things before bed (having a cup of tea, brushing teeth, reading, washing face, etc.) and keep it consistent your body will start to recognize triggers and release the melatonin because it knows it’s almost time for bed. Voila!

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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