Planning Ahead – The Importance of Creating an Academic Roadmap Now

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For many high school bound freshmen, the college admissions process and college applications seem like a setting sun on a distant horizon. Most feel their time is better served focusing on the vast stretch of road that lies immediately in front of them. Why not focus on the “here and now”? College applications are not a concern this early in the game – or are they? The reality of the situation could not be further from this common misconception.

Truthfully, what students do their freshman year has a direct impact on how they are perceived by the institutions that become their coveted schools of choice. The grades a student earns in her freshman year have an immediate and lasting impact on that student’s transcripts. This means that all grades that become part of that transcript directly affect how desirable a student is to a specific academic institution.

Given the high stakes of permanent transcripts, it is all the more imperative that students start strong and stay strong throughout their high school careers. While undesirable grades have a quantifiable impact on GPA, these grades are often merely the symptoms of a more systemic problem lurking behind the scenes. Grades are an outcome, a measure of performance.

Within the category of factors that can negatively influence a student’s GPA, procrastination is public enemy number one. Procrastination can be debilitating for students. Students may avoid an assignment because they feel that there is more than ample time. Some students postpone work on an assignment simply because they believe that the assignment is unsavory at best and downright painful at worst. Other may even attempt to justify this pernicious habit by claiming that they produce their best work when under pressure. Whatever the reason, procrastination is a habit to identify and eradicate early on.

In an article entitled Getting Around Procrastination, published in 2013, Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., describes how profoundly widespread procrastination really is, especially among students. “Occurring up to 25 percent of the time according to some research studies, procrastination is considerably higher in students with over 70 percent reporting procrastination for assignments at some point. Procrastinating students can waste up to a third of their day with stalling activities such as sleeping, watching television, reading, or whatever other diversion they can devise.”1 A clear and staggering trend emerges from this data. Almost three out of four students reported procrastinating.

One crucial area where students tend to procrastinate is planning for college. Thus, we end up circling around to where we began. Students should not only cultivate exceptional study habits and time management skills now, but they should also choose which classes to take based off of an informed understanding of where they want to end up.

Planning ahead includes establishing optimal study habits early on. On campus college counselors, academic advisors, and seminars on study skills are but a taste of these many resources at your disposal. Students do not have to end up regretting decisions made early in their academic careers. Ending the cycle of procrastination and poor planning begins with education and the empowerment inherent in knowing exactly where you are, where you want to be, and how best to get there!


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