So you have just received your SC results? Parents and teachers slowly but gradually chipping away your sanity? They mean well. Think about it this way: the minute you receive admission to a great school, you can start bribing your parents for money you’ll need for “books”. And then after you’re done with university, you get to move to a cool city. Or travel the world. And start up a sweet business in Silicon Valley. And then you’ll retire before you are 40 and drift lazily somewhere in the Pacific on your 100-foot yacht. You never know. It could happen. But first, you’ve got to take on the years coming and the applications. Now let’s rock!

So it’s a new term, and a new chance for students to make the most of their school year! While it’s easy to just go through the motions until the holidays , now is the time for you to set yourself apart by getting more involved and setting challenging goals for the school year.

So how can you get ahead while maintaining your sanity? Remember Jack Nicholson in The Shining?  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!

Here are some academic and non-academic goals that you should aim for in 2014.

  • Improve your grades. Remember, top universities like to see an upward grade trend, so be sure to work hard and bring your grades up if you’re struggling. If you already have an A average, keep up the good work!
  • Read more. Outside reading is a fantastic way to expand your vocabulary and learn more about the things that interest you. Explore blogs and specialty publications that cover your interests. Whether it is robotics, computer science, fashion, or architecture, read more about the topics that you’re passionate about!
  • Deepen your extracurricular involvement. Top USA Universities like to see continued involvement in just a handful of activities over a long period of time. If you’re involved in a lot of one-off activities, identify the extracurricular activities that interest you the most and dedicate more time to those. Take a leadership position to show your involvement. If there is not a club or activity that interests you, start your own!
  • Make a plan for the holidays. Don’t slack off during the breaks. Use that free time to explore your interests through an internship, research, community service, part-time job, or academic program.
  • Ace your standardised tests. If you’re taking the SAT Reasoning Test this year, study hard well in advance and hire a tutor if you need additional help with the strategies.
  • Foster relationships with your teachers. Get to know your teachers well and stay active in class so they can get to know you. When it comes time to apply to university you’ll need to ask them for recommendation letters, so build a relationship now so he or she will be able to write a compelling recommendation when the time comes.
  • Do things you really enjoy and do them often! This is the time to explore your passions! Don’t get involved in certain extracurricular activities just because you think it will “look good” on your resume or because your friends are doing it. Explore those interests that you truly enjoy and build upon them throughout the school year.