Dear High School Seniors,
With the fast-approaching college application deadlines, which happen to coincide with the Holiday Season, you might be wondering, “How can I maintain a successful school record, engage in extracurriculars, complete my applications, and still find the time to enjoy the Holidays?” The answer is pretty simple: by learning how to manage your time wisely. Here is how:
- Prioritize your responsibilities and tasks: Do not worry about working on a college application that is due in January when you have another one with a December 1st deadline. Start working on the supplemental essays that will take more time to finish. For example, focus on a college that requires four supplements as opposed to one supplement! Always complete the most important and urgent task first.
- Make yourself a calendar: Get a big poster board or poster paper. Make a monthly calendar. Yes; a good old handmade calendar! Write every day of the month and assign important tasks for each day. You will have many supplemental essays to work on, so allocate specific days for college-specific essays. Mark all the application deadlines on your calendar. If you have upcoming tests, projects, or school exams, mark the date for each on this gigantic calendar. Write down the date and time of your activities on the calendar. Put this calendar on your bedroom wall so that you can wake up to it every morning and plan your day accordingly.
- Have a back-up digital calendar: You will not be able to carry your giant calendar with you everywhere you go, so let technology come to the rescue! Apps like Evernote and Focus Booster can certainly come in handy if you need some boost in staying focused and completing your tasks. If you are looking for something less sophisticated, your phone can be a great time-management tool. I personally rely on my i-Calendar on a daily basis and do not know what I would do without it.
- Silence or turn off your cell phone when you are busy with a task or school-related work: Trust me; the biggest cause of distraction comes from your cell phone! Start logging in the time you spend on your phone (engaging with social media, watching YouTube videos or TikTok edits, and texting your friends), and you will be shocked to see what a great number of hours you spend daily on things that will not help you get into college. If you put those hours into completing your tasks every single day, your college application process will be over before you know it – well before the deadlines! Maybe this will sound too extreme, but my cell phone is on mute at all times. When I am in the zone, even the sound of an email notification can throw me off and I can easily lose my focus.
- Take breaks: Break your tasks into manageable chunks. Nobody is expecting you to be a miracle worker. You are a human being, after all. It is OK to take short breaks, take power naps, or take short walks when you feel like you do not have the drive to continue. If talking to a friend makes you feel better, do it. Just do not elongate the conversation. Keep it simple and remember to go back to your task as soon as you feel ready. I personally find that eating a healthy snack during breaks or drinking lots of water helps me feel refreshed and refocus on the task at hand.
- Set up a time to go to bed: I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a good night’s sleep especially for your young yet preoccupied brain. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, as much as two thirds of high schoolers sleep less than seven hours every night. I can hear you saying, “How on earth will I have time to go to bed at a reasonable time when I have so much homework to do on top of all the college applications/essays that are waiting to be written?” SILENCE OR TURN OFF YOUR PHONE during the day! You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much extra time you will have on your hands without your cell phone. You will be in bed at a much earlier time than usual thanks to all that time not wasted on your phone. Try it! You will not regret it!
- Ask for help: Going through life as a high school senior is not easy. Do not downplay it. Ask your parents, friends, or school counselor for help. Nobody is perfect, so do not try to act like it. You are a human being, after all. This is a very challenging time of your life. The biggest reason for procrastination is feeling lost and not knowing where to start from. Talk to your parents about how they can help you. Having a set dinner time every night (if at all possible), for example, can help you stay organized and help you finish your daily tasks at a much more predictable time.
If you take my advice, I have no doubt that your college applications will be submitted well before the January deadlines. Then, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy the Holiday Season with your loved ones. You know what the good news is? Yes! Believe it or not, there is a positive side to all of this: You are still young, and you have the rest of your life to figure out your future. You do not have to do it all at once! If you feel so stressed that you think all of this excessive planning is damaging your health, then check your priorities again. Make sure that you have set realistic expectations for yourself. There is always a way out. Possibilities are endless… Never forget that… Your mental health and well-being should be your number one priority. One way or the other, you will have a decent life as long as you work hard and never give up. If, along the way, you need to push the break, that is fine, too. Do not ever doubt yourself. I applaud you for who you are… I believe in you… As long as you believe in yourself too, the future will be yours… sooner or later… I promise…
At EdMission Possible, we guide our students in the right direction by making sure they stay focused and keep their deadlines with constant reminders. If you feel like you could use a little more motivation or encouragement, call or e-mail us today to inquire about our college planning services.
Happy (almost) Holiday Season!
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Founder and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession, in 2019. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc. Burcak currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.